Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Press Conference 2.0

What’s “2.0” supposed to mean anyway? Well, according to Urban Dictionary, it means:

“Marketing catchphrase/buzzword than, when attached to a name, implies an "improved" or "superior" product than it's predecessor.”

There’s actually a great book called PR 2.0, by Deirdre Breakenridge, I’d recommend checking out. I’ll actually be coming to the concept of PR 2.0 after talking about the Press Conference.

First off, it’s tomorrow…tomorrow evening to be precise. This came about after our ED considered our Publicist’s recommendation at having one in the morning, but the decided to do it the evening.

It’s not a matter of being different, per se, or raging against the “machine” because that’s Fringey, but it just made more sense, not only in planning, but in having the press and preview run in one smooth evening.

And I’ll be assisting with MC’ing with the event. Not that it’s a surprise, but there’s definitely plenty to due at Capital Fringe. And as some duties wind up, others are just getting started. Which is great, because it’s keeping this ADHD intern too busy to worry about how busy he is.

So with the press conference being tomorrow, most of today was spent getting the Press Kits ready, which include some Capital Fringe facts, Bios of key personal, a Press Pas, instructions on how to use the Press Pass, two drink tickets, and everyone member of the Press will be receiving a Flash Drive with all the PR images we’ve received, along with the Capital Fringe Festival logo.

You probably surmised correctly if you thought I had to take care of the flash drives. However after getting the materials ready, my fellow intern, Emily, took care of stuffing the folders. After which I re-learned rule #1 of managing other people: be explicit in telling other people what you expect. Although she did what I told her, I ended up going through each folder to make them consistent and spread the info out between both pockets, as opposed to putting them all in one.

So we’ve got the Press Kits ready to go, the Preview line-up all set, and we’ve also got our first Meetup. Now if you’re not familiar with this…think of it like Facebook, but it mandates face-to-face interaction in place of cyber wall comments and the like. This is from the site’s About page:

“Meetup's mission is to revitalize local community and help people around the world self-organize. Meetup believes that people can change their personal world, or the whole world, by organizing themselves into groups that are powerful enough to make a difference.”

Pretty neat. There’s a three month option, which we started back in April and it’s been an experiment to see how various Web 2.0 sites can help bring people to the festival. We’ve definitely got Facebook and MySpace covered, but Meetup is uncharted territory so far.

So it should be interesting who will come out through the Meetup event page.

Anyway, that’s about if for now. It’s going to be a long day

Until next week,


Next Week: Getting Ready for the Opening and how the Meetup went

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

It'll Cure What Ails You

So tickets went on sale yesterday!!

That means the new website went live. Last year, all the shows and ticket purchasing systems were hosted at third party sites. While the tickets are still being sold through OvationTix the show information is all in house.

This means there’s been a good deal of proofing, troubleshooting, and fixing. There have been typos to fix with the names of people’s show, and issues with the way people can view and sort productions by date and time.

I’m not going to bug you with the details, but it’s been quite interesting being on the other end of getting all the bugs out, and intentionally trying to…well, “break” the website, so to speak, and test the functionality of the search function.

Now one thing I want (and need) to play catch up with is the other side of my intern coin: the press bit.

So far my job has been simple, following press releases. While we’ve gotten hard copies of articles and whatnot when we come across them, the majority of the archiving has been of online pages, from articles to blogs.

And a big help with this has been Google Alerts. In case you aren’t familiar with them, you should be, even if just to set up an alert for yourself.

It really facilitates keeping track of things. But because of various printer issues I’ve been having at Fort Fringe, I haven’t printed out some of the more recent items into our Master Folder. And considering our Press Conference/Preview is next Wednesday, and the press coverage has been fairly minimal so far, I probably want to make sure I’m caught up before the torrent of Google Alerts begin to inundate my inbox.

Oh, and this is my last week of my summer class, already. I know, right?!

Until next week,


Next Week: Press Conference, Preview, and Meetup

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Yes We Can

So this entry is going to be a little less structured…not that the other three have been.

The topic I had in mind was the sense of Community that is at the heart of what the Capital
Fringe Festival does every summer, and continues to stoke throughout the year.

