Posts tagged ‘theatre marketing’

July 18, 2012

Viva Voce!

There’s a bittersweetness to the phrases “word of mouth” and “buzz”. They’re wildly important in marketing a show, but where do they come from? It had to come from somewhere: was it an ad someone saw and then mentioned to a friend, or? We always used to love getting audience surveys back: “How did you hear about us?” Word of mouth wa the favourite frustrating response because it’s incredibly hard to track it, followed closely by “ad in right-wing newspaper” that we didn’t advertise in.

Good article here on generating word of mouth advertising.

The Toronto Fringe just closed this weekend, and it is an excellent example of an event tha relies heavily on word of mouth – “What are you seeing?” “What’s good?” “What do you recommend?”

These are questions asked of everyone – friends, colleagues, critics, strangers – and everyone has something to say.  From the article: “It’s one of the most credible forms of advertising because a person puts their reputation on the line every time they make a recommendation and that person has nothing to gain but the appreciation of those who are listening.”

Aside: folks, this was a bad year for the flyer “fling and walk”. Drives me INSANE. I am sitting right here, don’t fling flyers in front of me on the table and walk away. They are now safely shuffled into the hundred other flyers already ON the table and now I don’t particularly care about you or your show and I have no interest in seeing it. You’ve managed to do the opposite of engage me. If you’ve hired someone to do the fling…tell them part of distribution is talking to people about the show.


So when you know you’ve got “word of mouth” happening and the “buzz” is insane, how do you maintain it?

Give people even more to talk about. Find out who is word of mouthing about your show and get onside with them. Find your influencers, the folks who saw the show and loved it, loved you, love love you can feel the love – and give them even more to love.  People will talk for ages about a show they love – give them the tools to do so. I’m not saying fling a flyer at them, but telling them your advance tickets are nearly sold out gives them the impetus and a sense of urgency to tell other folks to get their tickets too.

Get a testimonial. Highlight their comment on the show Facebook page. Tweet that this is what folks are saying about your show – we all immediately post critical opinions, but when regular patrons are raving – share that with others.

Find the like-minded folks to your raving fans. Tell them about the show. Always ensure what you have for info is easily found – it’s one thing to hear the name of a show one evening, it’s another to remember it and where it’s playing when you’re looking it up the next day. Make sure your website, social media forums, you name it are up to date and ready to be found. Be your own Amazon, in a sense –  “if so and so liked this show, then I bet such and such will too.”

I talked myself hoarse about shows I liked every night at the Fringe Club. I hope your friends, fans, family and folks will be doing the same for your future productions.

July 10, 2012

A testimonial and Theatrebooks

Found this email in my inbox – a client had attended a conference on social media and how to use it for your charity – they got a great deal out of it.  Glad to hear it. Read on:

It has been great for two reasons:
1. There have been many good sessions with highly actionable ideas for us to do right now, and lots of things to think about for the future; and
2. Because of your work with us  I am able to understand the relevance of the material, make informed decisions about what will or might works for us, and set priorities. Without your groundwork much of this great content would be going over my head, or I would think I have to get into everything. I would either be dazed and confused, or my head would be exploding, neither of which would be pretty. Now I am at least half way intelligent. Thank you.
You’re most welcome. Glad to help.
You’ll have to go somewhere else for your theatre fix starting next week.


June 12, 2012

The Future of The Non-Profit Arts

If you aren’t already following the Mission Paradox blog, I highly recommend that you start. There’s a great series being unfolded on that site these days – The Future of The Non-Profit Arts.

From Part One

If you think about the structure of a typical arts org – Board, CEO, multiple (siloed) departments, a defined hierarchy – you can see the fingerprints of the Industrial Revolution all over the thing.  This was a necessary step.  The arts industry needed a sense of stability.  It needed organizations capable of creating art year after year.

It makes sense that people would assume that what created stability in so many other industries (hierarchy, systems, etc.) would do the same in our world.

They were right, for a very long time. Read more.

