Author: Joe Winter

Reworking the Website Bootcamp

The root of the word technology is techne, which happens to be the Greek word for art. And the whole word, with the –ology at the end, means “the study of art.” Technology is a practice, not a product. Not a thing. It’s the practice of examination and experimentation and artisanship. The things we think of as technology are only evidence of the practice. Gwydion Suilebhan

joe-teaches-website-bootcampThe first time we offered the Website Bootcamp it was a big class. Over the course of two days at the Foundation Center I offered lessons in installing, configuring and using WordPress, the software that powers C4 Atlanta’s website and about a quarter of the rest of the web. We had 30 people in the class over those two days. That was back in June of 2012.

A lot can change in three years. And although we have made a lot of tweaks to the Website Bootcamp over that time, services like Wix, Weebly and Squarespace have made it much easier for artists to build attractive websites. The best thing an artist can spend time on is on making art. With a website built and used the right way, you can spend less time and energy to reach more of the right people.

The redesigned Website Bootcamp will include exercises in week one on creating goals and budgeting appropriately, and comparing the options you have in front of you. In week two, we will cover strategies on content and design. And finally, week three will serve as in-class lab time, where everyone will have the opportunity individually work on their sites, but with the benefit of having support resources immediately on-hand.

At the end of the day, no matter the platform you choose, your website will never be complete. The journey of building your site will come with its own rewards.

Enroll Now in the Website Bootcamp

Necessary, but not sufficient

Since even before we first started C4 Atlanta, we have had a long-standing connection with a group that calls itself APASO, the Association of Performing Arts Service Organizations. The group is more of a network than it is an organization. It began approximately 35 years ago as an initiative of New York-based Theatre Development Fund, which you may know as that organization that runs the tkts booth in Times Square.

APASO has evolved since its roots. Despite the name, the network now includes arts service organizations of every kind. This year’s conference was held in Baltimore. The timing of the conference was coincidental, but a significant point for all of us who attended. On April 19, Freddie Gray died while in police custody, sparking daily protests in West Baltimore. On April 22, the APASO conference began. By April 24, protests were spilling into the heart of downtown Baltimore, where we witnessed the protests.

Carmen Morgan / Brave Space: Equity in the Arts #apaso #apaso15

A post shared by Joe Winter (@nine.eye.joe) on

Before the conference officially began, several of us went on a cultural tour of the city. We became familiar with Maryland’s Arts and Entertainment Districts program. 22 of these districts throughout the state use tax incentives to attract artists, arts organizations and related creative enterprises. Through these districts, and a number of other efforts, hundreds of abandoned homes in Baltimore are getting bought, renovated and revitalized.

On April 23,  Liz Lerman encouraged us to look beyond the traditional boundaries that tend to be part of our everyday assumptions: “The borders are conventions, not traditions.” Gwydion Suilebhan challenged us to look at technology as a practice, rather than as a product, and for arts organizations to see themselves as platforms rather than as “castles on mountaintops.” Finally, Carmen Morgan served as the facilitator for a session on equity in the arts. We considered some tough questions around diversity in the arts and in our organizations.

If I could, I would share everything I learned and observed at this year’s conference. The cultural tour, speakers and protests all came together in my mind as an illustration of the role arts organizations and artists can play in the revitalization of communities. Bring the power of arts organizations to convene communities together with artists who can bring out the voices of communities, and you have the start of a powerful movement toward revitalization.

We often speak of reasons to support the arts. As practitioners, our call is to live out those reasons by looking outside the boundaries of the arts as simply self expression or as something pure. Instead, our call is to make connections that extend beyond the arts — to other industries, to communities, and to people. It is in that way that artists serve as a necessary but not sufficient ingredient to community revitalization.

TechsmARTs: On Google Hangout

Google HangoutFor our most recent TechsmARTs session we had a great discussion on using Google Hangout for audience engagement and artistic development. We also discussed many of the nuances of effective use of Hangout.

Google Hangout began as a feature of Google Plus and has now essentially become a pretty massive Google product of its own, with a list of features that continues to grow.

Following the discussion, I updated the presentation and included speaker notes based on the many questions and responses that popped up throughout.

Download the presentation with speaker notes here.

As with any piece of technology, the key to mastering the technology is to make use of it. But in the meantime, as a bonus, here’s a great guide on building a Google Hangout Audience.

TechsmARTs: On Going Mobile

This past Monday we hosted our latest TechsmARTs session. The topic: going mobile:

The jury is in: More audiences are browsing the web, checking email, and making transactions through their smart phones. Has your organization made the shift? What’s your mobile strategy?

For this month’s TechsmARTs we’ll discuss the questions to consider before jumping on the mobile bandwagon. Is it worth developing a mobile app, or is it better to just have a mobile-responsive website? What options are available to make your mobile presence accessible to your audiences?

