(Originally posted on Illinois Arts Alliance “One State” Conference Blog, 5-12-09)
I’m presenting at a conference at the University of Puerto Rico on “Representations of Race and Culture in Advertising and Marketing” next week. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the conference will look at the influence of cultural identity on service delivery, and is designed for the engineering/research community to help set the agenda for designing “Inter-cultural Service Systems.”
In other words, can the interaction between the ‘server’ and the ‘servee’ be enhanced, if you allow for differences in cultural identities between the two in advance? While the conference is designed for PhD’s in Engineering looking at systems creation, artists, arts administrators and arts advocates have long valued that recognizing and embracing cultural differences and commonalities can be a positive force in art creation, as well as in building a following.
Here are three things you can (and many of you already) do to work to diversify your audience:
- Collaborate. Think of the “Looks Like Chicago” series, a collaboration initiated by Silk Road Theatre Project and also involving the League of Chicago Theatres, Remy Bumppo Theatre Company, Congo Square Theatre Company and Teatro Vista. This “inter-company” subscription package gives “audiences a chance to see one ethnic-specific work from each of the four local companies.”
- Diversify your board, staff, and suppliers. Word of mouth marketing is still a powerful force in attracting patrons. Who is talking about you? What is the spectrum of backgrounds of the people with whom you interact daily?
- Do a 5 Second Marketing Review. If you look at your web site, brochure, poster, flyer for less than 5 seconds. What is the overall impression? Will people of all backgrounds think “this is for me.” Even if your mission is to promote a particular cultural heritage, don’t forget to include images of audiences, education programs or community events as well.
What are things you have done that have worked well? What didn’t work? What are three things you can do at your organization to reach out to new audiences?