Monthly Archives: March 2014

How to Craft an Inspiring Artistic Vision in 3 Steps.

In a dark, recessed corner of imagination, few artists dare speak of but frequently venture, sits their vision of grandeur.  Of their stand.  Of their mission.

Their voice, their actions, and their work, standing loudly for what they believe in.

Their seeking of truth.

This, is their artistic vision.

Similarly, every arts organisation has an artistic vision, but why are so few able to craft it eloquently into words?  Why do even fewer not have one at all?

A clear and inspiring artistic vision is critical to any arts organisation as it sets a clear direction for the company to pursue, and to clarify what it stands for.

Without a concise & clear artistic vision, arts organisation will find themselves prone to drifting along without purpose or reason.  When challenges, threats and barriers appear, the organisation, its leadership, and the company will be thrown around like a raft in a storm.

Here I will explain what it is that you need in order to craft an inspiring artistic vision.  What are the tips and the tricks to bear in mind when putting it together, and why your arts organisation needs to have one.

1. Keep it Short

Typically, the length of a vision explains in one or two sentences exactly what the company or artist does, stands for, and hopes to achieve.  Any more, and you haven’t made your statement concise enough.

A short and concise vision from Punchdrunk details clearly what they do and what they intend to do.

“Punchdrunk works with producing and commissioning partners to create the unforgettable theatrical experiences of the future.”

A good artistic vision should not be too long, it should be short, punchy, and concise.

2. Answer These 4 Questions:

  1. What do we do?
  2. How do we do it?
  3. Why do we do it?
  4. Who do we do it for?

What do we do?

The first part of any vision should outline what it is that your organisation actually does.

It’s important to note the difference between ‘what’ an arts organisation does, and ‘how’ it does it.

‘What’ you do refers to the end result or impression that an audience member takes with them after interacting with your art.

Another way of thinking about it is that by outlining the benefits and end result that your art will create in the audience; you are describing what you are doing.

How do we do it?

‘How’ an arts organisation presents it’s work refers to the artistic discipline being practiced.

What are the principal art form(s) and discipline(s) that your organisation facilitates or provides.

Why do we do it?

While many artistic visions explain what it is they do, and how they do it,  in order to demonstrate differentiation it’s imperative for arts organisations to also focus on why they exist.

Describing what you do isn’t going to inspire anyone, but describing why you do it will.

Many arts organisations aim to present similar disciplines whether it be theatres, or galleries, however by focusing on ‘why’ they exist they will provide differentiation from other similar art organisations.

Who do we do it for?

Many arts organisations are visited by a wider audience demographic than other businesses not in the arts and include the ‘general public’, as their target market.  However, as an arts organisation, if you are able to narrow your niche down further, it can provide additional focus for your vision.

For example, Marian Street Theatre for Young People, include in their vision that

“The aim of MSTYP is to promote an appreciation and love of theatre to young people of all ages through classes, direct involvement in theatre practice and through watching good theatre.”

By detailing and breaking down their target market, it provides a clearer direction for all in the management of the theatre company about the purpose of the theatre, what kind of productions it should be producing, and who they should be targeting as part of the theatre, and as their audience

Think Those 4 Questions Can’t Be Answered Together?

The mission statement of the Metropolitan Museum of Art has a very concise and simple statement detailing in their vision ‘what’, ‘how’, ‘why’ and to ‘who’ they complete their mission.

In this example we have highlighted in red where the Met explains WHAT it does, in blue to show HOW it is done, in green WHY it does it, and in orange WHO it does it for.

To collect, preserve, study, exhibit, and stimulate appreciation for and advance knowledge of works of art that collectively represent the broadest spectrum of human achievement at the highest level of quality, all in the service of the public and in accordance with the highest professional standards.”

With the Met’s artistic vision, their management, staff, and their audience understand what they are trying to achieve, and so can purposefully drive forward.

They want to stimulate appreciation and knowledge of works of art to the public by collecting, preserving, studying and exhibiting these pieces, because they represent the broadest spectrum of human achievement at the highest level of quality.

