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How to get smart about marketing the arts

How to get smart about marketing the arts

Creative New Zealand publishes arts marketing guide

Being smart about marketing your work is a key message to artists and arts organisations in a new guide published this week by Creative New Zealand, entitled Smart arts/Toi huatau.

Aimed at artists, entry-level publicists and producers as well as small to middle scale companies, Smart arts/Toi huatau is the most comprehensive guide to marketing arts events in New Zealand.

Although other guides have been published on the topic, Smart arts/Toi huatau covers a wide range of artforms and includes information about marketing specifically to Mäori, Pacific Islands and other cultural groups in New Zealand.

Subtitled Marketing the arts in New Zealand: Te häpai i ngä mahi toi i Aotearoa, the guide is available free from Creative New Zealand. A "living" version is also available on the website (subs: from 5 September), providing links to other sites and templates that can be downloaded and altered to suit individual requirements.

When it comes to being smart about marketing the arts, the book's author, Nicky Nicolaou, learned the hard way.

"I've been involved in arts marketing for the past ten years. I don't have a marketing degree and when I first started out, I made a lot of mistakes," she says. "Hopefully, this guide will provide people starting out in arts marketing with a lot of useful information so they can avoid the mistakes I made."

Of course, if you're smart you learn from your mistakes - as the book recommends. Nicky Nicolaou, now Associate Director of Downstage Theatre in Wellington, has come a long way and learned a lot since becoming a freelance publicist for theatre and dance after graduating from Victoria University in 1992. After six years as a freelancer, she co-ordinated the Fringe NZ Festival and was appointed to Downstage Theatre as its Marketing Manager in 2000. Two years later, she was appointed Associate Director.

"Ten years ago, there weren't many people marketing the arts," she recalls. "But today, the term marketing is no longer a dirty word and artists are really aware of the need to promote their work and build audiences. The problem is there's not a lot of current, practical information aimed specifically at the arts environment in New Zealand."

Creative New Zealand Chief Executive Elizabeth Kerr says that publishing and distributing Smart arts/Toi huatau is one of the ways the organisation can help artists and small to middle-scale companies and organisations develop audiences and build new markets for their work.

Findings from a Creative New Zealand survey of professional practising artists show that more than half of the artists interviewed (58%) said they needed assistance in marketing and promoting their work.

"New Zealand has a small population and artists need to be resourceful and innovative when it comes to promoting their work and building audiences," Miss Kerr says. "The creative sector is flourishing in New Zealand, and artists are becoming increasingly smart about marketing themselves and their work."

Recent Industry New Zealand research shows that New Zealand's creative sector is growing faster than the rest of the economy, contributing $3.5 billion to New Zealand's GDP every year and employing 50,000 New Zealanders.

Smart arts/Toi huatau contains seven chapters, including a chapter written by Vicki Allpress about marketing on the web, and an appendix of useful reading and online resources. Monika Ahuriri and Makerita Urale contributed information on marketing to Mäori and Pacific Island audiences.

Designed by award-winning designer Catherine Griffiths, Smart arts/Toi huatau aims to present a wealth of information in an accessible, appealing and dynamic style. The cover image of Sonia Yee in her recent one-woman show, The Wholly Grain, is an example of a piece of advice offered in the guide: "An engaging, high-quality photo will be used again and again."

For anyone starting out in arts marketing, Nicky Nicolaou has three essential questions they should ask themselves at the outset. Why are you marketing the event? What it is you're marketing? And who are you marketing it to?

Tied in with this is the need to understand your audience. "You need to get inside the heads of the people you're trying to reach," she says. "What do they want? Why, when and how do they want it? And how would they respond to what you're planning to send them?"

She also offers one vital piece of advice. "Inspire the public with your passion for the work. You know how much they'll enjoy it so get out there and tell them about it." Practising what she preaches, she adds: "I'm absolutely passionate about what I do. I can't imagine marketing something you don't value or feel inspired by."

Free copies of Smart arts/Toi huatau are available from Creative New Zealand offices (Tel: 04-498 0721 Email: ). They can also be downloaded from the Resources section of Creative New Zealand's website ( ).


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