For small arts groups to survive, creative partnering will become the norm

In a challenging economic climate, when your audience has dozens of choices (from a movie to a Portland Timbers game to a social bike parade fund raiser) on any given night, how do you create an unforgettable event they will vote for – in the form of showing up?

You do it by connecting to not just one but several – many – strands of your audience member’s life.

More and more, creative partnering with restaurants, charities, non-profits, businesses, venues, activist causes, ethnic clubs and other social structures will be key to the success of small arts groups.

Creative partnerships unlock and activate audiences that already exist and move them toward your event.


With tie-ins, co-promotion, shared marketing. And more. Look at a successful event, and you will find a shared community of interests converging around it. Unique events require a perfect storm of factors: the perfect show in the perfect place in the perfect way at the perfect time. And good food and drink doesn’t hurt.

So who are your potential partners? They are everywhere. And each one has its own audience or customer base. Imagine tying all those disparate groups TOGETHER. That’s power. Go where the people already are. Because the other places are empty (to channel Yogi Berra).

Here’s a great example of the strange (but compelling) bedfellows that creative partnering brings together.

In lovely Fossil, OR over June 14-16, a large for profit outdoor race is bringing thousands of participants to the area. Seeing a gathering of potential audience members, Bend-based environmental group ONDA (Oregon Natural Desert Association) will be on the scene to host a conservation art exhibit in a pop up gallery. Smart? It’s simply brilliant. ONDA is inserting themselves into the center of their constituency’s life. That way when they need to rally the troops – the troops are ready.

Because if you wait until you need an audience to build an audience – it’s too late.

A group that gets it.  Central Oregon's ONDA is one of the most creative and effective environmental groups on the planet.
A group that gets it. Central Oregon’s ONDA is one of the most creative and effective environmental orgs on the planet.