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Sunday, 30th September 2007

New Webcast from MIT: Marketing the Arts: The Secret Weapon

New Webcast Available from MIT: Marketing the Arts: The Secret Weapon
Presentation by Michael Kaiser, President, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Recorded on June 9, 2007, Running Time: 52 Minutes.

Kaiser’s talk focuses on marketing, the kind that “creates excitement around an organization.” In his efforts to restore flagging dance, theater and opera groups, Kaiser often contends with boards that assume paring down performances and cutting labor costs is the only way back to fiscal health. Kaiser advocates a contrary strategy: an artistic group can thrive only by taking artistic risks, investing in bold ventures and communicating inventively to the public, what he calls “dense institutional marketing.”

He offers a case in point: the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, which in 1991 was $1.5 million in the red, and on the verge of laying off dancers. He generated a series of special events to spotlight the dancers and choreography. The two-year effort included landing prime appearances on the Phil Donahue show and at Bill Clinton’s first inaugural gala, an exhibition at the Smithsonian, a sponsored performance in Central Park, and multiple books, including one edited by Jackie Onassis. Kaiser’s persistence paid off, with a doubling of private fundraising.

He frets that a lot of arts organizations in the U.S. began “falling down after 9/11, pulling back on creativity and innovation, afraid of losing their audience.” Kaiser is emphatic: “When you pull back on risk taking, you pull back on the revenue stream. That’s why arts are suffering today.”

Source: MIT World (via DocuTicker)


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