And now from Part Two

Organizational design is a set of decisions.  Some spoken.  Some unspoken.  They are a set of decisions about how information flows, how power is shared, how quickly change happens, or whether change happens at all.

If you change the decisions, you change the design.  

If you change the design, you change the outcomes. Read more.

It’s already a thought-provoking series – I’m interested to read the next instalment.

Reminder! The Edward Bond Festival starts today! Visit the website to find out what you should be going to – there are some amazing events happening!

May 27, 2012

Sunday Roundup – May 27

Short week last week so I’m all mixed up yet somehow ahead of the game. What went on?

Brother Can You Spare a Five? – some crowdfunding campaigns that are on my radar

Don’t Go Changin’ – interesting article on how to help people not hate your revamped site.

Modern Dance, Canada Council Internet Gender, Summer Reading – exactly what it sounds like.

There’s another new book in the Summer Reading section – am close enough to finished to recommend.

And I’ve also realized it was a just over year ago  that I hit “go” on this website. And two weeks after that received the deposit for my first entrepreneuse marketing gig. So I do need to take a moment to say “thank you – you’re the best” to a few people and organizations from this past year:

Arts Etobicoke, Atrium Theatre, Bound To Create, Canadian Dance Assembly, Control Over Destiny, Creative Trust, Drew Nelson, Expect Theatre, Gallery 1313, Lisa Wegner, Little Revolutions, Magic and Mud Designs, NinjaTek, Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund, Professional Association of Canadian Theatres, Parkdale Village BIA, Pax Christi Chorale, PM Veltri, Proud Productions, Shannon Litzenberger, Sheep No Wool, Stratical Theatre, Theatre 20.

It’s been a pleasure working with you.

May 16, 2012

Reduction Policies for Operating Grant Recipients/Changes to Compass Deadlines

Got a note from the OAC today, here’s a heads up:

OAC has established more stringent assessment reduction policies for operating grants, effective in 2012. Organizations applying for operating support that fail to meet standard in either or both categories – artistic quality and contribution, and organizational effectiveness – will see reductions as follows:

· 0 to 5 per cent reduction only for strategic priority organizations and/or operating organizations that were new within the last three years.

· 10 to 20 per cent reduction if the organization falls below standard on one assessment category for the first time.

· 20 to 30 per cent reduction if an organization falls below standard on both assessment categories for the first time.

· 30 to 50 per cent reduction if an organization falls below standard on one assessment category for the second time in the last five years.

· 50 to 100 per cent reduction if an organization falls below standard on both assessment categories for the second time in the last five years.

Over the last three years, project applications to OAC have increased by 32 per cent. As a result, creation project programs are being protected through strategic reductions to a small number of programs, including a 50 per cent reduction to Compass.

· The Compass program now has two deadlines: July 3, 2012 and November 1, 2012.

April 20, 2012

What My Clients Are Working On

Fewer blog posts from me indicate that my clients are keeping me busy doing stuff with and for them. Who are they and what are they doing?

Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund – is putting the final touches on a new microsite for 2012, and organizing roundtable discussions all over the province to introduce the OCAF program to folks who have not yet applied to it.

Creative Trust continues to work on PAON roundtables and e-blasting info out to you about our sector.

Some Assembly Required” is a film and photo exhibition by Lisa Wegner, opening at Artscape Triangle Gallery on April 26th.

VIsual artist Drew T. Nelson continues in his creation of amazing paper cut projects – “We Rode The Streetcar Together, Once” is a memoryscape devoted to that Toronto icon, the streetcar.

Filmmaker P. Marco Veltri is nearly done casting his latest short film and is readying to shoot.

Michael Healey’s Proud has a venue, (Berkeley St.) and a director, (Miles Potter) and fundraisers happening across Canada, and is over halfway to its fundraising goal.

Sheep No Wool Theatre Company is preparing for the Edward Bond Festival – a one time only two-week event happening in June and devoted to an investigation of his work and ideas with events all over the city. Website and Facebook page coming your way.

