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Tracking the Chan Centre

For this week’s assignment, I am looking at several different free web tracking tools using the keyword search “Chan Centre.” The three tools I have looked into so far are: Tattler, Surchur, and Monitter.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get very far with Tattler. I signed up to be notified when Tattler would be available to me – this involved providing my full name, occupation details, and a brief synopsis as to why I would like to use Tattler and what I plan to do with the information. I found this rather invasive, but decided to fill out the form anyways. I still haven’t heard back from Tattler after several hours, so there isn’t much I can say for the quality of this app.

Surchur provides an interesting and, especially when compared to Tattler, extremely easy to use tool. You simply surf onto the page, type in your keyword and hit “Go.” The site then brings up a dashboard full of  information ranging from News items, Search Engines, Blog items, Microblogging items, Discussions, Wikipedia, Video, Flickr/Photo items, etc. The site isn’t terribly glamourous – the layout is simple and divided into different frames – and it is borderline spammy-looking with all the ads on the page. For the most part, the information is expansive and fairly useful but there are some out-of-date and incorrect items that appear on the dashboard.

Monitter is also a fairly easy-to-use tracking tool without the ugliness of the layout and ads on Surchur. The downside, though, is the keyword searches are limited to Twitter only. However, the site provides much more information on tweets as it pulls more than the six that appeared on the Surchur dashboard. Here are some of the tweets about the Chan Centre from Monitter:

#1) RT @Ryan_Noakes: #UBC #SymphonicWinds #ReadingSession this Monday, 3 pm, Chan Centre. #NewMusic vanpromusica  14:58web

#2) The Vancouver Chamber Choir, w/the Vancouver Chamber Ensemble TONIGHT @ The Chan Centre <– pls check upcoming events! LiveVan  14:30

#3) Off to see Larry Nickel’s Requiem for Peace at the Chan Centre 8pm w. Vancouver Chamber Choir neilmusic  13:08

#4) View from the top of the Chan Centre #tedxvan2011 | Flickr – Photo Sharing! (via @JohnBiehler)TM_Image  3:56TweetMeme

#5) Amazing concert by @ubc Chan Centre by Concert Winds – in awe of my son’s musicianship #ubc #music leodesousa  20:41

#6) Watching Two Merchants with Kelsey. I love Telus Studio Theatre. Perhaps more than Chan Centre itself… @alyssa_jayne will not be proud 😛 NegAmiri  19:31

#7) RT @Hermida: Coming up Sunday Nov 20: @EthanZ at the UBC Chan Centre talk, “Cute Cats and the Arab Spring” faridrohani  14:06

#8) #VancouverChamberChoir is performing “Requiem for Peace” at the Chan Centre tomorrow! Go see it and then come see hiroshima at MOA! MOA_UBC  10:46

#9) The majestic ceiling of the Chan Centre (during @billmckibben‘s fantastic climate change talk)  jodyjwright  12:42

#10) RT @UBC_Arts: Two Merchants, a modern twist on Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, is playing at the Chan Centre till Nov. 19. ArtsISIT_UBC  8:41

The tweets about “Chan Centre” that appeared on Monitter (and Surchur, for that matter) showcase the breadth of activity going on at the Chan Centre each week as well as highlighting the beauty of the venue itself. The tweets listed above are recent – having come in within the last few days, if not hours. The events listed range from student performances such as Theatre at UBC’s Two Merchants and the UBC Symphonic Wind Ensemble to the TEDx event last Saturday and the Vancouver Chamber Choir’s Requiem for Peace concert tonight. In addition, there a few mentions about how much people like the building (the Telus Studio Theatre is one of the three venues located inside the Chan Centre) and a link to a cool photo taken by @johnbiehler during TEDx. Based on this tracking, I would say that the Chan Centre is a busy and popular venue in Vancouver’s arts and academic scene. The tone of the tweets are all positive, however, it isn’t a thorough gauge since it only goes back over the last day or so.

Taking another look at outreach

Greg Sandow makes an interesting case for audience development in his article, The Problem With Outreach, posted to Rather than spending time focusing on what the funders most want to see – which are educational programs that reach out to diverse audiences in the short-term – Sandow argues that classical music organizations should work to bring in new and younger audiences in order to sustain the art form into the future. For my response to the author’s post, please watch the video clip below.