Maris Smith, Director of Interactive Services at The Marketing Division, offered a ton of great information on this important topic. Among the takeaways:

  • Top three challenges to building a mobile presence: keeping the budget and timeline appropriate, finding the key decision-makers who can keep the project moving, and getting the right feedback from patrons to inform your efforts.
  • If your website is not mobile-friendly in any way today and you have no budget, a quick-and-dirty fix is to build a mobile-friendly page somewhere on your site that houses key information that mobile users might look for.
  • Be clear about your goals from the very start of your project. Otherwise you may either have a nearly useless mobile presence, or you may never be able to launch.
  • Take some time to figure out what your desktop users view on your website vs what your mobile users view. If you use Google Analytics, you can track exactly this type of behavior.

Many thanks to Maris for offering her time and expertise on this important topic! Remember to take a look today at the Broadway Across America web presence, and look at it again in a few weeks to see the changes.

Below, you can find an audio recording of the day’s session.

Google Analytics: What you need to know

It’s pretty much a given these days that if you’re an artist or an arts organization, you’re expected to have a web site. And so long as you have a web site, it’s good to know how many people are visiting. Many web hosts offer a basic tool for this type of measurement with their hosting plans, like Webalizer or Awstats.

But for a full, detailed analysis of website traffic, many people install Google Analytics and then wonder what to do with it.

On October 9, we welcomed Tomer Tishgarten and Asia Matos of Arke Systems to the FUSE Arts Center to speak on the subject of how artists can use Google Analytics. Tomer and Asia offered a wealth of practical knowledge on some of the many insights Google Analytics can offer.

Those who attended our previous TechsmARTs session with John Saddington may remember his big advice about publishing a blog: hit the publish button. Publish regularly. What you get out of that: more readership and more opportunities. But once you’re at the point of publishing and you have Google Analytics set up, what then? What wisdom can you gain?

Asia and Tomer’s presentation focused on ten things that artists need to know about Google Analytics. You may think of Analytics as a tool you can use to see how much traffic you are getting to your site, but there is much more to it than that. It’s a powerful tool that helps you understand how people use your site, which may not be how you think (or want) people to use your site…

… Or who is using your site. For example, you may begin a campaign to increase traffic to your site, but realize that the new traffic you generate all comes from other states. If your work is focused here in Atlanta, a positive result is not necessarily a good result.

You may get a fair amount of your traffic through social media sites. But how much do you get from each site, and how long does an average visit to your site last? Thanks to Analytics, we were able to find out that while we typically get more visitors through Facebook, the visitors who come to us through Twitter tend to stay longer.

In the end, Google Analytics is a great rabbit hole treasure trove of information related to the traffic that comes through your website. In addition to viewing Tomer and Asia’s presentation, you can also learn more through Google’s Analytics Academy and the Google Analytics Channel on YouTube.

Joe’s tip: Whatever you decide to do, always remember not to get overwhelmed by what you see, or by the possibilities of what Google Analytics can offer to you. Your first task would be to install Analytics on your site. If you use WordPress, you will likely have many options for installing — none of them are the “best” or the “wrong” option — but it’s always good to start simple. Focus on one thing at a time, experiment, and go to town learning new things about how the people who visit your website use it.

Press Release: C4 Atlanta Expands Capacity to Serve Local Artists

Deborah Sosower
Deborah Sosower at MOCA GA, photo courtesy of Karley Sullivan*

ATLANTA, GA, October 16, 2013 – Atlanta-based non-profit arts service organization, C4 Atlanta Inc, announces the appointment of Deborah Sosower as Program Manager to support and expand its professional development service offerings for artists. She is the first person to fill this role for the organization.

Deborah brings to the organization a wealth of experience as a professional artist and instructor. She received her undergraduate degree in Fine Arts from Bryn Mawr College in 2005, and her MFA from Pratt Institute in 2009. She was also recently selected as an Artist Facilitator for Southwest Airlines Art and Social Engagement Project at Emory University. Deborah was one of WonderRoot’s inaugural Walthall Fellows in 2012-13. Her work has exhibited nationally in North Carolina, Philadelphia, and New York. Locally, Deborah’s work has exhibited at MOCA GA, Whitespace Gallery, and the FUSE Arts Center.

“On behalf of the board and staff, we are thrilled to welcome Deborah to the C4 Atlanta team,” said Jessyca Holland, Executive Director of C4 Atlanta. “Deborah has a real passion for helping other artists realize their dreams and the ability to help the organization realize the vision for Atlanta artists to earn a living making art.”

Deborah’s involvement with C4 Atlanta began in January 2013, when she enrolled as a student in the Ignite program. She has since served as a volunteer at C4 Atlanta’s FUSE Arts Center and participated in the development of C4 Atlanta’s strategic plan. She also completed her training to become an Ignite facilitator and assisted in the development of Ignite Lite, a brief training session to promote the importance of business planning in the arts.

