Friday, January 28, 2005

Web presence as legitimacy

It's nice to be able to send emails to friends and link to the shows I am performing in - particularly since they aren't part of a personal web site.

Is this how legitimacy is construed? With some sort of external recognition - even if it's just a listing by someone else? Is that why linking and blogging are so core to people (and organizations) who are just developing their web presence?

These are just metaphorical questions.

Actually, it's a poorly disguised marketing technique.

Audience reviews as community building

One of the themes some colleagues and I have been tossing around is how nonprofit organizations can build community that supports their organization (read: get potential audiences/ donors invested in the work of the organization) using inexpensive online tools.

We've already seen an example of community building - behind-the-scenes blogging. And here's another one: audience reviews.

One example is the SF Fringe Festival. Since anyone can apply to present a show at the SFFF, it makes sense that anyone else can review a show. I believe the reviews are somewhat moderated (i.e. irrelevant or offensive ones are not posted) - in any case, I'm sure a lot is done manually behind the scenes.

Would a wiki be better for this?

... What's a wiki?

Then there is the Invitational ReviewBlog model - this one powered by blogging software...?

Other examples?

And to expand the question - how else are arts organizations using online tools like blogs and wikis (for example, for educational programs)?

(found in: community_building, nptech, performing_arts)

Online ticketing solutions - the first parameters

I want to explore what a good ticketing solution would look like. One of your main jobs as a house manager at a small performing arts theatre is balancing the number of seats available with the number of reservations, pre-paid tickets, and potential walk-ins.

Obviously, the aim is to get as many people to buy tickets in advance as possible - this gives you a cash bonus before the show. But your job is to produce art - not to manage a computer system that processes credit cards, right? As with most of our recommendations concerning complex systems for small organizations, my first instinct is to look at outsourcing ticket solutions - at the very least, for credit card purchases.

However, we quickly run into challenges if we have a solution for only one part of the process (advance credit card transactions, as opposed to reservations or tickets purchased at the door). Already we are smack in the middle of several very typical technology issues:
  • Security (of credit card transactions)
  • Data transfer (how does online purchase information get back to the nonprofit?)
  • Data integration (how does the organization consolidate the pre-paid tickets with reservations, which are typically taken directly by the organization?)

There's a lot to examine here - maybe I'm making it too complicated? Let's start simple, with some specific parameters. For now, let's look at a performing arts organization that has:
  • A fixed venue (i.e. a fixed number of seats)
  • A single pricing fee (i.e. $15 for a show, regardless of where you sit)
So here are the questions I'm already preparing for my research: what's available, and at what cost? How and when does the nonprofit get the ticket information? And more importantly, when does it get the money? What are the surcharges? How easy is it to get started?

We can eventually look at organizations that have a sliding scale or multiple ticket prices (students, seniors, etc); as well as "nomad" organizations that may need to change the number of available seats depending on the performance venue.

I know that there are a number of obvious solutions out there, and I've already recommended - or not - a few of them depending on the particulars. But each of those situations has been fairly different from the next, and so it is impossible here to start with a broad recommendation.

I wanted to establish the above specific criteria so when we look at services, we can get closer comparing oranges to... at least some other kind of citrus fruit. I am also not looking at the large complicated venues that have tiered pricing( depending on the seat location and night, etc) because honestly, the it's the small (100 seat or less) performing arts organizations that have not yet cracked the nut of online ticket selling.

I want to find out if that nut is worth cracking.... (Or the orange is worth peeling?)

(found in: ticketing, nptech)

Thursday, January 27, 2005

That was fast

Wow - I've already received some feedback. Maybe this blogsphere really is a happening place....

And it's perfect, because I was looking for an excuse to link to this - an example of how a theatre is using a blog. However, it's seems more for community building and not specifically an example of using a blog in their education programs (well... maybe this one is more relevant in that arena - same author....).

And for what it's worth, I'm going to try to jump on Marnie's Taxonomy Experiment - but I have to figure out how to recursively link to to link back here.....

[5/25/05 - Fixed an updated URL to 42nd St Moon.]

Where are we going?

Here are just a couple of threads I want to follow in this space:
  • The recording and broadcasting of performing arts: low-budget to high-budget, online and on-screen?
  • Ticketing solutions: when (if?) it makes sense to outsource ticketing options; and what are the options?
  • Copyright and fair use: increased access to material raises more and more questions about legal re-use.
Please let me know if there are other things you think should get looked at here. I'm game, and I take requests.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

The Experiment

Continuing the tradition (or at least the naming convention), I've also joined the fray of CompuMentor bloggers. I don't know if she was referring to me, but I do admit I have some reservations about starting a blog. I don't doubt I will enter a conversation with others out there on topics of potential importance - I just don't know how many participants will actually be members of nonprofit arts organziations.... And that's fairly important to me - I've seen too many well-meaning technology solutions fail to live up to expectations because they didn't actually take into account nonprofit technology users' input.

So the first order of the day is if you're reading any of this, and you are on the staff of an arts organization, lemme know. And I'll repeat that request often.... :-)