Do I know what makes a masterworks concert a masterworks concert? Of course I do…but why don’t you tell me what you think it means first then I’ll let you know if that’s what I thought.
That’s an actual conversation I overheard a few years ago but never really stuck me until I presented at a conference last year alongside Ceci Dadisman. Ceci introduced an element about how arts orgs inadvertently get in their own way when it comes to how they connect with patrons.
She recently extracted that nugget and packaged it into a post at her Medium blog (emphasis added).
One of my favorite examples of [creating barriers for engagement and attendance] is illustrated in this case study from Ballet Austin (in a project funded by the Wallace Foundation). One of my favorite finding as to why people weren’t attending their mixed repertoire shows was because the language they were using to describe them was unknown to the potential ticket buyer. Specifically, the term “mixed repertoire” which is the very term that is used in the dance world to describe such a performance. (Of course, there are lots of other great things from this study and you should absolutely read it in its entirety.)
Since we’re hot and heavy into subscription brochure season, I’ve been paying more attention to this and to date, the results have been an interesting mix.
I’m not going to call out any groups for deciding to kill their subscribers softly with nomenclature, but among the brochures I’ve received to-date, it has been encouraging to see more than half embrace simplified and natural language.
Granted, we could have a much longer conversation on this same topic as applied to program notes, but we’ll have to save that for another day.