re-imagining the artist residency at artsfwd

Last month, I began writing for ArtsFwd, the online arm of EmcArts, a social enterprise for learning and innovation in the arts. My first article asked the question: What’s the Value of Transmedia Storytelling for Organizations? It received some notice, and others, like Simon Staffans, offered expanded thoughts about it.

April’s post went up last week, and this month I’m taking on the paradigm of artists as employees by re-imagining the artist residency. From my the article:

Why Aren’t More Organizations Bringing Artists into the Office?

What if every organization with a budget of over $500,000 offered one staff position to an artist? The position would be 40% administrative responsibilities and 60% artistic ones. This would funnel the hours and energy of artists’ day jobs into arts organizations. It would enhance the administrative staff with an artistic point of view. Most importantly, it would create a residency that generates new art in the organization’s space.

This dynamic would break down an organization’s creative and administrative silos. It frames the artist as a person who deserves a salary and benefits.

10,000P

10,000P courtesy of Mark Krause

Administrators and artists, alike, are responding with strong feelings about this suggestion: Who funds this kind of program? How do organizations make up the slack for the time allocated to the employee’s artistic pursuit? Will other employees feel slighted, burdened or jealous?

These are all great questions. I’d love for you to visit ArtsFwd.org, read the entire piece, and chime in with your thoughts. The only way we’ll reform old systems and innovate is by discussing and collaborating on new ideas. Then, we need to put the ideas into action.

Let me know what you think!

always be in the game

It was one of the most memorable moments in Super Bowl history. When the stadium went dark. Hashtag #blackout blew up on Twitter. And from a virtual pile-up of snarky quips, one company came up with the ball.

Oreo tweeted: “Power out? No problem. http://ow.ly/hthYN.”

oreo superbowl“You can still dunk in the dark.” It spread like wildfire. And it cost far less than the actual commercial Oreo ran on television during the game. A cream-filled cookie became the night’s true marketing champion.

On his blog, Marketing the Arts to Death, arts and entertainment consultant Trevor O’Donnell, asks the question, “Should arts marketers emulate Super Bowl ads?” I commented on his article, but I decided to re-post and expand my response here because I think it bears repeating. My answer: Yes. Sort of.

Sam Ford, Director of Digital Strategy with Peppercomm and co-author of Spreadable Media, suggests in his Fast Company article, “When it comes to content strategy, it’s better to think about spreadability than stickiness.” Arts organizations would benefit taking notes from this winning playbook.

On Trevor’s post, Howard Sherman, former executive director of the American Theatre Wing and a marketing and branding consultant, commented, “While an actual comparison of Super Bowl ads to arts marketing is not simply apples to oranges but apples to elephants, in terms of budget, reach, etc., some companies use the Bowl as a chance to enforce (or change) their brand perception. While arts marketers rarely have the leeway to make their ads anything more than transactional (“Buy now”), there is something to be said for institutional arts marketers finding opportunities to build the qualitative perception of their organization, taking the long view.”

I agree with Howard on the apples to elephants comparison and looking at the “long view.” Arts organizations can do this by embracing the concept of spreadability. The quicker our messages spread, the better chance we have to grow our audience with limited budgets. This approach is essential when marketing plays, operas, art shows and ballets, which typically have limited runs. It also affects a brand’s long term perception by introducing that company to a new audience when it spreads.

The elephants may have the money. But at 72,888 followers on Twitter, Oreo has only 44K more than Carnegie Hall, 43K more than Lincoln Center, 30K more than The Brooklyn Academy of Music, and Cirque du Soleil has 508K followers – seven times as many as Oreo! Arts companies have the reach. But we only impact if we’re in the game. As thousands of underdogs before have shown, it just takes one good “Hail Mary” to win the big game.