“Erosion of Arts Participation” is the WRONG Headline

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As a child, one of my favorite picture books* told the story of six field mice that visit a barn.  At the end of the day, they are completely unable to reconcile what they have observed (a cow) because each has seen it from a different perspective - left side, front, bottom, right side, back & top. The story comes to mind as I've downloaded the just-published National Endowment for the Arts' 2012 Survey of Public Participation in the … [Read more...]

“Lab Tests” Assess Health of Arts & Cultural Organizations

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In one of my favorite Star Trek (original series) moments, Dr. McCoy eschews his abundant technology and tells a reluctant patient to open his mouth, "The machine is capable of almost anything but I'll still put my trust in a healthy set of tonsils." Today's arts & cultural organizations would be wise to do the same. While the analytic capabilities of so many websites and ticketing systems are immense, it's not unusual for arts & … [Read more...]

The Drive to Audience Avenue

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Please let me invite you to visit the new and just-launched website of my company, Audience Avenue:  www.AudienceAvenue.com. If your priority is audience-building, then you'll be happy to find a central location for new ideas, practical applications, important resources and the connection of similarly interested people from throughout the arts & cultural sector.  In my hopes & dreams, this is the first step toward the idea of a Massive … [Read more...]

Nonprofit Organizations Need a Black Box

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Onerous headlines in Phoenix and Tucson this week as Arizona Theatre Company, the only resident company in the US that serves as a two-city operation, is reportedly ending its current fiscal year with a $1 million deficit. I have nothing but respect and compassion for the management & Board of my state's preeminent professional theatre company.  I remain hopeful and confident that they will work hard to restore the organization's financial … [Read more...]

A New Dimension for Engagement: “Fan-Funding”

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With gratitude, I share this interview with Brian Camelio, the founder of ArtistShare - a pioneering "fan-funding platform for artists" to which I was introduced just a few weeks ago.  I contacted Brian through his website's general information e-mail and asked if he'd be willing to share his experience & insights.  I am profoundly grateful for his willingness to do so. In addition to reading this interview, I encourage you to thoroughly … [Read more...]

Richard Florida: Next NEA Chairman!

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Entirely wishful thinking on my part. But consider this:  Now is an opportune - and incredibly necessary - time to connect the nation's arts & cultural policy to our country's most profound challenges. With all due respect and appreciation to NEA Chairs of the past, the ideal leader for President Obama's second term is someone who can substantially inspire, articulate and mobilize the significant opportunity of the arts & cultural … [Read more...]

Bright Idea: Freshman Orientation

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This week, our youngest attended Freshman orientation at the far-away university she'll be attending in the Fall.  So, perhaps that's what sparks this idea: Have you noticed how so many people who work in the arts & cultural sector - and in marketing and audience-development capacities in particular - have never before worked in the sector. No matter how qualified they are - no matter how much they have volunteered with a non-profit … [Read more...]

Bright Idea: Pay the Audience

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Have you ever been "upside down" in the marketing of a show - where you spent more on marketing than you earned in ticket sales?  That's where this bright idea comes from. Let's admit that sometimes we present or produce works of theater more out of love than out of any expectation that we'll be able to sell tickets. Why must marketeers slog their way thru such efforts - when it so often proves that adage that the easiest way to make a … [Read more...]

Bright Idea: Sell Something Like Girl Scout Cookies

Girl Scout Cookies

Why doesn't the arts & cultural sector have something to sell that's equivalent to Girl Scout cookies?   I mean, why isn't there something that high school drama clubs, marching bands, dance schools, community theatre groups or others can sell that drives people to specifically participate in their community's arts & cultural activities. Earlier this week, I suggested a "universal gift card" - but today, I offer that idea with a … [Read more...]

Bright Idea: United Museum Renewal Services

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Here's a bright idea from Peter Van Allen of Bryn Mawr, PA... "I am a member of a number of museums and nonprofits -- maybe 8 or 9 all together. So throughout the year, I'm getting an almost constant stream of renewal notices. I can't keep them straight. Why can't there be one company or organization that keeps all your membership information in one database? It could keep track of all your renewals, plus it would remind you of your … [Read more...]