Yesterday at the conference of The Association of American Cultures (TAAC) I interviewed Chris Wineman, a fellow member of the Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs, during a daylong seminar that sort of ripped the top of both of our heads off. It was given by an arts branding consultant, Neill Archer Roan, whose theme was that arts organizations need to understand what’s happening before they can fix anything. One shocking thing that’s happening to most mainstream arts venues, such as orchestras and theatres, is that about 80 percent of the people who come to an event never come back. This means huge marketing budgets must keep bringing new people in, just to maintain attendance levels. Something’s wrong. Maybe the seats are uncomfortable. Maybe the ticketing policy is barbaric in its inflexibility. Maybe it’s been a long time since the Board sat down for a sustained conversation about why the organization exists. Roan gave a terrific presentation, one that I’ll be pondering in all of my arts-related work.
The TAAC conference was presented by the Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF), which means everything about the event was done well, including the booking of Mr. Roan.
My apologies for the audio quality. I had the level too low on the high-quality mic shown in the video, so I had to rely on the audio from the videocamera, which picks up lots of other noise in the room. I hope you can still follow the conversation.