Steal these ideas: Snack machine fundraiser, Blues at a bank, Musicals in the wild

Trisha Mead, 2AM Theatre, 7/20/12

One of my favorite things about summer in an arts organization is that you get a couple of precious weeks where, in between the planning and the subscription mailings, there's a little fallow time where you can sometimes rise above the fray and say, HEY. What are other people doing right that we can steal for next year? Lucky for me, my hometown is developing a bit of a reputation for steal-worthy ideas in the arts these days. This year's watchwords seem to be participatory engagement. More importantly, how can we structure moments of engagement so they generate not just warm-fuzzy feelings, but actionable results that improve the art and increase the commitment of current and future arts supporters? Here [are] three Portland-based projects that are getting it really, really right:

1. Transform Vintage Snack Machines into Art-Vending Fundraisers.
Steal it from:
WK12 (Wieden + Kennedy's young creatives incubator) and Creative Advocacy Network (group trying to pass citywide tax for art/music education and non-profit arts support).What They Did: An art show called "Insert Change Here" designed as a fundraiser for arts education. It took vintage vending machines and repurposed them to sell everything from printmaking projects to tiny performances as a fundraiser for CAN. Oregon Ballet Theatre dancers [performed] in the "Perform-o-mat" machine, a one audience member coin-operated theatre that also featured musicians, actors and other performance artists. The Draw Bot had a real live human inside of it that would draw whatever was requested in the ticket inserted with the $5. Other vending machines had teeny tiny works of art vended in lieu of candy and chips.

What's stealable: This is the most entertaining and effective mechanism I have ever seen to separate potential arts donors from their charitable cash one teeny tiny arts experience at a time. And, frankly, it sounds like it was probably one of the more entertaining art shows to happen in Portland in a while -- so interactive! so engaging! so cross-disciplinary!

Steal it from: Portland Center Stage and Umpqua Bank. What They Did: Umpqua Bank wasn't interested in just another corporate sponsorship. One of the outcomes: During a recent run of Ain't Nothin but the Blues, Umpqua invited Chic Street Man, one of the artists from the show, into their bank headquarters to lead a morning "motivational moment." Chic taught an object lesson in syncopated rhythm. The group discovered that when their individual simple components layered over each other, the result was a complicated rhythm more beautiful and satisfying than the sum of its parts. A tidy team building lesson... and a transformative interaction with art all at the same time. Read all about the visit here.

What's Stealable: The integration of meaningful corporate support with truly integrated arts experiences in a work environment seems like a classic win-win... and it also seems scalable for all different sizes of arts/business partnerships. How can you take a simple element of your artistic process and re-purpose it as something that can motivate, engage, and get people in your town's corporate community moving? 


3. Sometimes Artists Need to Get Locked in the Woods Together
Steal it from: Portland-based producers Brisa Trinchero and Corey Brunish. What They Did: [Trinchero was] at a national musical theatre conference [where] some writers were lamenting the lack of space for geographically-scattered collaborators to convene to work on new projects. It just so happened her family had a vacation home near Mt. Adams. Before she knew it, she'd started the premier new musical theater incubator in the country, Running Deer Labs. There, she works with producers like Brunish to bring writing teams together with composers and mix them up with local actors and artists to yield fruitful partnerships that have headed to La Jolla, Chicago, and yes, Broadway. Get the details here. 

What's Stealable: If you are currently making work somewhat far afield of the major cultural centers that currently premiere major work, look around you -- are you an artistic oasis/incubator waiting to happen? How could your own creative community benefit by inviting these artists into your town to dream and devise? When you live in a smaller market, it can feel like your only access to major artists is the watered down touring shows that come to your nearest big barn ampitheater. Why not invite artists you love to make your community their retreat of choice?  


Steal this idea: New form of online storytelling

Andrew Magliozzi, Please Steal This Idea blog, 7/19/12

We have already seen the proliferation of new forms of online publishing, via Amazon, iBooks, and even Twitter. It has never been easier to publish and serialize literature. Even though Stephen King's new online serial failed, I believe there are unique opportunities for online publishing that we have yet to fully realize. In short, I believe it is high time for the birth of the blogle. In this new form of blog-based story telling, the author would ideally publish his or her work under a nom-de-keyboard to lend the appearance of an authentic blog. In the midst of a seemingly ordinary blog about pets, sci-fi movie reviews, or any other ordinary pretense, ideally an extraordinary narrative would unfold. Unlike other serial stories, the narrative of a blogle would not begin the same for every reader As for a blog, which is published with the most recent posts first, the reader would need to scroll, click, and explore the archives of the story for him or herself, returning for updates as the story unfolds day-by-day in apparent real time. Essentially, the hyperlinked nature of the blogle would make it a sort of choose-your-own-adventure story for adults. Best of all, the digital format of the blogle make it unconstrained by the ordinary margins of a book. With videos, images, and external links, the entire Internet (along with comments from readers) could make a truly interactive and varied reading experience. The internet has revolutionized music, television, journalism, and encyclopedias, but who will be responsible for revolutionizing the novel?


Steal this idea: Invite your audience to create your new marketing campaign

Alison Circle, Library Journal, 4/14/12

Hartford Public Library invited customers to create [a new library card campaign], and it might give you the inspiration you need. Using Facebook and Twitter, the library asked customers to submit copy ideas for the new cards. Top ideas made it onto new,branded cards, and customers can choose their favorite: Show Me Your Card, I'll Show You Mine; No Brain, No Gain; Anything is Possible With This Card; I Found My Place Like No Other; This Card Makes Me Smart; and Use This Card Until it Falls Apart. But the library didn't stop there. They created a marketing campaign around the new library cards using posters to promote education and literacy. Posters feature Hartford's Mayor Pedro E. Segarra, local business owner Judy Young, Governor Dannel P. Malloy and Cathy Malloy, First Lady and president and chief executive officer of the Greater Hartford Arts Council, and 18 month old Mila Garcia, one of the library's newest customers. And they are running a photo contest, Show Us Your New Library Card. The contest invites customers to submit photos of themselves holding their new cards in and around the city of Hartford. Three grand prize winners will be featured in posters.


Steal this idea: College students & staff's best design/marketing projects

Association of College Unions International website

Do you have an eye for design and promotion? Enter your favorite projects to showcase your talent. Share your ideas with colleagues, and "steal" a few from them. The deadline for entries is November 16, 2012. The participant divisions are college or university staff and student staff. Entries must have been produced between Jan. 1 and Nov. 16, 2012. Share your ideas with colleagues, and "steal" a few from them. The entry categories include: brochures, posters, promo campaigns, logo/brand identity, print ads, t-shirts, publications, cards/invitations, signs/banners, calendars, and animations. View past winners:

Steal this Idea - 2012 winners

Steal this Idea - 2011 winners

Steal this Idea - 2009 winners

Steal this Idea - 2008 winners

Steal this Idea - 2007 winners 

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