THE REAL WORK – NEW PRACTICES FOR A NEW ERA
Behind the ongoing programmatic and financial stresses being felt by nonprofit organizations at a time of economic uncertainty lays a vast territory of change in the sector as a whole. This means practitioners of all stripes unlearning a lot of things we have taken for granted, surfacing new assumptions to drive new thinking, and doing things differently across the board. Organizational innovation is challenging in a resource-strapped sector, but is now essential if field leaders are to successfully re-orient themselves to this new era. Fortunately, innovation can be systematized as a new organizational discipline, one that brings our best thinking together across traditional organizational and sector boundaries, and helps us make competitive use of our creative assets. Organizations across many countries are beginning to see that daring to risk a new approach can reveal new pathways to relevance and sustainability.
Video of the Conference Marketing de las Artes in Madrid 2016.
THE REAL WORK – NEW PRACTICES FOR A NEW ERA
This case study originally released in 2011 describes how the Steppenwolf Theatre Company has addressed the vexing problem of falling ticket subscription rates by developing deeper relationships with both subscribers and non-subscribers. To that end, it launched an experiment centered on promoting a dialogue among audience members and the artists about the process of creating theater. Audience members took part in nightly post-show discussions, attended special thematic events and were offered access to a rich selection of online content—including videos, podcasts, blogs, articles and slide shows—in which the artists talked about their work from a variety of perspectives.
The result: During a two-year period, many audience members who used to attend only one performance per season bought tickets to two, three or more shows. At the same time, the relationship-deepening initiatives had the added benefit of supporting high subscriber renewal rates.
This report is part of a set of case studies and reports looking at the efforts of arts organizations that received Wallace Excellence Awards to reach new audiences and deepen relationships with current ones.
For Audience Development to be effective, the whole cultural organization has to be committed to it, but… what does this mean? What are cultural organizations that really place people at their heart like? How did they lead their communities and stay relevant and sustainable? What kind of skills and tools do they need to face the changing paradigm towards a more audience-focused organization?
Alessandra Gariboldi will answer to these and other questions drawing on her knowledge of the EU study of over 30 European cultural organizations: “Audience development – How to place audiences at the centre of cultural organisations”.
This study, done by the Fondazione Fitzcarraldo, Culture Action Europe, ECCOM and Intercult, within the Creative Europe framework, showcases different successful approaches and methods in the Audience development/engagement field.
The present paper has been prepared, at the request of DG EAC, by the European Expert Network on Culture (EENC). The paper has been written in 2015, on behalf of the EENC, by Mr. Niels Righolt.
Traditionally, countries like the UK, the Benelux and the Nordic countries have been amongst the pioneers in searching and testing new ways of interaction between the arts and the audience and many have looked to them for inspiration and new ways of working. However, the last few years have shown that, throughout Europe, there too has been a range of ground- breaking projects, learning programmes, new research and conferences examining how cultural producers and presenting organisations can improve their relationship with the potential audience, whether it happens through digital tools, education, outreach and community engagement or through more traditional methods such as mainstream marketing approaches. And recently demands for a clearer position on how the institutions and cultural projects will reach out to the public, has entered national legislation and regional priorities in e.g. the Nordic countries. In Denmark the Royal Danish Theatre has audience diversity written into its 4-year contract with the ministry and the same goes for several of the other national institutions in the country.
The digital shift has opened the field of cultural participation and co-creation dramatically, and its democratic implications are all to be examined and decided on. But, as a panel debate on digitalization at the Conference Digital at the Arts held in Reykjavik in October 2014 stated, “We cannot meet the challenges of tomorrow solemnly with the logics and structures of yesterday".