Top ten must-see concerts and events in Vancouver

For this week’s post I’ve decided to put together a list of the ten arts events that I would most like to attend this season. This may be the most purely selfish post I will include on this blog all term – but it was a lot of fun to put together and it will definitely help me to organize my arts attendance schedule! I hope you enjoy my selections and perhaps even choose to attend some of these fantastic arts events, too. I would love to hear which of these events you also plan to attend or which ones you plan to attend that are not on my list. We are very fortunate to have a thriving arts and culture scene in Vancouver, despite the recent cuts over the past few years. It’s always great to get out there and support performances and exhibits.

The events below are listed in chronological order:

1. Hiroshima at the Museum of Anthroplogy |UBC –  On now until February 12, 2012
This powerful exhibit features 48 photographs by Ishiuchi Miyako of clothing and accessories left behind by victims of the 1945 atomic bomb at Hiroshima. The items on display are a stark reminder of the incredible loss of humanity in this tragic event. This is the North American premiere of the exhibit, even though it has been presented around Japan and even turned into a book; it has not been displayed in the U.S. due to the emotionally-charged subject matter. In addition to the exhibit at MOA, a number of other events are taking place around town to support it – including a choral concert featuring Larry Nickel’s Requiem for Peace at the Chan Centre by the Vancouver Chamber Choir on November 19th.

2. Neon Vancouver/Ugly Vancouver at the Museum of Vancouver – On now until August 12, 2012
This exhibit caught my eye after reading an article about it in The Georgia Straight. I have had every intention of checking out the MOV for some time now and this exhibit seems like a great way to get started. Featuring some of the old neon signs that used to be prominently displayed in and around Vancouver, it is guaranteed to be a kitschy, free-for-all and a unique way to look back at Vancouver’s history.

3. Daniel Müller-Schott plays Shostakovich with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra at the Orpheum Theatre – October 29 and 31, 2011
It would be wrong to not include a VSO performance on my list as I am sure this will be just one of several symphony concerts that I will attend this season. I first heard Daniel Müller-Schott perform as part of the Vancouver Chamber Music Festival many years ago when I was working as a volunteer usher – a position I took just to get free tickets to hear the best chamber music in town! I found his playing to be incredibly moving and remarkable. For his performance with the VSO, he will perform Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 2.

4. Kronos Quartet with Special Guest Homayun Sakhi Trio at the Chan Centre |UBC – November 5, 2011
This could be interpreted as a shameless plug of one of my own concerts except that I genuinely love the Kronos Quartet and would make a point of hearing them perform wherever they are playing in town! This San Francisco-based string quartet is known for their vast repertoire of new music and for always pushing the boundaries of musical presentation. In this concert they team up with an Afghani trio to present a new work by famed rubab player, Homayun Sakhi in what is sure to be an incredible collaboration. I have such great memories of attending Kronos events over the last decade since I have been working at the Chan, I’m sure this concert won’t disappoint!

5. From Heaven Came by musica intima at Christ Church Cathedral – December 16, 2011
musica intima is one of my favourite local chamber choirs. Vancouver has numerous, exceptional choirs; however, intima is unique in that they operate as a collective without a single artistic director. This model keeps the focus on the musicians and also keeps the direction fresh and new with each concert. I chose this specific concert for this list as it is an annual tradition for me to attend their Christmas concert. It is one of the ways I like to mark the season – with a beautiful, shimmering choral performance on a cold, wintery evening. (Ideally followed up with some mulled wine or hot chocolate!). I know that musica intima’s Christmas concert will never disappoint and will always put me into a festive mood.

6. La La La Human Steps at The Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts – January 21 and 22, 2012
I am a huge fan of DanceHouse which is a fairly new addition to Vancouver’s arts and culture scene in the past couple of years. DanceHouse presents large, international dance companies – a task that is no doubt very daunting considering the costs associated with these sorts of productions. I should’ve bought a subscription to this series but it is always a challenge for me to commit to one season when I already have my own season at work plus a number of other performances to work around. However, I will definitely try to book some single tickets to a couple of their performances. La La La is one of the performances that I really do not want to miss. They are a phenomenal company from Montréal who so rarely make an appearance in Vancouver. I don’t even care what they are doing – I just don’t want to miss this performance!

