Times are a changin’
According to author Charles Eisenstein, we’re entering a time when ‘the normal is coming unhinged’, in which everything that had seemed so real, so true, so permanent has come into doubt.
When people are fearful they look for safe havens and tend to shift away from art and culture. It’s survival first, art later. And if history is anything to go by, it’s the musicals and non-threatening art forms that flourish. Look at the impact of La La Land, Vivid in Sydney and James Turrell exhibitions in New York that had people lining up around the block to get in.
Competition is coming from places we least expect and it’s not just other arts and cultural institutions. Consider the air freshener company Glade®—whose products normally sits in suburban shopping centre aisles— who recently curated an arty olfactory experience and installation rivalling that of Yayoi Kusama and James Turrell or of Bunnings who offer families a cheap day out, complete with a sausage sandwich.
More now than ever, social and cultural organisations need to be able to articulate their brand offer simply and cleverly or be left behind. A brand—the guts of an organisation—should be both intentional and strategic, and never an accident. It’s more than a marketing campaign or a logo. It is a point of view, a relationship between the people in an organisation and a dialogue with your audience. It is a promise, a perception, and a personality.
It is time for social and cultural brands to take a stand and choose the type of future they want to create. In a world dominated by distrust, disconnection and disenfranchisement, we believe it begins with the creative leadership, with those who understand the zeitgeist and spirit of the brand.
Education is intrinsically linked to future audience development, building tribes and fans early through brand engagement. Education answers audience needs, even before people even think they have a need.
ACMI and Carriageworks successful brand loyalty has relied on this. They are cultural leaders focussing on core values and promoting this in their unique point of view. At Boccalatte we believe a strong brand identity and website will only strengthen this point of view.
Art and culture should cleave and fill, innovate and transgress, to be an anti hero, but art critic Ben Davis warns in his essay on Trump:
‘It will not be enough to languish in mythological beliefs about art’s value as a humanistic salve, or even to fly the flag for “political art” as a genre. We have to debate strategy. Otherwise, we will delude ourselves with endless anti-Trump symbolic theater, applauding our own virtues and confirming our own righteousness within our prescribed sphere, but not advancing one step in the battle of ideas.’
Your brand and website must reflect this. It should be a place to advancing the battle of ideas rather than navel gazing and self reflection. Of course, companies need to balance accountability for risk by ensuring the organisation continues to flourish.
We believe the role as creative leaders is to provide both a hero and anti hero, but provide clear accountability for uncertainty.