I recall a time when, for a lot of people I know in the arts and cultural field, mentioning ‘arts’ or ‘culture’ and ‘marketing’ in the same breath was considered very inappropriate. Maybe some culturati still feel that way, but there is no doubt that arts and cultural organisations, whether they are commercial operations or not-for-profit, have to find increasingly imaginative and effective ways to promote themselves.
And for the not-for-profit organisations, cost is a serious consideration. So the fact that a blog can be set up for low or no dollar cost should surely be of interest to arts marketers.
Blogging is clearly made to be taken up by arts and cultural organisations as a way of connecting more effectively with ‘audiences’, as the arts marketers call what the rest of us call ‘people’. From my experience, working as a government administrator in the arts for years and then as a consultant to arts and cultural organisations, people in that sector are never short of something to say and are usually quite opinionated – perfect for blogging!
Then there is the capacity to upload pictures, whether of static art works or stills of performances, for example. Podcasting and video blogging (or ‘vlogging’) offer further scope to share with a wider audience something of the vibrant, dynamic experiences that keep people working in the arts long after they realise they could have done a whole lot better financially by listening to their mother and doing law or medicine.
But what is the current reality? It’s not easy to work out, largely because not a lot seems to be happening! The problem with using the search engines is that they don’t discriminate between blogs to do with the more prestigious or ’serious’ arts organisations and those which are most charitably described as blogosphere junk.
Toby Bloomberg is including arts organisations in her business blog profile series, starting with a post on 42nd Street Moon Blog: 42nd Street Moon (Theatre), a post which includes some valuable comments on the business of arts marketing and blogs.
Over on the Blog Business Summit blog, Steve Broback has posted an article blogs in the service of museum marketing (and I’ve left a comment there).
I do recall that back in the second half of the nineties I endeavoured to get arts organisations interested in having websites (yes, that recently) and was met with a range of reactions from total indifference to slightly bemused but unengaged ‘politeness’. Now some of those organisations have very elaborate, very sophisticated websites, such the Opera Australia site.
So I do expect that the arts people will catch up with blogging, podcasting, rss and the rest pretty soon.
But just now it’s slim pickings on the search engine front if you are looking for any reference to blogs at the more notable museums or galleries (’art museums’).
After a recent enquiry was posted by a US colleague on a forum I belong to, about blogs and arts organisations, I emailed the editor of the Australian arts marketing site fuel4arts, where the level of awareness of current developments internationally is consistently high, asking whether she was aware of discussions about or examples of blogging in the arts marketing sector in Australia. The response from fuel4arts indicated that there had been a fairly limited discussion back in June about rss and podcasting, with passing references to individual artists promoting their work through blogs. Nothing about the larger cultural institutions.
As indicated above, I do expect that, before long, arts and cultural organisations, including the major cultural institutions such as national and regional museums and galleries, will discover blogging as a way of connecting better with current supporters and prospective customers.
I’ll be keeping my eye out for examples and will post here about them.