There’s a terrific post over at Butts In The Seats from 9/6/2011 that’s worth your while to read titled Brains, Rather Than Butts, In The Seats. The gist of the article focuses on the notion that arts marketing needs to shift away from a strategic mindset as defined by subscriptions. Now before you think this is another log on the subscriptions good/subscriptions bad fire, guess again.

Patti’s article focuses on a recent talk by Andrew McIntyre given to the Arts Midwest convention. I won’t spoil everything for you but Patti does an exception job at using a number of his direct experiences managing a presenting venue in Hawaii to illustrate and postulate on McIntyre’s key points.

There’s a lot of good content here and by the end of it I found myself thinking about process. Much of what McIntyre purports would require most orchestral organizations to undergo some seismic shifts in their strategic planning process and dedicate themselves to courses of action that require much longer commitments.

The issue here is transitional process; groups can’t expect to make a hard right turn without encountering some problems. What I’d really enjoy seeing during a discussion such as this is how groups can go about making gradual changes with an eye toward meaningful results without requiring mass institutional distress to do so (or die in the process).

I’m going to be participating in the upcoming National Arts Marketing Project Conference (more on that soon) and I’m curious to see if these sorts of discussions will be taking place and if so, will anyone focus on transitional measures.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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