arts

We are already creating with our audiences. Now let’s do it better.

The arts are a very natural platform for creating with others. After all, what is a live performance but a natural coming-together of two partners, the performers and the audience? Inherently, these parties exchange energy, each bringing something valuable: the performers, their craft and their expression, and the audience, their receptivity, their openness to the experience that is unfolding.

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What’s an audience for?

A compelling artistic vision and a high-quality artistic product are absolutely fundamental to every successful artistic venture. If something incredible, transformative or exciting isn’t at the basis of what you do, you can forget about your ability to perform the other business functions effectively. (My mentor Michael Kaiser is 100% right about this). And most of what’s on stage – maybe not the details, but many of the broad strokes, such as the who, where, and what of the season – is an administrative exercise.

Where, then, does the audience fit in?

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The sweetest successes are deliberate

I recently began to notice that working backwards is a vital practice in my career as an arts manager and consultant. Early on, I learned never to enter a classroom without identifying a desired objective, having a plan for achieving that objective, and having measures at hand to prove that the objective was indeed achieved. Thus, at the end of a lesson, it was clear whether or not the objective had been achieved.

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The loyalty algorithm

Our work is about art – the essence of human expression, transmitted through a particular medium and shared with others. In my opinion, there could not be a more pure, transcendent, incredible field of work.

There are people who experience what we do one time and who instantly become lifelong champions of our work. But on the whole, loyalty is not linear.

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“Why do the arts matter, anyway?”

If you work in the arts, you will be faced with this question at some point in time.

“After all, if [insert current catastrophe on people’s minds and lips] is happening, shouldn’t we devote our time and resources to solving that? Wouldn’t that make more of a difference?”

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