What Need Does our Audience “Hire” us to Fill?

A Conversation with Marguerite Hannah, Associate Producer, Horizon Theatre Company

Marguerite Hannah attended the November 2016 National Arts Marketing Project Conference with a scholarship provided by the Audience Building Roundtable initiative of The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation. Marguerite shares her insights from the conference in this blog.

My biggest takeaways from the National Arts Marketing Project Conference are (1) the importance of living your brand, and (2) being empathetic to the needs of our audience.

Make New Friends: Arts Marketing Innovations

By Caitlin Thomas White, Marketing Director, Synchronicity Theatre 

Make new friends, but keep the old.

To me, this sentiment from a familiar children's folk song succinctly captures the central goal of audience building.  It certainly speaks to Synchronicity Theatre's current focus, as we work to attract new audiences to our three-year-old performance space and build innovative programs without losing sight of our core mission and audience.  

Brand vs Vision: Embracing Your Brand

By Tricia Ekholm, Chief Marketing Officer, Atlanta Ballet

In August 2016, Gennadi Nedvigin joined the Atlanta Ballet as the third artistic director in its 89 year history. His arrival provided the marketing team with both a challenge and an opportunity. 

The challenge: shifting our brand to reflect a new artistic vision and aesthetic. 

The opportunity: put renewed energy behind our brand.

Experiencing the National Arts Marketing Project Conference

By John Turner, Board Member, DeKalb Symphony Orchestra

The DeKalb Symphony Orchestra received a “scholarship” for one person to attend the National Arts Marketing Project Conference in November 2016; the conference scholarships were a joint project of The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation and the Georgia Repertory Theatre through the Foundation’s Audience Building Roundtable initiative.

As a board member of the DeKalb Symphony Orchestra, I utilized the scholarship to attend the conference. At the time, I was relatively new to the Board of DeKalb Symphony Orchestra (DSO) and new to the Atlanta arts community.

The Michael O’Neal Singers: Engaging our Audience – Part 2

BASED ON OUR EXPERIENCE, DOES YOUR ORGANIZATION NEED AN APP?

 In Part 1 of our blog post, we gave you the beginning story on the Michael O’Neal Singers’ investment in ways to engage new and current audience members.

In October 2016, we received a grant from The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation’s Audience Building Roundtable project for audience building. We used this funding to create an app to help us attract new audiences. According to Pew Research, 77% of U.S. adults now own a smartphone.

How Did We Make Audience Engagement Our Key Strategy?

By Cammie Stephens, The Michael O’Neal Singers

Thanks to The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, audience engagement has become the key strategy around which our organization focuses its programming. As Sara Leonard wrote after the Foundation’s initial Art of Change Audience Building Workshop in November 2015: “How do we invite audiences in and develop relationships with them that entice them to stay with us and become our partners? The answer lies in a process of relationship building in which engaging and serving the audience is at the organization’s core.”

What’s the best database for my organization? How do I choose?

Guest Blogger: Jordan Simmons, Senior Account Executive, Patron Technology

We can all agree that capturing and tracking information and making data-based decisions is important for any arts organization, but how do you know which database tool to use to facilitate that? How do you choose a great system when there are so many varying options on the market these days? 

Your Audience is a Precious Survey Data Resource – Treat Them That Way

By John Turner, President, Turner Research Network

As arts and culture organizations go forward with a data-driven approach to building audiences, one element of this is to generate information from your audience through surveys. We want to know who the audience members are and what they think about the performances or the exhibitions or the venues. We want to know about their experience with us.

Here are some tips about managing that process.

Perfect Strangers

An Audience Building Roundtable Blog by Greg Burbidge

Kari Mesropov reminded us in the July blog post that TRG Arts’ data shows “50% of audiences are brand new. That’s right: half of your customer base is new.”  As organizations struggle to build audiences, this is no time to stay at home and wait for Balki Bartokomous’ to show up on our doorstep. We need to find innovative ways to find and invite interested non-attendees, Perfect Strangers, through our doors.

What is wrong with these people? Uh-oh….

By Ellen Walker, Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB)

Observing participants in a focus group dispassionately dissect your life’s work is a little like strangers disparaging your children – it’s difficult not to feel reactive. In my first such experience, the print collateral that my team had worked so hard on was described by focus group members as “boring,” “stuffy,” “elitist,” and “completely uninteresting.” My first thought: “what is wrong with these people?!”  My second thought: “…uh-oh.”

Darwin on the Arts: Adaptation is Key to Audience Growth

Guest Blogger: Christopher R. Taylor, President, The Clay Studio, Philadelphia

Arts organizations need audiences. They bring earned and contributed revenue to your organization, and more importantly, they are an indicator of your success in fulfilling your mission. Whether you’re training young artists, presenting opera, displaying new paintings, or teaching art to children, your mission likely includes some version of “make arts accessible.” 

What’s the Missing Piece in Audience Building?

This post is excerpted from the plenary session of The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation’s November 2, 2015 workshop, Art of Change: Building Your Organization for Audiences. This is from an exchange among Dr. Bob Harlow, the moderator and lead researcher for the Wallace Foundation’s audience building initiative and three panelists, all of whom were participants in the Wallace initiative:  Ellen Walker, Executive Director of the Pacific Northwest Ballet; Magda Martinez, Director of Programs for the Fleisher Art Memorial; and Christopher Taylor, President of The Clay Studio.

Building the Organization for its Audience

When the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation convened a workshop on November 2, 2015 to talk about audience development, I was struck by the tagline they chose: “Building Your Organization for Audiences.”

Building the organization for its audience. The phrase seems just right, and yet I don’t think I’ve ever heard it said that way before. We talk so often about how to build audiences for our arts organizations, but that seems to separate

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