But before I get started with that, lemme just say that the Festival Guide has finally gone to print!! No more proofing, editing, etc. It was certainly an invaluable experience, ‘specially learning how to use InDesign BUT I’m glad I can refocus on the Buttons.

So, Today, along with my trusty sidekick, Emily, I wandered the streets of 14th & U in search of Button Discounts.

Here’s a picture of us:

I’m the guy on the left…in case you were wondering

Now our tasks were two-fold, and we actually started with a preliminary walk yesterday to scout the path ahead.

Our first goal was to touch base with establishments who had given Button Discounts last year and see if they were interested in doing so again. Our secondary objective (which we’ll get to later on this week) is to approach new businesses and convince them of the goodness that comes with participating with the Capital Fringe Festival, through the Button Discounts.

With the places we went to today, most of the managers and owners were ecstatic when we introduced ourselves as envoys of Capital Fringe, and I’m not exaggerating. Expressions of love were common, and all wanted to give Fringers Button Discounts again.

Now I realize that on the surface, this is a clever way to cross market and give incentives to increase revenue. Fine. But I believe, deep down, especially with the types of places that we stopped by today, that the participants genuinely want to be and see themselves as a part of the Capital Fringe Festival community, artists and especially audiences.

I have to tell a little anecdote. I went into a bar last week, and after about 5 minutes realized that it probably wasn’t the kind of bar we’d want to talk to about the discount. I can’t say I had any concrete criteria with which I just basing that on, but it was just a feeling and a lack of synthesis as far as the Capital Fringe vibe, and the bar’s aesthetic, both physically and personally (particularly the staff and bouncers)…

Don’t get me wrong, we definitely want to get as many discounts as possible, primarily in the Penn Quarter neighborhood, and then whatever we can get around 14th St, U St, Adams Morgan, and Dupont Circle, where there are Capital Fringe Find Your Own Venues.

But, in a very hippie kind of way, I believe like energy will attract like energy, and that most of the new places we approach who will ultimately participate, will do so because they do see this Button Discount, not as a marketing deal, but a partnership, a two-way relationship, and something good for both the business and the festival. It’s a way to get Fringers to help support area establishments and, in some way, stimulate the local economy.

It’s already a given that audience members for live arts productions spend money in non-ticket related purchases. And if there’s a way that we can help independent and local restaurants and bars and get as much of that as the nation-wide chains, then that’s the kind of community investment that comes from just building a sense of community.

Not to get to ethereal but especially with this economy and what we know about the connectedness of everything, people (on a local to a global level) need to re-realize our own communities, not just the intentional ones, but also the unintentional ones. It’s not about making new connections, but merely recognizing the ones that are already there.

I could go on and on about how I feel like this is something that is forgotten in the arts sector, unless you’re the marketing director, but that might have to be a topic for a later entry.

Until next week,


Next Week: Tickets go on sale on the 22nd and following press with Google Alerts

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Return of the Festival Guide

I’m a day late with this entry…sorry, ‘bout that. This week’s just been kinda crazy, ALREADY.

Let me say that the one thing I appreciate about this internship, and about the Arts sector in general, is the flexibility one can have with scheduling. It’s a gross generalization, but as long as you’re a good person who gets the work done, most of the organizations I’ve been involved with tend to be fairly understanding with other conflicts and commitments, as long as they’re not excessive and are communicated in a timely fashion.

Yesterday I wasn’t at Fort Fringe at all, although I did start off the morning checking my Capital Fringe email address to take care of whatever I could before my other obligations that day.

So here’s the past 36 hours, in a nutshell:

I started off the day with the 3rd of 3 all-day Small Grant Panels for FY2009 at the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. I had serendipitously met someone who worked at the commission at an event with the DC Advocates for the Arts and was subsequently invited to sit on the panel. We reviewed over 60 applications during the course of the day.

Then I had to book it over to the French Embassy for an organization's Fundraiser. I’d actually taught middle and high school Jazz classes at this organization during the ’07-’08 school season, but a classmate of mine at AU currently has an internship at CityDance, and asked me to be a table captain. In addition to some other classmates and a friend, I invited my mom. It was a fun event, and an interesting case study from an Arts Management lens in cultivating donors.

