Connection, Collaboration, Community


Last week my post on community and theatre drew a lot of Twitter feedback. So I thought I’d continue in that vein this week. 

A live arts performance is a shared community experience. Audience and performers share a moment in time, that can never be recreated. I say this a lot. It’s still true. This is an automatic connection. An instant entanglement. This collection of shared experiences are what forms a community’s opinion of the organization.

An organization that has the season brochures and flyers for other arts organization is their lobby is a good thing. And rather brave! Again, the view could be that if my audience goes to your show, then they are no longer mine. Rather selfish. The kind of audience will all want in our seats will be able to handle the choices and select for themselves. They know what they like. For many, it’s doesn’t have to be either/or, but  can be both/and.

Thomas Cott quoted Joe Patti and Andrew MacIntyre this morning, saying that we should strive for “brains in seats” rather than “butts in seats”. This is absolutely right! And a brainy arts consumer will appreciate that you advertise other organizations. They will be impressed with your connection to the community and your interest in providing things to your audience that THEY (not you) will find interesting. Plus, you can certainly build a better long-term relationship with a brain than with a butt!

A word on working together for funding: Arts organizations should play well with others. Collaboration is a sexy word in the philanthropy sector. And for good reason. Its not that funders are bored, and looking for the next new thing (although some are). Its not that funders just want to get more bang for their buck (but who doesn’t). Collaboration says a lot about an organization. It says “We’re stronger together than we are apart”. It speaks to the creativity of an organization, an ability to think outside the box. It says “I don’t know everything. But I know where to go to get what I need”.

So take a chance. Advertise another organization. Work with another organization. Stay true to your mission and vision, of course! But seek connection. Seek interaction. Seek community.