Category Archives: Arts & Culture

Top Ten Rejected Mottos for Colorado Springs: Live it Up!

10.Higher than Denver (oops, people might think we have more MMJ per square mile, too)

9. Unparalleled Command and Control!

Apparently, the newest civic embarrassment is the $111,000 spent on the city’s new branded logo and motto: Live it Up!

The popular consensus seems to be that the logo reminds people of a softball team sponsored by either an ambitious dentist or perhaps a Dairy Queen competitor. In fact, do a tour of social media today, and what you’ll find is an ever-increasing degree of bile and one-up-man-ship as people try to come up with new ways of describing how much they DISLIKE both the logo and the video.

8. Worship 6025′!

7. Worship 14,110′!

The message here is pretty clear: you need to align your brand with your product; therefore, branding only works when you know what your product is. Considering that this was commissioned by the Convention and Tourism Bureau, it’s not that surprising to see a lot of imagery about the outdoors, specifically Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods. But from my editorial perspective, what is unbelievably distressing is that the CVB also thought that this would work for creating jobs and appealing to younger professionals. If that’s the audience, how pray-tell does this video appeal to them?

6. Drive To, Over and Through Us!

5. AEROSPACE! Hell, Yeah!

The arts and culture are reduced to sloganeering cheerleaders and exactly 1 second and two images out of almost four minutes.  Most “average citizen” shots appear contrived and forced and possibly done on a single take. There is a single image of the Air Force Academy, and it appears randomly disassociated from everything else. Poor Ralph Routen, editor of the Indy is reduced to talking about driving to the top of Pike’s Peak. Colorado College and UCCS do not make a single appearance in the video. Nor does The Old North End. But there is a guy holding a generic cup of coffee on Canon Ave. complimenting Colorado Springs… except Canon Ave. is in Manitou.

4. Right next door to Manitou!

What’s really missing? A narrative. A story. Check this out:

Downtown COS Highlight Video from Timothy Dumais on Vimeo.

Which one instills civic pride? Which one shows a wide-variety of reasons to visit, maybe even plan a weekend or vacation around? Which one looks welcoming?

Why is narrative important? It engages the audience. Showing is better than telling. It makes it easy to remember. Narrative is worth talking about. Narrative is Benefit, not Feature-Driven. The CVB video spends a great deal of time telling the audience what to think about Colorado Springs, and a lot of them border on hyperbole. No one trusts hyperbole. The Downtown Development Authority’s video shows the audience downtown, and engages them with visual images that are more easily communicated as factual, not someone’s particular opinion.

3. Only 50 minutes from Park Meadows!

2. Come Get Your Monies Worth!

There is a standard that a Vimeo “film” needs to have a much higher production quality than a Youtube “video”. But considering that the Downtown Development video was made for a fraction of the cost and has a considerably higher production quality, the question quickly becomes: “if we’re actually any good, why not make a film?”

1. Like Tulsa, But Different.

Right now on Facebook, Hannah and I are taking a poll as to what people say. It’s terribly scientific in the way that all social media is, responses are volunteered and once critical mass of an opinion’s direction is determined, you’re not likely going to see any variance from that opinion. But look at the reaction to this on The Gazette (90% dislike at this writing), The CSBJ (24-0 dislike right now), and The CSIndy (5-0) and you have to wonder who the committee was that screened this production. Look at the voting on Youtube, where there are Zero Likes, and Nine Dislikes, and only mocking comments.

The reality of the city is much better demonstrated in the Downtown Colorado Springs. When Chris Carmichael talks about the Pro Cycling Challenge, the images anchor his words. When he mentions collaborative efforts by the city, organizations, individuals and businesses, you can see the reality.

What speaks loudest in the CVB video are the people chosen to participate. The video is much more about people speaking and their opinions then it is about the city. But the CVB is supposed to be about creating tourism, conventions, visitors and jobs. It is highly unlikely any of the people in the video would be visited personally or hired for an event. That’s not a ding on the people at all. That’s a strategic problem with the video and the company that created it completely missed the angle of branding.

