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 Post subject: Free Advice from Michael Kaiser
PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2005 9:37 am 
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An excellent article on "the basics".

Rule No. 1: Avoid the Same Old Song and Dance
Jennifer Dunning
The New York Times
May 15, 2005

Quote:
"Dance companies do a very bad job of picking their images," Mr. Kaiser said. "They typically pick images that speak to their core audience and to themselves. If I see one more ballerina on point in arabesque, with a bun, it's going to kill me

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/15/arts/dance/15dunn.html?pagewanted=1


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PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2005 11:07 am 
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Oh, man, do I wholeheartedly agree with that quote. Some ballet PR and marketing types don't get that a ballerina on point actually turn off some non-ballet audiences. The same goes with effeminate poses by male dancers. As Kaiser states, images of bare-chested men are good but do make them strong and masculine, because women buy more ballet tickets!

And, yes, promoting the next season is woefully inadequate marketing. There has to be emphasis on identity marketing instead so that you build a relationship with the community and have a strong audience base no matter what you're performing this season, next season or ten seasons to come!


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PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2005 9:08 pm 
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Azlan wrote:
promoting the next season is woefully inadequate marketing.

... especially when the next season's marketing, itself, is woeful and inadequate. I was very disappointed with the ABT and NYCB initial campaigns for the spring season. The first ABT brochure cover was Julie Kent bent over in some forgettable Swan Lake pose. The NYCB brochure was pure and simply blah blah blah. Compare and contrast, if you will, the Bolshoi's first marketing poster for their upcoming two weeks at the Met Opera House: dark, brooding Mr. Hunk adorned in all of his Spartacus warrior stuff (think metal studs and leather) descending a grand jete. :twisted: This sells tickets to the general public.

You would think that two companies like ABT and NYCB, who have gorgeous men and women in their employ, would consider capitalizing on that asset.


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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2005 2:56 pm 
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He Makes some very valid points but overall his advise is a bit thin and generic. There is no "magic bullet" to increase audiences. Competition is growing every year and expenses are dramatically rising for both companies and presenters. Likewise, lets face it, every market is not the same, not even close. What works in NYC may not work in Seattle, Houston or Kansas City. Companies have to work smarter no doubt, but until the economy sufficiently recovers, most companies are more likely to cut back, than grow.


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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2005 6:14 pm 
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I would interject that it is dangerous to take the "core audience" for granted. Some of this discussion veers precariously near to the presumption that we will be there no matter what is presented or how it is marketed. Is it necessary to alienate those of us who actually *like* ballet by launching a perverse campaign to "turn it upside down" (or on its ear)? Pandering is transparently offensive and it is far too much in evidence, from both artistic choices and various marketing campaigns. Single ticket buyers (who, perhaps, bought tickets only because of the promised leather show, or who are fans of popular music group XYZ whose music is promised in one of three works on the triple bill) are expensive to chace and rarely convert to core audience members. Working on the unglamorous task of expanding the core audience is a slow process, but that is the appropriate approach to funding an art form that requires an institutional framework within which to flourish. If there were a silver bullet, I am sure that every marketing and development department would have seized upon it long ago.


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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2005 9:21 am 
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Extremely well stated Francis. I agree completely, especially the last sentence.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2005 9:11 pm 
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How about a budget for a PR program that focuses on identity and image that builds a long term relationship with the community so that you don't have to depend so heavily on marketing from program to program and from season to season? One reason for the pandering to salacious audiences is the relatively small size of the ballet-savvy crowd and nothing done to grow a bigger intelligent audience.

To quote myself above:

Quote:
There has to be emphasis on identity marketing instead so that you build a relationship with the community and have a strong audience base no matter what you're performing this season, next season or ten seasons to come!


Unfortunately, I have seen income at dance companies exhausted within weeks as they come in, with the money spent on the most pressing needs, such as wages, rent, and bills, with whatever is left over going towards marketing for the next program and sometimes if they really have money left over for the next season.

Usually there isn't much of a continuity in marketing from season to season because turnover rate among the administrative staff is typically high -- in such cases, there is no high-level thinking or staff-level execution of a longterm PR strategy. I don't even think they've even had the time or the desire to seek the ultimate "silver bullet."

And this is the case for many small for-profit businesses as well. It boggles my mind that so many companies have no mission statement or a business plan (other than the one they wrote many years ago to get a business loan that they never looked at again). It's hard to create long term plans when you're overworked and trying to survive from week to week.

Now, there are some ballet organizations that do it right. One in particular consistenly spends a lavish amount of money on the details, such as mylar invitations, pre-season announcements on heavy cardstock, high-definition photos in their brochures that are professionally designed, etc. etc. -- and all this for just regular people on their mailing list! There's a prestige associated with that company which in turn leads to a large and loyal following as well as a large donor base.

Smaller companies can do similar things on a lesser scale. However, one suggestion I had for a then-young arts organization was "Unless you're striving to be a regional, semi-amateur outfit, don't do it if it doesn't look nice," meaning if you can afford only plain paper for a newsletter, then don't do it -- save the money to enhance the brochure instead. If you really need to do it, pick up the phone instead: get services and materials donated.

But like I said, it's hard and I don't envy those making a career out of it. We really owe Executive Directors, General Managers, PR and Marketing personnel and administrative staff more than we know for keeping professional ballet thriving!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2005 9:55 am 
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Thought everyone should be reminded that the Vilar Institute of Arts Management, created by Kaiser at the Kennedy Center, does offer fellowships for its 10 month programs. You may recall that Jeff Edwards, formerly a NYCB soloist, completed that program. What a great transition step for a dancer -- if he can get the fellowship. Take a look:
http://www.kennedy-center.org/education/vilarinstitute/

How do I substitute text for the url as we were able to prior to the software change?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2005 10:49 pm 
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Try this:

Code:
[url=http://www.link.com/whatever.html]Click here[/url]


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2005 9:24 pm 
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From the Chronicle of Philanthropy dated May 26, 2005


A Leading Performance
Head of Kennedy Center aims to improve skills of arts leaders

By Nicole Lewis

Quote:
Michael M. Kaiser often wakes in the middle of the night to leave himself a phone message at work after dreaming up an idea for a performance. "Sometimes I even say 'goodbye,' and I know I'm really sleepy when I do that," says Mr. Kaiser, president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.


Quote:
Without better-trained managers, the arts world is headed for trouble, says Mr. Kaiser. "The arts environment gets harder and harder because we can't increase productivity in the live performing arts -- there is the same number of seats in our theaters," he says


Nor can arts management apply the traditional economies of scale to their work. Imagine: "Okay Paloma, we're going to increase your productivity by making you do twice as many pirouettes with half the releve." Or "Alright Shades, down the ramp in twice the speed or you're outta here." Dance management is indeed a specialty with a lot of very unique obstacles. This is a great article:
http://philanthropy.com/free/articles/v17/i16/16002101.htm


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2005 1:34 am 
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Poohtunia wrote:
Dance management is indeed a specialty with a lot of very unique obstacles.


Not so at all. Well, software management is quite unique, too and I'm sure other types of managers feel the same way about their fields. Dance is not that unique, it's just most of the people in it are not that qualified or successful. Other than Michael Kaiser, Arthur Jacobus and a few other it's a sad state of affairs.

Mr. Kaiser's article is a very basic blue print of success for any type of business, but in dance it's a revelation for most.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2005 8:55 am 
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Michael Auer wrote:
Mr. Kaiser's article is a very basic blue print of success for any type of business, but in dance it's a revelation for most.


LOL! Many people thrust into dance management don't have training, other than learning from people who had even less formal education.

However, business practices don't always apply to the arts, which relies more heavily on a wing and a prayer than for-profit corporations. Ultimately though, both rely on projections of sales of products or services. Businesses are better at projecting, adjusting, planning, and boosting. Actually, I should say some businesses -- I know many run without even a business plan... Oy...


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