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