10 Golden Rules of Communication (and Change) for Arts Organizations

  1. Avoid complaining about poor funding or any other internal problems in the public. Involve your whole organization. If internal communication is poor, why do you believe that external communication might be brilliant? (Try to fight funding problems and cuts in advance and internally as far as possible.)
  2. Stop staff members (artistic and non artistic) and stop board members telling bad messages in the pub. (Imagine what happens at stock exchange when only rumors arise…)
  3. Don’t tell people outside what doesn’t work, they do have their own problems (but tell your staff and board the truth very clearly). Tell people outside only what does work. Encourage your staff and board to do so, too.
  4. Press and media always have told you: “Only bad news are good news.” This is rubbish. Your performance is sold out? Your audience is going bananas? Your revenue has sky rocketed? Tell enthusiastic stories about these things.
  5. Try to establish a dialogue with press, media and your peers. Dialogue means trust building and long term relationships.
  6. Don’t discuss the past, you should learn from it, but you can’t change it. Look into the future.
  7. Think positive. Act positive. Send positive messages. Encourage your staff and board to do so, too.
  8. You produce artistic content at the highest possible quality standard. This is one of the core issues of your organization. Share your excitement about this with press, media and your peers. Encourage your staff and board to do so, too.
  9. Change the public mind setting towards your organization! What do people really know and think about you? How can you change this, if necessary?
  10. Survey the changing picture of your organization in public opinion on a regular basis and adjust your communication policy from time to time.

GMOrch_October_2014     http://twitter.com/GMOrch

Wallace Foundation: Road to Audiences

Nine Effectice Practices For Audience Development

Outreach, education and audience development have become the most important issues in arts business. These factors are crucial elements for the marketing, communication and development departments, too.

The really great info chart from the Wallace Foundation cuts a long story short and puts the right questions and tasks into the focus.

Wallace Foundation: Road to Audiences

Wallace Foundation: Road to Audiences

Musical short breaks: Between pleasure and profit

There is a particular segment of the tourism business which is growing: musical holidays and short breaks, organized around a particular event, usually combined with other leisure activities.

Bayreuth Festspielhaus

Bayreuth Festspielhaus

This sector is fragmented, especially in Germany and Central Europe. Small, family-run businesses are as present as large travel organizations, and increasingly media companies too, seeking to capitalize on their audiences’ affinity to classical music. For musical breaks do attract a specific clientele, often retired, well-educated and well-off. Its expectations are high, as are administrative efforts: packages should feel individual enough, non-mainstream events are increasingly sought after, and planning can be tricky as concert halls and opera houses have a different planning horizon from travel organizations.  – The Bayreuth Festival (pictured) is an example for successful international music tourism.

Opera houses and concert halls, on the other hand, see music holidays very much from a distribution and marketing perspective: organized tours can bring whole coach loads of visitors, travel organizations purchase substantial ticket quotas and a listing by select organizers adds to the status and attraction of a destination. For the customers, it is a number of factors that make for a successful musical break, though given the typically upmarket target group it all comes down to attention: to details (like backstage visits), to carefully planned day-time activities (including free leisure time), to friendly service, exclusive offers and high-standard accommodation: the customer is king and wants to feel it.

Musically qualified tour guides are employed by many of the travel organizers. Their expertise is often seen as an integral part of the specific attraction and value of musical holidays. “Celebrity” guides can be a particular selling point, though their input needs to be clearly evaluated – sometimes a one-off backstage meeting may be appropriate, at other times they may accompany the group throughout the trip.

An unique case is the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, which runs its own “tourism department”, organizing and selling its own holiday packages. While the administrative effort is high, the strategy does allow for tailor-made offers and direct contact with a demanding clientele that appreciates a personalized service.

Detroit Symphony Annual Giving Surpasses Goal At 17,4 Mio USD!

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) is back on the read of success – economically as well as artistically. DSO has surpassed its goal of $17 million for annual operational support with $17.4 million in individual, corporate and foundation gifts following the official close of the 2014 fiscal year on August 31, 2014. Individual giving, which saw an increase in every constituency, is owing to the generosity of 10,350 donors who represent the fourth consecutive year of donor base growth.

Home of DSO downtown Detroit

Home of DSO downtown Detroit

“Year after year we are humbled by the outpouring of support from this community,” said DSO President and CEO Anne Parsons. “The health of the DSO as an institution hinges on the generosity of others and thanks to the people of metro Detroit we are proudly on our way to a second consecutive balanced budget year.”

Individual giving increased from every constituency during fourth consecutive year of donor base growth

While overall individual giving grew by 8 percent, board giving grew by 10 percent for a total of $2.3 million. In its inaugural year, the Gabrilowitsch Society ($10,000+ giving club) secured more than 100 members giving a total of $3.3 million. The Governing Members, the DSO’s voting body, grew for the fourth consecutive year reaching 400 members. The Volunteer Council generated $200,000 in support through events and activities. With individual gifts ranging from $1 to $1 million, the median gift was $100.

