Welcome to fall, when most performing arts organizations have just begun or are about to begin our new seasons. As busy as fall can be, for me, it was summer that was the whirlwind: over the last two years, my posts here on Medium have gained so much traction thanks to all of you reading and sharing that invitations for speaking engagements across the country have been steady, and since this past May (read: conference season for all us arts administrators), about every two weeks I was somewhere new, practicing the various talks on evenings and weekends because I believe in this work. What an exciting time of professional adventures!
Originally, I filmed these presentations for my own personal study recordings — I’d watch shortly after the talk, take notes on how to improve my delivery, and then delete — which means the earliest talks of the summer are no longer saved because I didn’t have the thought that others wanted these videos until people started asking for them. Duly noted, and per your many requests, I’ve compiled everything I do have below.
As I said on Twitter, classical music is my vehicle to do the things I care about: championing equality, social justice, and rebuilding a following for an art form that is often misunderstood. Hearing this work is helpful to others is what keeps me going. Hopefully all of this content is fuel for you as you begin your new season, and at the end I have a little surprise to share.
Without further ado:
The Long Haul Model
Billed as “A New Paradigm that Solves the Problems of Audience Attrition, Churn, and Aging,” this new model for audience development was presented in August at the Association of California Symphony Orchestras Conference and in early July at Michael Kaiser’s DeVos Institute of Arts Management. The DeVos recording turned out best in terms of sound quality, so that’s the one uploaded.
Small Budget & Regional Orchestras
Despite the name of the session, from my experience the budget financial document is one of most negligible differences between orchestras of different sizes. This talk, given in conjunction with Scott Faulkner, Principal Bass of the Reno Phil and Reno Chamber Orchestra and former Executive Director at Reno Chamber Orchestra, explores the real differences as orchestras scale up or down, how to combat the challenges of being smaller, and what smaller orchestras have to their advantage that the big guys don’t. Presented in July at the League of American Orchestra’s Essentials of Orchestra Management Program, a course in which I participated early in my career more than 10 years ago before coming back as guest faculty this year, and one I highly recommend to anyone new to the field.
Orchestra X: The Short Version
If you only have 15 minutes, this is the video to watch. Presented in June at the League of American Orchestras Conference — the gathering for orchestra administrators (which admittedly feels a little nerdy as I type it out here, but I guess that’s precisely why I like it so much) — as part of their “Platform” series showcasing innovative projects across the sector in a rapid fire format. The full version of this talk (and therefore the full results and actionable takeaways from this UX research project) were presented at the Orchestras Canada Conference in May and will be coming up again very soon at the Capacity Interactive Digital Marketing Bootcamp. More on both of those below.
10 Strategies for Millennial Leaders
Spoiler alert: these strategies aren’t just for young people. Katherine Carlton, head of Orchestras Canada, asked me to present on “the M-word” as she called it, and you’ll see/hear in the video that all ages, from folks in their 20s and 30s to 40s and 50s, are in the room. This was a fun one!
People are 131% more likely to purchase from a brand immediately after they engage with early-stage, educational content, a trend in consumer behavior that gives every orchestra in the universe a leg up over everyone else (yes, it’s that good). Presented in May at the ArtsReach Conference as part of a larger Content Marketing session in conjunction with my old Seattle Opera colleague TJ Gorton, who now is head of marketing at SFJazz, this was one of those early videos I deleted before I knew people wanted this, but I have the slide deck below and the original blog post from which the talk was created.
Orchestra X: 21st Century Lessons Not for Just Millennials
What began as a research project on how to attract younger audiences turned into feedback that transcended all age groups and which completely changed the way I personally think about being relevant to new audiences. In hindsight, this is probably the most important project I’ve led in my career in how it has permeated my own thinking across programming, marketing, and patron retention, and in how the changes we made in response to these findings led to consistently sold out concerts and an audience base that has doubled over the last few years. For a project that has been so profound, I have good news and bad news to share.
Bad news: I don’t have a video of this talk.
Good news: I’m giving it again coming up very soon at Capacity Interactive’s Digital Marketing Bootcamp for the Arts.
More bad news: the conference is sold out.
Finally, the best news (and aforementioned little surprise): they are going to live stream it on their Facebook page! So if you like any of the talks above or liked the original blog post that went viral, I invite you to join in live on Thursday, October 18, 2018, 4:30 pm Eastern Time. And please invite your staffs and boards to watch as well.
Update — here it is:
P.S. If you like my articles, then you will love Capacity Interactive as they put out so much great content for anyone interested in arts marketing. Go ahead and start following them now. For real.
P.S.S. I was on their podcast earlier this year, which you can listen to here or get the full list of episodes of guests, including Michael Kaiser, Jane Chu, Afa Dworkin, Jill Robinson, and on and on here.
Fuel for the Season
Again, my hope is that all of this content is fuel for you as we all begin our new seasons, and know that you all have certainly been fuel for me. If hearing this work is helpful to others is what keeps me going, then this summer has left me feeling ready for the next ironman triathlon (note: that is an *entirely* figurative statement). Happy fall, and you’d better believe more posts are on the way.
About the Author
Aubrey Bergauer, Executive Director, California Symphony
Aubrey Bergauer defies trends, and then makes her own. In a time when most arts organizations are scaling back programs, tightening budgets, and seeing declines in tickets and subscriptions, Bergauer has dramatically increased earned and contributed revenue at organizations ranging from Seattle Opera to the Bumbershoot Music & Arts Festival to the California Symphony. Her focus on not just engaging — but retaining — new audiences grew Seattle Opera’s BRAVO! Club (for audience members in their 20’s and 30’s) to the largest group of its kind nationwide, led the Bumbershoot Festival to achieve an unprecedented 43% increase in revenue, and propelled the California Symphony to expand its audience by 70% and quadruple the size of the donor base.
A graduate of Rice University with degrees in Music Performance and Business, for the last 15 years Bergauer has used music to make the world around her better, through programs that champion social justice and equality, through marketing and audience development tactics on the forefront of trends and technology, and through proving and sharing what works in the rapidly changing landscape of funding, philanthropy, and consumer behavior. If ideas are a dime a dozen, what separates Bergauer is her experience and record of execution and impact at institutions of all sizes. Praised for her leadership which “points the way to a new style of audience outreach,” (Wall Street Journal) and which drove the California Symphony to become “the most forward-looking music organization around” (Mercury News), Bergauer’s ability to strategically and holistically examine and advance every facet of the organization, instilling and achieving common goals and vision across what are usually siloed marketing, development, and artistic departments, is creating a transformational change in the audience, in the office, on the stage, in the community, and is changing the narrative for the classical music industry.