Archive Page 2

Beyond Dynamic Adaptability Video

Weren’t able to make it to the wildly popular Beyond Dynamic Adaptability last year? Don’t worry! Jason Jakaitis (Manager of The Factory at Bay Area Video Coalition) put together this video that walks through the day-long conference that happened October 24, 2011.

Beyond Dynamic Adaptability from WallArtsSF on Vimeo.


Dance-oriented Wallace Excellence Awardees

On June 30, 2009, Kary Schulman, director of Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund, facilitated a discussion with dance-oriented Wallace Excellence Awardees about lessons they have learned, as well as the larger issues and themes raised in their collective work. Participants learned about efforts to reach new constituents through innovative marketing outreach techniques as part of the Wallace Foundation’s Excellence Awards Program. Individual presentations from the awardees are available for download here in PDF format:

  • Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet‘s learnings about increasing diversity, audience members, and awareness about the company.
  • Oberlin Dance Collective (ODC)‘s learnings about who is participating in ODC and the cultural and behavioral attitudes of individuals living in their target zip code, 94110.
  • World Arts West‘s learnings about expanding the programming for the SanFrancisco Ethnic Dance Festival, while still keeping houses full.
  • Yerba Buena Center for the Arts‘ learnings about engaging audiences through on-site and online practices, as well as the ten things arts organizations should be doing regardless of size or budget.

Cultural Connections and Serving New Audiences

On February 12, 2009, Cultural Connections hosted Serving New Audiences: Wallace Grantees Tell Their Stories at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco. Attendees listened to Wallace Excellence Awardees talk about the lessons and themes learned while implementing efforts to reach new audience members through participation. Individual PDFs of presentations from the awardees are available for download here:

  • Center for Asian American Media‘s learnings about audience participation and the use of social networking tools.
  • Contemporary Jewish Museum‘s learnings about expanding and deepening family participation.
  • Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco‘s learnings about attracting new and diverse audiences.
  • San Francisco Girls Chorus‘ learnings about their audience-broadening initiatives.

Year Three in Review

In 2008, The San Francisco Foundation (TSFF) and Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund (GFTA) embarked on a four-year funding partnership to encourage systemic and sustainable structural change in the relationships of Bay Area arts organizations to their audiences, supported by the Wallace Foundation.

Running on the inertia that the project had developed within its first two years, The Wallace Foundation Cultural Participation Initiative reached new heights in its third year. With the huge success of January’s Beyond Dynamic Adaptability, events and workshops were booking up almost faster than they could be disseminated. This would also be the year, however, with major shifts in leadership in the Initiative. Marcy Hinand Cady of Helicon Collaborative resigned from her position as initiative coordinator to be replaced by independent consultant Rebecca Novick. Additionally, John Killacky, arts and culture program officer at TSFF, left the Foundation and the Bay Area in June. Together, Kary Schulman, director of GFTA, and Rebecca stepped up to take the reins until a permanent program officer was found to fill John’s role.

  • January 28, 2010 – With almost 1,000 attendees and a line up of local and national thinkers from the arts, neuroscience, business, media, and philanthropy, the Dynamic Adaptability conference was designed to explore a myriad of issues pertaining to the arts. The day was filled with deep conversations about how the recession and technology were effecting arts and journalism and what models artists employ to ensure their livelihood (Click here to download a PDF of the speaker bios, click hereto download a PDF of the agenda).
    • Jonah Lehrer, neuroscientist and author of How We Decide and Proust was a Neuroscientist, enthralled the audience with artistic theories that only recently have gained scientific notoriety. Sitting down with Holly Sidford (Helicon Collaborative), he discussed what new research about creativity and the brain suggest for the practices of cultural nonprofits and how understanding the science behind decision-making can help us to better engage audiences. The fact that Lehrer’s book, Proust was a Neuroscientist, was sold out in bookstores across San Francisco and the Bay Area indicated the eagerness of attendees to learn more about the topic.

    Cora Mirikitani discussing artist connectivity with Jaime Cortez, Margaret Jenkins, and Judilee Reed.

