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Fueling Change at National Arts Marketing Project Conference

Fueling Change at National Arts Marketing Project Conference

The National Arts Marketing Project (NAMP) recently held a conference in Austin, Texas, that addressed some of the new opportunities and challenges arising within the landscape of arts marketing. More than 650 representatives from arts and cultural organizations across the country gathered to discuss the changes their organizations are experiencing and how to meet them with a responsive, creative, and flexible approach. Four members of the OAC’s Innovation and Engagement team were present for this Fueling Change themed conference, and have brought ideas back to Ohio as we transition into 2017. Here we highlight some of our favorite takeaways.


Hannah Brokenshire, communications strategist, kicked off her NAMP experience attending the ‘The Sprinting Sessions: A Workshop on Arts Marketing, Change and the Connection Economy’ preconference. This hands-on workshop led by Adam Thurman from Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis, and Linda Butler from The Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, provided a framework to adapt marketing strategies in a world of evolving technology and communication. Hannah enjoyed the five principals of audience engagement that they shared:


1)      Audiences are actually open to being engaged in new ways.

2)      There is a hunger out there for new experiences and being challenged.

3)      It really helps if the entire organization is aligned behind the effort.

4)      It’s very helpful to use data from market research to understand exactly what the barriers are rather than guess.

5)      And if it doesn’t serve the mission of the organization, it’s not going to work.


Christy Farnbauch, innovation and engagement director, attended the ‘Relevance: Breaking Through the Buzz to Build Meaningful Change’ preconference. This discussion, led by the executive director of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art, Nina Simon, was based on information from her new book, The Art of Relevance. From her perspective and available research, relevance is any experience that results in a positive and meaningful cognitive effect and requires low effort on the part of the participant. One of Christy’s takeaways from this event was, “For an organization to be truly effective, relevant, and successful, they must get clear about who they are serving, who they want to serve, and why.”



Mary Gray, Riffe Gallery director, appreciated the research plenary presented by the digital marketing firm, Capacity Interactive. Eric Gensler, president, shared insights from their ‘Digital Benchmark Survery,’ with responses from hundreds of arts organizations. The survey reveals how organizations are using social media, video, analytics, mobile, digital advertising, email, and the web. Some findings and reminders Mary found helpful include:


·         70% of your ads should focus on what your audiences want and 30% on what your organization wants.

·         Email is still the most effective platform for one to one communication.

·         Social media insights should be checked on a daily basis.

·         Facebook is the current leader in digital marketing. More than 80% of internet users have a Facebook account.


Finally, Kathryn Miller, OAC social media and special events fellow, attended a session titled ‘Fueling Change Via Smart Engagement with Existing & New Technologies’ that was led by researchers from the Arts Management and Technology Lab in Pittsburgh, and Koven Smith from the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin. This session highlighted three emerging technologies and the ways they can be utilized by different arts organizations. Specifically, the discussion was around augmented reality experiences, beacon technology, and RFID technology. Kathryn valued the three questions they suggested an organization ask themselves before utilizing one of these new tools:


1)      Does your new technology answer a need for patrons?

2)      Does it makes something easier for someone?

3)      Does it help your patrons think of your service in a new, unique way?


It was certainly an exciting, informative weekend! Stay tuned for more posts highlighting some additional lessons we learned at NAMPC 2016.


Image credit: Americans for the Arts, @americans4arts on Instagram, https://www.instagram.com/p/BMouT4WhOuB/?taken-by=americans4arts.




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