Museums of Boston

Yesterday morning, I was honored to be the featured speaker at the September Museums of Boston meeting held at the Garden in the Woods.  When Barbara Levitov of the Davis Museum at Wellesley invited me, she cited a recent survey of the membership where they responded that they wished to know more about the marketing and audience development strategies of theatre companies.  Having worked for both a midsize and large theatre in the Boston area I have had broad experience in building audiences for a variety of productions.

When planning this presentation I recalled a three-day workshop I attended a few years ago sponsored by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.  The workshop, “Increasing Cultural Participation,” outlined the three basic strategic categories for audience interaction and outreach:

  • Broaden
  • Deepen
  • Diversify

I decided to use that outline as a jumping off point for the presentation.  Of course, I wanted to find a way to bring using the internet into the presentation but, from experience, I know that not all organizations wish to learn only about opportunities for leveraging the internet for marketing.

The initial part of my presentation was an explanation of the intended outcomes for each of those three strategic areas.  I peppered my presentation with examples from my work at both New Repertory Theatre and the American Repertory Theatre.

Overall, my emphasis was that an organization must have a measurable audience development goal and a mission-driven strategic marketing plan to reach the goal.  Each specific marketing or audience development tactic contributes parts of the overall goal to increase participation.

Whenever I make a presentation to a smaller group like Museums of Boston (we were all around a long table) I tend to let the group participate and shape part of the presentation.  As part of that goal, I offered to talk about utilizing the internet for audience development and outreach.  The group was definitely interested utilizing web technology to build audiences and one member was particularly interested in the Mike Daisey incident at the American Repertory Theatre.  If you’re not familiar with the incident, read Mike’s post on the American Repertory Theatre’s blog and watch the video, too.

I used the Mike Daisey incident to reinforce that marketing on the internet isn’t a case of when something catches fire, it will obviously lead to ticket sales.  It also isn’t a case that something that has great exposure (the video has been viewed 150,000 times) necessarily transforms to the people who watch it acting in any other way than just watching the video. The video was a great spectacle.  Audience members weren’t compelled to attend a performance because the interruption that made the event so memorable wasn’t necessarily going to happen again.  What was interesting to people and why they watched it was that the performance was disrupted as opposed to the performance itself.  What was lost in our distribution was that Mike Daisey is a wonderful performer and, even without the rude disruption by the school, he is definitely worth seeing.

Museums of Boston allowed me to stay and attend their meeting and take a brief tour of the Garden in the Woods.  During their general meeting, I was pleased to listen to a lively discussion about whether the Museums of Boston website was showing up as an referring site in each individual organization’s Google Analytics reports.  A discussion of the importance of knowing where your traffic is coming from showed that the members there were already looking for ways to increase the traffic to their sites.  In the arts community, these kinds of discussions and information sharing opportunities are necessary. and they don’t happen enough.

Thank you to Museums of Boston and especially to Barbara Levitov, Marketing Manager at the Davis Museum and Cultural Center at Wellesley College for inviting me to be the featured speaker at their September meeting.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply