In an age of profound change, how must arts administrators evolve so our organizations stay relevant and thrive?
It starts by asking tough questions.
Erik Gensler, the President of Capacity Interactive (CI), speaks with thinkers and leaders inside and outside of the arts about leadership, marketing, organizational culture, and innovation. If you're an arts administrator, you don't want to miss these conversations created to spark your imagination and encourage you to think and grow in new ways. Please join us to CI to Eye.
Have guest or subject ideas? Pitch them here - we'd love to hear from you!
Joe Melillo has been the Executive Producer of the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) for more than three decades. Known for its strong brand and cutting-edge programming, BAM is one of the oldest continuously operating performing arts centers in the country. BAM’s success is closely tied to the renaissance of Brooklyn. Joe is a programmer with a marketing background and strong visual and artistic point of view.
In this episode, Erik and Joe talk about how BAM attracted people to Brooklyn when it was very a different place than it is today, Joe's successful collaboration with Karen Brooks Hopkins, BAM’s President for much of his tenure, and how he worked with his team to develop one of the strongest brands in the performing arts today.
Sharon Gersten Luckman was the Executive Director of Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation for 16 years. She is largely credited with breathing new life into the organization, which was on the verge of bankruptcy when she took over.
In this episode, Erik and Sharon talk about how she worked to rescue the Ailey Organization from the brink of bankruptcy, the importance of audience lead generation for not only marketing but also for fundraising, and the secret to a successful relationship between an executive director and a board.
Michael Kaiser is "the turnaround king." In his distinguished career, he has worked at Kansas City Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, American Ballet Theatre, and the Royal Opera House. Perhaps he is best known for serving as the president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts from 2001–2014. Michael has also written several books including, The Art of the Turnaround: Creating and Maintaining Healthy Arts Organizations and The Cycle: A Practical Approach to Managing Arts Organizations.
In this episode, Erik and Michael talk about the traits that differentiate healthy arts organizations, how the cycle of marketing, fundraising, and programming work together, and how cutting marketing budgets is the absolute wrong move when faced with a declining audience.
Jane Chu is the eleventh Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). She has a background in arts administration, philanthropy, and is an accomplished artist and musician. During her tenure to date, Jane has awarded more than $400 million in grants to nonprofit organizations and artists, issued new research reports on arts participation and the impact of the arts and cultural industries on the nation's GDP, and has visited all 50 states. Before coming to the NEA, she served as the president and CEO of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, Missouri.
In this episode, Erik and Jane discuss the history and mission of the NEA and dig into how the independent federal agency distributes funds to arts organizations and artists. They also talk about how participating in the arts helped Jane through a challenging time in her life, and propelled her to her to eventually become the head of the NEA.
Gina Gibney is the head of the newly renamed Gibney, an artist-founded and women-led organization that provides space for dance, physically and metaphorically in New York City. With 23 studios and multiple performance spaces, the company is a performing arts and social justice powerhouse. Dance Magazine named her as “One of the Most Influential People in Dance Today,” and The New York Observer called her the “Power Broker of Contemporary Dance."
In this episode, Erik and Gina discuss her secret to fundraising success, how to work with a board of directors, her role as a female leader, and “The Upward Spiral,” which is her organization’s code word for incremental growth.
Bonnie Siegler is the founder of the design studio Eight and a Half. She’s worked with clients including HBO, the Brooklyn Public Library, The New York Times, and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. She has an immense amount to teach us about building successful relationships with creatives.
She is the author of the beautiful and insightful booked called “Dear Client....This Book Will Teach You How To Get What You Want From Creative People. Sincerely, Bonnie Siegler.” As arts administrators, part of our jobs involve working with creatives and consultants and those relationships can sometimes be fraught. Lucky for us, her book is a toolkit for this very challenge.
In this episode, Erik and Bonnie discuss how arts administrators can better work with creative people to get the output they want for their organizations.
