Inquirer: Philadelphia's fine arts and social media


I was interested to cover the convergence of social networks and fine arts institutions in a story running in today’s Inquirer. While it focuses on Philadelphia examples, there are broader implications, I think.

On Valentine’s Day, Pennsylvania Ballet staff members stood in the Merriam Theater’s lobby handing out coasters that bore what might have seemed a strange suggestion coming from an arts organization: Go to our YouTube channel.

What the mostly graying matinee audience made of the invitation to an online video-sharing site is unclear. What is clear is that the Pennsylvania Ballet is not alone in lusting after online social-network users.

The Kimmel Center has a Flickr photostream. The Curtis Institute of Music is on LinkedIn. The Arden Theatre and the Franklin Institute use Twitter. The Philadelphia Orchestra has a MySpace page. Read the rest here.

Go read the story and comment, Digg it here, and then come back and see the extras that didn’t make it into print.

Shawn Stone, the Pennsylvania Ballet’s market director

  • “We are always trying to build newer audiences, particular the 20 to 30-somethings.”
  • “To reach this younger audience there are several new media tools. YouTube is the first piece. We wanted to launch the channel to heighten our availability, promote the artists, show behind-the-scenes ways to see the artists in rehearsal, to see what the dancers do.”
  • “We want to create a dialogue, get them to come to a show and really be turned out by it.”
  • “The Web has changed everyone’s lives. It’s working it’s way up. I’m a bit older than this group, but I have a Facebook page. Technology is expanding.”
  • “Our audiences have a lot to say, so we want to give them more opportunities to voice their opinions and ways to spread the word.”
  • “We see this viral marketing and keeping this dialogue going a really great way to build our audiences. We have to listen to what they have to say.”
  • “We want to find new ways to show how they can become more aware of the dancers and get to know them. It’s much more of a personal relationship.”
  • In the past, you came to see the show and you went home. You have an experience now. You have a community and can make friends interested.
  • “It’s not direct mail and not newspapers but a direct way to build a network of people who are actually passionate about what you do.”

Janine Zappone, a PR associate at the Arden Theatre

  • Zappone says her hours have changed too. “All I need are the log-ons, so on a Tuesday night, I can pop in, write some jazzy copy and do some real targeted marketing in a way you just couldn’t do in the past.”
  • “We’re in the middle of the subscriber survey. While theater is known as primarily used by the white-haired generation, who are very loyal subscribers, it doesn’t mean we can’t reach them with social media, too. A number of our subscribers who are 65 or older point to Facebook and say they use it.”
  • “When we ask for something, they’re really enjoyed writing their thoughts, reading the musings at the Arden, but not necessarily the response.”

J. Edward Cambron, the Philadelphia Orchestra’s vice president for marketing

  • After years of keeping appearances, Cambron said, the orchestra has focused during the last 18 months on “aggressively targeting college students in a college town.”
  • “Social media is a very big part of that marketing strategy.”
  • “It’s another tool. Not a cost cut. When we started, I remember when we started selling tickets online, but we still needed a box office. It’s like that. Eventually it could potentially cut costs through less advertising. But for now, it’s just another tool, a targeted. tool.
  • Increasingly, Cambron is directing younger members of his staff to be dedicated to social media.
  • “You can’t control how they talk about you, what is said in this dialogue you’ve created.”

I wrote of the technological ramifications for

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