Here are a some adjectives taken from just a few pages of a current season brochure published by an American orchestra that made news recently for its fiscal difficulties.
Monumental, epic, extraordinary, awe-inspiring, perfect, breathtaking, ground-breaking, all-consuming, gorgeous, expansive, explosive, unmatched, sensational, powerful, striking, universal, sparkling, tantalizing, greatest, heroic, magical, electrifying, stunning, cathartic, spectacular, larger-than-life, dazzling, profound, once-in-a-lifetime, brightest, incredible, astonishing…
Here are a few adjectives that might reasonably describe failing, multi-million-dollar arts institutions that allow amateurs to craft the strategic communications on which they depend for survival.
Irresponsible, negligent, self-absorbed, insular, frivolous, suicidal, foolish, out-of-touch, boneheaded, unbusinesslike, presumptuous, oblivious, unrealistic, incompetent, blundering, obsolete, tragic, ephemeral, inconsequential…
Effective communications are not crafted by low-level staffers who’ve learned how to plug overblown adjectives into canned descriptive copy; nor are they crafted by seasoned promotional writers who’ve perfected the art of cranking out language their bosses find most flattering. They’re crafted by skilled, well-educated, professional strategists who – armed with plenty of objective market intelligence – know how to leverage the needs and desires of target audiences in order to motivate behavior.
At some point the arts have to decide if preserving amateurish, egocentric customs is worth the price, or if it’s time to get serious about earning revenue and growing audiences with rational, professional, customer-centered business practices.