In Favor of Genetically Modified Organizations

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I prefer my vegetables in their 100% organic state. I don't feel the same way about non-profit arts & cultural organizations. There is nothing sacred about the business model and (dare I say it?) the artistic mission of any arts and cultural organization. That doesn't mean that an organization shouldn't stand for anything. Nor would I argue that it's healthy for an organization's business model or artistic mission to fluctuate all … [Read more...]

The Great Hibernation is Over

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Economists appear to have concluded that the "Great Recession" that began in December, 2007 officially ended in June, 2009. So, what shall we in the arts & cultural sector call the pro-longed period of hunkered-down existence that we've endured ever since? For more than six years, we've persevered in the face of withered philanthropy, slashed public funding, preempted corporate sponsorship and the contraction of consumer spending. We - our … [Read more...]

A Budget for “NOT MORE OF THE SAME”

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In springtime, a nonprofit's thoughts turn to thoughts of...  BUDGET. In many organizations, the annual budget is an exercise of simply replacing the names of THIS year's performances, events or exhibitions with those of NEXT year.  Sure, we'll lower revenue expectations for similar events that under-performed this season - and we'll raise projections for events that we hope will perform better next year.  And everybody agrees to hold the … [Read more...]

“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...]

Audience Development is Retarded

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Dumb, Invalid, Retarded, Slow, Brain- Damaged, Psycho, Crazy, Insane, Wacko, Nuts, Handicapped, Physically Challenged, "Special," Deformed, Cripple, Gimp, Spastic, Spaz, Wheelchair-bound, Lame...   Please CLICK HERE for an excellent overview of respectful disability language. The words we use matter. Vocabulary doesn't just express our beliefs.  It shapes our understanding.  Just as our imaginations are propelled by the rich concepts … [Read more...]

The 10 Commandments of Classical Music Audience-Building

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Holly Hickman of Up Tempo Marketing delivers “Spirited Marketing for Music Organizations.”  We have been friends for several years and I have deep respect for her accomplishments in the field.  A few months ago, we started a fascinating conversation about the practical challenges of audience-building specifically for classical music organizations, which I’m grateful she has allowed me to continue here. I absolutely ADORE her 10 … [Read more...]

Will Lester: “Let the Numbers Speak for Themselves”

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Will Lester is Vice President of Network Programs at TRG Arts, a data-driven consulting firm specializing in pricing and patron loyalty. TRG also has the distinction of managing 20 community data networks throughout the U.S. While the networks began as a way for arts organizations to share lists of patron contact information to cross-promote events, they’re now growing into a robust arts community resource, allowing for research on audience … [Read more...]

Gene Carr: “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility”

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With all the news of government monitoring of cell phone and Internet records, I thought it opportune to ask Gene Carr, the founder and CEO of Patron Technology to share his thoughts on the implications to the arts & cultural sector of innovations in technology, databases and more. The adage that “with great power comes great responsibility” seems appropriate for all sorts of companies that gather and manage patron databases. What advice … [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...]