If you (re)build it, they will come? B'way producers seek pledges to buy tickets
From The New York Times, December 17, 2010
Undertaking an unusual poll-cum-pledge-drive among theatergoers, the producers of the Broadway musical "The Scottsboro Boys," which closed on Sunday due to weak ticket sales, are asking fans and others to commit on the show's Web site to buying $99 tickets if the musical were to re-open on Broadway this spring. The $5 million musical by the veteran team of John Kander and the late Fred Ebb received mixed reviews from critics and closed after 29 preview performances and 49 regular ones. But the production had enthusiastic admirers among those who did see it and championed the show on social networking tools like Facebook and Twitter. "We've heard from people who told us what a difference 'The Scottsboro Boys' made in their lives - how the show changed their perception of what a Broadway musical can do," Barry Weissler, one of the lead producers, said. The "Scottsboro" producers are asking people to enter their names and email addresses on the show's Web site as a sign of commitment to buying the $99 tickets. The pledges are not binding, but rather a way of seeing how many fans will actually put their money where their mouths are.
Commentary: If you re-think the marketing message, new audiences will come
Posted by Katie Ide on the Arts Engagement Exchange blog, December 1, 2010
I often feel like if you have seen one performance ad, you have seen them all. We are trained to use the same components to communicate information about our shows. Although traditional advertising is often effective in marketing a live performance, sometimes you have to change the message if you want to reach a new audience. We recently presented Philip Glass' The Four Seasons and found ourselves struggling to sell tickets outside of the traditional classical music audience. We took a second look at the advertising and decided on a new campaign titled "Vivaldi vs. Glass - You Decide" - a contest between the first half of the performance (Vivaldi's The Four Seasons) and the second half (the re-imagined Philip Glass version of the same piece). Patrons were told to text in their favorite version after the performance and winners would be posted on Facebook and Twitter. This new message was very effective at not only selling tickets but in explaining to a non-classical music audience what the concert was all about. Instead of feeling intimidated by the performance we broke it down into a simple idea - playing a popular piece of classical music two different ways and voting on which version was your favorite. The new messaging helped us encourage new attendees - 40% [were] first time buyers -- and allowed us to be more interactive with our patrons.
New study available on how to engage - not market to -- Millennials
Posted by Gary Steuer on his blog Arts, Culture & Creative Economy, December 15, 2010
Patricia Martin, a really sharp writer and consultant who follows consumer trends, marketing and sponsorship, and has a special interest in arts and culture, has just come out with a new study called Tipping the Culture: How engaging Millennials will change things. The study was commissioned by Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago, and funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation as part of its support for Nonprofit Finance Fund's "Leading for the Future Initiative." Better understanding this new generational cohort (defined in this report as being between 15 and 31 years old) -- now entering our workforce, our audiences, and our customer base, and in HUGE numbers that dwarf the size of the older Gen X group -- is critical to the future of our arts organizations. The study takes a close and revealing look at this generation, helping us develop effective strategies to engage them. Notice I did NOT say "market to them" because if there is one thing this generation hates, it is being "marketed to."
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A new dance festival wants to help artists embrace fundraising
From The Wall Street Journal, December 17, 2010
Jeramy Zimmerman wants to teach artists how to ask for money. The choreographer and co-founder of dance company CatScratch Theatre is launching a contemporary dance festival in January called FLICfest at the Irondale Center in Brooklyn. She donated $5,000 in start-up costs and is asking fellow artists and dance enthusiasts to help raise $17,000 to cover the rest of the costs. Irondale is offering the space at no cost. "We're paying the choreographers for their work, which rarely happens for a show of our size, but asking them for a commitment to help us fundraise," Ms. Zimmerman says. "It's part of a movement to get artists comfortable asking people to donate money and fund-raising for projects instead of just waiting for a big patron or government grant." The festival will present feature-length dance and performances by 12 choreographers over two weeks. Typically festivals present shorter works that max out at 15 minutes to bring in as many viewers and participants as possible to fund the show. At FLICfest, works will run 50 minutes to an hour. "A longer work allows for a greater development of an idea and the attention of the audience," Ms. Zimmerman says. "If you give the audience a change, it's amazing how long they will really stay with you. I could keep producing my own show every year but what I really want to do is help create new models and new things for other people to participate in."
Commentary: Let's debunk the myth that artists are not good at business
Karen Atkinson, writing on The Huffington Post, December 15, 2010
There is a myth out there that artists are not good at business. I did a survey about six months ago of gallery dealers in Los Angeles, and asked them about artists and entrepreneurship, and the business of art. The most common reply was that artists are not good for anything but making art. And the second most common reply was that artists should leave the business of art to dealers. I want to share some of my colleagues' success stories in order to show a different point of view -- from the perspective of an artist who has run a number of successful businesses.... Instead of changing your artwork so that it meets the criteria for collectors and dealers, perhaps making money another way allows artists to remain true to their own visions. I get so many emails from artists whose work is being pushed a certain direction by someone other than themselves and they are in a quandary about it. Most artists have multiple interests and those artists who I have profiled here are taking steps to have a hybrid career of multiple trajectories in order to have a place to make the most interesting work without having to compromise or "sell out". See my Ted.com talk on hybrid careers for more information on hybrid careers for artists.