Smart Phones & Theater: Godspell's Tweet Seats Spread the Word

Posted by Tim Mikulski, Mar 26, 2012

We've all been in a play when a phone goes off. Sometimes we see the actors react, while other times the show just continues.

Up until recently, it was forbidden to keep that phone on during a show, but thanks to experiments by local/regional theaters, the idea of "Tweet seats" has grown to Broadway via the new Godspell revival:

We've heard all sides of this issue:

Cell phones are just the new "individually wrapped candy wrapper."

The fad of "Tweet seats" is just a marketing gimmick.

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Arts Advocacy Day 2012: The Congressional Arts Kick-Off

Posted by Tim Mikulski, Apr 17, 2012

Our Arts Advocacy 2012 advocates at the Congressional Arts Kick-Off.

It's difficult to write an event recap post when you are still energized/exhausted as a staff member often can be following 48 hours of festivities surrounding Arts Advocacy Day, but I will certainly try.

Following last night's Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts & Public Policy by Alec Baldwin, the Congressional Arts Kickoff brought together our 500+ arts advocates in the Cannon Caucus Room alongside our artist-advocates and friends from Ovation and elected officials stopping by to express their support for the arts.

Armed with my smartphone in one hand and a flip cam in the other (several flip cams actually—batteries drain very quickly in those things), I witnessed an outpouring of support and passion for the arts like I have never seen (including an amazing performance by VSA artist Alicia Ucciferri).

In addition to our own President & CEO Bob Lynch and Ovation Chairman Ken Solomon (and encouraging words from Rep. Jim Moran, Rep. Todd Platts and Rep. Rosa DeLauro) the following artist-advocates took to the podium to give brief remarks:

  • Hill Harper ("I'm an arts advocate and I vote")
  • Nigel Lythgoe ("I believe you're losing your musical heritage")
  • Alec Baldwin ("I'll be having lunch with Rocco [Landesman] to talk about using the profits from Book of Mormon to settle the national debt")
  • Pierre DuLaine ("Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could get the republicans and democrats to dance together?")
  • Melina Kanakaredes ("If it wasn't for the NEA in Akron, OH, where I grew up, I never would have gotten my start") 
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Alec Baldwin: "When I saw 'West Side Story,' I wanted to dance like a gang"

Posted by Tim Mikulski, Apr 19, 2012

Here is another portion of the Nancy Hanks Lecture given by Alec Baldwin on April 16 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

This time he addresses the evolution of his appreciation for dance:

Thanks again to our friends at Ovation for providing us with the clip.

You can also listen to Alec's interview with National Public Radio's Morning Edition on April 17 as a podcast on that program's website.

Here's a sample of his wisdom:

HOST STEVE INSKEEP: Why do you think arts funding is periodically a political lightning rod?

ALEC BALDWIN: It was easier before, and I think now you still have these kind of vapors in the air from old battles, which when there were individual grants and you could say those hot button words, like Karen Finley. And you could say Mapplethorpe and you could talk about individual grants that went to people...

INSKEEP: Artists whose work (unintelligible) were considered obscene in many cases.

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More Clips from Alec Baldwin: "Art is like water. It's essential."

Posted by Tim Mikulski, Apr 23, 2012

The two clips below capture more of Alec Baldwin's Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts & Public Policy given as part of Arts Advocacy Day on April 16 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

During this clip, Baldwin makes the case for the the support of arts funding:

And for the coda of his lecture, Baldwin summarizes the main points of his journey through the arts during his life and utters the most memorable quote of the speech (besides the gang dancing line much earlier...):

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Social Media Demographics: Using the Right Tools to Reach Your Audience

Posted by Tim Mikulski, May 08, 2012

Have you ever wondered if it's worth your time to start that Pinterest page for your organization or business? Is it important that you know what Digg is?

Thankfully, has pulled together a fantastic infographic that will help you determine if Facebook is better for your message or if you should hurry up and start that Twitter account.

By gathering social media demographic info and putting it together in an arts-friendly way (a solar system of social media info), you can take a quick look at the social media universe and then decide if you're on the right path or if you should be heading toward another orbit.

