Monday, December 26, 2011

Over the river and through the woods

I'm good with colors.
In the spirit of the season, on Christmas Eve I took homemade cookies to some of our major donors. I called everyone before hand to make sure they would be home for the holidays. Some had forgotten that I was coming, so it was a pleasant surprise. Everyone was gracious and invited me into their homes. A few had family visiting, or were expecting company that evening. One couple was celebrating Hannukah. Many of them were spending a quiet weekend at home, waiting until warmer months to visit grown children and special grandchildren (and a few great grands, thrown in for good measure!). A few visits weren't much more than a step inside and a quick update on programming and reiteration how much they enjoyed the artistic product.

But most were so much more. One was brainstorming about people I need to contact and partnerships I should check out. One was learning much more past journeys and long-nurtured friendships. One was with a couple who'd just celebrated their 65th anniversary and one was with a recent widow who was spending her first holiday alone. Every one--without exception--was delightful and a learning experience for me.

This is what I do: develop relationships. I connect with people on an individual level, find out about them, what their interests are, who they see themselves as. Not because I have to (no one is requiring it of me), or because I should (studies routinely show donors give money to people, not causes), but because I want to. My main complaint is that I don't have more time to connect with people. Why do I ask my volunteers to come early? Not because there's that much work to do (normally), but because it gives me a chance to catch up with them before the onslaught of audience. Why do we still have letter-stuffing parties, when having the printer automatically stuff and label would be easier (although more expensive)? Because it lets all the volunteers comes together and visit.

What makes live theater so special, so intrinsic to a better community? Because it brings people together and lets them know a bit about each other a little better.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

If it's a circle, does it have a beginning?

Tagline: Turning Audiences into Fans and Fans into Friends. Manifesto: for arts organizations to provide outstanding customer experiences, not just memorable art. Everyone is a friend you haven't met yet. Stories are the way we create ourselves and our shared world. 

If you've got customers, or audiences, or donors, and want them to say "Wow! That was a fantastic experience!", I can help. You may not have to do much to be better than the other guy, but that's no reason not to shoot for the moon.