Tweet Seats

Tweet Seat Roundup

Tweet Seat Roundup

Love them or hate them, more and more arts organizations are experimenting with tweet seats. For the uninitiated, tweet seats are a designated section of the audience where traditional  etiquette rules are bent. Use of devices in this special section is not only allowed, it is encouraged. This roundup features several AMT Lab articles on tweet seats, exploring how organization have managed both their challenges and opportunities.

Growing Social: How to Make the Most of Your Organization's Social Media Efforts

Growing Social: How to Make the Most of Your Organization's Social Media Efforts

As many arts marketers, social media gurus, and nonprofit professionals attest, the question for nonprofit arts organizations is no longer whether or not to use social media but rather how to use it most effectively. This shift is reflected by AMT Lab readers’ responses to our 2014 AMT Lab Reader Poll, where a whopping 76% of respondents indicated they would like to see additional research on social media analytics while only 31% indicated interest in research on social media platforms themselves.

To Tweet Seat or Not To Tweet Seat: An Insider's Perspective

To Tweet Seat or Not To Tweet Seat: An Insider's Perspective

The year has come full circle for me and tweet seats. From my first conversation about them last summer at the Theatre Communications Group Annual Conference to the CMU School of Music’s tweet seat initiative this past spring, the last twelve months provided an opportunity to play with this still new (and at times, controversial) audience engagement tool.

CMU School of Music Tries Tweet Seats

CMU School of Music Tries Tweet Seats

On January 26, 2014, Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Music offered a little something extra to its audience both in Pittsburgh and afar: tweet seats. Last summer I wrote an article about tweet seats that provides an overview of decisions that need to be made before implementing this heavily debated audience engagement technique. With this advice in mind, the School of Music set out to define how and why tweet seats might be a good idea for live concerts.

To Tweet Seat or not to Tweet Seat: A Perspective

To Tweet Seat or not to Tweet Seat: A Perspective

To tweet seat or not to tweet seat; that’s the question on everyone’s mind. After a rather engaging conversation at the Theatre Communications Group Annual conference in Dallas, I went home thinking about the pros and cons of new technology and how it can be used to engage today’s audience. If our audiences are evolving, why are we still connecting with them in the same manner as the previous generation of administrators?

Speaker Series' Spotlight: Chad M. Bauman, Director of Communications for Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater

On February 10th, the Master of Arts Management program at Carnegie Mellon University will welcome Mr. Chad Bauman, Director of Communications for Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater to speak as part of our Speaker Series. His presentation, Confessions from an Arts Marketer – Learning from the Past, Looking Toward the Future, will highlight the worst practices in the field, what can be learned from them, and how to move beyond them. I recently chatted with Chad and talked Tweet Seats, fire in the belly, and what he wished he had known about the field from the very beginning…

Elizabeth @ Technology in the Arts: You’ve held top, senior positions as the previous Director of Marketing and Communications for Americans for the Arts and now as Director of Communications for Arena Stage. You’ve clearly figured it out. But even so, what’s the one piece of advice you wish you had received before entering the field?

Chad Bauman: I am very thankful for my education from CalArts in Producing and Theater Management. But I would have to say…I wish I had learned how to get stuff for free. When you are first starting out, it’s how good are you at convincing people to give you stuff for free- advertising space, promotional opportunities…it’s absolutely critical for smaller companies; you have to do it really well.

E: Now, with all the social media networks out there, it must be easier to get recognized and make connections with those who CAN give you stuff for free.

C: Earlier on, it was super controversial for arts organizations to be on social media; they didn’t understand what the value would be. It also used to be a smaller company could distinguish itself on social media, but now there is a lot more clutter. Being on social media is an exceptional way to get free promotion, but now you have to compete with everyone else out there.

E: So I have to ask, in your opinion, which is the better platform to get a message out and to get attention, Twitter or Facebook?

C: I’m liking Twitter more and more. It’s the most efficient platform. It began with Friendster, then MySpace, then Facebook. I think Facebook use is on the decline and Twitter is on the incline. It’s more of a conversational tool.

E: How about audience members Tweeting during a show? Tweet Seats?

C: You have to be careful; you have to find a balance with Tweet Seats. There was a case where a theater established Tweet Seats for a show, but the resident writers of the production were never consulted and they were not on board with it.

E: What are you more in favor of then, Tweet Seats or post-experience Tweeting?

C: I am more in favor of post-experience Tweeting. You can’t get the full experience if you are on your phone, you’ll miss something. You can miss the most crucial detail, especially in a very nuanced performance. There are many other ways to invite conversation about a production.

E: For those of us logging in hours on online job boards and stalking career services on an daily basis, what are the qualities you look for as Director in a potential employee or intern?

C: Fire in the belly. By that I mean, a person who is internally motivated. I’m not sure you can teach it. They want to do a great job and are motivated by wanting to do a great job. You can teach skills, but you can’t teach internal motivation.

E: In particular to marketing?

C: I look for people who are not afraid to take risks, calculated risks, but risks nonetheless. You have to be willing to take a risk in an entrepreneurial spirit.

E: We, my fellow job and internship seekers, thank you for that advice! I don’t want to take up too much more of your time, so one last question. In a recent blog, I looked at the changing face of America over the next four or five decades and its shift to a minority-majority population. How can visual arts or performing arts organizations expand their audience to reflect this change?

C: First, it’s about programming and community outreach. At Arena Stage, we go out into the community, to churches, to schools, to make personal relationships. You can communicate to younger demographics about your organization’s activity and productions using technology tools. But it’s about programming. Marketers are very good at targeting a specific demographic and figuring out what tools to use. But regardless of the tool, there has to be an interest in the production or the organization’s mission.

You can read more about this Speaker Series event on the Master of Arts Management Speaker Series' website, discuss arts marketing with Chad on his blog, and find further information about the Master in Arts Management (MAM) program on the Heinz College webpage.

Interview with Chad Bauman conducted and condensed by Technology in the Arts contributor, Elizabeth Quaglieri.