Are You Peeking?

No you won’t get arrested for this sort of peeking.

Arts organisatons grow and survive because they create great art. But do they actually create something great or do they play safe and follow the mob?

When was the last time your arts organisation looked over the fence? Other arts organisations are doing their thing and you should know how different your art is to their art. If two theatres in an area are putting on similar works, then audiences need to choose. At best only 50% of the potential audience will turn up to your place.

Creating great art starts with an understanding of what it is others in your area offer – and then doing something a little different. That difference may be in the way your art is produced or presented or even promoted. Your goal should be to make you art stand out so that it attracts attention. This helps to build your family of supporters, customers, volunteers, board members, philanthropic support and even individual donors.

If you are a funded arts organisation you should be able to point to the impact of your work, and one of those impacts is growth in non-funded support. Funding never lasts forever therefore it is important to build reserves and resilience through creating great art that is a little bit different.

Board members should be asking questions of the artistic director. Seeking assurance that your work hasn’t become boring or predictable. The Board should be joining the dots between your artistic endeavours, how they are marketed, the level of support from family and revenue. This cycle guides all arts organisations.

Your marketing team should be looking over the fence at how others are marketing both their organisation and their art. You have to be able to compete and this means the Board should approve an expense item for dedicated marketing and promotion.

John Coxon is founder of art4u.australia, a consulting firm helping arts organisations to remain viable. John is a creative and also has 20 years experience as a consultant, mentor and executive manager in the nonprofit sector. To discuss how The Cycle framework may be applied to your arts organisation email John

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