Live Arts and Philly Fringe Festival, Philadelphia, PA

Sixteen Day Festival Creates Social Media Newsstand to Connect Fans to Each Other and its 200+ Shows

In a special effort to engage potential fans aged 18 to 25, the Live Arts and Philly Fringe Festival created a community destination, reaching more than 170,000 fans during the Festival.

The Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe supports artists, and brings the world’s newest and most cutting-edge cultural experiences to our city, amplifying the vibrancy of Philadelphia as a renowned cultural center and an unparalleled place to live, work, and visit.

“In terms of thinking about young people, is that for anyone in that 18-25 year old age bracket, the internet is not a novelty. It is a form of communication and a source of information that has always existed in their lives. It is up to organizations to use this technology as a tool and a means to an ends, as opposed to just an end,” stated Molly Weingart, Community Outreach Coordinator.

John Jasperse's dance piece, Canyon, presented at the Philly Fringe festivalNoting that “Audiences can smell marketing and spamming,” Molly said, “Social media shouldn’t just be ‘more noise’ and duplicate other communications options.  It should provide ‘social, friendly, informative’ information – and in the case of the Festival – with an edgy tone that matches the unique character of Live Arts and Philly Fringe.”

Philadelphians have a proprietary feeling about the Live Arts and Philly Fringe Festival.  Now in its 15th year, the festival offers opportunities for local and visiting artists to self produce their work and for audiences to experience a feast of performing arts performances over its 16 days. The Festival features the works of cutting edge, contemporary performing artists from Philadelphia and from around the globe and offers local audiences the opportunity to see a range of quality performances without traveling internationally. Community Outreach Coordinator, Molly Weingart, a young veteran of the Obama campaign’s border states team from the 2008 election, targeted 18-25 year olds with engaging, informative communications on a number of social media platforms.
Responding to the flurry of options the Festival presents, Molly used Facebook, Twitter and a dynamic Blog to share artist generated content, announce last minute sales and keep fans up to date on what was happening where.  Within the Festival’s frenzy of venues and artists, the social media Facebook, dedicated News Feed and Blog platforms allow fans to communicate with each other during the 16 days, posting reviews and feedback in real time.  During the 2011 Festival more than 170,000 people checked out the News Feed and hundred posted feedback, commenting on their experiences and sharing stories about memorable moments at the Festival and why they loved it. In the 18-25 targeted age group, the Festival quadrupled the number of classroom projects and doubled participation of artists and volunteers.
Festival staff value the social media interactions not only as a way to connect patrons with each other and visiting artists but also as a rich reservoir of stores and quotes to use in case statements and funding appeals. “In their own words” statements resonate with local public and private funders and help the Festival demonstrate impact and its role in amplifying the vibrancy of Philadelphia as a leading cultural center with a remarkable quality of life.
Proof points:
  • It’s important to establish the right tone for social media surrounding a festival that attendees feel they “own.”
  • Staff tending the social media discussions have to respond to comments in real time to keep fan interest and respect
  • Fans seek authentic artist generated content; presenters should consider building requirements to provide short videos and insider quotes from visiting artists into engagement contracts
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