The Art of the Business

A blog dedicated to artists who are serious about their business.

Update on BC Cuts to the Arts October 16, 2009

Filed under: Finances,Politics of Arts — Rebecca Coleman @ 6:47 am
Tags: ,

First off, I’m excited to say that a profile piece on me was published yesterday in The Vancouver Observer. Alfred DePew interviews me about the recent cuts to the arts, and how Social Media helped us to organize our protest against it.

Click here to read it.

Secondly, yesterday a delegation of 25 representatives from the non-profit and arts worlds affected by the recent cuts to the arts met yesterday with Kevin Krueger, the minister of arts and culture. It’s my understanding that not much positive came out of that meeting. So…. another rally has been planned. Similar to the one on September 9 at the VAG, this one is called The Grey Rally. It’s happening all day on Wednesday, October 28, all over the city. Here’s the information from the Facebook page (speaking of using social media to organize):

The Grey Square Grand Plan

A minimum of 16 people, dressed in GREY, walk single file SILENTLY and make a grey square SILENTLY on a city corner.
Someone in that group will be designated timekeeper.
After 15 minutes, led by the timekeeper, they walk single file to another city corner and make another square.
This goes on all day, all around the city.
People can be funneled in and out once the route and times are ascertained.

We need: people to form grey squares; volunteers to hand out leaflets; volunteers for communication and organization tasks.

This is not a protest. This is about art and artists taking their space.

Participants are asked to donate an hour of their time on Oct 28. If you are interested in participating, please contact

Finally, The Alliance For Arts and Culture has created an Advocacy Toolkit. Please download it, read it, and create some action!

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FLIP-ing out: Shooting October 14, 2009

This is the second in a series of posts dedicated to my new Flip video camera and how to use video to promote your business.

I spent an hour or so yesterday shooting footage for a Hallowe’en show that I am doing publicity for. One of the biggest challenges of using video to promote theatre is that theatre shot on film looks terrible. It never translates properly, the sound doesn’t work, and because the camera tells your eye where to go, you always feel like you’re missing something. One of the things I love the most about live theatre is the “live” aspect of it–each show is unique, and you never really know what’s going to happen. You can’t capture it on film.

So, the challenge when shooting video for theatre is, what do you shoot? There are a bunch of options. You can create a commercial for your show, do interviews with key people, or shoot behind-the-scenes footage.

The shoot I did yesterday consisted of me interviewing actors and key production people (the director, the musical director) about the show.

We did it simple: a room with an unbusy background (we just had a poster tacked up) and a director’s chair. You really need a tripod for this kind of work. I’ve been very impressed by how steady the Flip shoots, but you really can’t get away without a tripod for this. Then I sat behind the camera, and brought people in one by one and did short (under 5 minute) videos with each of them. I framed it simply–from the waist up–I like to shoot things closer rather than having the person who is the focus lost in the frame.

I asked them questions like:

  • Who are you, and what character do you play?
  • What’s your background?
  • What’s your favorite moment in the play, or if you play more than one character, what’s your favorite character?
  • What’s the best part of doing this play/role?
  • Why should people come and see the show?

When I got home and imported the raw footage to my computer, I was a bit concerned about the sound. The Flip does not have a plug-in microphone jack, so you can’t use a lavaliere (if you happen to have one). I was about 4 feet away from the subject I was shooting, and the volume is a bit low, so I’d encourage you, when shooting, to try to get as close to your subject as possible.

Here is one of the finished videos (apologies to Erik–I spelled his name wrong–will fix that in the next couple of days):

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FLIP-ing out October 12, 2009

Filed under: Flip cam,Marketing with YouTube — Rebecca Coleman @ 10:30 am
Tags: ,

Here in Canada, we are celebrating thanksgiving today. It’s also my dad’s birthday, so as I write this post, I’m running back and forth to the kitchen, checking on my pies and frosting the cake.

On Friday, I finally invested in a Flip video camera. Yes, I know, I’m a bit behind the times: the Flip was originally introduced in May of 2007, but I had some other tech tools (like a new Mac) that I needed to invest in before I got to a video camera. My plan for the next series of posts is to talk about the Flip, how it works, and how you can use it to create videos to market your work.

First off, a little about the camera. The Flip is the darling of bloggers everywhere because it is so uncomplicated. It’s small: only a little larger than my BB, and has 4 MB of storage (enough for 2 hours of video). It shoots at 5.6 µm pixels, and saves the video as MV4.


Why is all this important? Because you want video quality that is high enough so that you get good colours and resolution (read: no pixelization), but is not so high that it takes hours to download to your computer or upload to the web.

The coolest thing by far about the Flip is the pop-out USB connection. No more searching for cables! Anywhere you have your computer and an internet connection, you can shoot and have it on the web within minutes.


The other wonderful thing about this camera is its pricetag: my Flip Ultra cost $168. The HD model will run you about $250. Here in Canada, they are available only at Wal-Mart.

Stay tuned for more FLIP-ing out. I’ll document my experiments as I learn to use the camera, shoot and edit video, and use it to market your work.

