Start by looking at your existing or planned offering from the perspective of your patrons and fans. Their perceived value of the offering is key, and it can be enhanced in three main ways that you may find surprising.
First, be aware that most people would like to know what your art in general or a specific project means to you as an artist and why it is significant before they are ready to get engaged and connect with it. In other words, the better they understand your art, the more they are able to enjoy and appreciate it. People are also more open to donating if they are familiar with your art form, or share an interest in the subject matter and goals of your project. Therefore you create additional value if you communicate more information about your art to your patrons and fans in some form. This logic applies to the event itself, as well as to your promotional materials.
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Second, keep in mind that people do not only come to experience your art for its own sake. In fact (and this may be hard for you to accept!), seeing your art is usually not the main driver for them to go out. Instead the prime motivation for many people is of a social nature
. They see the arts as an opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends, celebrate a special occasion, mingle with an interesting crowd, feel some association or involvement with you and your organization, experience something new to talk about, etc. Therefore you should evaluate your offering and its setting in terms of its social appeal
and your opportunities for connecting directly with your fans
. A face-to-face conversation leading to a personal connection with the artist or another member of the organization, based on a shared value or interest, is also one of the main reasons why individuals respond to requests for a donation.
Third, put some thought into how you can meet your patrons’ needs further by offering them a degree of customization. Tailoring your offering to their interests results in a highly valued unique experience for them, which may even be personalized, and has the added advantage of allowing you to ask for a higher price. Enabling patrons to shape their own experience also leads to higher involvement and personal commitment on their end. This creates more potential for sales and donations, and turning people into passionate advocates of your art who will introduce it to their friends.
Note that not all your events have to be scheduled ones with a predetermined time and place. Consider offering tailor-made experiences that you craft around individual buyers’ preferences, like a performance or exhibition in their own home or at a conference, combined with an introductory speech and possibly a short Q&A session. Step up to new artistic challenges, and share the richness of your art in new ways!