    • Judilee Reed, Executive Director of Leveraging Investments in Creativity, presented findings from a study on Bay Area artists and the economic recession (Click here to download a PDF of the survey findings, click hereto download a PDF of Judilee’s speech). Judilee then engaged in a conversation about how artists can strengthen their connections with audiences, communites, and support systems with artists Jaime Cortez and Margaret Jenkins led by Center for Cultural Innovation’s President and CEO, Cora Mirikitani. Both Jaime and Margaret were commissioned to produce essays based on this conversation (Click here to read Jaime’s commission, click here to read Margaret’s commission).
    • Rebecca Ratzkin (WolfBrown) and Marcy Hinand Cady (Helicon Collaborative) presented It’s Not About You…It’s About Them, A Research Report: What Motivates Bay Area Donors to Give to the Arts and Artists based on findings from the Fund For Artists Matching Commissions programs at The San Francisco Foundation and the East Bay Community Foundation. The study details individual giving trends to small- and mid-sized arts organizations and artists as compared to larger institutions and donors to major foundations (Click here to download a PDF of the preliminary research highlights, click here to download a PDF of the report).
    • Diane Sanchez, Director of Grantmaking & Donor Services at the East Bay Community Foundation, moderated a discussion on innovative approaches to engaging communities, audiences, and donors with Perry Chen (KickStarter), James Rucker (Color of Change) and artist Philip Huang. Philip stole the show when, instead of describing how he raised funds for his Matching Commission, he enlisted the audience’s (and artist Michelle Tea‘s) help in fundraising for a new proposed project, Witness the Fitness (video below)

    • Jon Funabiki, professor of journalism at San Francisco State University, led a conversation with Laura Sydell (NPR) and Hugo Morales (Radio Bilingüe) about the implications of demographic and technological changes on arts and cultural organizations and how organizations are adapting to the evolving environment.
  • February 18, 2010 – The arts community joined San Francisco Giants President Patrick J. Gallagher, Kaiser Permanente Executive Vice President Bernard J. Tyson, and San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau Arts & Culture Marketing Director Lisa Hasenbalg for Not (Just) Another Arts Marketing Workshopat The San Francisco Foundation and online through a webinar. Attendees heard a variety of new ideas and learned what the worlds of sports, healthcare, and toursim marketing can offer to the arts.
    • Click here to download a PDF version of Lisa Hasenbalg’s presentation about tourism marketing.
    • Click here to download a PDF version of Bernard J. Tyson’s presentation about health marketing.
  • March – June 2010 – Responding to art organizations’ need for clear and effective training in social media, Leveraging Social Media:

    Leveraging Social Media attendees

    Understanding the Strategy and Putting it into Practice gave a select group of twenty-five Bay Area arts organizations the opportunity to learn directly from Beth Kanter, blogger, social media guru, and co-auther of The Networked Nonprofit. Beth taught participants how to develop effective social media strategies and guided them to develop specific “listening and engaging” experiments to learn how to harness social media first-hand. The program was offered free of charge thanks to the support of The Wallace Foundation Cultural Participation Initiative and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and was organized by Theatre Bay Area. Participating organizations attended two full day workshops on April 2, and June 11, 2011 at the Contemporary Jewish Museum as well as two interim webinars to check in with Beth about their social media projects. These organizations included:

    1stACT Silicon Valley
    42nd Street Moon
    Active Arts Theatre for Young Audiences
    AXIS Dance Company
    Chhandam Chitresh Das Dance Company
    Cinnabar Theatre
    City Lights Theater Company
    Contemporary Jewish Museum
    Headlands Center for the Arts
    Jewish Community Center of San Francisco
    Joe Goode Performance Group
    La Peña Cultural Center
    Marin Theatre Company
    Opera San Jose
    Osher Marin Jewish Community Center
    San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus
    San Francisco Girls Chorus
    San Francisco Jewish Film Festival
    San Francisco Performances
    San Francisco Shakespeare Festival
    Shotgun Players
    Youth Movement Records
    Z Space Studio

