What a great time we all had in SF!  Thanks to Matt Garcia and Misty Avila from Aspiration Tech, lots of good facilitation and information around sustainability in the arts and online communication/social media was flowing.

Thanks to everyone who participated:  Annika Nonhebel from Axis Dance Company, Stacy Bond and Brenda Corelis from SonicSF, Danielle Siembieda from ArtInspector and Zero1, Edwin Rendon from Giving Back magazine in San Diego, and Charles Jaeger, ABQ artist.  We also had Deborah Gavel, visual artist from ABQ, Skyping in until the technology failed…

Here are some of the more pertinent notes from the meeting.  Read, apply, and enjoy!

Q. What’s the open-source version of Adobe Illustrator and In-Design?  Answer: Open source alternative to Adobe Illustrator is Inkscape and Gimp for Photoshop.

Q: How to I reach people in my target demographic when they’re not in my network (yet)? Offered answers: Network hubs/exchange with other networks, e.g., AXIS Dance Co. recommends sites rather than giving out contact/email list. Community organizing is at the root of all community/audience building. Spend one hour/day responding to others. Tweet “I’m following…” and they’ll follow you. Meet ups. Comments on blogs. Invite guest bloggers. Think about what value you offer THEM. It’s not only about promotion. “Pretend that you have your audience already” (from Annika). Include link to their blog. Use Eventbrite/Google Event. ASK people to follow you, comment, etc. Curate content.

Q: How to have balance between new (social) and traditional technology?  Offered answers: Use the old and pay attention to the new, e.g., have effective management teams, business plan, evaluation. Share information and the burden – not only one person does it all. Create a social media team. Needs to be part of strategic plan, etc. Look at your database to see who should receive print media. Segment list. ASK. Create collectible print media, e.g., post cards (people still like paper). Pay attention to “what does success look like.” Theory of three points of contact before they commit. Be strategic about location for print media like posters and bulletin boards. Check out “spray chalk” – more environmentally-friendly (from Danielle).

Q: Should I spend time upgrading hardware when resources are scarce?  Offered answers: Depends… If lack of hardware is holding you back, upgrade! Look for in-kind/donated hardware.

Q: How do you tie social media to job performance?  Offered answers: When it’s collective responsibility it works/content is better. Include everyone (commitment and cross-training, feedback and challenge helps people along, also sparks their own creativity). Social media policy – lots of people don’t even look at it, while for some groups it works well. Online component/infrastructure is new and being creative is part of it. Good strategy is limited, guided commitment on different social media channels. Build a team – it’s all about teamwork. Be specific about what content you want and give a deadline!

  • Activists use social media differently than artists – more about direct action.
  • Reaching under 30’s: they’re not using FBook and Twitter, but are choosing channels like
  • Some agreement that new FBook timeline format isn’t so user-friendly.
  • FBook and Twitter were made for interpersonal conversations, not for organizations.
  • AXIS Dance Co/Annika: good to allow online users/audience to look at the creative process from the outside (a “glass wall” looking in).
  • Don’t expect miracles re: donations with social media.
  • People want extreme results, but it’s not very possible.
  • Don’t have to be everywhere on social media – make choices.
  • Engage all stakeholders in conversations.
  • Stress the value of goals and audience.
  • Think “business model” including analytics/evaluation and ROI (Return On investment).
  • Aspiration Tech practices being the “trailing edge” re: technology – watch and let others be the early adopters/experimenters and see what works.
  • Make sure your goals/work is OK when tech/tools fail.
  • From Stacy:  Having an established organization and audience makes a huge difference – hard to start from scratch.
  • Most start-ups have much smaller audience to leverage online.
  • From Edwin:  we’ve lost a lot of interpersonal interaction online and arts people are naturally social.
  • Have something tangible to give (like a flyer, etc.) but know that people are checking you out online – “if you’re not virtual, you’re not real.”
  • Make sure to include live/in-person event for audiences/patrons.
  • Direct people AWAY from social media (e.g., FBook) and toward your website, blog, etc.  Website/blog is where content lives.
  • AXIS Dance Co. tried FBook ads – relatively easy and inexpensive to do, safe way to experiment.
  • Google ad words give $10K/month to non profits, but orgs need strategies already set up – more challenging to make good use of.
  • From Danielle:  Google analytics/website builder works for her, also “Social Bro” app on Google Chrome.
  • Interactive approach:  building value FOR THEM is your role.
  • From Annika:  “learn to listen.”
  • Open source software is open and free.  Either like beer (quick/no lasting effect) or like puppies (takes time and nurturing).

ArtSpark/Aspiration Tech participants