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Anna Strand

Rethinking and Reaching New Arts Audiences

by Anna Strand Monday, December 18, 2017

It’s hard to believe that we are coming to the end of our first semester in the Wisconsin School of Business. The Bolz Center Class of 2019 has been on an incredible journey of core business classes, applied learning placements at arts organizations across Madison, and our Arts Administration Seminar class.

 

Every Wednesday, five first year Bolzies and one Doctor of Music Arts candidate get to spend nearly four hours exploring arts leadership and management in Arts Administration Seminar. To kick off each class, one student leads a “Lunch & Learn” session on a topic related to our class discussion for the day, which is the perfect way to get conversation and ideas flowing. When we move into the formal class session we are often joined by experts in that topic area.

 

Our past two classes have centered on one of the most challenging and exciting issues in arts administration: how to reach diverse audiences with arts programming that reflects the ever-changing society we live in. We started our conversation with my Lunch & Learn presentation on artist Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors exhibit, which has toured museums across the US this year and drawn record-breaking crowds, many of whom have come for the chance to take a selfie in Kusama’s highly Instagramable spaces. Our discussion of the evolving role of social media in the arts was grounded in The Wallace Foundation’s The Road to Results report, which identifies and examines arts organizations that have successfully developed new audiences by using best practices in target group identification, market research, and strategic program design. We then welcomed a panel of arts administrators from leading organizations, including Overture Center for the Arts and the Chazen Museum of Art to continue our exploration of audience engagement, and community & education programming. Panel members shared their depth of experience and strategies that have been successful at their organizations.

 

We apply learnings from Arts Administration Seminar in real-time at our applied learning placements. As a Cultural Affairs Intern at Dane Arts, I incorporate an audience development lens as I manage their e-newsletter and support economic development programs for local artists. In our core business classes, we learn foundational business skills in marketing and accounting that are crucial to strong arts management.

 

I cannot wait to see what we learn and explore over the next three semesters in the Bolz Center. If the first semester is any indication, we will continue to grow academically and professionally as we build our capacity to become the next generation of arts leaders in a world that needs the reflective space of a gallery or community of a concert more than ever before.