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November 16, 2009

Tennessee Arts Groups Get New Face

Online arts community established on Facebook

NASHVILLE, TN - -  There was a time when leaders in the state’s arts industry had the opportunity to meet as professionals a couple of times a year to discuss programs and projects, share ideas, and explore the challenges they all faced.  Now with the introduction of social media, the conversation continues on a daily basis.

As a result of the Tennessee Arts Commission’s recent statewide gathering, Reflect, Recharge, Reset…Working Together in Tough Times, a new Facebook page has been set up by Kennedy, Coulter, Rushing & Watson. The Chattanooga-based strategic planning firm partnered with the Commission in planning the conference, and is now hosting the new Facebook page. The page, Arts Agency Idea Exchange, encourages the sharing of creative ideas and encourages a dialog among arts leaders and interested individuals.

“There are countless Web sites devoted to the arts, so sometimes it is hard to know where to begin looking for helpful resources,” says Ann Coulter, a principal in KCR&W. “In that respect, the Facebook page can be something of a first call for help, especially for arts organizations dealing with seismic changes in fundraising, arts participation, and technology.  We think this focus, growing out of the shared experiences of those attending the Tennessee Arts Commission conference, will be of value to those who visit the page and post on it.  There is no doubt that social media tools like Facebook encourage communication, and this page gives Tennessee arts groups a relevant resource for doing so.”

Rich Boyd, executive director of the Commission, says there is great potential for the use of Facebook in Tennessee’s arts community. “It’s an excellent resource for our arts organizations, and provides an easy way to exchange ideas, brainstorm, and ask questions. It’s a cost effective network through which arts supporters can learn from each other, and it benefits the small organizations as much as the large organizations.”

Whitney Jo, managing director of Playhouse on the Square in Memphis, attended the Commission’s conference and posts regularly on the Arts Agency Idea Exchange. “If the various arts organizations from across the state utilize the page to exchange ideas, post questions, and post information, then all the groups can benefit.  I think one of the greatest things about the Facebook page is that smaller organizations now have a resource to learn from the larger, more established organizations.  Sometimes just reading something that an arts organization has done can spark a wealth of ideas for your own organization.”

According to Coulter, the Facebook page was set up a couple of weeks before the conference, but really took off after the meeting. She says there are over 100 members and it continues to grow. There has even been some interest outside the state, with individuals from the West Coast and Arizona joining.

“We knew that conference attendees would have a keen interest in learning how they might use social media technologies to better interact with their public and communicate their activities and offerings to new audiences,” says Coulter. “We also knew that many would have only a basic knowledge of the many new social media tools, so we created the Facebook page to give them a chance to interact with this one heavily-used social media venue.  Secondly, we wanted to see if this page could become an ongoing free and easily accessible place where arts organizations could easily share ideas that might be helpful to their work. We also wanted to promote collaboration and drive home the fact that the more arts organization work together and share ideas, the more effective that can become.”

The Arts Agency Idea Exchange is an online community space on Facebook where arts leaders can share and explore creative ways to achieve sustainability in the arts. Join the conversation by going to Facebook, then search for “Arts Agency Idea Exchange.”
  

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