Johnna Fellows Gluth, a Senior Consultant at Capacity Interactive, worked alongside CI's study partners at WolfBrown, to create the Performing Arts Ticket Buyer Media Usage Study. Johnna oversaw the research and analysis of a survey of nearly 27,000 recent ticket buyers to help the field understand media habits of likely arts attendees. The survey provided tangible takeaways for arts administrators.
In this episode, Erik and Johnna discuss the survey methodology, review key takeaways from the data, and explore how arts organizations can use this information to guide strategic thinking.
Zannie Voss is the Director at Southern Methodist University’s National Center for Arts Research. She oversees the creation of evidence-based research to help arts and cultural leaders increase impact. In a world of declining audience participation and increasingly challenging financial scenarios, her studies are critical reading for anyone working in the arts today.
In this episode, Erik and Zannie talk about a number of studies Zannie oversaw including their recent "Bottom Line Report," which examines troubling data about the financial health of arts organization in the U.S. They also discuss a study highlighting how distance from an arts organization impacts participation, and compelling data about how arts and culture aren't an elitist extravagance, but critical to the American economy.
Aubrey Bergauer is the Executive Director of the California Symphony. When Aubrey took over at the California Symphony, it was in rough operational and financial shape. Under her leadership, the company has implemented changes that led to an increase in subscription revenue by over 70%, an increase in audience size by over 70%, and an increase in contributed revenue by over 40%. Using data coupled with a clear strategy and support from the board of directors, she was able to swiftly implement discipline and rigor to how the organization markets, fundraises and communicates with patrons.
In this episode, Erik and Aubrey talk about the California Symphony's "Orchestra X" project to better understand user experience purchasing and attending a concert, and the website changes they made based on their findings. They also discuss the California Symphony's disciplined approach to patron communication, as well as their recent Public Organizational Commitment to Diversity across programming, staffing, and the board.
Colleen Dilenschneider is the publisher of Know Your Own Bone, the powerhouse website that provides data-driven insights about marketing, fundraising, engagement and more for arts administrators. It's required reading for anyone working in the arts and culture today. Colleen is also the Chief Market Engagement Officer at IMPACTS Research & Development, a data and technology company. She has keynoted several state, national, and international conferences including Digital Marketing Boot Camp for the Arts last year! She is full of enthusiasm and data to help solve some of the most pressing challenges in our industry.
In this episode, Erik and Colleen discuss the importance of an organization's reputation in driving attendance, why people donate or don't donate to institutions, and how cutting marketing budgets when times get tough is the absolute wrong move.
Andrew McIntyre is a co-founder of Morris Hargreaves McIntyre, a cultural research agency based in the UK. Andrew is one of the UK’s leading authorities on cultural audience motivations and behavior. His firm works on what they call “Culture Segments,” a segmentation system based on people’s cultural values and their beliefs about the role that culture plays in their lives.
In this episode, Erik and Andrew talk about how arts organizations often segment based on past behavior and how that is not always the most effective, how understanding cultural segments can increase attendance and participation, and why dumbing-down marketing copy to appeal to the masses is the wrong move. They also discuss why it's essential to build a deep connection with your audience rather than just selling them tickets.
Allison Fippinger is an independent certified project manager and change agent who works with non-profit arts organizations on large-scale strategic projects including website redesigns and CRM implementations. In this episode, Erik and Allison discuss how organizations can be more successful when it comes to conducting large- scale projects that require cross-organizational participation and major change. Not surprising, success often comes down to culture.
Erik and Allison also discuss the pros and cons of bringing in an outside project manager, why most of us underestimate the time projects like this will take, and the magic CRM and ticketing platform that will solve every organization's challenges.
Mark Ciglar knows how to use video to sell theatrical performances. Formerly an actor and a commercial director, Mark is now the President of Cinevative, an LA-based video production company that uses visual effects technology to create promotional videos for arts organizations.
In this episode, Erik and Mark talk about the appropriate length for promos, how to not let a lack of assets limit your creativity, and why it's more important that videos communicate a feeling, rather than show exactly what's on stage.
