Nov
04

Artistic Access-Able

bite_size_04So what is artistic accessibility anyway?

Is your art form access-ABLE?  Accessibility is a BIG buzz word these days in the arts. Many artistic organizations are working harder then ever in their published marketing materials and marketing campaigns to express to their potential future supporters how easy they are for their audiences to relate to, how audience friendly their programing is and just how “cool” it is to be involved in their programming and work.

The foundations who donate to arts organizations are seeking to fund those organizations that are the leaders in making their art so accessible that they draw a large audience and a solid base of support; ensuring that their money will go to good use towards an organization that will continue to thrive and survive!

With the arts, in general, tremendously suffering in shrinking numbers in audience turn out and many organizations facing cutbacks and short falls, being ABLE to deliver what your audience wants, so much so, that they can’t wait to come back and tell all their friends about what you are doing, really matters!

But shouldn’t it always matter?  If you don’t know who your audience is or who your audience will become with a well defined plan, think again. Your audience IS your life’s blood and without blood we all know that the heart of any organization stops beating.

I was a founding member of a chamber group, The Pilgrim Chamber Players, that for over ten years played to a really full house. Our audience was up to close to 300 consistently and for a number of years the donations were steadily growing and pouring in.

We developed our audience by making classical music “accessible”. We did this through eclectic tonally based diametrically opposite stylistic programming. We also accomplished our goal through a more informal approach to music making, being closer to our audience and getting rid of the “barrier” between “us” and “them”.

This year, just recently, I resigned from the group because for me it was not access-ABLE enough. Our audience had reached its highest point 2 years ago and now is on the decline.  Our board and artists were on the fence about what the right direction was to increase our audience and donor base, and instead of being an innovative chamber music group, we were becoming an organizational political machine.

What I mean, is we had lost our MBO. ( see yesterday’s post)

The reason MBO’s are so important is they create a big picture, a framework, to hang your work in or on.  The Pilgrim Chamber Players use to have a great MBO; developing interesting programming and access to the artists for those who attended our concerts. But we had accomplished that MBO, and as every artist, or artistic group must, our audience had grown to our new found level and change was what needed to together move our audience base and our ensemble to a  new higher level.

Had we always kept our eye on our MBO we never would have hit this spot at all.

When I was running a large business and had a lot of employees to manage, starting my own artistic ensemble was not possible, as it is for me now.  While Pilgrim Chamber Players, as I write this post is as an organization in turmoil, creating another venue for another 300 people to experience our classical music, for me is no longer enough. My MBO has changed.

As perhaps you are starting to see, from my passionate writing, I am in a place in my life where helping MORE artists to grow and thrive is where my heart is at.

Wherever your heart is,  listen to its beat, and know that from it, your life’s blood, your audience, will flow. Build that into your artistic efforts and you are sure to find a path worth traveling!

I have embarked on a new artistic journey and am in the exciting stage of creating a new arts ensemble, called The Bite-Size Arts Ensemble. Its an ensemble about helping artists through creative, educational  and innovative performance.

Today is our first board meeting and as this ensemble unfolds you too shall know who we are and what is our MBO.

Thanks for reading today’s post.

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