Great article on how one of the most successful fundraising events in the country attracts big money through innovative planning and board involvement
On May 1, The New York Times published a series of editorials from eight professionals around the country on funding the Arts.Contributors include:
- Beth Nathanson, Playwrights Horizons
- David Boaz, Cato Institute
- Bob Lynch, Americans for the Arts
- Sergio Munoz Sarimento, Artist and Arts Lawyer
- Kamilah Forbes, Hip-Hop Theatre Festival
- Clyde Valentin
- Michael Royce, New York Fundation for the Arts
- Stacy Palmer, The Chronicle of Philanthropy
The Chronicle of Philanthropy recently published an article on how not-for profits – which tend to have much smaller budgets than for-profit businesses — use social media. “The challenge, especially for the greater than 1 million smaller organizations with tight budgets and limited staff, is how to use scarce resources most effectively to reap the benefits,” says a new 10-page report by the Rita Allen Foundation and the Bridgespan Group. “But in the rush to “go social,” many nonprofits are failing to think through their strategy, define their target audience, match online tactics to real world goals, or consider how they might measure success and learn from failure.”
The hard truth is, you cannot simply adapt offline strategies and post them online. “The web is not TV. Organizations that understand the New Rules of Marketing and PR develop relationships directly with consumers…”
This should be great news for not-for-profit Arts institutions, as it offers opportunities to interact directly with audiences. And yet some Arts institutions have held back, sticking to traditional media and neglecting social media all together, or worse, limiting its use to a mere dabble here and there, frequently damaging the ‘brand’ more than helping. While seemingly low-cost, Social Media does require regular maintenance, making it labor intensive.
That said, while many arts institutions still question how to best use social media. Beyond posting events, luring fans and offering occasional trivia contests or free tickets, questions remain (as they do throughout the business world) on how to best further engage constituents.
Below are some case studies that offer examples of the creative ways arts organizations and others have used Social media.
American Museum of Natural History: The Blue Whale:
“I am the whale on the ceiling of the Natural History Museum in New York City.”
West Side, has been tweeting since late 2008. He has over 14,000 followers and regularly tweets about visitors and current events. Young people have been known to visit the whale, just to see what ‘he’ will say about them.
Théâtre du Nouveau Monde (TNM): Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme
While frivolously tweeting away in classical French verse, characters from Molière’s play introduced themselves to a new clientele. Three profiles were created – the Bourgeois, his wife and the Marquise – and social media hosts were hired to “play them.”
“Deceits, anachronisms, ribaldries and misunderstandings: they held nothing back. The characters not only interacted with each other but also directly with young Twitter users who were exposed to the verbal thrusts and parries of characters many of whom they did not know from Adam.”
TNM and its media specialists also identified top “influencers” on Twitter in Quebec (people with high Twitter ratings whose interests touched on technological innovation or culture). The results?
In one month, the Molière characters attracted a total of 1,045 subscribers on Twitter and sent out more than 1,000 tweets. This generated visibility to more than 60,000 people and a secondary visibility of more than 600,000 people. Even more importantly, there was such a demand for tickets, that TNM needed to extend the run for four additional performances. The originality and never-seen-before character of the initiative had an impact extending Canada-wide in the Web media and the traditional press, the equivalent to a traditional press campaign worth tens of thousands of dollars.
Lionsgate: The Hunger Games
Speaking about a record-breaking success of a worldwide commercial phenomenon may not seem relevant when addressing the not-for-profit realm, but there are lessons to be learned from Liongate’s use of social media. As Brooks Barnes writes in his piece in the Business section of the New York Times called, “How ‘Hunger Games’ Built Up Must-See Fever,”
“The dark art of movie promotion increasingly lives on the Web, where studios are playing a wilier game, using social media and a blizzard of other inexpensive yet effective online techniques to pull off what may be the marketer’s ultimate trick: persuading fans to persuade each other.”
The article goes on to describe the yearlong digital effort focusing on “near-constant use of Facebook and Twitter, a YouTube channel, a Tumblr blog, iPhone games and live Yahoo streaming from the premiere.”
A quick peek at the movie’s Facebook page reveals sophisticated use of Facebook Pages “apps” with a number of games, guarded by a “Like: Gatepost” with opportunities to enter polls, interact, become a “Mayor of Panem,” etc. Key also was
the planning and monitoring: one team member was assigned to cultivate “Hunger Games” fan blogs; the senior VP created a chronology for the entire online effort, using spreadsheets (coded in 12 colors) that detailed what would be introduced on a day-by-day, and even minute-by-minute, basis over the length of the campaign.
The key element in all three examples is “engagement.” Audiences are cultivated as active participants, not passive recipients. Scale need not be the issue — whether its simple tweets from a unique perspective or a multi-million dollar, complex strategy: if you engage you spark interest and cultivate audiences.
 “The New Rules of Marketing & PR,” by David Meerman Scott.
