Commentary: The uncomfortableness of old and new patrons sitting side by side

Shoshana Fanizza, Audience Development Specialists blog, 7/30/13

My friend Dale sent me a thread to look at on Reddit: Going to my first symphony, what are some tips for my first experience? This ongoing conversation has me thinking about traditions and their protocols.  The traditions with the respective protocols are generated by people.  People adopt these ways, and a status quo forms. We are currently in the wave of changes in status quo and our traditions are being challenged.  I have mentioned traditions and status quo a few times now, but I have yet to explore it further than the thought that changes are happening and people are taking sides due to these changes. I feel that we can have pockets of tradition to be side by side with the new.  The key is to figure out which end of the spectrum you choose to live in.  If you do decide to choose the old traditions, which is fine, be prepared to live in your pocket, your extreme niche.  You will still find an audience, yet it will be a smaller, more specific audience.  If you want to break out of the traditions, be prepared to risk, experiment, reach out to new audiences, and change with the times. It doesn't have to be uncomfortable.  We can complain about the new audiences and their disrespect for the old traditional way of presenting the arts, or we can choose to be comfortable and live in the direction that we decide is best.  Neither way is wrong.  It's only a matter of choice!


How to draw first-time family audiences to the arts

FamilyArts {UK] website, 7/22/13 [PDF document]

In 1998 Anne Roberts wrote Test Drive the Arts, a practical guide to setting up schemes that bring people into the arts, or a particular artform, or venue for the first time. The term Test

Drive was used by Arts About Manchester to describe initiatives in the arts that encouraged new audiences to try out the art on offer in a way that was low risk. This approach is much like how car retailers operate, by encouraging people to 'Test Drive' their products free of charge. Test Drive as a concept is not new, many organisations have been using this approach to target new audiences for years and there are many examples that you can learn from. Test Drive is more than just free tickets however, it refers to an overall approach describing [as Anne Roberts wrote] "an arts organisation's planned and incentivised encouragement of people to experience something in the arts for the first time, leading to lasting relationships". Test Drive is not necessarily about working with audiences that you find very hard to appeal to; although they may be included in your targeting. It is about broadening your audience base to anyone that you currently don't attract It is about finding out and knowing what families want, and responding to this. It is about increasingly teaming up with other organisations to make best use of resources and to ensure families in 2013 and beyond are offered the best possible arts experiences we are in a position to offer. This resource is designed to be a quick prompt to support you to: (1) Identify where you are now and where you would like to be in terms of reaching new family audiences; (2) Have a really effective conversation either internally or with partners about what taking a Test Drive approach could achieve; and (3) Start to plan a new Test Drive campaign.


30% of buyers at TKTS booth are first-timers who want info, not just discounts

Mark Kennedy, Associated Press, 6/25/13

Hundreds show up each day at the famed TKTS booth in the heart of [New York City's] Times Square with questions. Like: "Can I get a ticket to see the 'Superman' musical"? Or, "Are there seats available for 'The Comedy of Edward Foote'''? And, "What about 'Cats'? We really want to see 'Cats.'" To which the answers are: "You probably mean Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and, yes, tickets are available." Or, "Might you be actually referring to The Mystery of Edwin Drood?" And finally, "No, sorry, Cats closed in 2000." The people patiently doing the answering are part of a carefully assembled group of professionals who help visitors navigate the choices as they wait on line for same-day discount Broadway and off-Broadway tickets at the Times Square TKTS booth, which this week celebrates its 40th birthday. It is at the booth where shows can be more affordable for those who balk at prices pushing past $300 a seat for some shows. 30% of the people who line up here are first-time Broadway theatergoers. "There's a lot of people on this line who are going to Broadway for the first time. And people are scared -- 'Where do I go?' 'What do I see?' 'How does it work?'" said Victoria Bailey, executive director of the nonprofit Theatre Development Fund, which runs the booth. "You come here and you just listen. There's this fellowship of people having a conversation about theater. I don't think that fellowship is ever going to go out of fashion."


Encouraging first-time art collectors -- and visits to Philly

Peter Crimmins,, 7/8/13

In 13 years, Bridgette Mayer has built a successful art gallery in Philadelphia's Washington Square. Her clients and artists span the globe. When she first started out as a consultant, she believed she couldn't buy art for herself. "I knew I didn't have the money, or at least I didn't think I had the money," said Mayer in an online video. "But I ended up putting $50 down, and in a few months I paid it off in $50 installments." Mayer will release 10 instructional videos on, dispelling myths about the art market. She highlights information about art purchases through payment plans and that art is available in lots of price ranges, not just the bank-breaking amounts that make headlines. The website, with an accompanying brochure offering information on hotels, restaurants, and entertainment, is aimed at collectors to encourage them to buy art in Philadelphia. Mayer hopes to make a gateway for tourists, and a resource for insiders. The city also has its own art-focused tourism campaign, "With Art, Philly," developed by the Greater Philadelphia Tourism and Marketing Corporation. is aimed at collectors and prospective collectors who may need some encouragement. "When somebody is willing to go so far beyond their typical bottom line to do something that promotes tourism in such an overt way, that gets our attention," said Cara Schneider of the GPTMC, which is sponsoring the campaign.


Related: New app aims at first-time buyers with easy purchases via iPad

Nathalie Pierrepont,, 7/24/13 

Several companies, including Amazon, are trying to move the art market online, connecting buyers with gallery owners and offering diverse collections of artwork, ranging in mediums, genres and prices. As the only company of its kind to launch on mobile first, ARTtwo50 offers a uniquely accessible approach to the art market, appealing to first-time buyers. The San Francisco-based art e-commerce platform's virtue lies in its simplicity. Users snap a photo of their wall, browse original artwork by virtually hanging it in the space and solicit their friends for feedback by sharing the images through social media. As suggested by the moniker, every piece featured on ARTtwo50 costs $250. Like the technology that allows users to visualize artwork on their wall, the app's single price point allows "consumers to focus on whether or not they connect with a piece," said one of the co-founders Patrick Coughlin. One of the reasons why ARTtwo50 is based in San Francisco is that the city is a hub for artists. In fact, San Francisco boasts one of the highest percentages of artists in its workforces, according to a recent article. About 15% of the more than 500 artists featured on the app are local, which means the ARTtwo50 team can meet the artists regularly to learn "about their pain points and what they want out of an online marketplace," said Coughlin.

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