Afa Dworkin is the President and Artistic Director of the Sphinx Organization, whose mission is to transform lives through the power of diversity in the arts.
In this episode, Erik and Afa discuss the very real structural barriers that limit inclusion, how most American orchestras present works by mostly white men, and why risk-averse leaders must make big changes in staffing and programming to align their organizations with changing demographic realities in order to keep classical music relevant and alive in this country.
David Stewart is the Guthrie Theater's Director of Production and an outspoken advocate on issues of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.
In this episode, Erik and David talk about the lack of diversity in the arts both onstage and behind the scenes, how the Guthrie has begun to confront these challenges under a new artistic director, and how we all need to recognize our blind spots and the larger societal and organizational structures that inhibit progress.
Jenny Kreizman is a Senior Analyst at Capacity Interactive. She came to CI with no analytics skills and is now a website analytics and optimization pro. Her story of learning these technical skills is inspirational.
In this episode, Erik and Jenny talk about flexing one’s curiosity to learn new skills, what it is like to be a woman in a highly technical role, and how arts organizations can better use website analytics and optimization to improve their web experiences.
Karen Girty is the Senior Director of Marketing and Media at New York City Ballet. Under her leadership, the organization has become a media powerhouse, producing some of the most stunning video content in our field. She also helped launch Art Series, New York City Ballet's groundbreaking audience development program.
In this episode, Erik and Karen talk about the organization's rebrand, video production efforts, and how Art Series helped transform the makeup of their audience into nearly 50% Gen X and Gen Y-ers.
John Berardi is the co-founder of Precision Nutrition, the largest private nutrition coaching and education company in the world. Erik has been using Precision Nutrition coaching for over a year and it has made a huge impact on him both personally and physiologically. He first discovered Precision Nutrition through their stellar digital marketing content- so not only is he a huge fan of their work, but also their marketing- which is almost entirely permission-based.
Meghan Keaney Anderson is the VP of Marketing at HubSpot, a company that was built on and exemplifies stellar content creation. Meghan’s team of 20 content strategists get to experiment and test more channels than most arts marketers could ever dream about.
In this episode, Erik and Meghan talk about HubSpot's experimentation in Medium, Messenger apps, podcasts and many other outlets, and what arts organizations can learn from these experiments. They also discuss lessons she’s learned from managing a large team and the importance of giving tough feedback. This episode is full of useful marketing tips and strategic takeaways for arts administrators.
In this unique episode of CI to Eye, the tables are turned as Erik Gensler becomes the interviewee. Led by Ashley Dunn Gatterdam, Senior Consultant at Capacity Interactive, Erik and Ashley discuss the origins of CI, lessons in leadership, digital strategy, and the evolutions within the company and field over the years.
For four decades, Paula Scher has been at the forefront of graphic design crafting identities for renowned corporate brands and cultural institutions. From Citibank and Tiffany & Co. to The Public Theater, MOMA, Jazz at Lincoln Center and New York City Ballet, her identities have become case studies for the contemporary identity of American brands.
In this episode Erik and Paula talk about why cultural organizations need a cohesive design system, how the move to screens changed branding and identity work, and how institutions can best work with designers.
Adam Huttler is the founder and CEO of Fractured Atlas, an organization that provides artists and cultural groups with business services. Adam is currently working on the "Exponential Creativity Fund," a venture capital fund that makes early investments in entrepreneurs who are using technologies to empower or enhance human creativity.
In this episode, Erik and Adam discuss arts entrepreneurship, advances in AI and robotics, and organizational diversity and inclusion.
Jeff Hiller and Jenn Harris are two hilarious New York City based actors. You may recognize Jeff from 30 Rock or Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, or Jenn from the film Gayby or Off-Broadway's Silence! The Musical. Jeff and Jenn have their own hysterical podcast, Touche, which touches on being in the middle of their lives and their careers.
In this unique episode, Erik, Jeff, and Jenn discuss the life of a working actor, the power of creating one's own content, and what arts administrators can do to best collaborate with artists.