Here are some facts I gleaned from the resource (as posted on Mashable):

  • FACT: Facebook users visit the site 40 times per month and average over 23 minutes on the site per session.
  • OPPORTUNITY: That creates an opportunity to really engage with Facebook users. If you can get an article or link to your site on a Facebook user's newsfeed at the right time, you will have them hooked...for at least that day. A study covering 2007-2010 Facebook use says that the peak use time is Wednesday at 3:00 p.m. ET and daily it is at 11:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m., and 8:00 p.m. ET.
  • FACT: 82 percent of Pinterest users are female.
  • OPPORTUNITY: The arts are already female-skewing, but if you want to reach out further into the demo, you'll want to sign up for an account and try it out soon.
  • FACT: 71 percent of Google+ users are male and 43 percent are single men.
  • OPPORTUNITY: The arts are already female-skewing, but if you want to reach out to older, single men who may bring dates, girlfriends, and/or mothers to your gallery or performing arts center, you might want to dabble and see where Google+ takes you.
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Fighting for a Well-Rounded Education

Posted by Tim Mikulski, May 29, 2012

Pennsylvania is quickly becoming a hotbed for arts education advocacy. Just a little over a week ago, I found this video from York, showing how students protested the loss of art and music in a proposed budget.

Today, I became aware of a movement in Upper Darby (just outside of Philadelphia) under the banner Save Upper Darby Arts. This group came together to advocate for a well-rounded education that includes "music, art, library studies, physical education, technology, and foreign language curricula" at a time that many districts are choosing to cut some or all of these classes in order to save money.

This well-made video explains everything you need to know...

Well, almost.

In addition to their main website, Save Upper Darby Arts has also created a petition, Facebook page, and Twitter account to back their campaign.

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Top Contenders (Pretenders?) to be the Next Facebook

Posted by Tim Mikulski, May 30, 2012

Tim Mikulski

CNN's What's Next blog recently published a list of current social media outlets/apps that could take over as the "next Facebook" if everything falls into place.

While there has been wild speculation in the past that other products would have replaced the big blue 'F' by now, it hasn't happened; however, I'm pretty sure that I never thought MySpace would be replaced either (p.s. have you checked out what Friendster has become?).

So, here's a quick rundown that CNN provided with links and my added commentary in bold after each description:

Highlight (number of users unpublished): This "social discovery" app was the buzz at this year's South by Southwest Interactive, a conference in Austin, TX, that makes or breaks many tech start-ups. Essentially, the app aims to give people real-time information about the people all around them. “San Francisco is a city of 800,000 strangers," Highlight founder Paul Davison told Time. "You sit on the bus next to each other. You stand in line next to each other. You go to bars and meetups to meet each other. You walk by each other on the street. And you don’t know anything about anyone you see.” This app seems move intrusive than Foursquare, so I'm not sure people will give it a shot.

Path (3 million users) Founded by ex-Facebooker Dave Morin, Path has a couple things going for it that Facebook doesn't: It's mobile-first, which is important in a world where people tend to network on their phones more and more than on their desktop computers; and it's intimate. Path caps users' friend lists at 50 people, ensuring that you're actually communicating as the real you with people who you really know in real life. An app redesign won Path a new wave of support from the early-adopting tech public, but a privacy snafu in February, during which it was revealed that Path stored users' phone contact lists, may have eroded the trust of some people. Morin apologized for that data slip, saying it was accidental and had been remedied. Privacy concerns aside, it seems like it's what everyone intended Facebook to be—a more limited circle—and that could prove to be a draw for people like me who had to friend his entire high school class for reunion planning purposes. Also, there is an Instagram-like photo feature with Path that adds some value. This might be my pick as the next potential Facebook.

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The Arts Ripple Effect Inspires Cincinnati Filmmakers

Posted by Tim Mikulski, Mar 07, 2012

A poster for "Radius: A Short Film."

A fascinating new project out of Cincinnati just recently caught my attention.

Filmmakers were inspired by The Arts Ripple Effect: A Research-Based Strategy to Build Shared Responsibility for the Arts, a study conducted by local arts agency ArtsWave in 2008.

The study and report were "designed to develop an inclusive
 community dialogue leading to broadly shared public responsibility 
for arts and culture in the region" and "concluded that [their] work with the community through arts and
 culture must be based on a foundation that incorporates a deeper 
understanding of the best way to communicate with the public in
 order to achieve that shared sense of responsibility."

Calling it "the world’s first game-sourced movie," Radius: A Short Film, created by Possible Worldwide, a WPP Digital company, with multiple Cincinnati-based partners, "the film was shot in and around Cincinnati during MidPoint Music Festival and other arts events."

What makes it especially unique is that the film was created by editing "from more than 2,000 unique pieces of crowd-sourced content" gathered using a smartphone app called SCVNGR.

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Making Your LinkedIn Profile More Marketable

Posted by Tim Mikulski, Mar 06, 2012

Tim Mikulski

In another of my "spring cleaning" posts (where I've collected a great resource, but haven't had time to share it on ARTSblog yet) blogger Jeff Haden gives six steps toward making your LinkedIn profile more marketable.

Unlike Klout, which I haven't figured out what to do with so far, for me LinkedIn is more about my professional side, so I don't have it connected to my Twitter account and I certainly do not post the same inane things I tend to share or write about on Facebook. I only accept invites from people with whom I have already worked or would like to in the future and are in the same field/field I'd like to eventually join.