3. Include Your Grand Vision

While many arts organisations have small plans and objectives, without a grand, ambitious vision there will be limits to the success of the organisation.

By crafting a grand vision of where the organisation should stand in the future, you are setting a goal for the company as well as touching on values that will be central to its operations.

Soho Theatre in London, while detailing quite a long and exhaustive vision (mission) on it’s website, does include a grand vision of:

“Want[ing] to be London’s most exciting hive of collaboration for live and digital genres, mixing and pushing performance in a way that delights audiences.”

Your grand vision should scope the ambition and future of the organisation, where it wants to be, and what it wants to be held accountable to

A Final Example…

Sydney Theatre Company (STC), a leading Australian arts organisation has the following artistic vision, and while extensive and long, contains all the necessary ingredients of a great artistic vision.  Within this I have highlighted the contrasting elements of what we do, how we do it, why we do it, who we do it for and long term goals separately in different colours.

“Our vision ‘Theatre without borders’ is put into action every day as we perform in Sydney, around the country and around the world; as we partner with other organisations and other art form practitioners to explore the edges of theatre practice; and as we continue to inspire theatre appreciation and participation not only in theatres but schools, community halls – wherever people get together.

Beyond its creative ambitions as an artistic entity, the Company is also mindful of its place as a leading Australian arts organisation. Our position and scale challenge us to promote the place of art in Australian society through advocacy and the activation of our networks. We provide experiences to audiences, but we also want to help build ongoing artistic capacity amongst the individuals and communities with which we interact. We play a part in making a creative, forward-thinking and sociable future by engaging with young people, students and teachers. And we also celebrate and explore the traditional role of theatre as a place for the discussion of the great ideas of the day.”

Should STC condense this artistic vision they could provide a clearer and more concise vision, which would still cover all the primary elements of their theatre and outline their differentiation from other theatre companies.

We perform to explore the edges of theatre to inspire theatre appreciation and participation, in making a creative, forward-thinking and sociable future, and build ongoing artistic capacity amongst the individuals and communities with which we interact.”

Start Crafting…

An artistic vision that the company can unite behind should take a while to formulate and include multiple revisions and amendments before settling on a final statement.

An artistic vision should also be open to change, and while it looks ahead to set a tone and barometer on where the company will be, it should be at every now and again to ensure that the organisation is on the right track.

In order to craft an artistic vision that inspires, and provides a succinct overview of your organisation, be sure to follow these simple steps and answer these questions:

  1. Keep it SHORT.
  2. WHAT do you do?
  3. HOW do you do it?
  4. WHO do you do it for?
  5. WHY do you do it?
  6. Include your LONG TERM goals.

Still don’t think you need an artistic vision?  Remember: If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything.

7 Things Skiing Teaches Us About Marketing

Sitting on a chairlift in the middle of the Canadian Alps staring down across my skis to snow covered tree landscapes beneath me, my mind began running through many of the hints and tips I was trying to focus on to improve my skiing.  I quickly came to realise there are quite a number of similarities we can draw between how you approach skiing and how they relate to marketing.

In fact, more than similarities, there is much that skiing can teach us about marketing, and the way that we as marketers go about our business.

Just as skiing isn’t about about getting suited and booted and hitting the hardest runs your first day on the slopes.  Marketing isn’t about jumping right in there and hoping for the best.  You need to build your skills, develop over time, plan, and then execute

Got your lift pass?  Ski boots strapped?  Are you ready to improve your marketing next time you ski down a mountain?  Here are 7 things that skiing can teach us about marketing.

1. Look Ahead

When you find yourself screaming down a hill at a pace that you probably shouldn’t be, it’s easy to focus on the metre or two in front of you and react to the terrain rather than plan where you’re going to go.

If you are trying to keep up with the kids and find yourself in a terrain park, see a jump ahead of you and think about hitting that sweet lip with a grab of your skis as you twirl in a 360-degree, you could assume that the landing is smooth sailing or fairly straight forward.