In the mean time, my son lost his first tooth on Saturday, so I thought it only fitting that my first Flip cam video be devoted to that (I know, it has nothing to do with arts marketing, but the timing was right!).

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E-book update October 9, 2009

Filed under: Arts Marketing,E-book — Rebecca Coleman @ 9:26 am

In June of this year, I launched my e-book, Guide to Getting Started with Social Media for Artists and Arts Organizations.Rebecca_ebook_12

There have been a couple of exciting new developments that I wanted to let you know about.

First off, the book is now available to download in alternative formats through Smashwords. Smashwords is an e-book publisher, and allow me to sell my book, not just in traditional .pdf format, but in other formats as well, like for Kindle, SonyReader, Epub (Iphone) or PalmDocs. You can see it here.

Secondly, the guide will soon be available in hard-copy format to purchase through Biz Books.

There’s some new stuff in the works, as well. I’m in the process of rewriting the Facebook chapter, and I plan to add a chapter on using video and Tumblr in the next few months.

So, stay tuned!


Creating an email signature October 7, 2009

Last week, I got an email from Simon. This, in and of itself, is not strange, given that we work together. A lot. What was new was this spiffy signature:
simon sig

I took a screenshot and converted it to a .jpg, so you’ll have to believe me when I say all links are clickable.

Email signatures are a powerful tool. They’re like the digital equivalent of a business card. As we become more and more active online, there are more and more places to connect with us, or points of entry. You might meet someone on LinkedIn that you didn’t know through Facebook, or vice-versa. So it’s important to allow your clientele to connect with you in whatever way they like the best.

So, first of all, if you don’t yet have an email signature, create one. Most email programs will allow you to do this, even the web-based ones like Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail.

Your signature should include any below that are applicable:

  • Name, position, company
  • Logo
  • Address (ONLY if you have an office, not your home address)
  • Phone number
  • Website URL
  • Blog URL
  • Ways to connect with social networking: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.

I came across a cool little program that writes the code for you, called Sig22.

Special thanks to the lovely and talented Janet Baxter, who sent me this article from CNN Business on how to create a digital business card.

Maybe if you ask him nicely, Simon will tell you how he did his.

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Let’s Make a Scene! October 5, 2009

Every year, our local Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance hosts a conference that takes place over one weekend in October. There are discussions, workshops, and keynotes. Plus quite a bit of socializing and some alcohol consumption.

This year, in light of the drastic cuts to the arts, the theme of Making a Scene is THEATRE MATTERS! They keynote speaker is George Thorn, co-director of Arts Action Research out of Portland.

Here’s what his partner, Nello McDaniel, has to say about the work that they do there:

“ARTS Action Research believes that the challenges confronting today’s arts organizations demand that arts professionals and their community partners respond more forcefully and proactively than ever before. These responses must be complex not reflex, strategic not prescriptive, systemic not situational, studied and deliberate not imitative and tentative, and most of all they must be from the inside out, not engineered from a distance. The future demands that our organizational responses be as creative, bold, entrepreneurial, clear, courageous and adaptable as the art we produce, exhibit and present. ARTS Action Research is committed to an arts community that is artist-centered — led and directed by arts professionals.”

Pretty cool.

Also in the “pretty cool” category, Simon and I will be again on a panel discussing social media. On Saturday afternoon, October 31 (yes, Hallowe’en, and you are encouraged to come in costume. You’re actors, for pete’s sake!), at 1:30, we will be on a panel moderated by Sean Allen called The Power of Social Media.

Here’s the blurb:

The Power of Social Media:
We all know that Social Media is a good thing… right? But what can it really do for your organization besides take up time from your work day? Join us in this open forum as we share inspiring examples and inspire each other with stories of the power of social media for theatre organizations. Moderator: Sean Allan (Chair– GVPTA Advocacy Committee)

We will specifically be talking about The World Theatre Day blog and other success stories.

You should come. For more information, or to register:

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Time-Tracking Software October 2, 2009

Filed under: Tools — Rebecca Coleman @ 5:59 am
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Yesterday was my blog-versary. The second post I ever wrote was called Putting a Value on Your Work, and talked about how to price your work.

A key aspect of putting a value on your work, whether it be a painting, a song, or a dance piece, is know how much time went into the creation of that piece. For me, when I first started my business, I charged an hourly rate, but after a bit of time, I switched to a flat rate, because I hated tracking the time for every little email or phone call I made. I wish I had one of these programs to help me… Still, even when I went to a flat-rate system, I had to have some kind of idea of how long it would take me to do a job. Otherwise, I’d be ripping off either myself, or the client.

Some time-tracking software does more than just track your time. There are some available that help you with your accounting, to keep track of your contacts, and all of it is available to download as Excel spreadsheets. It’s pretty cool stuff. freshbooks2

The one I’d recommend is Freshbooks. This Canadian company offers not just the ability to track your time, but you can also invoice, keep track of employee’s hours, track your expenses and create estimates. They have a free, lite version called “Moped”, and packages starting at around $20/month after that.

For a list of all of the current time-tracking software, click here.

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