Tue, February 09 2010

Inspiration for arts orgs: Virtual season launch

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Marketing membership organizations •

A little while back, Kim Witman of the Wolf Trap Opera Company contacted me about helping with her virtual season launch.  She asked to do a guest post. I thought this was a very innovative way to engage bloggers, so I’m featuring her here.  I hope it inspires other arts organizations to think about how to drum up support in this down economy!

By Kim Witman

Thanks to Katya for letting me sit in the guest blogging seat today.  As we create a mini-internet buzz on the occasion of our 2010 season announcement, I want to merge the topics closest to Katya’s heart: marketing and fundraising.  They are inextricably linked in my home non-profit, the Wolf Trap Opera Company (an arm of the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts).

Why Blog?

The reasons I blog (and have since 2004) are not always directly linked to the benefits.  My primary motivations for beginning to write were education and frustration. 

Education, because I knew that a company with a young artist mission such as ours would be able to contribute to the developing careers of many more aspiring artists if we could get as much information as possible to a larger audience.  So I began chronicling our annual nationwide audition tour, giving singers a better glimpse into what happens on our side of the table. 

Frustration, because any of us who believe in our product and our cause know that if we could just get past the propaganda of mainstream marketing, we could spread that enthusiasm to others.  And that is where the marketing and fundraising meet.

Wolf Trap Members & Priority Ticketing

Opera doesn’t turn a profit.  That’s not a surprise, generally.  But it’s not because we’re indiscriminately pouring money down some high-art pit.  Chez nous, penny-pinching is something akin to an obsession.  The vast vast majority of our budget goes to employ and further the careers of the roughly 100 artists, staff and crew who spend part or all of their summer at the Trap.  The amount that we spend on resources other than human ones is a frighteningly low figure. 

If you click through to my blog, and then to the pages on wolftrap.org (as I hope you will), you’ll find out that tickets don’t go on sale to the general public for about a month.  Why the lag?  Well, without Wolf Trap members, we simply would not exist.  And as one way of thanking those who help us keep on going, if you donate, you get to jump to the front of the line to get tickets.  It’s a pretty standard way of operating for NFP performing arts organizations, and it’s really not as prohibitive as you might think.  (Here’s some math for you:  Membership starts at a tax-deductible $65.  That’s a net expense of about three nights’ parking fees at other venues.)


The Turk in Italy

We are committed to bringing variety and richness to our patron’s lives.  This summer, Mozart brings us drama, Rossini provides some laughs, and Britten completely transports us into his unique dreamscape.  And in the doing, the best of the next generation of performing artists refines their chops.  Whether you’re an audience member, a fan, a donor, or all of the above, we appreciate your support. Our world needs many things, and music is one of them.

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