Connecting with donors and giving value for support
I have spent a lifetime creating dance works, performing, educating, raising money, doing tedious office work – basically working to be an artist. Over the years I have seen some interesting ways to connect audience to the performers, embed them into the work, give the audience some tangible connection to the art they are seeing.
I have seen choreographers develop incredible powers empathy to listen to and solicit with donors, interactive performances, and special performance/talks to give the donors a special treat.
Donor are key to the lifeblood of a dance company, especially as our work does not generate so called ‘passive income’ from book sales, prints, or music rights (not that most artists can live on these, but it can sometimes help).
So when I find a new and quite lovely way of inviting donors in, I want to share it.
Batsheva is an amazing company in Israel now as well known for “gaga” (a movement and body awareness method) as their work (both of which are wonderful). Their website has the ubiquitous “Support Us” tab, but under that is one thought that intrigues:
Yes. Yes. Yes. As a donor, what if you could connect your donation to a specific, like a month of physical therapy for a dancer? First off, do most people know how much work it takes to be a dancer? This brings awareness as well as empathy.
This idea of tagging a donation as supporting a specific thing is not new, but neither is it used enough. Bring your donors to a human place. Make them part of the nuts and bolts. If someone donates a large sum of money, let them know what that pays for so when they see your next masterpiece, they know – Ah, I paid for this lighting, these costumes, that chair, three dancers to get their physical therapy- now the piece is personal to them.
Value comes in different forms in art: the work creates a context for thought, a physical connection, visual stimulation, emotional connections, and a human touch. Many people who do not create artworks want to be a part of that process, that incredible journey that you, as an artist, find stimulating, frustrating, work and scary. To other people it is amazing.
Bring your donors to a more human, personal space by offering opportunities for them to see the messier, but interesting part of creating dance.