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Tougher than Ever!


THUNDER BAY, ON ---  May 16, 2010  -----  At this time of year various arts groups in Lendre KearnsThunder Bay are working very hard developing next season’s campaign.  With every passing season it seems a greater challenge to find an audience for your production. That is why the recent workshop by Lindre Kearns titled “Knock, Knock, Who’s There?” was most appropriate.

Lendre Kearns is a dynamic North American marketing and audience development specialist. This quote from her bio nicely sums up the daylong session at the Community Auditorium.
 “Today’s arts organizations are dealing with decreasing frequency of participation among existing patrons and ever increasing challenges in garnering the attention of the public to recruit new ones.

This day long workshop will deal with contemporary strategies, tools and tactics to broaden participation among the community at large; deepen relationships with existing audiences and attract community members who are under-represented in our audience. “

As audience development consultants go few people have the credentials and experience of Lendre Kearns. She has had over 30 years professional experience in promoting the arts in all its forms, and her career has taken her from Canada to the United States and beyond.

There are lots of reasons for arts groups to be worried. It is tougher than ever to fill a concert hall. There is not enough money to nicely promote events. Worse yet society might have developed a stay at home culture. After all if you pay $100.00 a month for high definition cable television, then you will cocoon at home and make sure you get every cent of your entertainment budget. Then there is the decline in arts education in our schools. As these students are now graduating and working they are not attending live arts productions like previous generations did. One participant said “Those with money have no time, and those with time have no money”

Liken the viewpoints above to a half filled glass of water. You might call it half empty. To succeed it is better to think of the glass as half full. According to the Rand Report there are things that Arts groups can do to be successful. The first step is to know your audience. One of Lindre’s techniques to develop an audience she calls “Broadening”. By this she means implement a plan to find more people like you already have in your audience. You can further enhance these efforts if you also performing a “Deepening Exercise”. This is an event where the audience can have an opportunity to interact with the people involved in the production. Placing gusts around a table with food and wine is a good way for friends to enjoy a production, socialize and generally have a good experience. Deepening exercises properly done will increase the renewal rate when it comes time to subscribe to next season’s events.

While broadening and deepening exercises will cater to people who attend your events the “Diversification Exercise” is an action taken to bring people who have never attended an event like yours.

And so it was, and in the afternoon the assembled groups worked on development projects that do one or more of the three principal exercises. In the long run most groups were looking for more warm bodies in their halls, theatres, and galleries. Some groups even knew how many more people they needed in order to pay the bills. Lendre Kearns said during our exercises we needed to take a SMART approach. By this she meant that our approach needed to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.

Kearns is big on innovation. “If you keep on using the same approaches to marketing, you will not see a change in your results” Newspaper advertising is not as effective as it once was. To-day people rely on the internet for much of their information. By continuing to market to non internet users, you are expecting to thrive on a decreasing segment of society. E-ticketing is an essential marketing tool and she was surprised that none of the participating groups were using this marketing tool.

The workshop given by Lindre Kearns was presented in part by the City of Thunder Bay, Billyann Balay.Department of Canadian Heritage, Thunder Bay Community Auditorium, and Thunder Bay Funders Network. The workshop was supported by the Ontario Arts Council. There was a sizable presence of the OAC at this workshop, headed by Billyann Balay.

At a time when the winds of restraint are in the air, perhaps the government is looking to better productivity for arts groups by helping them develop marketing tools so they may compete for people’s time attention and money.  I cannot think of a better way for arts groups to show the OAC that they are deserving of the monies they receive, than by attendance at this workshop. Participating groups will be looking at ways to implement the ideas and strategies we learned from this workshop and we surely wish to broaden, deepen and diversify our relations with our audience. We work hard to present our season, but working SMART with new insights is just as much effort and there is a chance of a 10% or better increase to our bottom line.

Lake Superior Art Gallery 

Your can register for this workshop by phoning 807-285-5538 or emailing

Bert Rowson
Arts Editor:



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Internet Strategies Workshop

 Building on  the sucess of Lendre Kearns recent workshop for Art Groups.  Lake Superior Art Gallery will be hosting an Workshop in the evening of June 8th 7:30 to 9:30 p. m. for interested arts groups. The topic will be internet tools and strategies for arts groups. The evening will describe the resources of Lake Superior Art Gallery, and how to use these tools to address internet solutions to marketing solutions which we discovered during Kearns workshop.

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