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Choosing Sides: Defining a Role for the Arts (and Making it Work) in “Interesting" Times

Last November's election was a shock to many arts organizations. After years of preaching inclusivity and diversity, it's clear these messages haven't resonated with significant portions of our communities. So what now is the role of artists and arts organizations? Particularly after the case to donors and funders for the arts in recent years has increasingly moved toward "arts and..." arguments, yoking measurable social goods to art.

So maybe an opportunity? Non-profits across the country report being inundated with volunteers and donations, people wanting to do things meaningful to them, things where they can make a difference. How to harness this new energy AND broaden your community in a politically fractious environment? Making America great again is an appeal to values, so what are the compelling values arguments for the arts? We'll look at how America's creative community is making the case.
Douglas McLennan
Editor ArtsJournal



Build Your Patron Journey by Creating a Unique Map to Greater Engagement

What distinguishes arts and cultural events from the hundreds of other entertainment or enrichment activities available to us? For starters, they don’t happen on your couch and they don’t happen alone. We strive to produce programming that sends our audience on an emotional and intellectual journey, but there’s another journey taking place: the path to greater engagement with your art and your organization, a Patron Journey.

In the age of “streaming everything,” what separates us from the competition is the emotional attachment we have to the people and places that share the arts and culture experience with us. If we believe this is true, then the single most important part of our mission, aside from our programming, are the interactions we have with these patrons. Where are they in their journey? How can we enrich their appreciation of the works we present? How can we move them along the path from single ticket buyer to lifetime benefactor? How can they advocate for us to the patrons we’ve yet to meet? You’re the guide; where will you lead them?

In this two-hour workshop, you’ll create a Patron Journey that’s unique to your organization, based on its size, available resources, and its position in your local arts and culture market. We'll discuss what successful organizations around the world are doing, and we’ll show you how to replicate their strategies to identify and manage patrons who are ready to take the next step.

You’ll learn how to:
  • Find your unique strengths and adapt to peer offerings in the marketplace
  • Evaluate and allocate resources: finance, technology, content, staffing
  • Use your data systems to build reports that matter
  • Identify segments and craft messaging and programming that works
  • Create Random Acts of Kindness to build loyalty
  • Automate aspects of the journey to save staff time and get better results
  • Measure your success and refine your plan to optimize results and return on investment
Working in small groups throughout this Intensive, you'll leave with a journey map that you can put in action in your organization right away, plus you’ll have all the motivation and information you need to sell that plan to your Board and other stakeholders. Don’t miss this!
Paul Miller
VP Sales & Marketing PatronManager



Creating a Compelling, Brand-Building System of Visual Expression

Building connection, participation, revenue, and support through design

Nonprofits, and particularly those in the arts space, have to execute a complex business model. Not only do they have to sell tickets, they also have to bring in philanthropic dollars, land sponsorships, and secure investments from foundations and civic entities. They have to keep four income steams up and running to be successful.

And because no one needs to go to the ballet, spend an afternoon at a museum, or attend an orchestral concert, the task for arts marketers is to move different constituents from “that could be an okay idea” to “I want to attend / sponsor / support” your organization. Your value has to go beyond fulfilling basic operational and quotidian needs, to fulfilling emotional ones. To make this happen, you’ve got to connect with people at a level that’s deeper and longer-lived than individual offerings: they have to connect with your brand.

More than your logo, your brand is actually what you mean and promise. It’s comprised of your offerings, your value and values, your history and reputation, how you treat people, and your place in the cultural landscape––much of this expressed in your print, digital, environmental, and personal communications. And your brand doesn’t really exist until people take it in and believe it.

Words, of course, play a big part—but only a part. For cultural organizations, and most especially for arts organizations, how you express yourself visually has an outsized impact on how your brand is perceived and internalized.

Your visual expression, across media, can either invite people in or erect a barrier––can either resonate with a person’s (or sponsor’s) brand, or be at odds. It can either add value to your offerings, or detract. It can differentiate you within a crowded, visually noisy landscape, or barely separate you from the pack.

