Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

4 Steps Are Easier Than 12 Steps

The age old question of how to engage younger patrons always seems to be present. This article provided a four step process for how to engage younger patrons. I like how she kept it to four. It implies that it is not as scary as many arts managers think. Frankly I love the first step which is to project an inviting welcome. The post goes on to talk about how many young patrons are turned off by not knowing every detail about a work, the composer, etc. I think that is a problem even older patrons feel.

The second step focuses on events that engage them. One line stood out to me in particular, “This means they can actually have a conversation without yelling over the DJ’s music,” and maybe this makes me old but I cheered along with that line. I think this is something most of us feel should be the norm. There are nights when you can have the epic dance party to make art fun, but if you want to keep a young patron as an active member of the organization, you need a few nights that are not about the DJ.

The third step focuses on the long term potential. This is something I relate to. Don’t tell me it is $500 upfront. Say $25 a month. I can live with losing $25 a month. I will then learn I can live without it and increase it over time. This is how you can take a scared, poor, young patron into a long term donor or more.

Lastly, board members should look within their own organizations for young patrons. Not only does this bring in people the Board thinks is qualified, but it helps their own organization by fostering such a strong bond between two people who wouldn’t normally interact. The older board members still might not interact with younger board members anyway, but at least this move might help. My dad recently remarked to me at an event I went to since my mom was not feeling it that I befriended their newest (2 weeks on the job) board member before he has even had a chance to befriend him. I did happily make an introduction and now he sits next to my dad at meetings regularly.

I’m curious what the rest of my classmates think about these steps. They seem pretty easy!

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3 comments on “4 Steps Are Easier Than 12 Steps

  1. shrulala
    October 23, 2014

    I like these steps, its very logical and simple. I like step 4 where you are include younger patrons and partner them with the board. It definitely open the dialogue.
    The step of monthly vs lump some is perfect. Reel them in and keep them on long term.
    Step 1 works really well for insightful patrons who want all the details being articulate and succinct is really important.

  2. gaochang619
    October 24, 2014

    Thank you for making them look even easier than the original post.
    I agree on all four steps because they are practical. Before I read your post I was just aware of step2, which I was thinking to put in more specific programs according to different groups of young patrons, such as workshops and mutual experience.
    I am curious about the last step, as I haven’t encountered any board stuff in my undergraduate experience. Does the author mean by inviting young professional leaders, they will be “connectors” between arts organizations and other young patrons?

  3. alexgilbertschrag
    October 24, 2014

    I think this is an insightful piece to the often misunderstood world of a board of directors. The second point about having events where you can connect with others reminded me of the “Friends of the New World Symphony” that is located down in Miami, FL. They are trying new and innovative ways to get young people involved with the symphony. I was lucky enough to attend an event that they had put on and had quite the experience. Most everyone in attendance were young professionals. It was fascinating to see how many young folks came out to support!
    The event was held at a hotel with a pool, and had an open bar, a red carpet, and tons of different restaurants that had set up shop to promote what they served. There was everything from mini cupcakes to miniature spanakopitas. It was great because the music wasn’t too loud to hear over, and you could tell that this was a community who normally got together. The young donors had enough events to go to that they were making connections.

    Here’s the website just to get a feel for what they do!
    http://nwsfriends.squarespace.com/

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