DSO staff contributed to the Annual Fund with 100 percent participation in response to an anonymous $250,000 challenge grant. Likewise, DSO musicians contributed with an unprecedented leadership gift to the Heroes Gala honoring Dan Gilbert and Matt Cullen. Special events like the one-night-only performance with John Williams and Steven Spielberg, Heroes Gala and Classical Roots generated $1.2 million, a 35 percent increase over special events revenue from 2013.

The DSO is a community-supported orchestra, and strives to also be community supporting. In reciprocation for the support that makes programming possible at the Max M. Fisher Music Center, around metro Detroit and across the world through global webcasts, in FY 2014 DSO staff and musicians donated approximately 5,000 hours of service to the community through a company-wide Day of Service, in-kind event services and engagements at hospitals, schools, libraries and the like.

38th Nordic Orchestra Conference in Aarhus (Denmark) adresses topic issues

Some 80 orchestra and education managers from Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland discuss topic problems of publicly funded orchestras and opera houses in their countries. Guest speakers from the US, the UK and Germany contribute and share their experiences from September 24 to 26 in Aarhus (Denmark).

Confernce Location: Aarhus Musikhuset

Confernce Location: Aarhus Musikhuset

You may find the programme brochure here:

Nordic Conference Brochure

The next Nordic Orchestra Conference is going to be hosted by the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra in Norway in 2015.

Ongoing Crisis in the Teatro Colón – Open letter from the artists

There is no end of the crisis to be seen at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. Artists recently published an open letter which you will read here in English translation:

Colòn artists say: BASTA!

Colòn artists say: BASTA!

“With deep regret Teatro Colón artists today feel obliged to report and make public abuse and neglect by those who suffer should give us the minimum necessary conditions to develop our professional work. Despite currently having the theatre with the highest budget in its history, we are concerned, as every year the programming of its artistic bodies is reduced, reaching the self-produced one of the lowest levels ever seen since its creation today.

The level of discomfort of their artists is, however, very high: the Teatro Colón is offering today the worst working conditions in the region. They should include the draining institutional abuse (and occasionally even personal abuse).

It is our duty to recognize that they are creating the conditions for the recurrence of conflicts that have not been resolved:
‘In 2011 the SWA issued the creation of a Commission of Career order to begin to solve the labor problem Theatre, but despite having worked hard for nearly two years, not a race was implemented. He just arrived in some palliative and temporary improvements.
‘In the past 22 months (almost two years) the artistic wage type has suffered a loss in the purchasing power of 23%. By the nature of some of those fleeting improvements, scheduled production decline further affects the salary of the artists and also the increasing tax burden of the National Government. Years ago, in deference to the public, artists endure mistreatment and management inefficiency and inability resolution of each claim to have presented aiming to recover our historical levels of production.

We must reaffirm that there is no correlation between the demand made institutionally, the remuneration received. Nor between our professional hierarchy and authoritarian and provocative treatment we offer (arrogant and offensive attitudes, sanctions, summaries and layoffs of colleagues). Old problems have not improved: unable to enjoy a dignified retirement, older artists must rely on lawyers to hold on to their jobs by amparo and precautionary measures, instead of resting after so many years of hard work. Those who do however opted for a voluntary retirement relying on a predictable wage developments, also is punishing them for the above.

On numerous occasions we have submitted proposals and offered to collaborate in finding solutions that allow us to concentrate on our work and activity. We have only received silence and disinterest, which today are already read by house artists such as trowels provocations.
For 11 months we have been warning repeatedly written about stress and distress prevailing, but do not see any change in the attitudes of those who should be most interested in your staff to feel mistreated.

Definitely, in this climate of unrest cannot fully produce neither art nor beauty.
By this today Teatro Colón artists we say ENOUGH TO ABUSE!
We want a quality theatre, open society and greater self-produced, decent wages and respectful and indiscriminate their artists who have won their positions through competitive international competitions and opposition background treatment.

Colon Theatre Artistic Bodies
September 2014”

Season brochure BR SO 2014/15

Outstanding Season brochure from Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra!

If there were a prize for innovation of season brochures, you would have to award it the Bavarian Radio Orchestra in Munich!

Season brochure BR SO 2014/15

Season brochure BR SO 2014/15

Each orchestra will wonder why it has not come even earlier at it: The BR-brochure is therefore outside inconspicuously, but has it all. Once in hand, one does not put it away again. At 130 pages, the reader learns not only the program of the next season, but among other things, which physical stress conductors and musicians are exposed in a concert, what alternative career the musicians might have chosen, from which cities, countries and continents they come, when they chose their present instrument, etc.

All this is presented in impressive infographics, where one delves enjoyable. More impressive the inner workings of an orchestra have not been explained yet. A graph is worth a thousand words.


Download the brochure here!