The Art of the Business

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

Square pegs in round holes November 30, 2009

I went to see a play last week, and had a very interesting experience, which I both wanted to share with you, and hear your opinion on.

I do publicity for the production company of Capilano University’s theatre department, Exit 22. They do four shows a year, two smaller, and two mainstage. Their most recent production was Romeo + Juliet, which just closed this past Saturday.

I thought the show was quite well done–I often think/talk/blog about how we are going to create a new generation of

Photo Credit: Damon Calderwood

theatre-goers, and this show fit that bill quite nicely. It bridged the original Shakespearean text with segments of the actors talking about the play. The actors were what they were–young–and how to address the problem of producing a play that requires older actors when you have none was one of the challenges that they met head-on. It was also sexier and more violent than a lot of Shakespeare I’ve seen. In other words, this was a play by young people, for young people.

The day I went to see it was a weekday matinee, that was mostly populated by high school students. It was a very interesting experience. The students wanted to know if they could take pictures, or video, and when they couldn’t, amused themselves by taking pictures of themselves and their friends at intermission. And they were a little noisy. This, personally, didn’t bother me, but what did concern me was that a critic was in the audience. At one point, he actually got up and shushed them. And his review was more about the noise than the play.

So here’s my question to you: are we trying to put square pegs into round holes? The tradition of theatre is that of a sacred space–and in that space, silence is demanded. For the sake of the performers, and for the sake of fellow audience members. While I do think that it’s important to show respect for others in the audience, I wonder if we are mistaking engagement for rudeness. Is it possible that the audience was engaged in the show, and that their chatting was actually them comparing notes and sharing information about what was going on?

We were watching this piece of theatre that made every effort to meet this audience where they were–their music, their dancing, their footwear. And yet, that audience wasn’t allowed to react to it in a way that they were used to.

Maybe we should have a section of the audience for teen-agers, away from the rest of the crowd. So they can text and twitter and chat without bothering anyone. Maybe we should open up the sacred space, and make it a bit more accessible.

The question I’m asking is this: if young people are the audience of our future, do we need to:

  • train them on proper “theatre etiquette”, and risk losing them because they’ll consider it to be too boring or stuffy?
  • create theatre that is so compelling that they are totally absorbed and engaged?
  • or allow them to do what they are going to do, and look at it as something positive, rather than negative?

I’m really interested to hear what you have to say.

To view some videos (a tool that we are using extensively with Exit 22) of Romeo + Juliet, visit their YouTube Channel.

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Demystifying Social Media Workshop: Dec 1 November 27, 2009

Filed under: Arts Marketing,social media,Workshops — Rebecca Coleman @ 9:31 am
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Well, Simon and I are at it again. We have an upcoming, two-part workshop at the Alliance For Arts and Culture on Dec 1.

Part 1: 9 am-12 pm
Social Media Marketing Theory

The marketing game has changed. The internet’s offer of instant global communication has given us a new tool kit to reach our customers. To succeed in this new arena you first have to understand its language.

There’s no point in learning how to pull the levers until you know why   you’re standing at the controls. In this morning session, the facilitators will discuss the paradigm shift in marketing from its traditional forms to the social internet. They will talk about what it means to join a social network, the etiquette required and how to choose the platforms that are right for you.

The facilitators have been using social media platforms such as Blogs, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube with measurable success for several years now, and will pass on the lessons they’ve learned. And they’ll examine the art of communicating and building relationships within this compelling new world.

Part 2: 1-4 pm
Theory into Practice

In this afternoon follow-up of the morning’s Introductory Workshop, you will move from theory to practice,as the facilitators share clear, concrete methods and tips for building your social media marketing plan using the most effective sites in the landscape of platforms: Blogs, Facebook, E-mail newsletters, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.

This is where we will answer all those nagging questions about the weird and wonderful world of Social Marketing. The techniques may have changed but the abiding principle of Marketing is the same as it’s always been, and always will be: building relationships based on trust. And that is the heart of Social Media.

Both workshops take place at
The Alliance for Arts and Culture
100- 938 Howe Street

Each workshop costs $50 for members, $75 for non-members.

Click here to register.

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The Wrecking Ball and beyond November 25, 2009

Filed under: Finances,Politics of Arts — Rebecca Coleman @ 8:38 am
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On Monday night, the Vancouver Theatre Community united at The Wrecking Ball.

It was a really fun night–for me the joy of going to these things is seeing my friends in person. There were some great acts. I particularly enjoyed the “ironic” ones: the guy that did a Kevin Krueger impersonation/speech, and Linda Griffiths. Also, Jim Byrnes singing Dylan’s “The Times They Are a’Changing” was a big highlight, and when Katharine Shaw of Studio 58 smashed her Gordon Campbell cookie.

I also really, really loved some of the new PSAs that had their debut. My favorite one was written by and stars the lovely and talented Peter New, and his partner Kathryn Dobbs. It’s directed by Mike Jackson, and entitled Movie.

But for me, some of the more powerful things that came out of the Wrecking Ball, didn’t happen until the day after. It has now been three months since the cuts. Some people have had their funding restored (for this year, anyway), and some have not. What I think the Alliance for Arts and Culture is doing right is they are not letting it go. I think much of the reason why some of the funding was restored was because of the huge outcry. So the Alliance is creating ways and methods of helping us to keep the fight going.

First of all, the Alliance launched its Creativity Counts website yesterday. It includes the Advocacy Toolkit, which contains all the numbers that were so aptly presented by Adrienne Wong on Monday night. It also contains suggestions and ideas for making your voice heard. A new contest has just been announced that requires folks to use post-its to create their message. Finally, you can get a shiny “Creativity Counts! Restore Arts Funding Now” badge for your website or blog, just like I have in the sidebar.

I’ll leave you with a few moments of Jim Byrnes…

UPDATE, 2 PM: I just got a note from Adrienne saying that there is going to be a flashmob tomorrow. Details below.

At 4:30pm on Thursday November 26th please come to Waterfront Station.
Sing “Standy by Me” in solidarity with members of Vancouver’s music community.
Have your voice heard.

Please come and disseminate invitation widely.
*We are inviting the MEDIA and the more the merrier – and more impressive*

Here are the details:
A WHAT? : some might call it a flash mob…
TIME: singing begins at 4:30 sharp, arrive a couple minutes early, blend in, then just go with the flow when the singing starts
LOCATION: Waterfront Station, find the crowd
WHAT: Stand by Me – sing along or bring an instrument!
SHOW YOUR COLOURS: write “music” or “theatre” or “film” or “dance” or “sculpture” on your shirt, or hold a sign
LOOK FOR: a banner that says “Stand by us and stop arts cuts”
AT THE END: disperse back into the city

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When your artist and your marketing department are at odds (guest post by Alfred DePew) November 23, 2009

Filed under: Arts Marketing,Business of Arts,Guest post,Success — Rebecca Coleman @ 7:14 am
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I’m a writer, a writer of fiction. Fiction contains dialogue. People talk to each other in stories. We all know that. What took me some time to realize is that the conversations going on in my head about my own life were holding me back—as a writer and in my business.

About 10 years ago, I began to transition out of college teaching jobs and into my own coaching and consulting business. And all too often in the last 10 years, the Writer in me has been in conflict with the Businessman.

Many artists are in a business directly related to the art they produce. My business has nothing to do with who I am as a writer. I love my business, and I love working on this new novella. And yet these two energies still sometimes work against one another.

I went from the academic world, which promised a marginally safe living for writers and artists, into what we call the Private Sector—a kind of free fall into the market economy. Many of my first coaching clients were in my tribe: writers, painters, actors …. I loved working with them. I still do. They understand coaching principles right away. They know they’re naturally creative, resourceful, and whole. They consistently make powerful changes in their lives and work in three to six months. And they can sustain these changes. They’re some of my favorite clients.

Again and again, I hear these artists describe the conflict between the part of them that created the work and the part of them that needs to “get the work out there.”

While still teaching English at the Maine College of Art, I began running seminars for visual artists about “marketing” but which were much more about tapping the energy of what most inspired them and speaking about what they did from that place. Here’s what I noticed. In my clients and then for myself. Or I should say selves. For there are a lot of aspects to me: painter, writer, executive leadership coach, organizational change facilitator, son, brother, lover, friend. It’s easiest to think of them as roles we play in the world and to ourselves. In every marketing seminar, I heard the lament: “But I’m an ARTIST! I hate marketing.” So I began to play THERE. How to enroll the artist in the marketing department? How to recognize the creativity in marketing? How to call it something else? Sort of like putting the castor oil in chocolate milk. It kept working—but not so well.

I began to realize that these were very different functions, needing, at times, a similar kind of energy. Marketers and sales folk ARE incredibly creative. I work with sales teams all the time, and they’re inventive beyond belief, willing to take all kinds of risks.  It’s the same kind of energy we need in the studio or the rehearsal hall. But the energy is expressed in two very different roles. So I had to hold the Writer in me as distinct from the Businessman (the guy who suits up for networking events and gets on planes and talks to other guys and women in suits)—people whom the Writer part of me sometimes mocks and disdains.

You get the picture.

And that’s how we often are with ourselves. The Artist won’t condescend to speak to anyone in the Marketing Department. The Marketers dismiss the Artist as a flake. And the Accountant isn’t even allowed in the room. The inside of our heads begins to sound like a terrible episode of the Office—without any jokes at all.

So I say invite them all onto an imaginary stage and see what they have to say to one another—see how they relate to each other or choose not to. Get curious about the unconscious agreements they seem to have made with one another. Actually have them engage in dialogue—with each other, and—most important—with you. You’ve the one in charge. What kind of agreements do you want to make with these aspects of yourself now? How might they begin to work as a team? What does the Artist need from the Marketer? And vice versa? What’s at stake? Why is it important for them to work together? What can they count on from each other and from you? And how do you want to hold each other accountable?

Take some time with this. Listen. Make some notes. And most important: follow through on the agreements you make with these figures. Do what you say you’re going to do. And see what happens when the Artist part of you and the Business part of you get the chance to collaborate.

Alfred DePew is a writer, painter, and a Life Coach. His weekly column in the Vancouver Observer is called  Just Between Us (Notes of a Migrant Cultural Worker).

Relationship Matters (Alfred’s blog)

And Twitters at:@alfreddepew

For information about facilitating inner collaborations, contact Alfred at adepew@earthlink.net or call (604) 568-3621.

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Get Flocked! November 20, 2009

Filed under: Blogging,marketing with blogs,social media — Rebecca Coleman @ 7:20 am
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I’ve been test-driving a new tool over the past couple of weeks, and it’s fantastic!

Flock is a web browser, an alternative to Safari or IE or Firefox. But it’s so, so much more…

Here’s what I love about Flock:

1. You can seamlessly integrate all of your social networking into the browser’s sidebar. Set up your Twitter, Facebook, and pretty much anything else you might use (You Tube, Flickr, Photobucket, etc…), and you can see what’s going on all the time without needing to even flip between tabs. You can also post to Twitter and Facebook through the sidebar, or drag-and-drop your photos into the sidebar for immediate upload to Facebook, Picassa, Flickr, Photobucket, or whatever photo-sharing method you use.

2. It also works as a blog reader (again, teasers are shown in the sidebar).

3. It has an awesome web-clipping feature. Let’s say you see something while you are out browsing the web that you want to write about, or a photo that you think would look great in your next blog post. You simply highlight it, open up the “Web Clipboard” sidebar, and drag and drop it in. So much easier than bookmarking.

4. An offline Blog Editor. I use WordPress. I love WordPress, but occasionally, I get inspired to write a blog post when I am in a place where there is no internet connection (the Ferry is a common one). Flock allows you to write your post offline, then simply publish it when you go back online.

Flock has an office in Victoria, and a YouTube channel full of “how to” screencast goodies.

Click here to download Flock.

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Why Social Media Matters (guest post by Rebecca Krause-Hardie) November 16, 2009

Rebecca posed a question to me the other day.  It was something like this…
I know social media is important, and you know it’s  important, but how do we make the case for the value of social media – to people who think its just hype?

I think there are lots of reasons.

First, a bit of perspective: we seem to be approaching social media as if it were a whole new deal. Let’s be clear. We have all been struggling for thousands of years, how to relate to and engage one another; as tribal members, as individuals, families, clans, communities, institutions and organizations.

We have struggled as teen-agers with parental relationship controls, and peer pressure to behave in acceptable ways or be excluded. As adults we are participants in many organizations, institutions, companies, as well as community, cultural, and religious groups, that each subtly define what appropriate social behavior is and what is possible.

For thousands of years, large scale conquests across continents, wars and commerce have cross fertilized our cultures and social structures. Then, POOF, along comes the internet and social media technology tools, that have transformed the informational and social landscape of time, distance, interactive immediacy … and the possibilities for building and sustaining relationships, that are  both positive and negative.

But one thing is clear, over the centuries, through all of this … sustained personal trust, transparency, authenticity, loyalty, passion, and the value of personal relationships in our social networks – is the glue that keeps it all together.

So how does this speak directly to the value of social media today?

Here we are in the thick of it. Social media is about building and sustaining virtual networks of relationships – personal relationships – that are also built on trust, authenticity, transparency and value. When we, as individuals and organizations, invest in social media networking with our friends, associates, customers and prospective customers, there is also significant value that appreciates – to all of the participants.

Many researchers have identified a very specific group of those personal, loyal and passionate supporters, and relationships, that are the core multipliers of each of our networks. Alan Brown calls them Initiators; Fredrick Reichheld calls them Net Promoters.

Here is one analysis of the value of that relationship of trust, transparency and passion, delivered and sustained over time – Frederick Reichheld wrote an article in the Harvard Business Review called The One Number You Need to Grow:

‘Net Promoters’ – People who are wildly passionate about what we do

Enterprise Rent-A-Car was interested in understanding how people’s actions correlated with what they said. If someone says that they like to go to the theater – do they actually go, and what choices do they actually make?   In the study, they first tracked people’s initial responses to the survey, and then followed their actual downstream behaviors.

Historically millions of dollars have been spent understanding customer behavior; learning how to second guess what customers need and want. Most methods were complex, hugely expensive, marginally adequate, and frequently could not actually or accurately predict behavior.

Reichheld decided on a more direct social media approach – have a Q&A conversation with the customer – and really listen.

With the help of Reichheld, Enterprise discovered that the answer to only one survey question was all that was needed. This question is now widely used across a broad spectrum of for profit and nonprofit organizations:  That one question is:

“How likely are you to recommend my company to your friends?”

In the survey, people who answer that question with a 9 or 10 (on a scale from 1 to 10), are your Net Promoters. These people are the ones that will make the buying decision because they love your stuff (you deliver trust and real value over time), and when they passionately refer their friends to you for free, their friends are likely to act on it positively, 75% of the time.  This is an astounding return rate, especially if we look at typical results from direct mail for example with 2-3% returns.

Reichheld goes on to say that to grow your business the ratio of the Net Promoters to all the other respondents should be 75% or better.   How are you doing? You should ask the question and really listen to the answer if you want to grow. If your numbers are lower than that, your customers will be able to tell you what you need to do to change it … if you ask, and then act on it!

Personal referrals are effective 75% of the time!

We just learned from Reichheld that personal referrals are effective about 75% of the time, so it begs the question.  “What are personal referrals about?” They are about personal relationships.  We talk to our friends, and we tell them what is important to us.  We share, we trust, we value….  all the things that evolve from building social capital.  When we are enthusiastic about something we share it.   Let’s say I just had a spectacular experience with the customer service at AutoZone and I tell you about it; that will probably stick with you next time you need to pick up a part.  (Or have a headlight put in….. they did it for me instantly politely and happily!  Yay!)

On the other hand, say I have three excruciating gut-wrenching and really bad experiences in a row with Spirit Airlines (yes I did!) and I tell you about it; that may affect how you think about them too.

What does this have to do with Social Media?

Social media is about building relationships with people.  When people are making their decisions in large part based on what their friends say, then it’s important to know what their friends are saying and feeling.

If they are a passionate promoter then social media tools can help you empower them to deliver your message for free.

If they are not a net promoter, then you should be concerned about what they are saying and feeling that is not helping your cause.  What can your organization do to provide more value and to address the issues that these people have.  How will you even know what they are saying and thinking?

You can use social media tools to listen and have conversations with people. To be relevant you have to be part of the conversation.

Want some facts and figures?   Check out this video on YouTube….

beckydeckRebecca Krause-Hardie is a social media strategist, arts blogger, facilitator/trainer & project manager; helping arts and NPO’s use the web and social media effectively.  Rebecca has over 20 yrs experience in new media, business, marketing, finance. She developed and has been the Executive Producer of the award winning New York Philharmonic’s Kidzone website, now in its 10th year. http://www.nyphilkids.org.  Representative clients the Boston Symphony, NYPhilharmonic, Detroit Symphony, MAPP International, Canadian Museum of Nature, NYS/Arts, Caring.com and the Paul Taylor Dance Company.
She blogs at http://arts.typepad.com/
She Twitters at @arkrausehardie

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The Wrecking Ball: 2009 November 13, 2009

Filed under: Finances,Politics of Arts — Rebecca Coleman @ 12:16 am
Tags: ,

In October of last year, just before the federal election, a series of cabarets were held across the country. Organized by The Department of Culture, they were called The Wrecking Ball. Their purpose was to raise awareness in our community that we, as artists, are an important part of the greater political and financial picture here in Canada, and that our voice should be heard by the powers-that-be.

I attended the Vancouver Wrecking Ball, and it was a powerful experience. You can read that post here.

In light of all the recent (and forecasted) cuts to the arts here in BC, another Wrecking Ball has been organized. This one takes place Monday, November 23, 8 pm at the Vogue Theatre. I’ll be there. Daniel MacIvor will be there.  I encourage you to attend, as well.

Here is the information from stopbcartscuts.ca.

Vancouver’s theatre community joins actors, directors and designers from across the country in creative and satirical protest to the BC government’s mind-boggling and short-sighted plan to slash 90% of cultural funding, which will make it the only jurisdiction in Canada not to invest in culture.

In 2008, during the federal election, Wrecking Ball events across Canada helped turn the tide of public opinion against the Harper government’s planned culture cuts, and prevented a Harper majority. This time, events across Canada throughout the month of November will highlight the devastating arts cuts announced by the BC government in their September budget update.

Vancouver’s Wrecking Ball features some of Canada’s most nationally and internationally recognized actors and directors, including multiple award-winning actor/playwrights Daniel MacIvor (House, Twitch City) and Linda Griffiths (Maggie and Pierre), Leacock-winning writer Mark Leiren Young, Alcan Award winner Carmen Aguirre, Steven Hill of Leaky Heaven Circus, and Camyar Chai.wreck_ball32

Margaret Atwood asks, “What is it that power-hungry politicians want from BC artists? Control over the story through the annihilation of the former story-tellers? Is this the agenda behind the decapitation of arts funding in British Columbia, while mega-millions are poured into the Olympics? The BC arts community will retaliate, of course. Over the past 50 years they’ve put BC on the map.”

“It won’t just be a protest,” adds Wrecking Ball Spokesperson Adrienne Wong. “It’ll be a night to laugh and celebrate what we know – that British Columbians care about culture.

“And it’s not just arts and culture,” Wong adds. “Cuts to Gaming investments in many sectors indicate to us that this government is looking for ways to subsidize its corporate welfare, low-tax environment on the backs of civil society organizations that provide essential services to British Columbians. It seems that they don’t think much of activities like culture and sport and places where people come together for reasons other than profit. They call it a frill. We call it democracy.”

Wrecking Ball
Vogue Theatre, 918 Granville Street, Vancouver
Monday, November 23, 2009, 8:00pm
By donation

www.stopbcartscuts.ca/thewreckingball.html

Media contact: Ellie O’Day, O’Day Productions
604.731.3339 / ellie@oday.org / cell 604.313.7902

Vancouver Wrecking Ball Associate Producers: Diane Brown, Kim Collier, Sean Cummings, Bill Devine, Katrina Dunn, Brenda Leadlay, Donnard MacKenzie, Patrick McMullen, Michael Scholar Jr., Caroline Sniatynski, Adrienne Wong, Jonathan Young.

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