But how do you use LinkedIn to help you network and create better connections to the people who use it? Here are Jeff's steps:

Step 1. Revisit your goals. At its most basic level LinkedIn is about marketing: marketing your company or marketing yourself. But that focus probably got lost as you worked through the mechanics of completing your profile, and what started as a marketing effort turned into a resume completion task. Who you are isn’t as important as what you hope to accomplish, so think about your goals and convert your goals into keywords, because keywords are how people find you on LinkedIn.

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Congress Passes $9M Cut for NEA, Reinstates Federal Arts Education Funding

Posted by Tim Mikulski, Dec 17, 2011

On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the final budget agreement for FY 2012, which includes $146.255 million in funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

On Saturday morning, the same bill passed the U.S. Senate and moves to the desk of President Obama for his signature.

The $146,255 million appropriation is identical to President Obama's proposed budget, a cut of nearly $9 million from FY 2011, and is a compromise between the House of Representatives number of $135 million and the Senate number of $155 million as previously considered by their respective subcommittees.

Also included in this bill is $24.596 million in funding for the Arts in Education programs at the U.S. Department of Education, which had been zeroed-out in a previous proposal in the House.

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Random Acts of Culture™

Posted by Tim Mikulski, Dec 19, 2011

Throughout the country, many performing groups have taken to public forums to display Random Acts of Culture™ (supported generously by the Knight Foundation) covering all art forms including music, dance, and theater.

Just a few weeks ago, the Arts & Science Council of Charlotte captured this dance performance from their local airport:

But there are so many other examples to choose highlight including a string quartet at an outlet mall in Georgia:

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Social Media Trends for 2012

Posted by Tim Mikulski, Dec 20, 2011

David Armano of the Harvard Business Review recently published six 2012 predictions for social media.

Although he made some inaccurate predictions about 2011, here is what he is suggesting for 2012 (with links added by me):

"Convergence Emergence. For a glimpse into how social will further integrate with "real life," we can look at what Coca Cola experimented with all the way back in 2010. Coke created an amusement park where participants could "swipe" their RFID-equipped wristbands at kiosks, which posted to their Facebook account what they were doing and where. Also, as part of a marketing campaign, Domino's Pizza posted feedback — unfiltered feedback — on a large billboard in Times Square, bringing together real opinions from real people pulled from a digital source and displayed in the real world. These types of "trans-media" experiences are likely to define "social" in the year to come.

The Cult of Influence. In much the same way that Google has defined a system that rewards those who produce findable content, there is a race on to develop a system that will reward those who wield the most social influence. One particular player has emerged, Klout, determined to establish their platform as the authority of digital influence. Klout's attempt to convert digital influence into business value underscores a much bigger movement which we'll continue to see play out in the next year. 

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Art Provides Healing, Creates Dialogue in State College, PA

Posted by Tim Mikulski, Dec 21, 2011

A solitary blue ribbon replaced Jerry Sandusky in this mural by artist Michael Pilato. (Photo from

We often see examples of art used as a way to heal a community following tragedy, whether it be something catastrophic like war or a sudden death, all of the arts can be used as an escape, a catalyst for further examination, or in countless other ways.

While reading through news articles last night, I happened upon a piece written for a student newspaper of Penn State.

It wasn't very long ago that the name of the institution wouldn't cause a shudder within me. Having grown up across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, the school's football (and sometimes basketball) program often appeared on the local news thanks in part to sharing a state with Philly and a huge number of alumni living the the Delaware Valley.

Having gone to a small, liberal arts state school in New Jersey, I will probably never understand the culture of an enormous university like Penn State (although I think NPR's This American Life shed some light on that for me a few weeks ago).

As most of America sat on the proverbial sidelines watching the fallout from the horrifying child molestation scandal unfolding in State College, PA, you could see that the town has a lot to work through as the case continues on into 2012.

This is where an artist can make an impact.

Local muralist Michael Pilato revisited a previous work (pictured above) and created a new one to honor victims of sexual abuse...

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Reflecting on the Holidays, New Year, & the Arts

Posted by Tim Mikulski, Dec 22, 2011

Tim Mikulski

It's become a tradition that ARTSblog offers up a question as part of our annual New Year's card (our 2012 question will be posted in two weeks), so I didn't want to take away from that when I started writing a "Happy Holidays" post this morning.

As I began writing a simple message thanking our members, friends, arts leaders (both emerging and emerged), artists, arts administrators, arts educators, social media readers, bloggers, advocates, funders (current, past, and future), partner organizations, business leaders, and (insert anyone I accidentally missed here), I searched the Internet for a quote that would be appropriate for the holidays or New Year that also included the arts.

I found a few that I liked, but then it dawned on me. I need only look back to our 2009 Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts & Public Policy given by Wynton Marsalis. His performance/speech was titled "The Ballad of the American Arts."

As he covered our country's history, the end of Marsalis' speech talked about the future and I think this passage sums up the end of year/holiday feeling that many of us have this time of year:

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Hyperlocal Websites Spread the Arts Message

Posted by Tim Mikulski, Jan 04, 2012

Tim Mikulski

Trying to garner the attention of local media for something happening in the arts can be a daunting task -- particularly if you live in a major media market with only a few newspapers, a handful of TV stations, and one or two radio stations interested in community affairs.

It's even harder to find out how your local school board voted on your district's arts education budget or how your state legislative candidates feel about funding for the arts.

All of that is beginning to change thanks to the world of local blogs and websites that are now becoming what used to be the areas covered by a community newspaper, but with easier access and greater availability to everyone.

Local blog sites are everywhere and should be leveraged for all of the above, particularly the "ist" blogs, as they provide a ton of city/regional coverage for the arts, as well as local government actions, etc.

Large cities like Washington, DC also have neighborhood blogs that serve a smaller niche like Prince of Petworth and Penn Quarter Living.

But, there are two websites (although not quite national yet) that often fill up my inbox when it comes to my numerous Google News Alerts for a variety of arts and arts education news -- and

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The Art of Advocacy: Protests, Videos, & Your Local Media

Posted by Tim Mikulski, Jan 17, 2012

Tim Mikulski

I hate that I have to write this sentence yet again, but I don't think I can start this entry without stating the very obvious point...

Arts education continues to face budget battles in school districts across the country due to the sagging economy, failing revenue models, and just plain ignorance to the value of music, visual art, dance, and theater to students.

In a recent post, I discussed the use of hyperlocal journalism sites like and local blogs to get the word out about your local programs, but just as valuable can be a good old-fashioned protest, utilizing the talent of the students to get the attention of those types of websites, as well as your friends in the local news media.

Here is a great example of a local news report in Ohio:

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On the Road: Extolling the Virtue of the Arts, Tourism, & Business Partnerships

Posted by Tim Mikulski, Jan 27, 2012

President Obama

President Obama speaks about his new tourism plan in Disney World.

Our President & CEO, Bob Lynch, is always on the road extolling the virtues of the arts and arts education on behalf of our members and the general public.

Recently, Bob spent a whirlwind week talking about tourism, business partnerships, and advocacy in Orlando, Houston, and Miami.

In Orlando, Bob was sworn in for a two-year term as a member of the United States Travel and Tourism Board. He was honored to receive the appointment and feels it is a great opportunity for the organization and the field.

The U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board serves as the advisory body to the Secretary of Commerce on matters relating to the travel and tourism industry in the United States. The board consists of up to 32 members that advise the Secretary of Commerce on government policies and programs that affect the U.S. travel and tourism industry, offers counsel on current and emerging issues, and provides a forum for discussing and proposing solutions to industry-related problems.

Little did he know that he and the Advisory Board would also have the opportunity to experience a critical press conference held by President Obama (right in the middle of Disney World’s Main Street USA - incidentally a 2011 BCA10 honoree) in which the President put forth his plan to utilize tourism to create jobs and bolster the American economy.

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Wallace Studies Offer 21st Century Answers for Audience Engagement

Posted by Tim Mikulski, Feb 15, 2012

Tim Mikulski

Late last year, the Wallace Foundation released a series of studies under the banner "Wallace Studies in Building Arts Audiences."

The series includes four case studies highlighting examples of audience engagement with new and younger audiences without alienating loyal and long-time constituencies.

The four case studies run the arts discipline gamut from the San Francisco Girls Chorus to the Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Boston Lyric Opera, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.

Each study is available for downloading and three of the four include online extras that help further illustrate the organizations' work.

Here's a quick rundown on the case studies:

More Than Just a Party -- "Senior management gave a team of young middle managers the authority to plan and run an evening event aimed at both attracting more 18-34-year-olds and encourage them to engage with the art. Through a series of inventive steps, from hosting games that enabled exploration of the artworks to using hip, young volunteers, the team created a program that exceeded expectations."

Cultivating the Next Generation of Art Lovers -- "[Boston Lyric Opera] would take its abridged operas used in school programs, and turn them into high-quality productions for families...the family performances would feature not only p九龙高手水心论坛精选 singers, but also an orchestra and new costumes, props, and sets...Post-show surveys revealed the majority of adult attendees were opera fans who wanted to introduce their children to the art form, thus meeting two of [their] goals---providing children with their first experience of opera and creating opportunities for their busy parents to attend performances."

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