7. Eve Egoyan plays Simple Lines of Enquiry at Heritage Hall on Main Street – January 23 and 24, 2012
The PuSh Festival is one of my favourite presenters of new music and theatre. This annual mid-winter festival takes place in multiple venues around the city (including a performance of Noche Flamenca at the Chan Centre on January 21st!) and collaborates with numerous presenters. In this case, they are collaborating with another local presenter, Music on Main. I am eager to check out this solo piano performance by Eve Egoyan featuring a work by Ann Southam entitled, Simple Lines of Enquiry. Both the PuSh Festival and Music on Main rarely disappoint in the new music genre so I am eager to support another one of their collaborations.

8. Tine Thing Helseth, trumpet at The Playhouse – February 5, 2012
The Vancouver Recital Society is arguably the best presenter of classical recitals in Western Canada. They regularly present phenomenal artists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Reneé Fleming, Murray Perahia and other famous string players, pianists and vocalists in venues all over Vancouver. It is exceedingly rare for them to present a trumpeter, though. As an orchestral trumpet player myself, I realize that this recital is a fantastic, not-to-be-missed opportunity to see this incredibly talented performer in our local market.

9. Turning Point Ensemble in Jump for Joy! at Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre | SFU Woodwards – April 1, 2012
The Turning Point Ensemble is a fantastic local new music group that performs a number of unique concerts each season. This concert is another dream for a trumpet player as it features compositions by both jazz trumpeters, Dave Douglas and Brad Turner, alongside works by Stravinsky and Ellington (arranged by another local trumpeter, Alan Matheson). The music will explore the connections between jazz and classical music in the early 20th century.

10. Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet in Svengali at The Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts – April 20 – 22, 2012
Ballet BC presents this blow out event featuring Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet in Vancouver. This time they feature a dark, psychologically complex mind-control drama about a repressed artist, Svengali, who escapes his mother’s controlling dance studio only to entrap another dancer who ultimately grows more powerful than his grasp. I’m sure it will be a mesmerizing performance full of excellent choreography.

Digging Mavis Staples

It has been a busy arts-filled week for me. On the personal-front I have been rehearsing with the West Coast Symphony in order to launch their 2011-12 season with two spectacular all-Mahler concerts this weekend. We would’ve made Mahler proud this afternoon, performing the off-stage trumpet calls from outside the venue in which we were performing. Even though it was freezing cold standing outside without a jacket, it was worth it for that authentic outdoorsy horn call!

After a Mahler-filled afternoon, I proceeded directly to the Chan Centre where tonight we are set to open our 2011-12 season. We are presenting legendary gospel singer Mavis Staples in a rare double-bill with New Orleans pianist, Allen Toussaint. It has been a challenge trying to drum up media support for these two concerts not because we didn’t have writers/editors lined up to do the stories but because these two highly in-demand artists both have extremely hectic touring schedules which didn’t allow for them to arrive in Vancouver ahead of schedule. No time in town and no b-roll led to limited radio coverage and no TV coverage at all.

Despite all that, the house looks great tonight and it is in thanks to one of the many fabulous stories that came out in print (and online) over the past few days. We are always extremely grateful for preview support of any of our concerts. Most arts organizations don’t have enormous promotional budgets so we rely heavily on PR. One of the stories that I particularly enjoyed reading (and which I chose to Digg) came out in The Vancouver Sun yesterday. I love how the writer captured the enthusiasm and joie de vivre that Mavis Staples breathes into everything that she does.

Enjoy the article and I look forward to hearing your thoughts about this multi-talented artist who, at the age of 73 years has just released a new album produced by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy – which won a Grammy Award – and who has no interest in slowing down anytime soon. And now I’m off to go catch the rest of the concert!

Everyone’s a critic

Lately I have become increasingly concerned about the level of engagement on the Facebook page of the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts. This is likely related to the Social Media for Marketing course that I have recently been taking. As my level of understanding grows, so does my concern for our existing SM structure!

Here is some basic quantitative data from the Chan Centre’s Facebook fan page:
636 overall page likes
Only 15 likes and one comment post in the past month

Qualitatively speaking, I can tell that some of the comment likes are coming from friends/family/co-workers which means our numbers of engagement with actual ticket-buying patrons is even lower than it appears. I would like to focus our efforts in order to increase our engagement with our audiences over the next 6-8 months. An initial goal would be to increase the number of overall page likes to 1,000 and to increase comments to 25 per month.

