Spring Arts Preview: Top Seven Strategies Seattle Arts Should Copy

By Laura Dannen January 21, 2011 Published in the February 2011 issue of Seattle Met

SHAMELESS? WHO, US? We proudly salute arts organizations around the world using creative approaches to reach new audiences.

In no particular order…

1. Make yourself accessible. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts stays open 365 days a year, and in 2010 even hosted a well-attended Thanksgiving lunch—complete with roast turkey—for 100 people. (Don’t worry: Museum workers got overtime.)

2. Get on the Web. In 2009, the famed Berlin Philharmonic became the first major orchestra to broadcast all of its performances live online—they call it the Digital Concert Hall. Viewers pay 9.90 € for a “ticket” or 149 € for a season pass, and they get a rich concert-going experience in return, including innovative angles from six remote-controlled HD cameras.

3. Get on the Web, Part 2. The Los Angeles Philharmonic now makes many of its recordings available on iTunes.

4. Culture: Live in HD. Ever since the Metropolitan Opera started simulcasting performances of Carmen and Turandot in movie theaters around the world, a handful of other arts organizations have jumped on the “Live in HD” bandwagon. Now the National Theatre in London broadcasts performances of Hamlet worldwide, Broadway producers just announced Memphis would be coming to a big screen near you, and the LA Phil beamed its orchestra, led by charismatic conductor Gustavo Dudamel, into theaters for the first time last week.

5. Create space. Pasadena nonprofit SideStreet Project literally takes its work on the road. Based out of a solar-powered trailer, the 2010 winner of the MetLife Foundation’s Innovative Space Award is a mobile contemporary arts unit, going from one community to another teaching local artists how to be self-sufficient.

6. Offer a cultural workout. If you’ve attended a performance at Seattle’s ACT, A Contemporary Theatre, in the past year, you might have gotten a phone call recently about a new subscription package they’re offering. The ACT Pass is reminiscent of a gym membership: Pay $25 a month ($20 if you’re under 30) and attend an unlimited number of shows—plus, friends who come with get 50 percent off tickets.

7. Look elsewhere for funding. Now more than ever, fledgling artists—filmmakers, comedians, and musicians alike—turn to to raise money for their projects. Kickstarter is a marketplace for good ideas: Post your idea and a projected budget on the site, and if a private funder is interested, a match is made.

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