The Downtown Colorado Springs film uses far more elegant images, cinematography, transitions, modern music… but also captures the product, Colorado Springs. The images are exclusive to downtown. They show people enjoying themselves out and about. Again, back to some scientific polling, but I showed my 8 year old and my twin five year olds both videos. My kids walked away disinterested from the CVB. They came back for the Downtown Colorado Springs film, and what got them excited? Everything. They know Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak first hand. But the Pikes Peak Center? That gets them excited because they’ve seen the symphony there. The rodeo parade is just fun. “There’s Poor Richard’s, brothers!” yelled Andrew. One is someone’s else’s idea of whatever everyone else ought to like. The other is turn-key door opening, a “let me show you…” with a grin.

Successful marketing needs a hook and a narrative. I’m sorry if this post offends, but I’m offended that the city decided to make a video and not a film, to provide opinions rather than show facts, to shout rather than show. As citizens, we deserve better. We’re worth a film. I can show you an example…

Free Friday Special Edition: Carmageddon… or Blues Under the Bridge?

Here’s a quick example of a PSA circulating throughout Los Angeles this weekend.

Thanks, Ponch. Interesting pitch at the end there. “Just stay home”.

Colorado Springs Residents have some grand options and reasons to NOT STAY HOME this weekend. Here’s one. This is video from 2008 when the legendary Koko Taylor headlined Blues Under the Bridge.

That’s right, we not only have roads you can drive on around here, but you can also hold rockin’ blues concert underneath them. I don’t think you’d dare to that in LA.

For more fun in the sun, Check Out (AND SUBSCRIBE!) to PeakRadar… constantly scanning to keep you from boredom at home in the Rockies.

The Don Miller Press-Release: We’re Making Snowmen

Sooner or later, though, we have to create. We have to go and make
something with the collected likes and dislikes we’ve assembled, we have
to turn them into stories and songs, into families and gardens, into
companies and churches.
These things start small, though, just a kid rolling a tiny pile …of
snow into a ball until it gets so big somebody gets interested and wants
to help him, after which the ball gets larger and larger, and then
others get motivated by what they are seeing and bring out sticks and
lumps of coal and a top hat and a scarf. 

But then again, snowmen are stupid. They just melt. Why try.

If you do your business from the heart…

If you actually are up nights worrying about your clients…

If making a profit is less important than making art…

If relationships are more important that P&L’s…

Sooner or later, you’re gonna start making a lot of snowmen…

Benjamin Day and Hannah Parsons have formed Pikes Peak Urban Living at The Selley Group. Today is day one of boutique brokerage empowering consumers with both measurable data and human empathy.

Thanks Don, for putting words to what Hannah and I have been trying to pull off for more than a year!

Ideas Worth Sharing: 500% to 700% Returns on your investments

Malcolm Gladwell says that the 10,000 hours invested in a single activity is the starting point of genius. As important as talent is, it’s the access to skill-perfection that ultimately is the difference between “very good” and “world-class”.

The average college student has spent 10,000 hours playing video games. They’ve spent 20,000 hours online. How does a city, or for that matter, civilization, adapt and transform people when this is the coming rush of citizenry?

I say: art.

In this TED Talk, Ben Cameron of the Doris Duke Foundations lays out the map that is highly problematic in promulgating live arts… a map that is highly problematic for places like New York City or San Francisco or Chicago, because as he himself says, this model is essentially based on a 19th Century Business Plan.

But there is no problem for a city like Colorado Springs to adapt to the new rules of the game. The reason? We don’t have that 19th Century Baggage.

 

If technology is a massive reformation of antiquated business models… it’s actually liberating when you don’t even have a business model to reform! You can start tabula rasa. There are no royal alliances and no holy of holy curtains to shred. This cosmic shift favors… the unprepared.

Think about that for a second as you drive past all those “Mayor Project” signs. Right here, right now, is a gargantuan opportunity for Colorado Springs.

Arts is a prime-mover of business. Quality Art is worth traveling great distances to enjoy, spectate and participate in. As Mr. Cameron says, for every dollar invested in the arts, cities typically get back $5 to $7 in business development.

