Seattle Theatre Group’s Celebration of the Arts, in a Newly Defined Event Modeling: Doorways for everyone.
During these times, the present financial travails, there are challenges to virtually every institution — regardless of the scale, the import of their funding, or their export of their assets to support other groups.
I’m talking about humanitarian foundations, or arts groups that support others. We all know that everyone (else) is challenged. It’s a tough time for us all. But arts organizations, or cultural entities and civic foundations and trusts are forced to survive on contributions from community support.
With the challenges to funding, these days, it’s even more of a difficulty to gather support from that community. Cultural organizations need to invent new ideas to reach to, and to retain, their relationships — and expand on that relationship to the degree that there’s continuing support.
In a way, a new energy, a new causal vitality — an ease of reach to community — needs to occur. Concepts need to reflect archetypal themes that resonate more quickly in the mind — and memory — of the extant and new emerging community of relationships. As an institution, the reach is either effectively connected and fast — or it’s silent, dissipating and evanescent. Even the call is quickly forgotten.
New doors need to be opened.
That requires new thinking. New inventions of modeling in how to reach. What’s the new story? And how do you tell it?
Our thinking is listening, then instinct, then intuition.
The theory — the principles of change in story development, marketing and product presentation exploration — starts at the top. If there’s risk, new ideas, jumping out there, then leadership is the longest shadow — it’s got to be celebrated at the apex, then explored by the teams and their chosen resources.
If it’s not happening in those rarefied heights, then it’s likely not to be implemented.
According to Board Leadership, Greg Mollner, a long-time member of STG’s strategic development group, it’s a complex proposition, newly defining this engagement.
“Seattle Theatre Group has sponsored and produced fund raisers for just about every arts group in Puget Sound. But we have never produced one for ourselves. It was so easy to create a vision and theme for someone else. Suddenly, we had to define us. We struggled for months. Broad diversity in programming is our strength. The goal of our event was to raise money to fund greater access to the arts for people of all ages, but especially kids and teens. But how do you brand a new event that celebrates access to all forms of performing arts?” According to Greg’s overview, that challenge is one that is perhaps the most difficult to surmount — creating the seed of the story, then merging that to a comprehensive reach in marketing that proposition.
“We started from the belief that people don’t read, they absorb. Information is no longer presented for their choice and consideration, it is transferred telepathically through an ever growing array of media and mediums,” according to Mollner.
“We had to gain their attention in a blizzard of information. Simplicity is genius. Complexity its rival. We decided that less has never been more.”
“The challenge wasn’t to tell the entire story, it was to get their attention. Once they made the “choice” to hear, we were confident our story would be welcomed. Welcomed.”
Girvin’s method is bridging strategy, to story, to emotional relevance; for people to be emotionally involved, for the resonance in play with the psychic propositions of relationship.
A relationship is tied to a kind of binding — the conceptions make sense — they are held, they are embraceable; they are not cynically cast aside.
And for Greg Mollner’s sense, that bridging is about drawing someone into the celebration. “To be welcomed. An emotion generated by an act of pure kindness. Kindness. Simple kindness. The greatest performing art of all. We came up with the name Doors.
We would create an event to fund the unselfish act of expanding a young persons access to the arts. The simple act of opening an door to someone’s untapped creativity. But doors had never been done before. We tried to explain it to our Board, but all we had were words, no visuals. They liked the idea but there was no “it” for us to rally around. If reading is a lost art, listening is the ship that carried it.”
Capturing attention is the new art of cultural marketing — to create the tribe and the connection to the nexus of that community.
Josh LaBelle, another friend, client and colleague, is the Artistic Director of the Seattle Theatre Group. When I was on the Board, then Board President, Josh stepped into the fray as a newly refreshing light in the enthusiastic leadership — and gathering — to bring new alliances, extraordinary events, fabulous celebrities and performers. STG has changed into a powerhouse of the Northwest artistic community, performing events and not for profit cultural contributions. Josh, his team, the Board — they’ve done that.
Josh offers — in the collaboration of the development of the marketing of the encounter — how to build that: “Working with our friends at Girvin is akin to an inspiring family gathering. In Hebrew, there’s a word that better describes the experience…“simcha.”
According to Josh’s thinking, there’s a multiplicity of evocations — callings — to building community involvement. “Technology has both improved our capacity to communicate and created steep challenges to achieve meaningful communication. Our work with Girvin provides us opportunities to contextualize communication to the point of strategically aligning our messages with our mission.”
In the case of DOORS, our challenge was to create a pathway to experience the art, celebrate the art, engage with the art and ultimately, support the art. The through-line that always exists in working with the Girvin team, somehow illuminates the simple magic within complex communications puzzles. I am always amazed by the wonderful balance and care that is evident in the work. Needless to say, the Girvin team has done more than position Doors, they’ve set our stage for a real simcha!”
We brought our challenge to Girvin design. We gave Girvin doors. They gave us back – DOORS – the event. An illustration that combined the kindness and beauty of our intent, with the moment when creativity awakens. Suddenly DOORS was alive and real. No longer a concept. A verb. A vision we share that is now coming to life.
The act of creating a visual that communicates our goal of expanding access to all performing arts in one word. Genius.”
Nice, that is. But it’s more about contemplation, attention and intuition. Girvin believes that instinct, intuition and balance all add to the sphere of influence — the inbound flow.
We believe that the senses of impression aren’t merely 5 — but 8. And it’s always about the Doors — the openings of perception. What doors are opening, what new portals shall be found — and how profound, that finding?
What’s your take(away)? What doors are opened, for you?