Dec 2, 2011

Putting bums on seats: new ways to sell old arts

The ultimate aim of arts companies is to put bums on seats. But the multi-media, multi-faceted strategy is an inexact science. Crikey speaks to arts marketers about the challenges of their jobs.

Ben Eltham — <em>Crikey</em> arts commentator

Ben Eltham

Crikey arts commentator

Bums on seats. Punters through the door. Tickets selling fast. It’s the unwritten commandment of the Australian arts industry. Artistic directors might wax lyrical about how they are presenting “challenging” and “exciting” work that will “divide audiences”, but when the time comes to tally up the Excel spreadsheet and prepare the annual reports, audience numbers matter.

And the people in charge of getting those bums on the seats are the arts marketers. Like marketers generally, they are a much-maligned crowd, misunderstood and disdained in equal parts by an industry that likes to pretend its not an industry at all.

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