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Thursday, April 5, 2012

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State to State

Showcasing State Arts Agency Ingenuity

In State to State this month, state arts agencies share strategies and successes around their use of digital technology and social media.

Using Facebook to Reap Public Benefits

Arizona California District of Columbia

Arizona Commission on the Arts
California Arts Council
D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities

After a Facebook race to the finish, three state arts agencies have stories to tell and lessons to share with their colleagues about last fall's Facebook Challenge. The Arizona Commission on the Arts, California Arts Council, and D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities challenged each other: Who would be the first to reach 10,000 "likes" on Facebook? Each used creative means to strive for the goal, including video, tweet-pleas over Twitter, Facebook ads (with their statistics for judging effectiveness) and a "Like-a-thon" promoting agency awareness.

While California reached the goal first, all three agencies say the contest was beneficial for their constituents. Arizona reports that Facebook Challenge participants included representatives of local media, elected officials, educators and others—demonstrating an outpouring of local pride and unity—and counts 2,500 more individuals connecting with the arts industry in the state. California is incorporating its lessons learned into a series of YouTube videos to encourage the state's local arts councils to increase their Facebook outreach; the Council reports that the challenge had the unexpected ripple effect of driving traffic to several of its county-level partners. And D.C. offers these valuable take-aways:

  • Social media posts should be engaging and educational, not just promotional.
  • Keep social media content fresh.
  • Create Facebook-specific content rather than repurposing.
  • Have fun!

To find out more about the benefits of the Facebook Challenge, contact Arizona Commission on the Arts Communications and Research Director Casey Blake, California Arts Council Information Officer Mary Beth Barber, or D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities Director of Marketing and Communications Marquis Perkins.

Connecting Constituents with Video Poems


Utah Division of Arts and Museums

In a state whose population is as far-flung as Utah's, how can a small arts agency connect with its many constituents in a meaningful way? Enter Bite-Sized Poetry, an initiative of the Utah Division of Arts and Museums (UDAM) whereby Utah poets recited short poems (one minute or less) each month that were broadcast to the public through links in the Division's e-newsletters and social media outlets, as well as on the state's Now Playing Utah site. The program launched in 2009 as a brainstorm of Utah Poet Laureate Katharine Coles and the Division's former literature coordinator, along with the cooperation of the local public television station. The highly popular program capitalized on the strengths of video and the Internet to bring the art of poetry to a broad constituency. After a hiatus due to a staffing gap, it has reemerged as Bite-Size 2.0, with hopes to involve more youth poets. For more information about the program, contact UDAM Literary Arts & Education Specialist David Pace.

Blogging to Broaden Reach

Massachusetts Florida

Massachusetts Cultural Council
Florida Division of Cultural Affairs

Since its launch in 2008, the Massachusetts Cultural Council's (MCC) ArtSake blog has developed into the hub of MCC's communications with individual artists, serving as a virtual symposium for sharing the stories of MCC artist fellows and other Massachusetts artists. ArtSake allows MCC to reinforce its connections with individual artists using video and photographs supported by text to highlight artists from a wide variety of disciplines. As blog host, MCC plays the role of convener, curating content designed to broaden the dialogue between artists and provide a myriad of useful, inspiring and career-building content. To learn more, contact MCC Artists Program Coordinator Dan Blask.

The Florida Division of Cultural Affairs (FDCA) is using blogging as an integral part of its ongoing Culture Builds Florida campaign. The campaign's goal is to grow public understanding about the comprehensive benefits of arts and culture to Florida. The Culture Builds Florida blog showcases artist and creative entrepreneur interviews as well as entries on Floridian cultural history and issues to highlight the vibrant cultural community across the state and the role of the arts in building Florida. For more on the blog and the campaign, contact FDCA Arts Consultant Jennifer Hoesing.

Grant Panel Audio Files Service


Indiana Arts Commission

As a service to its grant applicants, the Indiana Arts Commission (IAC) had been recording audio from its grant panels and sending interested potential grantees a CD of the proceedings. Once the arts council's website had the capability to host the audio files in 2010, the process was streamlined to allow grantees and others to download the files themselves within a few days of the proceedings. This audio-sharing strategy enhances panel proceedings as a learning and technical assistance resource while also demonstrating IAC's public accessibility and transparency. The Panel Audio page is popular, with about 400 visits in 2011, most of which took place in the months the panels meet. The Commission has been using a portable digital recorder to record the sessions, and recently upgraded this equipment to improve audio quality. In addition to listening to the audio files, visitors to the page can view lists of awardees. To learn more, contact IAC Marketing and Grant Communications Manager Laura Frank.