In this session, we’ll look at:
  • how to define and articulate your brand foundation––your meaning, attributes, assets, and desired positioning––from which all subsequent work flows;
  • how your strategic plan informs how you present yourself;
  • why you need to be thinking of visual expression as a system, comprised of inter-related decisions around logo, type, color, imagery, composition, and design;
  • the need to build a system that can “tilt” to connect with different constituencies: attracting younger audiences is not the same as soliciting patrons for planned giving––but your brand system has to do both;
  • how your new system can save time and money while building increased recognition and connection; and
  • how to engage your organization in this process––so that those who commission, make, and evaluate communications are all working together to increase awareness, interest, participation, and support.
Throughout the talk, we’ll connect theory to practice, and look at examples of visual systems from these successful organizations: Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Seattle Symphony, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Celebrity Series of Boston, Emmanuel Music, Boston Center for the Arts, and the League of American Orchestras––organizations with budgets of varying sizes.
Roger Sametz
President and Chief Executive Officer Sametz Blackstone Associates



Developing Effective Audience Building Strategies and Tactics

Research shows that there’s no magic to building a following with a new audience. Instead, success comes by carefully considering the barriers keeping audiences from attending, and then identifying intersection points between the work an organization presents on one hand, and a target audience’s interests, attitudes, and lifestyles on the other. This session will examine how several arts organizations found success by following these steps—methodically thinking through the barriers facing a target audience and then developing multifaceted strategies grounded in sometimes newly discovered alignments between what audiences are looking for and what their organizations present. Group exercises will facilitate thinking through which barriers to tackle, and then how to craft an audience development strategy and tactics that align with both the artistic mission and what a target audience is looking for.
Bob Harlow
Marketing and Research Consultant Sponsored by The Wallace Foundation



Use Data to Drive Fundraising Success

For many years now, arts marketers have relied on data to make key decisions about how to allocate their advertising dollars, which audience segments to target, and what messages and mediums to use for the greatest revenue increases and return on investment. While this has not always been the case with our fundraising teams, new technologies and processes are making it possible to achieve the same kind of data-driven success in annual fund appeals, membership drives, and moves management strategies.

In this session, you’ll learn what fundraising data points are actually worth tracking, how to look at the data and perform the calculations, where to focus your time for optimal results, and how to apply segmentation and targeting strategies used by successful organizations around the country. Bring questions and stories about what has worked for you and your organization.
Paul Miller
VP Sales & Marketing PatronManager


Creating a Five-Star Fundraising Plan — Your Recipe for Success

Just as great meals are created one ingredient at a time, so are effective strategic fundraising plans. Join this interactive session that focuses on the steps to design and implement a plan that really "cooks" in maximizing your contributed income and donor relationships. Learn how to craft a recipe that identifies and cultivates the right individual donors through social media, telefundraising, special projects, and more!! Add a touch of the best donor research and planning techniques to capitalize on your unique flavor. Mix in strategies that engage well done corporate and foundation stakeholders. Stir in the best special events and donor benefits that celebrate your impact. Cover how to set realistic timelines and how much "heat" to put on your donor prospects, always making sure they don't get burned. And finally, savor the spice that your organization adds to your community.
Dr. Bruce D. Thibodeau
President Arts Consulting Group


How Does Your Organization Measure Up? -- Arts Industry Benchmark Data

Using data from 300+ performing arts organizations, this session will provide industry benchmarks for how you compare to your peers in key metrics such as re-attendance, proportion of sales online, click-through rates, donation add-ons and many more. In each area we’ll discuss not only the benchmark average but also identify organizations with exceptionally high success rates and break down what contributes to their success. Expect to walk away from this session with highly tangible take-aways that you can immediately implement at your organization.
Kenneth Foster
Account Executive Spektrix


Cultural Facilities as Fundraising and Audience Development Tools

Historically, cultural facilities have been viewed by management as simply the place where the art meets the audience, and also as a drain on scarce human and financial resources. This session will explore the idea that cultural facilities can and should be important tools for audience development and fundraising, based on recent case studies in the sector and specific examples of organizations that are getting much more value out of their facilities.

On the audience development side, we will show examples of cultural organizations that use their facilities as a way to build and strengthen customer relations, building a sense of community and loyalty to the organization through programming and special events. We will also demonstrate how facilities can themselves be used to deploy a range of effective marketing messages and programs.

For fundraising purposes, we start with the idea that every event is a fundraising event and show examples of how cultural facilities can drive annual and capital funding. Then we will explore trends in event and facility sponsorship as a means to improve financial sustainability.
Duncan Webb
President Webb Management Services, Inc.


Can 100% Digital Marketing Work for Your Organization?

The Phoenix Symphony is allocating 100% of their single ticket advertising budget to digital for the 2017-2018 season. In this session, you’ll learn about the company’s digital evolution, and see how the Symphony used data and experimentation to arrive at this progressive budget. Discover how this real live case study is playing out with $4,000,000 in annual ticket sales on the line—hint: record breaking results.

After this session, you’ll be able to:
  • Implement an iterative and strategic approach to increasing your digital advertising
  • Evaluate how to set, measure and implement key KPI’s to prove, justify and communicate your progress
  • Double down what marketing efforts are working and discontinue or cut back efforts that are not
  • Prove or disprove paradigms in your industry using data (e.g. older audiences don’t use social media)
Todd Vigil
Chief Marketing Officer Phoenix Symphony


(program and speakers subject to change)

Stay Tuned For Many More Sessions To Be Added, Including:

Increasing Revenue While Lowering Costs 
Attracting Younger Audiences
Google Analytics 
Strategies To Boost Advance Sales 
Optimal Pricing 
Digital And Traditional Marketing Mix 
Social Media As Audience-Building Tool 
And More!

Our Sponsors

  • Images

    PatronManager’s mission is to revolutionize the ticketing industry by providing arts, culture, and live entertainment organizations with integrated world-class customer relationship management, box office ticketing, fundraising, and marketing solutions, built entirely on the world’s most advanced cloud-based CRM platform – Salesforce.

    Since launching in 2010, PatronManager has been the fastest growing platform for arts & culture organizations in the U.S. Over 700 organizations use PatronManager, primarily symphony orchestras, theatres, opera companies, dance companies, university performing arts centers, and museums.

    Founded in 2001, Patron Technology became the leader in e-marketing technology for arts non-profits with its first product, PatronMail. 

    More Info
  • Images

    Dream Warrior Group provides graceful yet technologically savvy solutions for Arts organizations. The goal-driven services focus on audience and action. As your technology advocate, we will be your ally and can manage and fully implement your online presence. Our services (ala carte or contracted) include: Web site design and development, e-marketing, e-promotion, social media management and optimization. We implement your message in a digital environment

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  • Images

    Theatre Manager™ software is used at Theatres, Festivals, Arenas, Performing Arts Centers, Symphony Orchestras, Museums, Educational Institutions, Municipalities, Non-profit and For-profit organizations.

    Key functionalities:
    - Patron & Household CRM
    - Box Office & Internet Sales
    - without 3rd party fees
    - Development & Donation Management
    - Marketing - including email blasts
    - Artist, Staff & Volunteer Management
    - Financial Controls
    - Facility & Project Management

    Since 1985, our experience has been drawn from 100s of venues, with 1000s of users who use Theatre Manager softwae to track approximately 3/4 of a billion dollars in annual revenue.

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Conference Schedule

June 11, 2018:
Morning Intensive (Program starts at 9:00 a.m.)
Lunch on Your Own
Opening Reception with one-on-ones

June 12, 2018:
Networking Reception with one-on-ones
Lunch with the Experts
Afternoon Intensive
Breakouts (Conference end at 5:00 p.m.)

Program and speakers subject to change.

Among other benefits, Arts Reach Members receive significant discounts on conference registration. Join NOW!