Then today, I managed to make it in to Fort Fringe to continue proofing the guide and the index, which I was in charge of compiling, as we’re sending the Copy to print tomorrow at noon. I had to cross reference and check the spread sheet, with the guide, with the master board set up in one room, wall to wall, of the 10 or so venues, over the course of 3 weeks, with more than 100 artists and companies, performing 2 to 6 times each…


Then I had to take a break to run to a Performing Arts Department meeting at the high school I teach dance at, the National Cathedral School , to wrap up this year and talk about the ’09-’10 school year.

Stopped by the Fort after that, to continue proofing for a hot second, before I had to head over to the National Portrait Gallery for a scavenger hunt before the one summer class I’m taking, Performing Arts Programming, which was being held at the Gallery. Our teacher, Tia Harris (who currently teaches at Duke Ellington School of the Arts as well) used to work there, and brought us in the space to meet and hear from a guest speaker and colleague of hers whom she’s kept in touch with, Jewell Robinson, a truly fascinating, inspiring, and passionate woman.

Then I headed back to Fort Fringe (around 9pm) to do what I could to catch up with email and further proofing before calling it a night. Still not finished, but will take care of it in the morning.

I can’t lie, I’ll be glad when this gets sent to print. Creating the index, and making sure the dates and times are right hasn’t been the worst of dealing with the guide, however. I’d say the hardest part was when our image deadline came around, and all of the artists had to have their Web, Guide, and optional PR image in. There were certain specifications for width and height, resolution, and format. While most were on point, there were some that were…technologically challenged.

If anything, it was definitely a learning opportunity for me and hopefully for the artists I attempted to help coach in fixing their images, identifying what was not to the specifications, and electronically holding their hand via email until they sent an image that was the right size, or at least close enough.

I realize I’m rambling a bit, and realize this was a bit off the topic of my internship, until the end, but those were the couple of surprises I hinted at, at the end of last week’s entry. Although, the Small Grants Panel wasn’t completely unrelated; one of the applicants was actually a guy working on a production that’s going to be in the Capital Fringe Festival this summer…small world, right?

Anyway, that’s it for now.

Until next week,


Next Week: Sense of community and festival at Capital Fringe, plus a midmonth bulletin

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The E-Blast Strikes Back

So today the monthly email was sent out, through Constant Contact. I’d already proofed my section yesterday, the Button Discount portion. But that meant today, I had to update the Button Discount info on our website

And on our Facebook group , and the blog on the MySpace page.

Now, if you aren’t familiar with the Fringe Festival, and haven’t checked out the website yet, you’re probably asking yourself, what is the “Button Discount”. To do that, I’m going to have to explain the Button.

The Capital Fringe Festival implemented the Button for the first time last year, but Fringe Festivals the world over have used it to varying degrees. During the festival, it functions as the Festival Pass. You only need to purchase it once and $5, but must have it to attend any Capital Fringe Festival performance. This is one of the ways Capital Fringe is able to support and pay the artists who participate. And it becomes a nice collector’s item as the Button changes from year to year.

But the Button wasn’t finished after the Capital Fringe Festival ended last July. Throughout the year various organizations and establishments have partnered with Capital Fringe to offer Fringers various discounts to patronize them. When I started my internship, I became the point person for finding and communicating with these monthly Button Discount partners.

Those that choose to be a Button Discount for the month could offer any Discount they think will appeal to our e-mail subscribers and website visitors, whether it be monetary or some in-kind item that Fringers receive with a purchase. In return, they are included in our monthly email which goes out to over 12,000 subscribers, and on the Button Discount page on our website until the next month’s email.

Now as this is the final month before the Festival, I’m going to be focusing my efforts in the area that Capital Fringe is in, Penn Quarter. Last year, the Festival Venues were a little spread out, but this year, all locations are located within several blocks of each other and Fort Fringe, our home on 6th & New York Ave. Four of those venues are actually IN Fort Fringe.

And with the number of bars and restaurants in the area, it will be a great way to compliment the festival atmosphere. We already have La Tasca and Penn Quarter Sports Tavern on board to be Button Discounts during the festival in July, and that’s just the beginning. Keep an eye out to see what other Button Discounts there will be by opening night.

Until next week,


Next Week: Proofing the Festival Guide and sending it to print, receiving Artists’ images for it and making sure they fit the specifications, and a couple of surprises.