Pax Christi Chorale has a new Facebook page and is gearing up for their concert “The Kingdom” at Koerner Hall in May.

These are thing things I am marketing and PR-ing and building pages and sites and analyzing ticket sales and audiences and media lists and opening night invites for.

Three other companies and I are awaiting results of Compass grant applications.

And Gallery 1313 and I are doing a workshop on Social Media for Visual Artists. Details on that next post.

I feel quite privileged some days.

I’m also at things like APASO participating in fantastic sessions, and presentations like Counting New Beans and I’m off to the Small Business Arts Forum next week.

So there you go. They’re an extraordinary group of people doing extraordinary work. And it’s Friday so – well, it’s Friday. Off you go!





April 18, 2012

My Thoughts on Starting a Theatre Company

This article was making the Facebook rounds yesterday:

Please, Don’t Start a Theatre Company

“Neither the field nor the next generation of artists is served by this unexamined multiplication of companies based on the same old model. The NEA’s statistics on nonprofit growth, set against its sobering reports on declining arts participation, illuminate a crucial nexus for the field, a location of both profound failure and potential transformation. The proliferation of small theater companies sits at the intersection between the necessity to imagine different structures for making theater and our field’s failure to provide career paths for the next generation of artists. Since the Ford Foundation’s investments kicked off the regional theater movement fifty years ago, there has been tremendous collective buy-in to what has become a fossilized model of a particular type of nonprofit theater. Within this structure, there is now a critical lack of opportunity for emerging artists and leaders, leaving the next generation of artists no alternative but to start companies of their own, companies that often replicate the problems of established theaters on a smaller scale. “

So it seems we know what’s wrong with the current model, but aren’t able to do anything but participate in the current (some would say broken) model because funding and expectations are geared towards the current model, namely  “a building with staff and a season, subscribers and youth programs, and a healthy mix of earned and contributed income.”

The cycle continues.

So what do we do? Go read part two of the article it’s got some interesting ideas.  I also think we have to change our picture of what success looks like – is being a venued theatre a badge of success if you can’t afford the building? Is a large subscriber base a badge of success if you’ve gone from producing edgy avant-garde work to “crowd pleasers” to keep the doors open on the unaffordable venue?

And are we a success as a community and industry if we, as some of the most creative people out there, cannot change because the current model is the only one we know?

At Clayton Lord”s presentation this week the question was raised, which is more important, economic or intrinsic impact? Why, intrinsic, of course.

Then why does only economic get a form to fill out in the grant application? Budget form, earned revenue form, subscribers vs single ticket, foundation vs government.  Economic gets a very important form in the grant application.

Where’s the form for intrinsic?

Then today a Quick Riff from Mission Paradox: “I find the whole “people should stop forming arts organizations” conversation to be interesting.  It’s interesting because people make a very logical case for not starting.  The issue is that starting an organization is an emotional issue.  It isn’t driven by logic.  By the way, this isn’t a good or bad thing . . . it is just reality.  My own point of view is that if it is in your heart to start an organization then you HAVE to do it.  The world may need it.
But if your heart isn’t in it.  If you aren’t committed.  Don’t even think about starting.”


April 13, 2012

Cook a Meal. Do Laundry. Experience Art.

A wonderfully thought-provoking plenary session at APASO yesterday. Just as I thought. Simon Brault is so – interesting, and smart and makes you think and want to talk to other people about what you’ve learned and are thinking about.

Discussion around arts education. The lack of it. The lack of importance of art in everyday life. Cultural omnivores. Folks for whom art just does not register.

Lack of formal arts education. In schools. Which got me thinking.

Why can’t art be taught as a life skill? The point I made yesterday at the session was that we go after the students, the schools, we bring kids in by the busload for student matinees and talkbacks. Our numbers are great – we reached 5000 students this year, and the sponsor got some serious name recognition (thank you to the sponsor for allowing this to happen. Seriously, We couldn’t afford to do this otherwise.)

