“Arts Engagement Exchange” Provides Chicago Art Community New Online Audience Building Resources
Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, Chicago Community Trust & Mightybytes, Inc. Create Web Destination for Sharing Sales & Marketing Best Practices
CHICAGO (NOVEMBER 10, 2009) – Chicago arts and cultural organizations now have an online resource to share and obtain sales and marketing tips, tricks, and strategies to help increase demand for the arts, deepen audience participation and reach diverse audiences.
This Web site – http://www.artsengagementexchange.org/ – is a new component of the Arts Engagement Exchange (AEE), formerly the Chicago Wallace Audience Engagement Network, which was established in 2006 with a grant from the Wallace Foundation to The Chicago Community Trust in partnership with the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs.
“We were offering opportunities to share best practices through face-to-face events, but given the growth of social media applications, we recognized we could help more organizations in less time by engaging them through a targeted online resource,” said Eva Silverman, director of collaborative programs for the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs.
The free AEE site allows members to interact and easily share best practices information for building audience engagement and participation. It alerts members to upcoming knowledge sharing events, offers perspectives written by marketing industry and arts organization professionals, provides discussion opportunities through blogs and forums and makes resources available from past presentations. Topics range from using new social media tools for building audiences to tracking audience involvement through contact databases to discounting ticket prices as a means to increase sales. Highlights of the site include:
· AEE Blog – Will Rogers, content developer and interim director of marketing at Victory Gardens Theater, provides weekly entries while guest bloggers from the arts and cultural community and sales and marketing experts offer perspectives on a broad array of topics surrounding audience engagement.
· AEE Forum – Offers opportunities to continue conversations after AEE events, such as Learning Circles and Open Forums, as colleagues can ask and answer specific questions about best practices and their experiences in the field.
· AEE Resources – Feature specific articles, links and videos to deepen users’ knowledge of specific areas of interest that will also closely relate to topics covered throughout the four years of the project.
“An important aspect of our work, supported by the Wallace Foundation, was to create a learning network and opportunities for knowledge sharing. We also needed to respond to the overwhelming feedback from our event participants for opportunities to continue conversations and dig deeper with colleagues on topics and chances for peer-to-peer problem solving. A Web site seemed like the perfect solution,” says Anita Alexander, program officer for The Chicago Community Trust.
Mightybytes, Inc., a Chicago-based digital design firm and social media engagement expert, was commissioned to develop the AEE site. Mightybytes previously redesigned the Web site for the Department of Cultural Affairs Theater, creating a fresh look and adding new functionality. Mightybytes also collaborated with the Chicago Office of Tourism to create an interactive kids tour of the city called “Chicago For Kids” and “The Neighborhood Express”, an online game for Explore Chicago, the city’s official tourism site.
“Arts and cultural organizations are trying to engage their audiences through several marketing disciplines, including experimenting with the myriad of social media tools currently available,” said Tim Frick, Mightybytes’ founder. “The Arts Engagement Exchange encourages them to work collectively to figure out what strategically works best and to share it for the benefit of Chicago’s arts community.”
Frick added, “The Arts Engagement Exchange epitomizes our philosophy of helping arts and cultural organizations adopt and use new digital technologies as communication tools.”
About the Chicago Community Trust
For 94 years, The Chicago Community Trust, our region’s community foundation, has connected the generosity of donors with community needs by making grants to organizations working to improve metropolitan Chicago. In 2008, the Trust, together with its donors, granted more than $100 million to nonprofit organizations. From strengthening schools to assisting local art programs, from building health centers to helping lives affected by violence, the Trust continues to enhance our region. To learn more, please visit the Trust online at http://www.cct.org.
About the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs
The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) is dedicated to promoting on ongoing celebration of the arts, serving the individuals and institutions who create and sustain them, and marketing the city’s cultural resources to a worldwide audience. Under the leadership of Commissioner Lois Weisberg since 1989, DCA offers more than 2,000 high-quality free exhibitions, performances and programs each year at the Chicago Cultural Center, Millennium Park and other venues throughout the city, and is widely regarded as national model for effective municipal support of the arts.
About Mightybytes, Inc.
Mightybytes, Inc. offers high-quality creative media and digital marketing services in a unique environment that blends artistic talent and technical expertise with a client-focused work ethic. The company creates design-driven media solutions for a wide variety of corporate, educational and not-for-profit clients including the Chicago History Museum, John G. Shedd Aquarium, Rand McNally, CareerBuilder and Project WET. Visit www.mightybytes.com for more information.