  • May 16, 2010 – Musicplus: Skill Building for Musicianswas a free seminar held at the James Irvine Conference Center in Oakland, CA that gave musicians and composers a chance to sharpen skills and network with each other. Session topics included emerging technologies to promote and distribute work, hybrid business models and the new economy, new licensing and revenue generation opportunities, regional funding and arts resources, and the basics of home recording. In addition to The Wallace Foundation Cultural Participation Initiative partners TSFF and GFTA, the collaborative event was made possible by the East Bay Community Foundation, Future of Music Coalition, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, LINC (Leveraging Investments in Creativity), and The James Irvine Foundation. For more information and to watch archived webcasts of sessions, please click here.
  • June 17, 2010 – What is a Person? was held at the Contemporary Jewish Museum (in conjunction with their LINK program) and featured internet pioneer Jaron Lanier, author of and inventor of the term “virtual reality.” In the workshop, he discussed the implications of new web technologies on education, community, and artistic expression in the 21st century. Please click here to read more and to watch video documentation of Jaron’s lecture.
  • November 12 – 15, 2010 – Twenty five individuals from Bay Area arts organizations were selected to receive scholarships to attend the National Arts Marketing Project Conference in San Jose. This annual conference draws nearly 1,000 of the country’s arts marketing and fundraising professionals and covers a wide-range of marketing topics, including technology, revenue generation, and audience engagement. Featured speakers at the 2010 conference included:
    • Chip Conley, Author of Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow; Founder and CEO, Joie de Vivre
    • Chip Heath, Co-Author of Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard and Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
    • Susan Medak, Managing Director, Berkeley Repertory Theatre

To view any PDFs in this post, you will need Adobe Reader. Please visit the Adobe website to download the latest version for free.

Cultural Commissions – Colman Domingo

The Wallace Initiative commissioned working papers/artistic responses from Bay Area artists about deepening, expanding, and diversifying cultural participation, hoping to generate new ideas and spark conversations between regional artists and arts organizations.

Tony-nominated actor, writer, and director Colman Domingo explores the issues of emigration amongst  San Francisco’s ever-shrinking African American acting community. In his self-proclaimed “META-THEATRICAL,” absurdist short script, The Big Idea, he imagines an uprising of the last of the African American Acting Community of San Francisco and the Bay Area.

Don’t you ever want to be a part of a community that has more folks that look like you? You are intrinsically understood. I couldn’t afford to live here anymore. I was losing. I was becoming so neutral. Theater was losing its color.

Click here to download a PDF of The Big Idea.

To view this PDF, you will need Adobe Reader. Please visit the Adobe website to download the latest version for free.


Making Sense of Audience Engagement from WolfBrown now available

Making Sense of Audience Engagement

A New Publication from WolfBrown

A new report from WolfBrown takes stock of the growing body of practice in the arts sector referred to as “audience engagement” – a bewildering array of programs and activities such as lectures, open rehearsals, docent tours and online forums – employed by arts groups to deepen participation and encourage repeat attendance.

To help make sense of this rapidly developing landscape, WolfBrown surveyed arts practitioners and conducted case study research on a wide range of engagement practices. The report, authored by Alan Brown and Rebecca Ratzkin, advances several theoretical frameworks for understanding audience and visitor engagement, and includes 11 brief case studies.

A cornerstone of the report is the “Arc of Engagement,” a simple model describing the stages through which audience members travel in constructing unique experiences around a shared work of art.

Helping audiences and visitors make meaning from artistic work is a major focus in the field right now, motivated by the need to attract and retain audiences in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Arts organizations hoping to reap the benefits of an engaged audience must think holistically about managing the total experience, from the moment a decision is made to attend, to the days, months and years after the event.

Engaged audiences are a cornerstone in the foundation of a strong arts ecosystem.

Making Sense of Audience Engagement was commissioned by The San Francisco Foundation and Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund as part of the two funders’ collaborative capacity-building efforts, supported by The Wallace Foundation through its Wallace Excellence Awards Program.

Opera for Everyone: Thoughts from the San Francisco Opera on their Wallace project

ImageIn our Wallace proposal General Director David Gockley stated, “Opera is for everyone. We have to find ways to get people into an entry-level opera-going experience in a way that makes sense to them economically and environmentally. We must to get them on a track that goes on to more committed opera-going.”