Perhaps some are affected by the work they saw, past having to answer a question from the Outreach and Education Coordinator. Perhaps not.

What have we taught them about experiencing art? What have they learned?

I think in many cases they haven’t been taught about the art experience, they’ve been taught how to go on a field trip for the afternoon.

How many are coming back of their own accord? I don’t know. And it occurred to me we do not teach experiencing art as a life skill. We teach children how to tie shoelaces, cook dinner, fold the laundry (I’ve taught my fairy godchildren how to hail a cab – city girl life skill).

We teach adolescents how to fill out college applications and try out for football or debate team or just how to get themselves to the mall so we don’t have to drive them.

And adults learn all their lives, whether it’s a excel workshop for your business, or how to find a reputable plumber or why exactly your child is making that ungodly racket.

What can we teach people? How can we give them access to our work?

Have we taught them what they need to know to experience and appreciate art of their own accord? That they can do this any time, of their own accord, but it takes a bit more work to find out what’s going on? (This is where the internet access generation comes in – it’s all on the internet).

What have we taught them?

Did we explain that PWYC means pay-what-you-can and you can go to that show and pay a toonie or a twenty and see the play? And those performances usually sell out so best get there early?

Have we taught them that some shows have rush seats for as little as $10? What does “rush seat” mean anyway?

That out of respect to the other audience members and the actors you turn off your phone, take off your hat if it’s in the way and try not to talk to your companion during the show? (We won’t get into hard candy. It seems nobody can be taught not to open them during the show).

Do they know about TO TIX and HIPTIX and that a lot of museums are by donation?

Have we taught them that we really do want them there, of their own accord, outside of the Wednesday 1:30 matinee?

Much more to think about.

(Yes I bought Simon’s book. It’s awesome and he autographed it for me. In FRENCH.)

ETA: you type too fast you get some nasty typos. Apologies.

April 5, 2012

The Future of Theatre

Great article from the Guardian

It’s not enough for theatres to rely on the same old programming, even the same old buildings. Which is why what’s happening at Exeter is so exciting read more

Along those lines, a friend forwarded me this article that’s been making the rounds since 2008, I recall seeing it more than a few times. Anybody doing any of these things? I’d say some of the suggestions are a bit tongue in cheek, but surely some are doable.

Just some food for thought – it’s the day before the long weekend, so maybe you have time to read them.

I’m also going to be closed for said weekend, so I’ll see you next Monday. Have a good one!


March 30, 2012

Federal and Provincial Budgets – What do they mean for the arts?


In my inbox from the Toronto Arts Foundation.


Federal and Provincial Budgets – What do they mean for the arts?
Artists and arts organizations will be relieved to learn that the federal and provincial governments have both protected the arts councils from cuts to their granting programs.  The Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council and the Ontario Trillium Foundation will not sustain budget cuts despite broad based reductions in other areas.
The full impact of the government budgets will be determined over the next few months.  It is clear that reduced investment in the culture sector will have a ripple effect   Major items are listed below:

2012 Federal Budget Arts Highlights:

There will be no cuts to the Canada Council for the Arts.

The CBC has been cut by 10% ($115 million) over three years.

The Department of Canadian Heritage’s operating base of $2.8 billion has been cut by 6.9%.

In addition to the Canada Council, the National Gallery and national museums will not face budget cuts.

Telefilm’s budget is being cut by $10.6 million and the National Film Board is being cut by $6.7 million.

2012 Provincial Budget Arts Highlights:

There will be no cuts to the Ontario Arts Council, Ontario Trillium Foundation and Ontario Media Development Corporation.

Luminato’s funding from the Ontario government will be cut by $1.5 million for 2012-13 and $2 million for 2013-14

The operating budgets of Ontario’s Cultural Agencies including the AGO, ROM and McMichael Canadian Arts Collection will be cut by 1% for 2012-13 and an additional 1% for 2013-14 and thereafter.

Cultural industry Tax Credits will be maintained.

For additional information contact: Susan Wright 416-392-6802 x 211



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