Did you know?

The highest concentration of artists in Canada is found among English-speaking artists in Quebec at .99% – roughly 50% higher than the national average.

(source 2011, Department of Canadian Heritage’s Official Language Support Programs Branch).

In 2016, ELAN surveyed 30+ artists and arts producers of multiple disciplines to find out whether English-speaking creators in Quebec had the tools they needed to reach the public and grow their audiences.

ELAN found that:

The majority of respondants were spending over

60%

of their time and energy managing digital media for promotional purposes.

Over

75%

felt that there was not adequate support in local online media to give visibility to the art they produce.

And close to

80%

wanted a more comprehensive listings platform to increase visibility for English-language arts productions.

‘A key question for performing arts presenters in this digital age is “how do we leverage digital technologies to create more value-added connections with audiences (beyond digital marketing) before the performance, after the performance and in-between performances?”’

Digital Innovation Council For The Performing Arts from “DIGITIZING THE PERFORMING ARTS”

ELAN also conducted a survey of 20 media outlets, from freelance journalists to media conglomerates.

The results revealed:

89%

reported that their media model supported emerging artists

52%

did not feel that their outlet was aware of all English-language arts events happening in Quebec.

More than

75%

said that a multidisciplinary listings service for English-language productions would build their outlet’s awareness of arts events.

“Imagine a unified, informative way for the nation’s art and culture to present itself on the Internet. Imagine enterprise platforms like Expedia, AirBnB, Culture Trip, Ticketmaster, Amazon, Facebook and Google being able to include cultural events within their offers in every city across Canada. Imagine arts organizations being able to offer local cultural events on future enterprise platforms throughout the country reaching millions of Canadians”

Culture Creates

ELAN also held focus groups with artists, arts producers and media outlets, as well as interviews with 7 technical specialists and 4 media marketing specialists. Here’s what they had to say:

On the media’s shrinking resources:

  • “You actually get media apologizing to you – ‘I’m sorry we don’t have anything being covered this week’”

    Leisa Lee, Public Relations Specialist

  • “There is always room for more. What we have now compared to 20 years ago, we have lost a lot”

    Steve Faguy, Media Specialist

On promotional tools and media relations:

  • “It’s clear we are not in Silicon Valley. Indie venues and promoters want to keep it simple.”

    Yannick Cimon Mattar, Lepointdevente.com

  • “Between artists and media it can be difficult, there is tension. Artists expect media to monitor, provide the why, see from both sides. Media feels like they need to be provided with more information. It’s a good thing in Montreal that we talk to each other.”

    L’il Andy, Country Musician

On the potential of technology in arts marketing:

  • “The problem still exists, the technologies are here to solve the problem, and if we do it well it could work in other places. No one has done a great job of this yet.”

    Mitch Joel, Digital Marketing Expert

  • “Structured data takes expertise to know; I am hoping this project can result in guidance for this; not everyone has the time to update all sites in this way”

    Louis Rastelli, Expozine Producer and Archive Montreal Manager

After many months of research and compiling results, ELAN recommends the following:

  • Foster Technology Partnerships

    ELAN should work with technology partners to help its constituency address technical issues that impede connecting artists and producers with cultural consumers through state of the art digital systems, specifically in the areas of structured data, database development, user interface development, and digital marketing for audience growth.

    ELAN met several software development engineers in the research process who are available to build a team to develop a prototype.

  • Review Canadian Listings Platforms

    ELAN must follow a path based on lessons learned by other organizations that have attempted to create listing platforms to serve the arts sector. A national review of additional systems should be undertaken to include efforts by NOW Magazine (Toronto), The Georgia Straight (Vancouver), YEG Live (Edmonton), and other established media properties which have migrated to digital platforms.

  • Create a Data Set of Arts Productions

    To save time for arts producers, ELAN should foster the standardization of an information set that includes arts productions of multiple disciplines. This data would then be sent to a database repository to be accessed by traditional and digital media companies. ELAN has the opportunity to work with a range of high volume production companies, including event and exhibition producers, theatre venues and dance companies.

    ELAN can also work with ticketing companies such as Outbox, Lepointdevente.com, and TIXZA to develop the feature set that will be used to populate an extensive online database of arts and cultural events.

  • Establish an Arts Database Alliance

    ELAN must work with like-minded organizations to establish a non-profit body to govern the usage of an open artist and production database. This arts database alliance would represent ELAN members from various disciplines, including visuals arts, theatre and music, and work with organizations such as CAPACOA, Culture Creates, the Digital Innovation Council For The Performing Arts, Arts in a Digital World (Nordicity), and others who have demonstrated interest in working on similar projects.

    Together, these partners would define the framework of how such a database is to be administered.

  • Collaborate with Commercial Partners

    ELAN should be open to working with commercial partners in areas that can be run on cash revenues without government or institutional support. Advertising and marketing, as well as venues, festivals, broadcasters, brands and ticket networks (airlines, hotels, restaurants, etc) can provide additional reach in growing audiences beyond the basic arts constituency.

    Distribution of the database information through commercial channels can provide additional revenues for artists and organizations. In other countries, like the UK, distributions partners for the arts include libraries, airlines, and hotels. These distribution networks can be built to increase audiences through state of the art technology.

  • Organize a Tourism Working Group

    ELAN should foster a working group to integrate tourism efforts with French-language arts organizations including the Quartier des Spectacle and La Vitrine. ELAN must be aware of all projects that involve provincial and Ville de Montreal support for the arts and culture sector.

  • Cultivate Marketing Skills within the Arts and Culture Community

    ELAN can collaborate with local media partners to foster further development. A simple example is to provide marketing skills workshops to serve the needs of the English-language arts community. Given the ever-changing landscape and mandates of local media (including media formats), information sharing is essential to assist in the development of vibrant and flourishing relationships between artists and the media. Marketing workshops should be formatted to promote learning across the separate responsibilities in the arts presentation food chain.

    Discussions should include introductions or primers on available technologies, developing guidelines for digital and non-digital media submissions, and sharing best practices regarding content organization. Workshops can make producers and presenters more productive in the digital realm, which will have a positive effect on the visibility of Quebec and Canadian arts productions.

While the English-language arts community in Quebec is lagging behind in adopting marketing technologies, ELAN is well placed to play a leadership role in the development of digital solutions that increase the visibility and revenues of arts producers.

Project Manager: Daniel Webster
Project Assistant: Rio Victoria Jestin
ELAN Executive Director: Guy Rodgers

Report Summary by Corey Gulkin
We thank all volunteer collaborators and participants.

Research funded by:

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada