Category Archives: Value of Presenting

Making information accessible

Long, comprehensive reports, however enthralling, are, at best, read by a minority. That’s why I have been preparing smaller, focused supplementary reports for the Value of Presenting study.

A report on Francophone minorities in Canada: La diffusion des arts vivants dans la francophonie canadienne (PDF)

Special Report Rural Northern Presenting (PDF)

And the presentation in Powerpoint format I used for a couple of webinars to discuss this information with rural and Northern presenters earlier this month:
Presentation Rural Northern Presenting Highlights (PDF)

A special report on Dance Attendance Supplementary Analysis (PDF)

These reports go beyond the Interim Report that spawns them by deepening the specific information from our survey of the Canadian public.

Additional segment reports will be published over the spring to help Canadian presenters and anyone interested see themselves more clearly in this sector-wide study.

Media coverage in articles and interviews is summarized in this post.

Interim report: Value of Presenting revealed

This spring my life has been dominated by writing. The result is a major milestone for the Value of Presenting: A Study of Arts Presentation in Canada.Value of Presenting

In this Interim Report of Findings I consolidate the facts and figures on the value and benefits of performing arts presenting in Canada gathered over the last year through two national surveys (288 presenters and 1,031 Canadians), participation at conferences, leading dialogues and interviews with the presenting field and those found in the literature. Additionally, it presents a profile of the performing arts presenting ecology as a whole and highlights how several groups of presenters are distinct; for instance, those presenting works for aboriginal communities, francophone minority (those operating outside Quebec) and those in rural and remote communities.

The Interim Report of Findings:

French-language executive summary:

The supplementary report on francophone minorities and presenting in Canada, with additional data:

Writing is both solitary and communal. My thanks and appreciation go to the project manager at CAPACOA, Frédéric Julien, for reviewing everything and co-writing the French report. And my colleague, Pierre Lacroix, who has been leading the consulting work with the francophone communities and co-wrote the French-language report.

Over the next year, I will continue to explore the implications of these and other findings with the presenting field across Canada. In March 2013, we will publish a final report on the Value of Presenting in both English and French.

This next week, I will lead two webinars for rural and Northern presenters to review findings and begin conversations on the “So, what” part of this work. For webinar information:

“How can I sell tickets using Twitter?”

Have you ever heard someone ask: “How can I sell tickets using Twitter?” or “I have a lot of Facebook fans but very few seem to buy tickets to my events. I don’t think Facebook works for me.”

I have puzzled over such statements; I couldn’t understand why anyone would measure these social media platforms by their capacity to achieve direct sales  — whether of tickets or widgets or gadgets.

In my mind, social media were, well, social.

Social means relationships. Social means conversation – mostly consumer to consumer, but also consumer to brand. Social means mutual respect. Social might mean recommendation. Social can mean someone buys something based – at least in part – on a social network interaction. But it all starts with authentic relationships, it’s like being friends in the so-called real world.

Off I went looking for organizations using social media in exemplary ways, especially in the performing arts presenting field. This experiment is part of the Value of Presenting Study we have been working on.

The experiment: Interview by Twitter 
The topic: The use of social media and online technology in your performing arts organization.
The interviewees: Two arts presenters (read the transcripts here: Shell Theatre and the National Arts Centre) who use social media in exemplary ways and an agent who does, too.

Key findings:

  1. Social media are about building relationships
  2. There are other ways to sell tickets
  3. Audiences engaged: mostly the 30 to 55 year-old crowd rather than “young people”, even though one interviewees said they find Facebook and txt works with a Students Rush tickets program;
  4. Hone your authentic voice
  5. Experiment to see what works for your organization

It’s fun to experiment with trying to help more people see what the strategic potential of social media in the performing arts presenting sector could be, by doing. In this case, it’s not in direct sales measured by revenue, but in building relationships measured by quality of relationships, engagement and championship of the brand. It is not an old-style transactional relationship, but one that is mutually enriching, extends beyond attendance, and requires new, timely interactions. And they are a lot more public.

The importance of voice is a fascinating topic in the concise world of social networks. (As these interviews show, short texts can be extremely good at making clear points and sharing salient information.) Voice is a key brand attribute that requires honing and calibration.

I think the adoption of social media shifts an organization’s brand into a new realm. As such, an evaluation  of  what an organization stands for and how it is and behaves in its world (in short an evaluation of market relevance), may well be an essential step toward embracing such contemporary marketing methods.

The Value of History

The Value of Presenting Study is  aimed at helping to shape the future for performing arts presentation. We could just look forward to establish that vision. It seems human nature to go from today to tomorrow; maybe that’s because we are best suited to use ourselves as the reference point from which to understand the world. However, in my view, a full understanding requires knowing something about the evolution that got us to today. It serves to avoid myopia and to build on where we have come from rather than inadvertently move backwards. (It’s possible!)

It’s good to understand the genesis of Canada’s very own cultural life to help it move forward in the next decade or so. Nation-building, international relations, identity-formation and export are all underlying Canadian cultural policy. Public funding of creative expression also holds all sorts of tension points, from discussions about “what is art” to establishing funding priorities.

One aspect of our team’s work has been to collect a historic overview, starting from the earliest times in Canada as we know it today. The document is a work in progress (if you have things to add, please add  comments on the project site); we will update this file over the next few weeks with some of the more recent evolution we have gained in interviews and contributions from people who have been part of the sector for many years.

Literature review for review

We have posted a concise review of literature on the value and impact of performing arts presentation created to help see the landscape for the Value of Presenting Study.

What we find, to the most part, is that the research is focussed on performing arts in general terms and does not specifically address the function of the performing arts presenter. Still, there is some excellent work in existence that shows the role of the arts in our lives. As this project offers opportunity for public dialogue, anyone interested is invited to participate.

In the document section of that site we have started to collect links to the relevant literature. The value of the arts and their contribution to Canadian economy and society is beyond doubt, even though attacks on the creative, cultural sector persist in some corners.

Value of Presenting

The Value of Presenting site launched today

With this project, performing arts presenters are embarking on a reflective journey to define their role as part of the creative chain, in communities and in society. Today’s launch extends our work  into the digital realm. I hope the site turns into an active dialogue and collaboration space for people who present live performing arts in Canada, everyone they work with and anyone who is interested in the performing arts.


The Value of Presenting Site

This public dialogue has the great potential to advance a vibrant and active performing arts landscape for years to come.

The site wants to be shared: using a highly customized WordPress set up, we have added Twitter and Facebook integration, in particular for account creation but also sharing back to those platforms, a bilingual interface to enhance dialogue across languages, a blog post RSS feed, of course, a Twitter roll – we are using #ArtsPresenting and #DiffusionArts as study specific hash tags. There are a pair of initial discussion topics ready for discussion – come check out the project.

A big thanks to Mike of  Little m Design for his superb and awesomely timely technical implementation of the site.

Studying the Value of Presenting in Canada

Spring often marks new beginnings. This May has proven momentous for Strategic Moves: I am now leading a two-year long, ambitious project to shed new light on Arts Presenting and Presenters in Canada. (Full news release.)

To do this major initiative justice, I have formed a bilingual, bicultural consulting team from Ontario and Quebec. And we have partnered with  EKOS Research for the necessary quantitative surveys.

I had the chance to give a presentation and Q&A session at the national meeting of Regional Presenting Networks organized by the Canadian Arts Presenting Association (CAPACOA). This is the group we are doing this work for and with. This session was followed by a successful kick-off meeting with the national Advisory Committee on May 5.

Since then, I have been working on all the necessary start up activities from briefing the rest of the team and getting the work underway to researching solutions for a collaborative online space dedicated to this project to building the project schedule for the first year of research and consulting activities.

Canada’s performing arts scene boasts some of the world’s most celebrated musicians, dancers, actors and performers. Yet, the purpose and the work of arts presenters in building Canada’s cultural fabric, preparing the stage for diverse artistic expression and developing engaged audiences are little known or understood. In a rapidly evolving world, arts presenters seek to affirm their role in the creative chain coherently and with purpose.

During the next two years together with the presenting field across Canada and related sectors we will:

  • identify, understand and communicate the value and benefits of presenting for Canadians
  • envision the presenters’ evolving role in our changing world
  • raise awareness of the role of the live performing arts presenter in the creative chain, in communities and in society.

I am excited to work with CAPACOA, the advisory committee and the many outstanding people that work in the arts and in the presenting field in particular.