 “How ‘Hunger Games’ Built Up Must-See Fever,” by Brooks Barnes, The New York Times, Published: March 18, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/19/business/media/how-hunger-games-built-up-must-see-fever.html?_r=1&sq=Hunger%20Games%20marketing&st=cse&adxnnl=1&scp=2&adxnnlx=1335621627-lUhmCIjGo2XueqAePybQMQ#
How does a twenty-first century arts institution find that equilibrium between what Matthew Arnold defines as “the best that has been thought and said,” and “the property of an educated elite… which involves intellect and study,” with a more populist approach. After all, “the majority of the audience for culture consists of “omnivores” who have both traditional and popular forms of culture on their menu and alternate between them.” As further noted in the Compendium: Cultural Policies and Trends in Europe: The Netherlands, “A strict division between the state domain and the commercial market …[is] no longer realistic.” Rick Van der Ploeg, Professor of Economics University of Cambridge and Fellow of European Economic Association further stressed,
“Subsidy should … be used to get a grip on the cultural market, in order to make artistically high value performances more popular, and utterances of popular culture better in the sense of a more artistic content. Cultural entrepreneurship would open up possibilities to reach a multicultural or similarly diversified audience.”
Rick Van der Ploeg, “Compendium: Cultural Policies and Trends in Europe” 
What is Cultural entrepreneurship? The Global Center for Cultural Entrepreneurship defines it as: “commercial ventures that connect creators and artists to markets and consumers. They create, produce and market cultural goods and services, generating economic, cultural and social opportunities for creators while adding cultural value for consumers.” This entrepreneurship shifts the cultural sector’s focus on “the commercial techniques needed to develop new audiences and generate independent sources of income.” One celebrated example of this is the Detroit Symphony (DSO). Led by world-renowned conductor, Leonard Slatkin, along with its president and CEO, Anne Parsons, and its players, the DSO has been “working to reinvent what it means to be a symphony orchestra in 21st century America, convincing new audiences that such an institution is an essential part of a city’s personality.” In the past few years, DSO’s musicians have played everywhere from high school auditoriums in blue-collar suburbs, to a Salvation Army rehab center on the city’s southwest side. In June 2010, the symphony performed a concert at Orchestra Hall that included Bernard Herrmann’s nightmarish score for the movie, Psycho.
“As a wildly mixed audience of T-shirted kids, goateed hipsters and larking baby boomers watched Janet Leigh’s shower scene, the orchestra’s string section provided the movie’s signature series of jagged shrieks with a way-better-than-Dolby vividness.”
Also important in DSO’s outreach endeavors is its 18th annual free “Concert of Colors” – a musical celebration of metro Detroit’s cultural diversity presented by a partnership of the Arab American National Museum, New Detroit, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, ACCESS and the Detroit Institute of Arts. One feature of the celebration: the symphony recently gave a concert at the Matrix Human Services Center, a former church in northeastern Detroit. The audience was a collection of approximately seventy residents of one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, all of them African American, many of them “confronted with classical music for the first time.”
“If it seemed like an awfully small audience for a performance led by one of the U.S.’s best-known conductors, the loud clapping and hearty cheering suggested that such music might have a future in Detroit after all…”
Okrent, “And the Band Played On.” 
These tactics mirror those of the Berlin Philharmonic, a continent away. While the Berlin Philharmonic is not currently struggling financially, its mission is undoubtedly influenced by the need to draw new audiences while eschewing the Western ethnocentric programming that frequently begets an elitist label. For the 2010 – 2011 season, programming themes address Hungarian Music, while Zukunft@BPhil, Berlin Philharmonic’s educational program, promises an “Alla Turca” chamber music series which “offers an intercultural dialogue in the form of workshops for entire families and other young people.” Another project is “Coro,” described by its creator, Luciano Berio – an experimental Italian composer — as “an anthology of different modes of ‘setting to music.’ “ School students, as well as adults from different areas of Berlin, will create text collages reflecting their own particular cultural heritages. These will form the basis of an instrumental and choral composition focusing on the interaction, but also on the individualities of the participants to create a multi-layered whole.”
“It is like the plan for an imaginary city which is realised [sic] on different levels, which produces, assembles and unifies different things and persons, revealing their collective and individual characters, their distance, their relationships and conflicts within real and ideal borders.”
Like the tapestry that allows individual colors and textures to work together to form the whole without losing their individual characteristics, so does music inspire harmony, mutuality and cohesion rather than an amalgamation of cacophony. With this program, one can “…celebrate culture as a form of spontaneous, as well as deliberate, expression and as what is common to the people of a community or a region as opposed to what divides them.”
 As quoted in Hamilton, “Scruton’s Philosophy of Culture: Elitism, Populism, and Classic Art “.
 Bína, “Compendium: Cultural Policies and Trends in Europe: The Netherlands,” 8.2.1 page N 49
 Ibid, 4.1.