The opportunity for a Live (specifically OUTDOOR) Performing Arts Venue in Colorado Springs has never been greater. Perhaps the need has never been greater. For those looking to make money in a down economy, investing in the arts should be a 500% to 700% return. Or better.

Thank you Bettina Swigger and the COPPeR Board for sharing this talk this morning as the cultural moment.

Creating Art instead of Spreadsheets

I attended Arts in Crisis today at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. I would wager that anything with the phrase “Crisis” gets the consumer attention these days, and perhaps not for the best of reasons. We are crisis’ed out.
As it turns out, the event was as optimistic, informative, inspirational and enjoyable as anything I’ve ever attended. I will always brag on the board I serve on, The Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region (COPPeR for short), and since Bettina Swigger was facilitating this event, it was highly organized, highly efficient, and just damn good!
Here is my Facebook live blog from the event. I’ve deleted the like buttons, but I’ve included Rudolph’s comment with his permission since it was highly relevant, and just plain dead-on.
Benjamin Day
Benjamin Day

Yes, I’m blogging live… Yes, we have had a Coffee Crisis when we almost ran out of decaf; a Strawberry Squeeze when there was a fresh fruit deficit; but no CC Compromise with Bettina facilitating!
Benjamin Day

Benjamin Day

‎”first instinct of arts organizations when faced with economic constraints is to start cutting.” Equates programming to marketing: your programming is your message.
6 hours ago ·
Benjamin Day

Benjamin Day

‎”There is no reason to give to an organization that is doing nothing”. Huh. Does that extend to organizations / municipalities / communities / organizations outside of the arts?
5 hours ago ·
Benjamin Day

Benjamin Day

‎70% of international tourists to the US identify themselves as cultural tourists. 17% of GDP is manufacturing. Smallest number of any developed nation.
5 hours ago ·
Benjamin Day

Benjamin Day

A wish not a plan is to do more marketing and more fundraising. Hint: programming. You can’t balance your budget on bequests. Talk about the present and the future, forget the past. Plan big transformative projects, meaning a five year calendar. Kaiser has five years of projects as a menu: donors will connect to one or two; if you have only one, … See More than five years down the line. The length of time actually helps tighten the bond with the audience. Five years gives him time to educate /prepare an audience. Take time to do the exciting work.
5 hours ago ·
Benjamin Day

Benjamin Day

Institutional marketing connects people to “the family.” Marketing: you do it and you do it again and you do it again. Hint: arts organizations fear doing anything big. You don’t need big donors: people want to be involved. Big is a pretty easy way to get people involved. Haley Dance Company facing bankruptcy in 1992 paid off their debt within 12 mos.
5 hours ago ·
Benjamin Day

Benjamin Day

There is zero room for negativity in the arts, the spokesperson must be optimistic and communicate the positive attributes exclusively. Arts are notorious for whining about their financial problems, reducing programming, being entitled (“ask Bill Cosby for $1 million”… “why? We don’t deserve it”), and living in the ruins of their past (“who was the fool who approved the $56K cannon for The Nutcracker? That was dumb. Let’s marinade in dumb…”). That thinking organizes no one. Arts must be visionary and paint a picture/direction that is optimistic.
5 hours ago ·
Benjamin Day

Benjamin Day

Arts ticket prices have created a large degree of exclusivity and thus irrelevance. The Met has decent tickets for standard opera next year: $750/piece. Arts orgs have to think inclusive and how to get everyone involved. Kennedy Center has a free performance daily at 6. Changes daily. Most popular are what likely would seem most irrelevant: symphonic music and ballet. These “free” events draw more than anyone.
5 hours ago ·
Benjamin Day

Benjamin Day

We are channeling Seth Godin here: don’t work on your donor base. Work on being exciting. Example Soweto Dance Company. If you can do it there (one of the poorest slums on the planet creates a top int’l dance troupe)… You can do it anywhere. Do exciting & important, focus on that. Biggest arts progam of 2010 was in Gand Rapids, MI, Visual Arts Festival. 1500 artists showed up: year one. Interesting and Important can happen anywhere.
5 hours ago ·
Benjamin Day

