Jeff Williamson: Sustainability Through Adaptation

Jeff Williamson

Jeff Williamson has been one of the most successful and thoughtful leaders of the Greater Phoenix arts & cultural community for as long as I've been working in the field.  A life-long conservationist, Jeff grew up on farms and spent his career trying to integrate the interests of people and nature.  He was appointed CEO/President of the Phoenix Zoo in August 1996 - and President of the Arizona Zoological Society in 2007.  In 2011 he was named … [Read more...]

Who is your “Chief Relevance Officer?”


Whose job is "relevance?" Does the word appear in any job title on your company's organization chart? Does the word even appear in the job description of any position in your organization? Will you argue that "relevance" is the obvious province of your organization's artistic director or curator since it is they who are responsible for interpreting and advancing your organization's artistic mission? With all due respect to artistic … [Read more...]

The Enemy is Empty Seats

Empty Seats 3

Do empty seats make you angry? They should!  They should make you BOILING MAD. Each empty seat represents a direct cost: the wasted expenditure of advertising, the loss of immediate cash flow, pressure to increase ticket prices and/or spend even more on marketing, a diminished pool of future donors. Each empty seat also carries the indirect cost of the APPEARANCE OF FAILURE to artists, audiences, members & donors, visitors, … [Read more...]

A Rose By Any Other Name … Doesn’t Sell

50 percent off

"Sometimes, We Want Prices to Fool Us" is the title of today's New York Times article that notes that "...most shoppers, coupon collectors or not, want the thrill of getting a great deal, even if it’s an illusion." You want proof?  The article reports that J.C. Penney suffered a whopping 25 percent drop in sales  over the last year due to its decision to stop promoting sales and offering coupons and instead focus entirely on offering “everyday” … [Read more...]


Pathways 2

The word rolled off his tongue so easily, I almost didn't catch it. Steve Martin is the Managing Director of Childsplay, the renowned professional theatre company here in the Phoenix area whose chosen audience is children. We were discussing the evolving nature of the cause of “audience development” and the various implications of its growing number of metaphors – pathways, on-ramps, entrances, channels, passages, approaches, avenues, … [Read more...]

A New Dimension for Engagement: “Fan-Funding”


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...]

Kerry Lengel: A Critic’s Take on Arts & Entrepreneurship


Kerry Lengel is the Arizona Republic's theatre critic.  His articles are most readily found HERE:  Recently, I invited Kerry to address the Seminar on Arts Entrepreneurship that I am teaching at Arizona State University this semester.  In preparation for that class, we got together for a lengthy (and lively) discussion about the nature of arts & entrepreneurship.  The discussion was so fascinating and insightful that I asked Kerry to … [Read more...]

The Most Important Theatre Company


In the Greater Phoenix region, Actors Theatre isn't the oldest, largest or even most popular professional theatre company. It's just the most important. And this morning, Actors Theatre announced:   "...the Board of Directors and Management have decided to take a PAUSE to assess and redesign our business model and to consider all options to “take control of our future.”... We are not closing. We are stepping back because we need to change … [Read more...]

Defining Our 3 Most Important Questions


Visiting with a colleague recently, we got to talking about what would be the THREE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTIONS that a mid-career professional in ANY sort of arts or cultural organizations should be asking. We further imagined that the process of ANSWERING such questions might serve as some sort of rite of passage for early/mid-career professionals - with the organizations that employ them expecting, supporting and respecting a staff member's … [Read more...]

Crista Cloutier: On Empowering Creatives


Crista Cloutier travels the globe teaching her original workshops, The Working Artist, The Working Creative & The Writer’s Life.  More than a teacher, Crista is a nurturer, emboldener and coach to career-focused individuals engaged in all sorts of artistic and creative pursuits.  Her website is: In this interview we explore how the “marketing” and “audience development” challenges of individual artists compare to … [Read more...]