May 2009 be a good year for everyone. We’ll be in tight financial times until mid year, at least, according to the leading economists. But then growth will gradually start. Historically, we’ve seen that recessions are an excellent time to plan and prepare for that new growth. So that means the next six months are very important for any type of planning.
* For feasibility studies, this is the time to get your homework done. Feasibility studies done now will likely focus on more doable structure than at the boom time of the market, which means these projects will be seen as viable by more funders. While capital is not out there right now, projects looking for land may find this is a sweet time for deals.
* For strategic plans, this is the time to think deeply about entirely new operational models, finance models, efficiencies and structure. We think the market has been overly flooded by entertainment options in many places, and that a little correction along with leaner operations may be very good for the long term.
* For policy plans, this is an excellent time to take the long view and focus on: 1) strategies to help organizations think about new business models that may create efficiencies while building market share; 2) strategies to build(rebuild) market loyalty by audiences; 3) helping organizations rebalance their financial models and expectations. Gaining audience loyalty this year will likely require deep discounts and price realignment in tickets and admissions, so budgets will need major reworking; 4) building for stability for the long term. During sobering times, we all do a better job of focusing on the real priorities.
* For marketing plans, this is an excellent time to focus on customer service and building customer loyalty. Marketing media continues to evolve at lightening speed. The Obama campaign organization showed us the incredible value of text messaging: this is a key time to build your own text messaging capacity. You’ll also want to build your CRM capacity, to target market as effectively as possible. And don’t forget the increased role that social networking plays in linking your audiences together.
* For cultural development in general, this is the time to think about how to benefit from the stimulus packages that are already moving through the pipeline. Programs like the federal WIRED grants have been around for a few years and will now get much larger, and offer opportunities for arts jobs the likes of which were last seen in the CETA era.
This is exciting. There is a lot of good, proactive work to do that will profoundly advance thinking about the mechanisms, support, and market for arts and culture. Let’s get to it! Happy New Year!