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Building a Network of Support in the Arts

Nick Stevenson
5 September 2018
Building a Network of Support in the Arts

Working in the arts is totally different to what is was like when I started my career 15 years ago. It wasn't glamorous; I was just cutting tickets back then, but I worked my way up the ranks and pretty much did every job there was going in a theatre. I sold behind the kiosk and bar, did some follow spot work, helped out on the finance team and finally ended up as (wait for it) Senior Business, Marketing & Programming Coordinator at Carmarthenshire Theatres. Like I said at the start, things have moved on a lot during my time, and it’s come on again since starting at Ticketsolve.

Carmarthenshire Theatres

The Old Days: Batten Down the Hatches, There are Spies Everywhere!

I’m not sure if this was true for every arts organisation but when I started 15 years ago, it was very much batten down the hatches - no one was going to know what we did. While we did chat to other venues from time to time, it was all just pleasantries. We never got down to the nitty gritty: how do you write your marketing plans or, I know this show is coming to you, how is it selling, do you have any tips, etc. Management gave the impression that we were not to speak to anyone, lest they steal our ideas. There was the feeling that there was enough audience to go around. At the time, I did feel this was a very backward way of thinking, but as I was just starting off in the industry, I went along with the thinking.

Yey, Progress: It’s Always Better Together

Around 10 years into my tenure at Carmarthenshire, I started participating more in a consortia called Creu Cymru. Creu Cymru works to bring arts venues together in a collaborative network, where arts and culture organisations can share information and expertise and support each other. It was great, such a breath of fresh air to work with so many amazing organisations and people. I managed to get to loads of meetings and a met so many enthusiastic like minded people. We were able to share our master plans, and had the much needed opportunity to bounce ideas off each other. I learned so much through this network, it was wonderful to see how each venue was improving as well. Ultimately, there was definitely enough audience to go around.

Present Day: Collaboration is the Key to Success for All of Us

Fast forward to the present and I think the landscape of arts organisations has changed drastically. At Ticketsolve, we push the concept of ‘Community’ and we want each of our organisations to share ideas with one another; it’s great to see venues really embrace this.

Recently, I was invited up to Oxford where one of our customers, Arts at the Old Fire Station, was holding quarterly meetings with different venues in the area. It was so refreshing to see so many different organisations in one room all sharing ideas. Us Ticketsolvers love sharing ideas too, so I it was great to share my insights and expertise in marketing and in particular digital marketing with the group.

Key Take-Aways

  • You are not alone.

    • Don’t think you are ever on your own, there is always someone in the industry that is in the same position as you.

  • Don’t be shy.

    • Reach out to other venues, get out there and meet others for a coffee.

  • Be open and honest.

    • Talk openly and honestly about your failings to other venues to see if they can help. Sharing and learning from others is the best way to see progress.

  • Meet consistently.

    • If there are a group of venues in close proximity to you, set up a quarterly meeting and get together just like the Oxford venues do.

What about you? Do you collaborate or work with other venues? How have you found it? Share your ideas! We’d love to hear any tips you may have.

If you're really interested to learn more about your neighbours, have you considered attending this year's Ticketsolve Forum? Our UK Forum will be held on Thursday 11th October at the Royal Court Liverpool and another date is scheduled in Ireland on Thursday 18th October in Dublin. If you want to know more feel free to get in touch!

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