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Art smarts

Categories: Events, Learning things, Useful/interesting

Art > Marketing > Family > Funds cycle

The other week I went along to an AMA Network event.

It was good. Though I don't work directly in arts marketing, I thought Sarah Gee's talk on how marketing and development teams could and should work together, pooling resources and wisdom, was fascinating. (And worded/explained much more entertainingly than that.)

It was so interesting that I've been meaning to write it up – but have consistently failed to find the time to do so properly, so on the off-chance there are any nuggets of wisdom discernible from my notes (made after-the-fact, tut-tut) here they are:

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Arts orgs having to become more business-like in terms of 'customer retention'. No resting on laurels and becoming complacent because funding appears year after year; those days are over.

It's important to involve people from the organisation as a whole – and to be more open. And open to change.

Don't be shy about the fact the org is a charity. Nothing to be ashamed of! If people were more aware, they may be more inclined to give.

Don't concentrate on one route only. Crossover is vital e.g. capital appeals can help people understand an arts org. is a charity. [For example Hippo Stage Appeal which launched in the Prospectus we designed, aimed at key stakeholders and funders is now also a public-facing campaign.]

Being clear to audiences/donors about the organisation as a whole, not just individual projects. (A good point was made about the possibility of people becoming fatigued being frequently asked to fund individual 'projects' - that time/those resources should also be spent on long-term gains; building relationships with people who may eventually prove to be 'high value givers' or who bequeath a legacy.

Inform people about the organisation as a whole, as well as individual projects.

Interesting fact re. legacy-giving and inheritance tax – many people give away anything over the inheritance tax threshold as they don't appreciate being taxed for it again. Remember though – the 'baby boomers' may be the final legacy-givers as the rest of us may not have any money to bequeath! 

My favourite line: "Treat people as people". 

This is something the arts is very well-placed to do, particularly compared with corporates as so many people have and/or build emotional attachments with the arts; attachments which are much deeper and mean more to them than 'for profit' brands. Marketing plus development = the perfect range of skills to benefit organisations.

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By the way, the diagram heading up this post is based on a slide from Sarah's presentation but I can't for the life of me remember who this marketing/fundraising cycle should be credited to. If you know, please pop a note in the comments and I'll update the post accordingly. Ta.

UPDATE:
Thanks to Chris Unitt for reminding me that the marketing/fundraising cycle graphic concept is by Michael Kaiser. Chris has also handily pointed me towards a slideshare presentation about it: The Cycle.

Family fun (for everyone)

Categories: Events, Nice stuff, Our work

Last weekend I popped along to the IDFB Family Weekend which happened at the MAC.

Despite being child-free, I had a great time watching a world premiere dance perfomance, Spill (touring playgrounds of the West Midlands and beyond this summer; catch it if you can, it really is worth a watch) …

Spill - a playground of dance; a world premiere dance performance at mac birmingham

… nosing at what 'home' means to people over in The Hub …

Home at The Hub - scribbles on the walls

… and seeing teeny kids having brilliantly messy fun decorating the billowy white shapes I'd drawn out for Peg-a-Cloud.

Peg-a-cloud at the family weekend.

It was a pretty good feeling to see lots of the designs I've been working on for the past few months all in one place, out in the wild, and being well-used – by loads of people. (The Family Weekend was a sell-out.)

It's one of those events which may appear effortless to the folks popping along to enjoy a nice day out, but from working on the IDFB print, I've got a bit of a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the festival workings, so have an idea of the huge amount of effort and planning, and the looooong days, which go into getting these things to come together and run smoothly; not to mention making sure people know what's happening, when and where, when there's a jam-packed programme of events.

So hats-off to the smiley, friendly, helpful and seemingly tireless lot who made the Family Weekend ace for this big kid – and plenty more besides.

My IDFB adventures this coming weekend promise to be altogether more grown-up: Bombay Beach (part of the Light Fantastic film season) and the Digbeth Shuffle.

The first dance: unrelenting, bitter and stunning

Categories: Events, Extra-curricular, Learning things

Photo of Hofesh Shechter's Uprising by Andrew Lang

I was lucky enough to be invited to Dancexchange's 10th anniversary season launch and opening performance last night; a double bill by Hofesh Shechter Dance Company. Despite having seen plenty of dance on TV and online, until last night I'd never been to a live contemporary dance performance, so it was quite an experience.

The evening kicked-off with a pre-show drinks reception (in the same Hippodrome suite which houses the BRB Coppélia exhibition) and a talk from David Massingham, DanceXchange's Artistic Director. David reminisced about the work done by DanceXchange over the past ten years, and that of the various associate artists and choreographers who've developed work in the DanceXchange studios.

One such choreographer is Hofesh Shechter who created the first show of the season, Uprising, in the very same building in which it was about to be performed. Nice aptness.

Ear-plugs were provided

Performance time! Having been ushered into the Patrick Centre auditorium (via a man doling out earplugs which looked like sweets, as you can see), we took our seats and during the usual ambient chatter in what appeared to be a full house, the lights went out. They didn't fade; they went out. Suddenly. And completely. Which caused a few gasps.

Then the music started and I understood the earplugs thing; I could feel the booming, bassy, percussive, repetitive soundtrack in my feet.

I won't do a detailed recap of the entire show as I'm not a dance reviewer but Uprising was quite amazing. As far as the dancing goes, the fluidity between perfectly synchronised movement and faux-chaotic, faux-fighting was technically incredible.

Towards the end, the sound became a bit Amon Tobin, with electronic whirring, whizzes and twists – I subsequently learned that Shechter produces the music himself, which makes sense really as sound is an integral part of the performance. As is light. This was seamless; moving from single spots to moody half-light to bright, squint-worthy floodlights. Lee Curran clearly knows his stuff.

Afterwards, a single word seemed to describe Uprising: unrelenting.

During the interval the auditorium had been transformed from Uprising's raw, industrial space into a blank white canvas for The Art of Not Looking Back. A strangely oppositional match with Uprising – the style of dance fitted together but the tone this time was shrill and brittle, and included a screaming, spitting soundtrack which was uncomfortable listening.

The booming, brash, constancy of Uprising was clearly the male to this piece's stereotypically changeable, highly emotional and volatile female. (Not least because all Uprising's dancers are men and The Art of Not Looking Back is performed by women. Makes me wonder how it'd work performed vice versa …?)

A single word to describe The Art of Not Looking Back: bitter.

The performance ended with a literally awesome sequence in which both the female and male dancers became silhouetted and appeared to rewind at top speed through several of the core moves we'd just seen. It felt like watching a film being rewound, it was that convincing. Stunning stuff.

David Massingham running a Q&A with Hofesh Shechter

An interesting after-show Q&A followed, with David Massingham and the audience quizzing Hofesh about his creative process, what influences him and whether he minds other choreographers stealing from him. (He doesn't.)

There was even a point at which I thought Mr Massingham was about to reveal his favourite film is Love Actually. (He didn't. It was a Joni Mitchell song on the soundtrack he was referring to.)

So; that was my first experience of live contemporary dance. Would I go again? Yes. In fact, I'm off to see some sinister-looking dancing clowns next month. And I will be taking those earplugs, juuuuust incase …

Making space for art

Categories: Events, Jewellery Quarter

On Friday I went along to the launch-party-type-thing for the latest art exhibition at BPN Architects here in the Jewellery Quarter.

It's Dean Melbourne's first solo show. And it is good.

I must admit that sometimes art stumps me a bit and can make me feel daft if I don't 'get' it. Not this. That's not to say Dean's work is easy or bland or anything though; far from it. This is work you can stand and look at for ages and it gives something back, somehow. Uh-oh, I'm starting to sound way too flowery for my liking …

As I'm not having much luck explaining myself, I'd heartily recommend having a read of Lorna Parsons' blog post about the show, which is much more readable than my witterings. Lorna (who worked with Dean to organise the exhibition) gives a very clear and rational explanation for an architectural practice hosting art exhibitions – a concept which may at first seem a bit odd but actually makes perfect sense.

Dean Melbourne's paintings of dreamy fables and tea-sipping ladies will be on show at BPN Architects' really rather ace exhibition space until December. Contact BPN in advance to arrange a look around.

Oh, and when you go, be sure to notice the framing for an extra hit of colour and detailing. Lovely stuff.