One of the primary goals of San Francisco Opera’s Wallace Excellence Award was to cultivate demand and increase participation in our free opera simulcasts — and to see whether these events would lead to paid attendance at live performances at the Opera House.

In the fall of 2007, broadcasting a live performance from the stage of the War Memorial Opera House to AT&T Park was a new way to introduce people to the art of opera through a welcoming, easy to attend, popular and free event. Mr. Gockley had produced the first San Francisco Opera simulcast in May 2006 on the opening night of Madama Butterfly, bringing 5,000 people to Civic Center Plaza. It was soon followed by Rigoletto simulcast to both Civic Center Plaza and Stanford University’s Frost Amphitheatre in October 2006 and by Don Giovanni to four indoor venues (Yerba Buena Center for the Arts; Cal Performances/Zellerbach Hall at UC Berkeley; Wells Fargo Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa; and the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts at U.C. Davis), in June 2007.

The Opera’s grant proposal to The Wallace Foundation was submitted as we prepared for our first live simulcast to AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, a beloved Bay Area venue, centrally located, easy to reach and attractive to younger audiences and people with families.

At most previous free community events the Opera had captured between 1,000 and 2,000 attendee names. From the first AT&T Park simulcasts, we took advantage of the ballpark’s controlled entrances by offering early access to the ballpark and automatic entry into a drawing for a “Night at the Opera” in exchange for signing up on the Opera’s website. We advertised the simulcast sign-ups in print media, on the radio, in bus stop shelters, by direct mail and stack- dropped postcards, online and through an ongoing email campaign to our database.

As a result, the number of names we captured for future marketing of performances at the War Memorial Opera House was exponentially increased. For Samson and Delilah, of the 10,047 who signed up online for the simulcast, 68% — 6,874 households — were new to our database. For the most popular of all simulcast titles, Aida, in 2010, 21,350 households registered, of whom 10,033 (47% of the total) were new to our database. From Samson in 2007 through Turandot in 2011, we added 48,542 new households of potential buyers.

Over this same timeframe, more than four thousand of these new patrons purchased $1.4 million in tickets through onsite and follow-up discount offers (including first-time single ticket and subscription purchases and repeat purchases through the years), a strong demonstration of the power of the art form to attract new paying customers through a free event, if the introduction is strong enough (a popular title presented in an inviting venue), contact information is rigorously gathered, and the initial “special offer” is attractive enough — in this case a 50% discount.

Each simulcast was marked by incredibly joyful and respectful responses from the large ballpark crowds experiencing the live opera performance on the big screen. It was thrilling to witness 32,000 people watch a performance of Aida in almost total silence, erupt in cheers at the end of the Triumphal March, and then stand to applaud through the end of the curtain calls, before thanking the staff and volunteers on their way out of the stadium.

As part of our Wallace plan, we surveyed those who had signed up on the website for their reactions to the event, asking how they had learned of the simulcast, why they attended, how much they enjoyed it, and if they were likely to recommend SFO simulcasts to others. We asked if

they were interested in going to a performance at the Opera House in the future and about perceived barriers to attendance. Analysis of survey responses helped us refine our simulcast marketing plans, gave us insights into patron interest in and exposure to opera beyond the simulcast, and their experience with opera in general and San Francisco Opera in particular. Over the years, simulcast audiences have grown more diverse, slightly younger and somewhat less familiar with opera than our first simulcast audiences. As noted above, many of them followed their attendance at a simulcast with attendance at the Opera House. We are tremendously grateful to The Wallace Foundation for helping make that possible.

The next San Francisco Opera “Opera at the Ballpark” simulcast to AT&T Park will be Verdi’s Rigoletto on Saturday evening, September 15, 2012. We hope you’ll join us!


In 2008, The San Francisco Foundation (TSFF) and Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund (GFTA) embarked on a four-year funding partnership to encourage systemic and sustainable structural change in the relationships of Bay Area arts organizations to their audiences, supported by the Wallace Foundation. Community offerings during the grant period (2008-2011) included seminars, workshops, large public convenings, implementation grants, development of a regional shared mailing list, and expansion of the website.