Plan your turns.  Scope out your jumps.

Only by looking ahead and planning, will you act proactively rather than reactively.

In skiing, you should be looking 3-4 turns ahead, planning the line you are going to take down the hill.  In marketing, you should have a plan about how the campaign will unfold, what elements are needed, and when.

2. Know Your Product

How tight are your shoes?  Are your skis for carving, or are they suited to powder.  What setting are your bindings on?

Before hitting the slopes it’s imperative to understand a number of questions about your skis, shoes, bindings, or any other products you may be using.

One of the earliest teachings about marketing is around knowing your ‘product’, and the questions around it.  Understand the difference around features and benefits, and then identify how you communicate these.

3. It’s Not All About Speed

As I’ve grown older, I’ve become less concerned about the G-force I’m producing, and more aware of the technique I’m using to reach the bottom.

Speed isn’t everything.

While the speed with which you can market your campaign is certainly impressive, and you can hang your hat on how quickly your campaign got to market, if it isn’t thought out properly from a strategic viewpoint it could become a waste of resources.

By improving ‘technique’ – your marketing strategy – you will reap greater and more efficient outcomes.

Understand your target markets, the demographics of your audience, the media they consume, and direct your marketing in a focused manner.

4. Understand The Terrain

Standing at the top of unknown, snowy slopes, about to descend into a gaping chasm of bumps, snow and trees, I spend a good while looking over the terrain and identifying any dangers that may present themselves.

I’ll know that if it’s heavy with fog I need to go slower, and if it’s icy under foot, that controlling my skis will be important.  I’ve probably spoken to friends who have completed this run, about the difficulties in this terrain and what they faced.

Every terrain is different, and every market is challenging.

You need to identify the market you’re playing in.  Understand internal and external threats to your campaign.  What can you and can you not control?

A simple SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis is a great way of looking at the market you compete in ‘from the top of the run’, and understanding the challenges you face and what you need to do to overcome them.


5. Obstacles Will Always Appear

Any skier worth their weight in gold will tell you they have had any number of incidents involving unexpected obstacles.

For some unknown reason, trees can pop up from nowhere.  A cliff face will suddenly emerge before you.  These things weren’t there a second ago, they just suddenly appeared.

Unfortunately, certain obstacles like trees and rocks don’t move.

There’s only so much planning and understanding of the terrain you can do, until you have to react to unexpected circumstances.

Be flexible.  Don’t be too stuck in certain ways to change if some things don’t work, or if something unexpected pops up.

Prepare contingency plans.  Through your SWOT analysis you should be able to identify internal and external threats of things that may appear, and plan to overcome these.

6. Face Forward

If you’ve recently been watching the Winter Olympics in Sochi, you’ll have seen any number of skiers hurtling towards the bottom of a hill with their legs pumping like car pistons, up and down, left and right.

World-class skiers on a bumps course will cover 4 x moguls in 1 x second.

Throughout this however, as knees, legs, ankles and feet all switch direction under the upper body – the chest and head remain the same.

Facing one direction.  Downhill.

Your marketing campaign will have various elements to it, using various media, and various messaging.  It’s important that you have a number of different channels of communication working their own niche the best they can, but they should all serve a singular goal.

Don’t get caught up steering left, or veering right.

Keep the head and the heart of your marketing focused on the outcome.

7. Apres-Skiing

The most enjoyable part of any days skiing, is either sitting back in a hot tub with your drink of choice, as the snow falls and the hot jets pound your sore body, or regaling friends and family with tales of your extraordinary feats.

Sit back and savour success.

Take the time to look over accomplishments, bask in the glory, and embellish every story.  However – always think about what can be done even better next time.

Ski Better.  Market Better.

Whether you’re a seasoned marketer, or just beginning, there are always skills to improve, tips to acknowledge, and snow to ski .

There are core principles that any marketer needs to execute, the key foundations that will form the basis of your work.

What skills, techniques, and tips from skiing do you have that relates to marketing?

Share in the comments below!


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