Benjamin Day

Creede Rep. Theatre has a value of “we will fail.” Kaiser: arts must lead. Probably will fail when you lead. Most “best” arts performances people experience are not ones they expected. Arts are risky: embrace that. People don’t claim Phantom of the Opera as their lifetime best arts experience… It’s good, maybe great, but the best lies in surprise… See More. For me, Arcade Fire and the Sam Lay Blues Band (at Shove Chapel, 1995) are the two best live music experiences I can think of, not the huge, high expectation events. Both surprised me and left me transformed. (Now we are channeling Aeschylus!)
5 hours ago ·
Benjamin Day

Benjamin Day

Lots of grumbling before event on the title and use of “Crisis”. We are clearly crisis’ed out. We are city 66 out of 69, maybe is resonated more six months ago. In any event, the theme is exceedingly positive and pokes at the crisis-to-crisis mentality, and that “from the 1890’s there are accounts of the arts are doomed.” Arts are not allowed to function from a crisis mode.
5 hours ago ·
Mark Rudolph

Mark Rudolph

Totally agree..if you have a product, it needs to be exciting more than anything else. Organizations that cut back on programming also cut back on product…no product, no sales. Most marketers look for the “home run” donors, exclusively. But they don’t understand that by tapping the base of the pyramid, you can get tons of singles….Singles win Ballgames!
5 hours ago ·
Benjamin Day

Benjamin Day

Arts Crisis Alert! Educational problem and arts not considered part of the necessary curriculum. How to address? Proactive behavior of arts orgs should be to concentrate on inclusive events and actions. Again mentions ticket prices as a huge problem and a deficit of thinking about big programming that’s exciting. Innovation also really brings people in.
5 hours ago ·
Benjamin Day

Benjamin Day

Interesting spiritual nugget: arts leaders should be mentored and mentoring.
5 hours ago · ·
Benjamin Day

Benjamin Day

Oh dear… First person has left and I can’t say I’m surprised who it was. Yes, an EDC member.
5 hours ago ·
Benjamin Day

Benjamin Day

More spiritual… Know when to build a building. Debt kills. The line between sickness and health is very slim. What, is he addressing a bunch of 30 yr old men? 🙂 awesome advice for life not expected at an arts event.
4 hours ago ·
Benjamin Day

Benjamin Day

Singles win ballgames… I love it Mark. Thanks!
4 hours ago ·
Benjamin Day

Benjamin Day

Send off: we sell more tickets for arts then sports in the US.
4 hours ago ·

Benjamin Day

Benjamin Day

Imagination Celebration presents the Dragon Hat, as the Protector of the Jewels of the Kingdom.
Okay, what are my takeaways from this?
Bettina reposted the ten rules for turning organizations around. This is for the arts world, understand. How many of these are pure gold for entrepreneurs, businesses, relationships, etc? I think most of them:
1.) Someone must lead
2.) The leader must have a plan
3.) You cannot save your way to health
4.) Focus on Today & Tomorrow, not yesterday
5.) Extend your programming calendar
6.) Marketing is more than brochures and advertisements
7.) There must be only one spokesman and the message must by positive
8.) Fund-raising must focus on the larger donor, but don’t aim too high
9.) The board must allow itself to be restructured
10.) The organization must have the discipline to follow the rules
Here are some more perspectives on the event. My brother’s CC Classmate Matthew Schniper provided this on the Indy:
And Tracy Mobley-Martinez offered this at the Gazette:
I’m still processing this, but I for one do not think that this content extends to just arts organizations. I think a lot of this will hit home with any entrepreneur:
1.) Marketing is more than advertisements and brochures.
2.) You are what you program.Extend your programming calendar.
3.) Inclusiveness builds tribes, communities and families… and a permission asset that is extremely loyal
4.) You can’t stop taking risks when the going gets rough
5.) Positive. Proactive. Educating. These are synonyms that describe any business worth talking about.