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Looking Back
Episode 72

Looking Back

CI to Eye Episodes You May Have Missed

This episode is hosted by Erik Gensler.

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With more than 70 episodes, it can be overwhelming to dive into CI to Eye. This short episode highlights the archive so you can prioritize episodes that make the most sense for you. From leadership to marketing, fundraising and ED&I, there is something for every arts administrator at any career level.

Erik Gensler: Hi, it’s Erik and I’m embarking on a multi city speaking tour from February to May to share our latest research on ticket buyer media habits. We surveyed over 18,000 arts buyers to learn about how they consume media. I’d love to see you at one of our free workshops. I’m coming to Boston, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Columbus, Cincinnati, Fort Lauderdale, San Francisco, Phoenix, Seattle, Los Angeles, Toronto, Memphis, and Austin. Plus, we may announce more cities soon. Head to and check out our “Webinars and Events” section to see if we’re coming to a city near you!

We are releasing the results and findings from the Ticket Buyer Study at the end of February, so make sure you are on Capacity Interactive’s email list to be among the first to know.

When I started this podcast, I envisioned it as a curriculum for arts leaders for the best arts administration masters program that I could curate. Three years later, we have produced over 70 episodes with lessons and insights on a variety of topics from leadership, marketing, fundraising, ED&I, and more. I wanted to take some time in this episode to highlight some of the episodes you may have missed so you can prioritize which episodes make the most sense for you to listen to.

First off, I often say, “We do not have a lot of arts industry specific research,” so when I come across something I find informative, I want to share it! We have released a number of episodes with guests sharing research projects specifically for the cultural field:

In the episode, “The Legendary Audience Churn Study,” I talk with Jack McAuliffe, who oversaw a number of large audience research studies when he worked for the League of American Orchestras. These studies centered around audience attendance and participation of classical music concerts. The studies found that most arts organizations don’t have audience acquisition problems, but rather, they have audience retention problems. This is super important, foundation research for anyone working in the field of arts administration.

In the episode, “Culture Data Nerd,” I talk to blogger and data wonk, Colleen Dilenschneider, about the massive dataset that she uses for her research on what motivates people to get off the couch and to attend cultural events. We discuss the importance of an organization’s reputation in driving attendance, why people donate or don’t donate to institutions, and how cutting marketing budgets when times get tough is the absolute wrong move. Data nerds, don’t miss this one!

In the episode, “The Future of Arts Funding,” I talk with Melissa Cowley Wolf about the findings of a recent survey conducted by the Arts Funders Forum and M+D about how and why people donate to the arts. The findings include looking at millennial giving behaviors and how the cultural sector can adapt to engage a new donor class. Send this one to your development folks!

Another popular topic for the podcast is, of course, marketing–I mean, we are a marketing firm–so I want to highlight a few episodes.

In the episode, “Cultural Identity Branding Legend,” with Paula Scher, I talk with the graphic design icon who has crafted identities for renowned corporate brands and cultural institutions, from Citibank and Tiffany and Co. to The Public Theater, MOMA, Jazz at Lincoln Center and New York City Ballet.

In the episode, “The Most Human Company Wins,” I talk with best-selling author Mark Schaefer. Mark’s book, The Marketing Rebellion, was a real game-changer for me in understanding 21st-century marketing. Mark and I talk about how your most loyal patrons are your marketing department, the difference between “personalized” and “truly personal,” and the five human truths that businesses and business leaders must understand to succeed in the 21st century. This information is absolutely critical for our field.

In the episode, “Bucking Trends with Disciplined Communication,” I spoke to Aubrey Bergauer, the former Executive Director of the California Symphony. We dove into the findings from their “Orchestra X” project to better understand user experience purchasing and attending a concert. We also discussed the California Symphony’s disciplined approach to patron communication. This episode talks about much more than marketing, but these marketing takeaways, I thought, were really important to include in this section.

Another of my favorite topics is leadership and I’ve had the opportunity to talk with a number of Executive Directors who I admire–way too many to list in-full, but I want to highlight a few.

In the episode, “This is What Arts Leadership Sounds Like,” I speak with Sharon Gersten Luckman who worked to rescue the Ailey Organization from the brink of bankruptcy years ago to become the highly successful organization it is today. Sharon is someone whose leadership I have gotten to see first hand and you don’t want to miss this episode.

In the episode, “President of the National Civil Rights Museum,” I talk with Terri Lee Freeman about the history of the museum, which is one of the most moving museums I have ever had. We also discuss the need to be “apologetically human” by owning up to our mistakes and adopting a growth mindset. I admire Terri’s outlook and leadership and think you’ll enjoy this episode.

In the episode, “Executive and Artistic Director of Carnegie Hall,” I speak with Clive Gillinson about his unexpected but monumental career in arts administration. We talk about the significance of asking the right questions rather than simply looking for the answers. Thinking about that has really changed my outlook on a lot of things. And we also talk about how money follows vision and not the opposite!

All arts institutions should be asking questions about equity, diversity, and inclusion. It is an important topic to me and I’ve had a number of guests on to talk about it. I want to highlight a few episodes here:

In the episode, “Classical Music’s Diversity Crisis,” I talk with Afa Dworkin, the President and Artistic Director of the Sphinx Organization in Detroit. We discuss the very real structural barriers that limit inclusion in classical music. We also talk about how most American orchestras still present works by mostly white men and why risk-averse leaders must make big changes in staffing and programming to align their organizations with changing demographics in order to keep classical music relevant and alive.

In the episode, “Examining White Fragility,” I talk with best-selling author, Robin DiAngelo about why diversity is essential among those who control the art and entertainment we consume. Robin’s book, White Fragility, had a profound impact on my understanding of the relationships between American history, power structures, and race.

In the episode, “Is Your Organization Anti-Racist?” I talk with Capacity Interactive’s ED&I consultant Cardozie Jones about the societal influences that inform how we experience the world. We discuss some really important protocols that keep us from having productive conversations about race.

I’ve also had the chance to speak with a number of my Capacity Interactive colleagues, from talking with our Managing Director, Christopher WIlliamns, about the origins of our company and our culture to asking Ashley Dunn Gatterdam, our VP of Client Strategy, the most frequently asked questions we receive from our arts clients. We also have episodes looking at Capacity Interactive’s point of view around website analytics for the arts, search engine marketing, and previewing our research studies. You can get closer to CI with these episodes and learn more about digital marketing for the arts.

My final bucket includes episodes that don’t fall into a particular category but I want to make sure I highlight because they have resonated with listeners.

In the episode, “Turnaround King and President Emeritus of the Kennedy Center,” I talk with Michael Kaiser about the traits that differentiate healthy arts organizations and how the cycle of marketing, fundraising, and programming all work together.

In the episode, “The Enormous Customer Experience Opportunity in the Arts,” I talk with the former Director of Customer Experience at the Cleveland Orchestra, Robert Phillips. We look at what the arts can learn from the hospitality industry and how The Cleveland Orchestra has made customer service part of its organizational culture.

Finally, in the episode, “Slowing Down,” I talk with my executive coach, Jennifer Zaslow, about slowing down to be more successful in work and in life. Plus, we dive into the art of third-level listening, which is so helpful in our hectic and busy world. This one will calm you down and make you feel good.

Thank you for listening and I am very excited to share all the episodes we have planned in 2020!

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