Marketing the Arts in DC

newsboyI just had a really good meeting with Amy Melrose. She is the proprietor of the Free in DC blog, which lists hundreds of free arts and culture events in DC each month. You can see her blog here.

We’re gonna do some cross-marketing between Bourgeon and Free in DC. I know this will be good for both of us. I’m hoping that she might also come on as an editor/acquisition editor for Bourgeon, but I don’t know if she wants to.

We talked about how we are doing similar things in a way – providing information about upcoming arts events – but that there is no need for us to be competitive. There are a number of really great people doing great stuff out there right now, including:

Ayo/Eric/Adrian and Dissident Display
Day Eight and Bourgeon
Betsy and DCShotlist
Todd and
Amy and FreeinDC
Philipa and Pinkline

And that is a very impartial list (off the top of my head.) If I’ve missed you please message or comment and I’ll add to it. Of course there are also the larger sites, including:

Culture Capital and CityPaper for arts listings.

Just like arts education, there are lots of ways for people to get the service. There’s no need for competition amongst us. In fact, if we found ways to work together, we would serve our communities better, and probably get better return for ourselves.

Amy and I were talking about how the DC Commission doesn’t directly fund arts marketing. I was saying that is not exactly true, because they do fund arts service organizations, many of whom spend a lot of their time and budgets marketing the arts. But for smaller folks, she is right: the DCCAH doesn’t fund arts marketing. She said she thought that should change, and I disagreed. I think that artists are best being funded at a level where they can spend the time and money to market themselves. The organizations can already do this, and for individual artists, you can always list events in many places, try and get traditional press coverage, and get coverage from any of the places I noted above. I know that Bourgeon is happy to publish an article by any artist promoting their work.

ME-BarryTaxThe city and other funders have to have priorities in funding. If Marion Barry taught us anything it’s that just cause you’re popular doesn’t mean you’re spending the city’s money well. The mayor for life won election several times even while driving the city into receivership and leading the schools into a nosedive of failure (or rather, failing to lead them into the flight of success.) There’s no parallel there to the city’s DCCAH – currently or in the past. But I think the city’s arts budget should go to the arts, not arts marketing.

I have to add that I don’t think Bourgeon is arts marketing. Non-profit journalism, including non-profit arts journalism, is not marketing. But that is a post for another day….