 Global Center for Cultural Entrepreneurship: http://culturalentrepreneurship.org/page1/page1.html
 Hagoort, “Cultural Entrepreneurship: On the Freedom to Create Art and the Freedom of Enterprise.”
 Okrent, “And the Band Played On.”
 Kim Silarski, “Concert of Colors Expands,” in Detroit All-Star Revue returns with more local greats, ed. Aaron Barndollar (Detroit2010).
 Okrent, “And the Band Played On.”
 “Alla Turca” is an Italian phrase which translates to “Everything Turkish”
 Stefan Dohr, “Musikfest Berlin 10,” ed. Berliner Philharmoniker (Berlin2010).
 Luciano Berio as quoted in Ibid.
 Williams, “Culture Is Ordinary.”
I recently encountered a situation typical among performing arts organizations: a PR and advertising department billing itself as a marketing department, obtaining
great press coverage for noteworthy events, but missing the larger picture of developing loyal, long-term fans. Understanding the differences between PR and Marketing and the importance of ‘branding’ are critical to performing arts organizations’ success, especially in the not-for-profit realm. Certainly, advertising helps build brand awareness but it is consistent brand experience – developed by institutional marketing as expressed by the mission that helps sustain the organization, which in turns, aids fund-raising along with audience and organizational development. As Philip Kotler, the marketing guru and author of Marketing Management among dozens of other textbooks and books, said, “Brands are not built by advertising but by the brand experience.” Performing Arts organizations that focus all ‘marketing’ efforts on selling tickets to specific performances are ignoring brand building and missing important opportunities.
Marketing is defined by the American Marketing Association (AMA) as “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” Advertising, however, is “The paid, public, non-personal [my italics] presentation, promotion or announcement of a persuasive message by an identified sponsor to its existing and potential customers.
While similar, the difference between the two lies in the emphasis: marketing is about providing something of value to the customer; whereas advertising is impersonal and focused on advancing the generic value as defined by the promoter. As David Meerman Scott writes in his excellent book, “The New Rules of Marketing and PR,” “Marketing must shift their thinking from the mainstream marketing to the masses to a strategy of reaching vast numbers of underserved audiences via the web.”
This is why understanding and incorporating social media into the marketing mix has become so important, especially to cultural organizations seeking to engage younger demographics. Social media promotes the brand, which in turn, encourages interaction.
Alex Fleming, marketing director at the Lyric Hammersmith in London points out, “…it’s hard to say that contact via social media has got us ‘x’ more ticket sales, but our audiences are definitely talking about us and through these conversations there’s more awareness of our work.” This awareness is branding. And branding is marketing.
 Philip Kotler, Marketing Insights from A to Z: 80 Concepts Every Manager Needs to Know, 2003
 “AMA Definition of Marketing.” American Marketing Association.
http://www.marketingpower.com/AboutAMA/Pages/DefinitionofMarketing.aspx. Retrieved 2012-4-7
 Elizabeth Davis, Embracing social media, The Stage, November 19, 2010 ,
- Create a One page Fact Sheet. (see below for link to an example) This sheet should include relevant information about your organization in a clean, neat, easy-to-read way. Make sure you include:
- Name, address & contact information
- Size of venue (if appropriate)
- Mission Statement
- History Highlights
- Upcoming projects
- Prepare a Press Kit / EPK (Electronic Press Kit) – organized into a presentation folder. Include:
- Sample brochures from current season
- Copies of best press
- DVD or thumb drive with select performance highlights
- Organizational promotion video (no more than 3 minutes, professionally produced)
- Wikipedia Page:
- Do you have one? If yes – do you maintain it regularly? Enlist volunteers or long-time board members to assist
- If you don’t have a Wikipedia page – you absolutely should! This is free web real estate perfect for you to archive your history. As a matter of fact, Wikipedia wants you – it has recently begun an initiative to expand its article entries related to Culture and the Arts.
- For a list of all performing arts topics currently sought, see:
- For theaters, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Theatre
- Social Media: Curate your Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pages :
** A future article will focus on Social Media Best Practices Strategies for Performing Arts organizations, but you can begin by making sure you:
- Have both a Facebook Fan Page and a Twitter Account
- Start collecting Fans and “Likes”
- Cross-brand across Social Media platforms
- Also consider: YouTube, Flickr, and Pinterest
- Create an electronic newsletter. (There are a number of programs at various price points with a variety of features. Check out: Constant Contact, MailChimp, Patron Mail, etc.)
- Do not send more than every other week
- Do NOT only share “Big News.” Write about activities that highlight your organizations leadership in the field – so search engines pick up your activities more readily.
- Should be informative about your activities with links for donations, ticket purchases, interesting articles about the organization and / or related interests.
- Try to include something fun: a restaurant review, a coupon for free parking, a trivia contest, etc.
- Include institutional donors on your email blast list