Artistic Program

We all know that the further ahead you plan your artistic program, the easier it is for your marketing team to develop strong messages and build expectation amongst your family of supporters, for your business development team to match donors with projects, how you are more likely to be able to attract the artists you want, the venues you desire, the collaborative partners and last, but not least, it demonstrates to all stakeholders you are planning for a sustainable future.

There is more to it than just the operational aspects. When you plan your artistic program far in advance you create conversations. People begin to contribute ideas, they have time to flesh out those ideas and create something special, and truely unique. Something paying audiences will crave to see.

Beyond the first two years, your artistic program need not be cast in concrete. There is time and space to reschedule or add in that ‘not to be missed’ opportunity. It is short term artistic planning that increases risk, leads to reactive marketing and donor relationships and fails to attract a full house.

When your artistic team meets, in addition to discussing the practicalities of hosting events over the next couple of years they should also be having conversations about years three to five. Bring your marketing and business development people into that planning conversation at the earliest possible time, so that they have time to build conversations amongst your audience and donors.

Imagine this. A new donor has approached your organisation. They want to start off with a small donation and let that grow each year for the next five years. While you can talk to them about what you are doing this year; why not also talk to them about what is planned for five years time? Here is an opportunity to create a shared vision between your donor and your artistic program. You can engage with this donor for the next five years and encourage their donation to grow into significant support for a planned project.

You cannot produce great art if you leave your artistic planning till the last minute. You will be forced into producing the tired, old, stuff of the past. How boring can that become to both audiences and donors? Where are the stories, expectations, anticipation, excitement and creativity that audiences crave?

True creativity takes time. It is a messy process, where ideas are put on the table, added too, changed, maybe even discarded. Consideration must be given to your mission and vision – who you are as an arts organisation. When you plan well in advance, and your board asks you, as the CEO or Artistic Director, where will we be in five years time? The excitement in your voice, as you tell them off your plans will leave them reassured, and you will be able to say to them, ‘this is how I would like you to help.’

I’m John Coxon, founder of art4u.australia a consulting agencies helping arts organisations to remain viable through application of The Cycle, a proven best practice model for arts organisations. If you would like to talk about how to improve long term planning in your organisation email John.

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