Jan23

 Jill Robinson, 
President & CEO, TRG Arts

Like many of you, I watched coverage of the inauguration on Friday. It is a time like none of us have seen; regardless of political affiliation, we all hang in suspense about the specifics of our collective future. Many marched (good!), others wring hands and despair, and many in our country are sanguine, even pleased.

Luminaries in arts and culture have spoken on the implications of the Trump era for our country and our field in more articulate ways than I can. Yet, I am moved to write, inspired by our field’s response to our divisive political reality.  

I’m inspired by initiatives like Arena Stage’s Power Plays, which in the next 10 years will develop 25 new plays and musicals exploring American stories of politics and power. I’m stirred by the cast of Hamilton’s thought-provoking demonstration. I talk daily to the leaders of arts and cultural organizations in this country, Canada, and the UK; I’m reminded of our role as a sector as I listen to their stories of the experiences they provide in their communities that create joy, learning, beauty, dialogue. 

The arts bring people together. In today’s polarized global climate, that’s more important than ever.

Posted by Jill Robinson | Jan. 23, 2017 8:47 AM

Dec22


Photo: Chris Devers via flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

“What should we be paying attention to?”

TRG gets this — and similar questions — often. As a firm that operates in four countries with a variety of clients, we have a catbird seat to the latest industry trends each year. In 2016, the trends that caught our attention included:

- The importance of “integrated patron loyalty

- How to make a business model based on subscription thrive

- Why arts organizations should use data to program a balanced season

- The reasons that arts marketers still place low-return marketing ads, and what you can do stop the practice

Still craving more? Below are our most popular posts from 2016. We thank you, our loyal readers, who continue to inspire, teach, and engage with our content. And, we thank the many clients who have collaborated with us to tell their story of organizational change and revenue results.

Posted by Sophia Hubeny | Dec. 22, 2016 9:51 AM

Dec05

Photo by Corey Balazowich (CC BY-ND 2.0)

In 2015, the consulting firm Oliver Wyman released a research study in partnership with the League of American Orchestras that grabbed my attention and hasn’t let go. The central question of their work: is the existing subscription model for symphony orchestras still viable? In the age of Netflix, Amazon, and Uber, does it need a small tweak, a substantial jump start, or a complete-and-total-tear-down-and-rebuild to remain a worthwhile offering?

The study illuminated a few key findings for the orchestra sector:

  • Subscription audiences are declining, not due to dissatisfaction with their experience, or to competitive forces in entertainment. Instead, they’re losing interest in programming (both how seasons are structured, and with classical music overall), and most of all patrons are dissatisfied with subscription products as they currently exist.
Posted by Adam Scurto | Dec. 5, 2016 5:59 AM

Nov16

Ronia Holmes

Because it isn’t central to your mission. Period.

I hear you harrumphing as mission/vision/values/beliefs and goals statements are dragged out. Sure, your organization has been around for a century or more and these statements about your commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion are barely older than the Gen-Z unpaid intern managing the Facebook account, but still, these statements are proof that your organization is committed to community.

No, they’re not. So put them down, and let’s #RealTalk about communities, new audiences, the past, and the future.

Posted by Ronia Holmes | Nov. 16, 2016 8:16 AM

Nov02

The need to deepen relationships with current stakeholders and build relationships with new audiences is a compelling question for us at Forklift Danceworks. When we are asked this question, we often answer with a question: Who loves Elvis?

In 2007, Forklift’s Artistic Director Allison Orr choreographed The King & I—not the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, but an evening-length, contemporary dance performance work to address her curiosity, “Just what does Elvis Presley have to do with you and me, anyway?” In making the work, Allison knew she needed to find a way to get input and inspiration from the Elvis community. She sought out to find, “Who loves Elvis?”

Meeting the dedicated Elvis tribute artists and hearing stories from fans, Allison decided to loosely structure the performance of The King & I on Elvis’ last concert. Thinking even more about the fans who love Elvis (who also love to get together to talk about their love for Elvis!), she decided to perform the dance over three weekends around the 30th anniversary of Elvis’ death. Through collecting stories about Elvis’ life and work, performances of his songs and of course, choreography that included his iconic moves, this show with three professional dancers and five Elvis Tribute Artists was really a collaboration with many others, with inspiration and input from the Elvis-loving community.

In the years since The King & I, we have choreographed dances for trash collectors and their vehicles, electric utility workers and their equipment, forestry technicians and a heritage pecan tree, and baseball players and a historic field. The key to the success of each project has been asking, “Who loves Elvis--or recycling, or electricity, or trees, or baseball?” and finding the community that already has a stake in the dance we are making and inviting them to join us in the creative process.

Posted by Allison Orr | Nov. 2, 2016 12:38 PM

Oct26

Barry Hughson

A few months ago, I attended the dress rehearsal for “Dreamers Ever Leave You”.  It was a transformational artistic and human experience. 

At the National Ballet of Canada, we have two choreographic associates, Guillaume Cote and Robert Binet.  Unlike a resident choreographer post, which is often filled with high profile, well established choreographers, our choreographic associates are young, emerging choreographers.  Artistic Director Karen Kain created these positions in an effort to nurture a new generation of dance makers, and specifically Canadian dance makers.  These talented young artists bring their ideas to Karen, and she provides the platform, dancers, and collaborators required for them to explore and shape their ideas and hone their craft.

Robert Binet approached Karen a year ago about a new idea.  Inspired by the work of Canadian artist Lawren Harris, Robert had created a solo that he now wanted to expand on.  The Art Gallery of Ontario, one of Canada’s most prestigious and respected arts institutions, was to present a major exhibition of Harris’s work.  Curated by the American actor and musician Steve Martin, the exhibition seemed an interesting opportunity to explore a collaboration between the National Ballet and the AGO, and a perfect platform to develop Robert’s idea.  We convened meetings with AGO officials, who enthusiastically embraced the idea.  Budgets were developed, Robert’s ideas further shaped with input from key collaborators from both institutions, and the spark of an idea became the transformational experience.

Posted by Barry Hughson | Oct. 26, 2016 12:10 PM

Oct19

I serve as a theater director, producer, writer, and, in the past, actor. My artistic collaborators and I vigorously pursue artistic excellence every day. Often, community engagement and artistic excellence are framed in opposition to one another. For me, it is the very pursuit of artistic excellence that drives my self-interest to develop and deepen relationships with current stakeholders and new communities.


A play or musical, regardless of when or where it is set, also lives in relationship with the time and place it is being produced and thus community engagement is essential to artistic excellence.


Consensus Organizing for Theater (CO)

I practice an artistic methodology called Consensus Organizing for Theater (CO)*, through which an arts organization deliberately builds stake in multiple pockets of communities and those communities deliberately build stake back in the art or organization by surfacing and organizing around mutual self-interest.

Posted by Seema Sueko | Oct. 19, 2016 9:32 AM


Contributors


Jill Robinson
Adam Scurto
Amelia Northrup-
Simpson
J.L.Nave Vincent VanVleet Keri Mesropov