Laura Matalon is the President of Allied Live, a marketing agency for the commercial theater industry that works with touring Broadway productions.
In this episode, Erik and Laura discuss marketing Broadway on the road, diversity and inclusion within arts administrations, and the importance of mentorship.
Digital strategist Mohan Ramaswamy is a partner at Work & Co, a digital design agency based in Brooklyn, New York. His team is responsible for Virgin America's responsive website (a favorite of Erik's!). In this episode, Erik and Mohan discuss their most transformative digital experiences, why focusing on your most heavily used website pages is critical, and how to collaborate to get the best product when working with an outside partner.
Jack McAuliffe is an organizational coach for arts organizations. He's had a long career in arts leadership including serving as the first Director of Marketing at the Kennedy Center and as the COO of the League of American Orchestras, where he commissioned several audience engagement studies including the legendary Orchestra "Churn Study."
In this episode, Erik and Jack discuss the findings from four large audience research studies, why a good marketing director should have a role in programming, and how storytelling and context are so important for arts organizations.
Monica Holt is the Director of Marketing at The Kennedy Center. Monica began leading a team early in her career and brings a thoughtful and very much self-taught take on leadership at a large and complex arts organization.
Amber Cox, Vice President of the Connecticut Sun and New England Black Wolves, has spent her career in leaderships roles at sports franchises across the country. She served as the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of Major League Soccer teams, Associate Commissioner for Women’s Basketball for the Big East Conference, and President and CMO of the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury.
Steven Roth is the President of JCA Arts Marketing and an expert in pricing and revenue management for the cultural field.
In this episode, Erik and Steven talk about pricing theory, how to increase revenue even if you have a small venue, how to avoid panic discounting, and what to do if your show is not selling.
To arts administrators Thomas Cott is perhaps best known for You’ve Cott Mail, an emailed digest of news and commentary about the arts he sent for free almost every weekday for over 20 years. Thomas' career has encompassed producing and administrative roles in dance, theater, opera, and the humanities—from Broadway to the New York Public Library. He's currently at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater as Senior Director of Marketing and Creative Content. In this episode, Erik and Thomas talk about what marketing was like before the Internet, the origins of You’ve Cott Mail, how Alvin Ailey is working to speak to millennials, and they may chat a bit about Beyoncé.
Jill Robinson was a marketing leader at symphonies before becoming a client of TRG Arts and then an owner and company President. She helped grow the firm from a marketing consultancy focused on symphony orchestras to a data-driven consulting firm that now works with arts and cultural organization across multiple continents. In this episode, Erik and Jill talk about how people are more valuable than data, how organizations need to take responsibility for the success and failures of their employees, and how organizations must be as excellent throughout the whole institution as they are on the stage.
Jennifer Zaslow is Erik's insightful and eloquent executive coach. Jennifer spent most of her career working at non-profits and arts organizations including Manhattan Theatre Club, New York City Opera and most recently as the VP of Development at New York Public Library. Jennifer is now a Partner at Clear Path Executive Coaching where she works with leaders to help them reach peak performance. In this episode, Erik and Jennifer talk about the importance of strong values in the workplace, fighting saboteurs, and how leaders are not supposed to know everything.
Christopher Williams is a 20+ year arts marketing veteran and is the Vice President at Capacity Interactive. Erik, though he may be biased, often says that Christopher is one of the smartest and hard-working arts marketers he's ever met. In this episode, Erik and Christopher talk about what makes a good marketing leader, why it's so challenging for some organizations to make the transition to digital marketing, and take an insider's look at Capacity’s company culture.
Tom O'Connor may be the most networked person in the arts. He's the former marketing director of Roundabout Theatre Company and is now a marketing and audience development consultant who works with a range of organizations across the cultural sector. Tom is wise, hilarious, thoughtful, and kind. In this episode, Erik and Tom talk about what makes healthy and happy organizations, what goes on in the bar at marketing conferences, and how to create environments of trust where innovation can thrive.
Original Music by James Harvey