“I am immensely thankful to C4 Atlanta for this opportunity to contribute to its mission and reach through this appointment,” said Deborah Sosower. “I am excited to join the team and eager to learn and grow with this fantastic organization. I can’t wait to share the knowledge, tools and resources that C4 Atlanta provides to empower Atlanta artists like myself to be successful and make Atlanta a thriving community for working artists.”

The Program Manager position was made possible in part through C4 Atlanta’s receipt of a grant from the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation to support Ignite, a program established to promote professional arts practice in Atlanta. The grant is provided as part of the Tremaine Foundation’s Marketplace Empowerment for Artists program.

Press Release: Atlanta Artists to Receive Greater Access to Entrepreneurship Training

Today we’re excited to announce new grant funding from the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, through their Marketplace Empowerment for Artists program. This morning we sent out a press release to make the announcement:

ATLANTA, GA, October 15, 2013 – Atlanta-based non-profit arts service organization, C4 Atlanta Inc, announces the receipt of a two-year, $50,000 grant from the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation to support Ignite, a program to promote professional arts practice in Atlanta. The grant is provided as part of the Tremaine Foundation’s Marketplace Empowerment for Artists (MEA) program.

“This grant from the Tremaine Foundation is a significant affirmation of C4 Atlanta’s work and mission,” said Jessyca Holland, Executive Director of C4 Atlanta. “We are proud to now join an extraordinary group of universities and arts organizations that receive funding through the MEA program.”

Ignite is an eight-week training seminar that helps artists build sustainable businesses around their creative offerings. Funding from the Tremaine Foundation will help support C4 Atlanta cover the costs of curriculum development, training, facilitation, and marketing for Ignite.

C4 Atlanta will also begin offering, “Ignite Lite,” a brief training session to promote the importance of business planning in the arts. Colleges, Universities and local arts groups are encouraged to contact Deborah Sosower, Program Manager, at deborah@c4atlanta.org, to schedule a session.

About C4 Atlanta

C4 Atlanta Inc. is a non-profit arts service organization whose mission is to connect arts entrepreneurs to the people, skills and tools they need to build a successful artistic career in metro Atlanta. The organization was founded in July 2010 in response to a growing need for business services for Atlanta’s arts community. C4 Atlanta’s initial program offerings are geared toward creating a new foundation of sustainability for arts and culture in the Atlanta region.

About the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation

The Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation (EHTF) is a family foundation established in 1986 by Emily Hall Tremaine. Based in Connecticut, the Foundation seeks to promote innovative solutions to basic and enduring problems in the United States through grantmaking programs related to art, environment, and learning disabilities. In addition to annual grantmaking, the Foundation also hosts periodic convenings of non-profit organizations, government agencies and other stakeholders to facilitate collaboration among sectors to achieve common goals.

Train for E4, Belt out F4

Just for the Summer Singers
Just for the Summer Singers, just before a performance
August 2010

Some of you out there may know I sing with a chamber chorus, Just Voices. But during the summer we take a break, and the open-enrollment Just for the Summer Singers begins rehearsals, with a less challenging repertoire.

This upcoming concert will include the spiritual Too Late, Sinnuh. The song begins with a male soloist, singing “Too late, sinnuh!” with the notes: D4, D4, F4. (For your reference, in musical notation, Middle C is C4. Hmm… Nice coincidence!) For a bass like myself, these are very high notes.

Flashback: When I was a student at Georgia State, I wasn’t a music major, but I participated in the University Singers because I consider choral singing to be my creative outlet of choice. Back then I had not achieved my potential as a choral singer… not until a friend of mine in the chorus, Charles Hart, took me aside and helped me out. It just so happened at the time he was taking a vocal pedagogy class, and I was a very happy volunteer guinea pig for him.

Ever since I first began singing in high school I always had trouble once the music required me to sing notes above Middle C. C4 was okay, D4 was iffy, and E4 felt and sounded strained, at best. And then Charles came along and told me how to stand, how to prepare my voice, how to use my body to release a better sound. And before I knew it, I could belt out a fantastic E4.

Flash Foward: This past Tuesday’s rehearsal was time to audition for the solo. But remember I had previously trained to sing the E4. F4 is a half-step higher. That half-step makes a big difference once I’m up in that register. I raised my hand to audition anyway, not really sure what would come out. And what came out in my audition was nothing short of amazing. At least, it sure felt that way. I could feel myself glowing by the time I was done.

It turns out Too Late, Sinnuh has two solo parts, and I got the other solo part. But I still walked out of rehearsal that night feeling great for having stretched myself that extra half-step, for taking those lessons from years ago and applying them to stretch myself that much further.

When was the last time you stretched yourself a little further, whether artistically or in your business practice? You can train for that moment for years. But when the moment comes, that moment is a further stretch than you trained for or imagined. And then you come out of it, glowing.