At Miami Arts Marketing Project, arts professionals connect, share and create
by Alan Gutierrez
On Jan. 29, the Arts & Business Council’s Miami Arts Marketing Project (MAMP) kicked off its 2019 series at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts with a sold-out conference featuring curated networking, innovative activations and impressive sessions. The 20-year-old series brought together a diverse crowd of marketing and development representatives from Miami-based arts organizations and art departments, including: the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami; Nu Deco Ensemble; HistoryMiami Museum; Virginia Key Beach Trust; ArtCenter/South Florida; the creative team for Royal Caribbean; Vizcaya Museum and Gardens; the Wolfsonian; and MDC Live Arts.
The expo area was fashioned with coaching stations. Each table had an “Ask Me” sign to encourage engagement with experts from Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, WeWork, Patron Technology, Institute of Financial Wellness for the Arts, Playback Video Books, Getaway 2 Give, the New Tropic, Brightline, Greater Miami Festivals & Events Association, Artburst, Superlative Creative and Biz Hack Academy.
“Many of the arts organizations and creative entrepreneurs we serve do not have access to marketing specialists,” said Laura Bruney, CEO of the Arts & Business Council. “There is a tremendous need for training and resource sharing in this area. Technology has opened up exciting new avenues for storytelling and immersive entertainment. This year’s conference investigates how savvy arts groups are using social media and other tools to redefine how audiences experience their programs and discover ways to tell their brand’s story in an authentic and relevant manner and how to develop content that engages, compels, and motivates.”
The day began with a casual roundup of attendees and presenting vendors with much needed coffee, copiously provided by Colonial. An uplifting performance by the Venus Rising Women’s Drum & Dance Ensemble marked the beginning of the six-hour lessons and workshops.
Cynthia Demos, a former news anchor for CBS Miami, delivered the keynote address. Demos recalled how she started a communications company after being repeatedly asked to recommend producers who could create short promotional videos for social media. Realizing her own potential to capitalize on the demand, she began creating video content for the medical and health industry, eventually making her way into the nonprofit-arts sector. In Demos’ lively talk, titled “The Power of Video,” she shared her thoughts on the importance of compelling, emotional and succinct videos for the purpose of social-media dissemination. She shared examples from her company’s portfolio, including videos for HistoryMiami Museum, Lauren’s Kids, Miami Bridge and the #WeCare campaign spearheaded by local South Florida Mercedes Benz dealerships. Demos concluded by offering tips on creating effective video-campaigns, such as scheduling roll-outs, budgeting and getting to the essence, or as Demos called it “the pasta sauce,” of a story. “Brevity is key,” she said.
Paul Miller, of Patron Technology, spoke next. His nearly two-hour presentation, titled the “Patron Journey,” included group workshops led by volunteer facilitators and focused on the idea that every potential patron of an arts organization is a unique character with his or her own backstory and a distinct set of motivations and reasons for supporting the arts. The workshop exercises involved creating “mythical patrons” and tracing their journeys from average citizens to fully engaged members of an arts organization. In turn, conference attendees shared their own stories and thoughts on how to engage the public.
Peer-to-peer engagement was a major theme of the conference. Sonia Hendler, donor relations manager of the Miami Dade College Foundation, said MAMP is a “gathering place for Miami’s creative forces, sharing their struggles and frustrations in a city which tries to brand itself otherwise.” The event is an “intimate learning opportunity for like-minded professionals to learn, reflect, co-create and connect,” since, she said, “Miami is six degrees of separation.”
The “Patron Journey” exercises yielded interesting and thoughtful revelations in regards to the participants’ respective audience members. Derek Wallace, Nu Deco Ensemble’s manager of operations and communications, shared that he likes to “focus on millennials [and] cultivating a sense of family” and tries to make membership more affordable for them by offering, for example, “a monthly member fee of $150, rather than an annual $1,800 request.”
The three-person creative team for Royal Caribbean said that they, too, are targeting millennials, acknowledging that “the lives of people look very different on social media than they actually are, so we try to consider that as we create the travel packages for our younger customers, since we know they will want to share it all on social media.” They do this by creating “destination content and travel blogs — lots of content.”
Jacqueline Oberlander, digital strategy associate for ArtCenter/South Florida, said that in an attempt to engage with “local entry and midlevel collectors,” the center works with Larry Ossei-Mensah, the senior curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, “to place ArtCenter’s artists in exhibitions to raise the value of their artwork.” She also shared that their new president and CEO, Dennis Scholl, is a “high-end collector, as well, who can get our artists into the networks of other high-end collectors.”
The conference attendees offered very different strategies, techniques and tools, and openly shared their experiences as well as questions and concerns. Although the room was filled with professionals from South Florida museums, symphonies, ballets, corporations and nonprofit arts organizations, everyone shared the same goal: getting patrons to show up, support and show up again.
Of the MAMP activations at the event, Spread Your Wings in 2019 was among the favorites. Photographer Keith Spurlock took photos of participants striking poses in front of an eye-catching art piece by Maria Patino. There was also an inspiration tree by artist Katy Penner that encouraged guests to write what inspires them, and the Miami Loves Arts engagement featuring a 4-foot inflatable heart and heart props.
Photo: Representatives from South Florida arts organizations shared their experiences and knowledge at the Miami Arts Marketing Project, held Jan. 29 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. Photo courtesy Keith Spurlock.