Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Arts Organizations Are Using Technology to their Advantage

Art and technology. You wouldn’t think of them as a common pair, however according to a survey conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, the art world is wising up to the digital age. The majority of the 1,155 arts organizations within the National Endowment for the Arts that completed the entire survey are embracing technology and using it to further their organizations’ presence. 

Rather than shying away from the internet and digital technologies, these organizations instead see them as vital tools for promoting the arts and increasing audience engagement. Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Internet Project adds, “There are obviously ways that you have to get your message out and promote yourself and get into the message streams that people are using, but there is also an excitement in the arts community, too. They are creative people, they are people who want to be on the cutting edge.” Most of the organizations also strongly agree that using the internet and social media allows them to cultivate a more diverse audience and contributes to making art a more participatory experience. 
The benefits of a social media presence are not limited to increasing audience attendance and ticket sales, they also include positively influencing the organizations’ mission statements and public image. Promoting themselves online forces the organizations to give a clear, concise message of who they are, which makes it easier for them to start a dialogue with their audiences.
In order to put their names on the map, arts organizations are capitalizing on their audiences’ dependency on the internet and social media by utilizing the different conduits the internet has to offer. The majority of the organizations polled have a website and use some or all variations of social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube). And almost half of those organizations post daily on their social media accounts. A lot of the arts organizations are also utilizing their website to post publicity photos, garner donations, blog, and sell tickets and merchandise. A small percentage of the organizations are even delving deeper into the digital pool by hosting podcasts, live broadcasts and webinars on their sites. Some organizations are even taking it to the next level and are furthering their business and audience participation with mobile devices and apps. 
Although the internet and digital technologies have increased interest and support for the arts, most of the organizations still feel trepidation toward the effects these advances have on their audiences. The majority of the organizations agree that technology is not only shaping people’s perception of art, but is also contributing to the expectation that “all digital content should be free.” Also, about half of the organizations are worried about audience member’s attention spans decreasing due to the mobile generation’s need for instant gratification. Lee Rainey adds, “And then there is the standard thing that almost everybody has experienced in a public place of having those cell phones go off in the middle of a performance. That really annoys these groups fairly well.”
In the end, the survey results reveal that arts organizations are looking past the negative aspects and are utilizing digital technologies to garner interest in the arts and increase public awareness about their organizations. Thus proving the arts and technology do have a common bond of continuously adapting and improving over the years

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