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AACT Town Hall: Community Theatres come together

AACT American Association of Community TheatreLast Saturday I attended the AACT (American Association of Community Theatres) Town Hall held here in Portland.  Arts People has been a sponsor of a number of AACT events over the years and we consider ourselves a partner to them as well as a deep connection to community theatres all over the country and in Canada.  The Arts People system has always been a great fit for these organizations who have big goals and complex needs, but often small staffs with little time to accomplish tasks.

It was great to hear these groups sharing so openly their stories of successes and challenges so that other organizations might benefit from their experiences.  The performing arts are a small voice in our culture, it seems, struggling to be heard, to find support, to advocate for the importance of what they do, and to even survive.  I’ve unfortunately seen this struggle too often divide organizations and individuals from each other in what can often be seen as a competitive atmosphere, instead of supporting and uplifting each other. This discussion was clearly the opposite.  With AACT bringing together these organizations toward sharing (and it was a great turnout), they can glean valuable insight into how different organizations are benefitting from presenting different types of programs such as staged readings, educational offerings, new types of social marketing and more.

The meeting was held just down the street from our Arts People offices at Twilight Theatre, one of our clients.  I was able to introduce myself and see a number of our clients in attendance, which is always a pleasure.  Arts People was founded on a goal of working with and assisting performing arts organizations to succeed and thrive.  We’ve worked very hard over the years to maintain close relationships with our clients on a first name basis, so whenever we get the chance to get face to face we take it.  To see the generous sharing going on at this meeting was a complete pleasure.

I started my own career in theatre in high school, and then went immediately to community theatre. I learned SO much from performing, directing, and design, to what it means to serve on a board of directors, what level of professionalism in the work I came to expect in myself and others, and how I wanted to work in the creation of theatre, including my own personal style and voice.  It is a place for joy, creativity, learning, sharing, collaboration, teamwork, accomplishment and self worth.  I’ve carried all that experience and knowledge forward into my work in professional theatres and sometimes returned to guest direct in community theatres I have a connection with.

Thank  you AACT for all you do to bring these theatres together in meetings like this, to the theatres who generously share their knowledge and experiences to help others, and to the individuals who keep these organizations alive in your communities.


Patrick Spike - Marketing Director of Arts People

Patrick Spike is the Theatre Community Liaison, system expert, and one of the original architects of the Arts People software system, with over 30 years in performing arts creation and administration. www.patrickspike.com

 

 

Press Release: Patrick Spike takes over new role as Marketing Director

Patrick Spike - Marketing Director for Arts PeopleFormerly Product Manager, Spike hopes to work magic again in his new position

Dateline: Portland, OR – March 21, 2017

Patrick Spike, most recently Product Manager and all around system expert for Arts People, has now moved into the roll of Marketing Director for the company as other staff members move up the ranks as well. Creating a new department, he hopes to continue his trend of establishing processes and practices for the company in an area that has previously been non-existent.

The company has relied for the past 11+ years on direct contact sales to communicate its mission of performing arts support and to sell its arts specific software system and renowned client support. Marketing and related communications have not been an area that has garnered much attention. “We really have focused on our client referrals, and our amazing sales team’s consultant style approach to reach out to arts organizations and show…

Download full release in pdf format

 

White paper: Facebook for Arts Organizations – Strategies for success & common mistakes to avoid

Arts People Marketing Director Patrick Spike, with over 25 years experience in performing arts marketing and administration, walks you through the best practices and strategies of using Facebook to build your audience, increase engagement, foster patron loyalty and more.

Originally presented as a seminar at the Arts NW Booking Conference in Tacoma, WA Oct 2013. Updated May 2017.

Request a download link for this white paper:

Note that you will have 10 minutes to download your requested document from the email received.

White paper written by 

Patrick Spike - Marketing Director of Arts PeoplePatrick Spike – Marketing Director for Arts People

Former Audience Development Director for Bag&Baggage Productions, with over 30 years experience in performing arts creation, administration, marketing and fundraising.

 

 

 

Flight picture from the production.

Podcast: Spike speaks with Eric Guerin about the stagecraft of flying actors, and the safety concerns involved

I sat down today to talk with Eric Guerin, who’s a new member of our Client Services staff here at Arts People.  Eric comes to us from the Brighton Center where he was Theatre Director.  In his role there, he recently was part of the creative team of a production with high school students that involved flying two of the actors on stage.  In this podcast we discuss the challenges, concerns and intricacies of flying actors on a theatre stage, and also the overall challenges of creating highly theatrical and exciting productions, while still maintaining strict control over safety.

Listen to podcast (approximately 18 minutes)

 

Photo:  Actor in fly rigging with cable wrapped in nylon rope to appear he was parachuting down to the stage.  (c) 2017 Blue Heron Photo

 

Visit them online:
Brighton Center:  Brightonperformingarts.com
Brighton Musical Company: Brightonmusical.com
ZFX Flying:  http://www.zfxflying.com/

 

 

Three words for every performing arts organization – Know Your Niche


I regularly speak to performing arts organizations that try to do all and be all to their community.  The result?

  • They struggle to find their audience.
  • They burn out, barely hang on, and slowly decline.
  • They wonder why the community doesn’t come out en masse to support them.

Ask yourself…

  1. “What would your loyal patrons say draws them to you and keeps them coming back?”
  2. “If you surveyed patrons who have attended only one of your events in the past but have not returned. What would be the reason?”
  3. “Of patrons who attend other arts organizations but have chosen NOT to attend yours, what caused them to make that choice?”
  4. “Of all the people working with your organization, what would they say is your artistic focus, that also makes them want to work with you?  Would they have an immediate and concise answer?”

If you don’t have a clear idea of what the above responses would be, it’s probably time to hone your niche.

It’s a pretty commonly held concept that no single arts organization can be all things to all people. Otherwise said, we can’t please everyone all the time. It’s also can be said that when we think of a region or population area that “has a great arts scene” or “is culturally rich” that one contributing factor is that there’s a great variety of cultural or arts options available; that there is something for everyone. So we obviously value diversity in arts options, which also translates to a variety of arts organizations.  We love choices; different audiences, different tastes, different interests.

 

Now, let’s imagine.  If one organization were to try to be that variety for their community, and if they hope to achieve it with a degree of quality and consistency, some of the challenges might be

  1. How to attract talent interested in doing your work. While an artist might be interested in one project in your season, they might find no interest in the rest. How do you build and cultivate relationships with a core group of artists and technicians when their interests vary one project to the next?
  2. Audiences also may be divided over your work. They might be drawn to buy tickets to one show that peaks their interests. If they enjoy it they may want to come back. But the next show isn’t their taste at all and then they are disappointed, alienated, and often won’t be back.

So what does this mean for developing relationships with both the artists who create the work, and audiences who want to come see it?  Generally will mean that you’re working to gather talent and audience for each of your projects individually, with greater challenges developing a loyal group interested in your work as a whole.  

So is the model of trying to do something for everyone within a single arts organization sustainable? I think if we look historically at these types of organizations, and to the groups trying to please their community with palatable shows that offend no one and try to please everyone, that this just isn’t the case. These groups struggle year after year in their marketing and communications, their ticketing and fundraising, and to sustain without much growth, and often with a gradual decline in their attendance. Without loyalty in your audience, they are also much more at risk of catastrophe if specific projects miss the mark for audience satisfaction.  A single ticket audience is far less forgiving than the audience that enjoys your body of work over time.

 

So, what is the alternative? It is to find and hone your niche and stick to it.

What is it your organization is really about?  What is the type of work that the collective members of your organization agree on as their primary interest?  Do you focus on classical theatre with a fresh approach?  Do you focus on contemporary dance, including a commitment to new work each season?  Is it non-narrative musical performance art, or tried and true standards done remarkably well?  Dig deep. Find what it is that excites you as a group and that you are accomplished at creating.  Make the big decision and agree to stick to it and do it better than anyone else in your area.  Become the experts on that particular form.  You may find that some of your members don’t agree.  If so, it may be time for them to move on as you clarify what your niche is.  

 

Once that is decided, and the quality and passion shows through, you will work to find the audience who loves it as well.  Artists interested in that pursuit will seek you out.  News will spread and reach other organizations that are passionate about that type of work.  You’ll be able to better cultivate relationships and build loyalty in your audience, graduate them to donor support, membership and greater participation.

You must stick to the work you love, so the passion comes through with every project, every performance, every moment.  Communicate this clearly in every message.  Those who love that work will find you, and will be as passionate about it as you are.  They will be your advocates, your army, your cheering section.  

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Patrick Spike - Marketing Director of Arts PeoplePatrick Spike is Marketing Director of Arts People, with the company for over 10 years. He has 30 years in performing arts administration, marketing and creation. www.patrickspike.com

Patrick Spike - Marketing Director for Arts People

Patrick Spike moves into role as Marketing Director of Arts People

Patrick Spike, one of the original staff members of Arts People, is changing roles within the company. Having consulted on the original system design with original founder and programmer Ness Blackbird, then started work with the company back in October of 2006, Spike joined to develop the client services department and policies.

After a few years he was able to hand off this department to another capable staff member and transitioned into a new role that eventually evolved into his current position as Product Manager & System Expert. Here he’s been managing all the myriad details around various planned or potential future projects and requested features, fostering things through to completion with the tech team and release to clients.

Now it’s time for another project! Arts People will be looking to Spike’s extensive communication and marketing background to help the company develop its marketing arm. This will compliment the sales team’s long standing one-on-one consulting work with organizations looking to improve their tools for ticketing, fundraising, marketing and more. In this role Spike will be planning and coordinating the company’s presence, message, materials, social media and online communications. He’ll work with sales staff gearing up for conferences we attend across the country, and to look toward the future of the company’s communication needs.

Spike has worked his magic twice before developing processes within Arts People and we’re excited to see how this new effort develops. Don’t worry though. His knowledge of the system and of the performing arts industry will still be tapped by our staff when needed to help us meet the variety of needs of our clients. First and foremost, we continue to support the arts in our communities, and help the organizations that produce and propel the arts forward.

Patrick Spike has over 30 years in performing arts creative, administrative, marketing and fundraising work. He continues to perform and direct various theatre projects, consults with many organizations and volunteers with a variety of non-profit organizations. Visit his online portfolio at www.patrickspike.com for more information.

Thanks Spike!