Nonprofit Arts Season Planning: Remember 2 Things

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Thing One:  Plan your programming based on mission, specificity, style, and audience orientation.  That last bit is the most important.  Just like the movement toward donor-centric development activity (“What do you want?”) has proven more successful than self-facing activity (“Here’s what we offer.”), audience-oriented experiences that reflect an organization’s expertise (“This is what we’re famous for.”) have proven more successful than vanity programming (“I like this and you must, too.”).

Thing Two:  “Seasons” are an artificial construct.  In the arts, audiences don’t really care.  (In sports, they do, because championships constitute the end of a season.)  The construct helps to create a small clustering of performances or exhibitions for fans to purchase as a marketing tool.  Programming toward a seasonal “arc” is an imprudent and arrogant exercise that implies your attendees don’t patronize any other arts organization.

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