In order to drive engagement on the Facebook page, the Ticket Office sellers will give out a small flyer to anyone who purchases tickets to a concert at the Chan Centre within the next six months. The flyer will read something along the lines of: “Win a $250 Ticketmaster gift card! Post a mini concert review on and be automatically entered to win. Deadline to enter: June 30, 2012.”

We will also promote the contest through ads in our programs, stories in our e-newsletters and tweets on Twitter.

This contest will then be measured against the initial goals set out and then modified in order to continue encourgaging higher levels of engagement on the Facebook page.

Who am I?

Given that I have been running this blog for a whopping eleven days, I do find it difficult to definitively determine its personality. I think it is important to have a preconceived concept of the personality you would like to use when embarking on social media; however, I also appreciate being open to allow for some natural personality traits to develop.

The benefit of having some clarity around your blog’s personality is that it gives the reader an idea of what to expect from your brand.

My goal for this blog is to use a more expert personality, especially when previewing or reviewing arts events. So far, though, I would say that the personality skews towards the social and semi-personal side of things. I suppose this makes sense as I slowly reveal myself to the public with each post. It is also important to me that this blog take on a caring personality – one that is supportive of the performing arts and the challenges the industry faces.

I am fond of the personality of local arts publicist and social media whiz, Rebecca Coleman’s blog. I find that her blog’s personality is a combination of expert, social, personal and above all I find her writing style to be very honest and real.

I look forward to seeing how the personality of this blog takes shape over the course of this class and beyond!

Transparency pitfalls in Twitter

There is no question that a learning curve exists when venturing into new social media territory. As an arts organization eager to get out there and participate in anything and everything, it is likely that pitfalls will be encountered along the way.

When we first set up @chancentre on Twitter a couple of years ago, we were literally told to just “jump in there” and “figure it out.” One of the first things I remember doing was visiting the Twitter page of a respected colleague working for Theatre at UBC (@theatreUBC), Deb Pickman, and literally studying her profile and tweets to get a sense of how to get started. What I liked about Deb’s Twitter feed was that it wasn’t anonymous. It would’ve been easy for her to just call the feed “Theatre at UBC” and tweet anonymously on behalf of the company, but she identified herself by her name and I believe also by her title, Communications Manager. Gasp! (Note: I believe she has refined her profile and no longer includes the title or perhaps my memory is fuzzy and I viewed the title elsewhere.)

I appreciated Deb’s honesty, though, and thought that our audience would also like to know who they were hearing from on behalf of the Chan Centre when reading our tweets. Of course, we bashed out a quick strategy – again, not knowing much about Twitter – primarily that we would do our best to not just push tickets for upcoming shows but that we would try to become a resource for our followers regarding all things Chan Centre, performing arts and UBC. I guess we sensed the relationship building aspect even though we didn’t realize this was what we were doing at the time!

Recently, I was reading about transparency and Twitter on Scott Stratten’s blog (author of UnMarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging). Scott discusses yet another transparency pitfall that likely befell many initial Twitter sign-ups – the notion of auto-following. In his post he discusses how he traded “authenticity for automation” and that many people mistakenly believed that he had chosen to follow them and they were artificially flattered by his response. Scott realized by automating this process he was missing out on the personal connection aspect that makes Twitter (and social media in general) so unique. It is important that organizations take the time to ensure that an actual human being is coming through in tweets, posts, etc. and that engaging back shouldn’t be automated but should be the result of a genuine, human interaction.

How do automated follows and/or auto DM’s thanking you for following make you feel? Do you really believe that a human being has followed you or sent you a message or are you instantly suspicious? Does this suspicion translate over to your experience with the brand or person you thought you were following?

Introduction to Arts in Review

Welcome readers! The purpose of this blog is to generate dialogue around some of my main interests in regards to marketing the performing arts. Since attending performances is what I do for a living as well as one of my favourite pastimes, I will also include some previews and reviews of local performances as well as other general musings about the scene. NB: arts cuts and advocacy issues may be mentioned!

I have always considered myself to have a sort of split personality that allows me to feel incredibly moved by the arts but has also given me the practical business sense to think logically and balance the budget. I have a degree in Music with a minor in Commerce which allows me insight into both worlds.

Although I still perform with several ensembles, I prefer to be behind the scenes assessing what will and what won’t work in the tricky Vancouver market – in terms of programming and also in terms of marketing and audience development.

The biggest reward for me is being present on opening night and watching the audience respond to the artists on stage.