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Practical tips, tricks, and pointers for getting things done as an arts manager.

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    Who Is In Charge of Engagement? Someone comes up to you and says they really enjoyed the program they attended and want to spread the word to their friends and get them involved, to whom do you refer them? Is there someone who will offer to collect the contact info of the person and their […]

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    One of my favorite nonprofit blogs, NonProfit with Balls by Vu Le, published a post on 1/20/2015 about the theory of trickle down community engagement.  The Chattanooga Symphony & Opera is in the midst of an education and community engagment planning process, so I was pumped to read this article. Le defines the trickle down […]

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    I went to a luncheon a few weeks ago on an “Innovation District” that Chattanooga is creating. In that luncheon, the words “Start-Up Entrepreneur” were said no less than 15 times; seriously, I stopped tallying after the 15th.  When the buzzword about town is not “art” or “symphony”, it’s easy to dismiss the other and […]

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    In Tennessee, our state arts council has spent the past year working with arts organizations in the state to be more inclusive with regards to audience members with disabilities or developmental differences.  I would venture a guess that most arts groups are like us; a little unsure of how to enter this area.  Over the […]

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    One of my college professors told my class that he started each morning by watching one Ted talk.  Since here in Chattanooga, our summer is a little more relaxed then during the season, I’m taking up his advice and starting each day with a TED talk*. One of my favorites that I’ve watched this summer […]

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  • 08/24/15--00:00: Lending Your Tenor
  • If only they came and saw our art, they would be hooked for life. This is one of those commonly voiced assumptions that is untrue. Some people need more than one interaction, often with diverse artistic expressions, before they become interested and invested in the arts. For some it doesn’t ever happen. Obviously, there are […]

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    My organization, the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera, has spent the last season and a good part of the summer talking about different opportunities to be more inclusive.  Our state arts council has placed a high importance on this and is being a driver of some innovative thinking in Tennessee arts groups. Last season, we worked […]

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    Like many people in arts organizations, I get to wear many hats in my job.  One of my favorites is that of volunteer coordinator.  Each season, we rely on over 100 volunteers to help our small staff do big work. As I was gearing up for volunteer sign-ups and making some changes to the program, […]

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    There’s a sub-class of nerds out there called “Map Nerds”. I’m a proud member; I love maps. A standard class in many public administration or urban planning classes involves learning the mapping software “Geographic Information Software” (shortened to G.I.S.) and it is a fun day when I can break out my map skills to map […]

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  • 11/13/15--00:00: The Podcast Connection
  • Watching the tweets from the National Arts Marketing Project Conference—#NAMPC—this past weekend, I was struck with an overwhelming sense of deja vu. Talk of storytellers lulling audiences into a comfortable dream state, of the surprisingly intimate relationship between podcasters and listeners…it was all in the keynote by Radiolab’s Jad Abumrad. It’s also part of a […]

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  • 12/18/15--00:00: Write Your Congresspeople!
  • One of my favorite parts of my job is the part that I get to pretend I’m a Washington, D.C. lobbyist.  As the Community Engagement Manager, I get assigned the large task of doing small advocacy work. Building relationships with legislators is important and should be on someone’s plate.  It doesn’t need to be a lot; […]

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    If you’re an artist or organization that doesn’t have a regular venue, you know the difficulties of finding places to rehearse or perform.  My organization, the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera is fortunate to have a semi-regular concert hall that we perform in frequently throughout the season. But, as we work to get into the community and […]

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    The end of the fiscal year is looming for many arts organizations and Spring “We do good work, Give us your money!” letters are being written now. I’m sure many of those letters highlight sell-out shows and performances or exhibits with renowned guest artists. I bet most of them also highlight your organization’s education and […]

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    If you have been inspired by all the great community projects you see different arts groups doing and dream of doing something similar, but don’t know where to start, Minnesota based Springboard for the Arts has you covered with their Creative Exchange site. In particular, the Toolkit section of the site has guides written by […]

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    We frequently read discussions about the need to communicate the differences between the business models of for-profit and non-profits. What there is less conversation about is the differences in business models among non-profits. If you are looking at another non-profit organization and trying to replicate what they do in terms of fundraisers and earned revenue […]

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    It’s always interesting to see the various advertising campaigns directed towards the LGBTQ market during the month of June and during pride festivals around the world over the summer. I recently came across a fascinating article from June 22 by Alex Mayyasi in The Atlantic called “How Subarus Came to Be Seen as Cars for Lesbians”, which talked […]

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    The new season is upon and I’m sure many community engagement managers out there spent the summer making plans for a variety of initiatives.  Probably high on that list were “diversity initiatives”. If you google “diversity”, the definition is “variety; a range of things.” Nowhere in there does it say “putting people of different skin […]

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    Beginning in 1926, organizations across the country celebrated Negro History Week, first established in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson to “raise awareness of African American’s contributions to civilization.” In 1976, the celebration was expanded to a month and President Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in […]

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    Arts organizations are asked to create dozens of reports every year evaluating their programs to justify the funding they receive so you probably aren’t inclined to embark on an additional self-evaluation of their own. However, the group, IETM – International network for contemporary performing arts, recently issued a self-evaluation tool kit specifically designed for arts organizations with the goal of empowering groups to take control of the evaluation narrative. IETM say that many funders employ criteria that suits their own agenda, or perhaps to justify their existence, and may either misrepresent or ... Read more

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    Audience Diversity Is Not A Fad
    Over the course of the year, I will be creating a series of posts on the topic of audience diversity. This incredibly important topic has become more and more important to me over the past few years. With the US population becoming more and more diverse and our “traditional” audiences dwindling, arts organizations simply must make a concerted effort to engage with multicultural populations in the communities they serve. We know from multiple national data sets as well as our own internal data (anecdotal and scientific) that the patrons of most arts ... Read more

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