Boston , MA

Contact Name
Kelly Brilliant
Project Dates
February, 1 2014 through October 30, 2014
Tags
Business Planning, Design, Event, Marketing, Technology
Now going into its 14 year, the Fenway Alliance has developed, marketed and hosted Opening Our Doors in October--the largest day of free cultural experiences in Greater Boston with 14,00 participants attending over 65 cultural activities taking place in 17 indoor and outdoor venues throughout the Fenway, building upon the significant cultural resources of our 22 institutions, and now 20 community partners. This day time family friendly event is now similar to Boston's First Night in its scope and mission. Given the sheer number of activities taking place on the day, this year, we decided it would be beneficial if people could have access to a web based and smartphone festival app they could view and download to plan their day. We engaged a fellow non profit arts org to help--Art Morpheus.
Project Goals
What were the specific goals of this creative economy project? Describe the community development challenge or opportunity that your project was designed to address:
The community challenge and goals were threefold: 1) to enable this wonderful day of free cultural activities-Opening Our Doors--to be better known by a wider audience. Due to our limited marketing budget, Opening Our Doors is not known by as many people as we would like. 2) To engage a younger, more "mobile"--in all senses of that word--demographic. Our event features many activities for family and children but we also have cultural activities that are geared to adolescents, and plenty for young adults and young professionals. We wanted to meet and engage these demographics where they are at. 3) Finally, we just wanted to make it easier for our repeat participants and all others to navigate the event and plan their day.
If the goals change over time, please describe how:
Not really though we did begin to recognize the App's extended value in achieving other goals, such as more promotion and marketing of our 22 member institutions and our 20 participating local organizations. We realized the App was such a good general marketing tool that we are in the process of working with Art Morpheus' New Art Love to create a Fenway Cultural District App that would provide information on programming that goes on throughout the year in our member institutions and our community partner organizations.
Who was involved in this project and what did they do? (be sure to include the partners from outside of the creative sector and how local voices were included):
Project Partners: Lead was Art Morpheus, specifically their Social Enterprise Initiative New Art Love was the developer of the App. All of the members of our Fenway Cultural District Committee were participating partners--we have 42 organizations represented that represents a collaboration of Fenway Alliance member institutions such as the MFA, BSO, Gardner, Berklee, etc, and local community organizations that participate in Opening Our Doors--Mission Hill Youth Collaborative, Boston Children's Chorus, Sidewalk Sam, etc. Their role was to get us information about the specifics of their activity for Opening Our Doors so it could be in the App. They were also tasked with promoting it to their wider constituencies.
How does this project relate to a larger community development strategy?
It aligns with one of our major Fenway Cultural District community development strategy to enhance the identity, marketing and branding of the entire District.
What projects or places, if any, inspired your approach to this creative economy project?
Several other Cultural Districts have developed an App or are developing one, but really, we just saw a need for our festival to have one!
Project Specifics
Please list the steps taken to implement the project:
We talked to Liora Beer and her team at Art Morpheus/New Art Love in early Spring of 2014. We formally met in June of 2014, after several more meetings and phone conversations that conceptualized the project, we came up with a time line of project activities, and then had Liora Beer and her developer Casey Curry present the idea to our large Fenway Cultural District Committee that meets monthly.. From that meeting their team developed an online form for our event activity participants to complete. Next, event forms were submitted to New Art Love, the model was developed and tested, before being rolled out to the public in early September. We marketed the App. After the event, we collected analytics on its use and other evaluation analysis, and had the development team present to our Fenway Alliance Board of Directors.
If the project steps changed over time, please describe how:
We realized that the original online form needed refinement which the development team accomplished.
Obstacles
What were your major obstacles for the completion of the project?
One major obstacle was that the initial online form had a few bugs as any new tool would. The New Art Love team promptly corrected these. We had some trouble getting over 65 entities to turn their form information in on time, and for the first year, Fenway Alliance staff had to "touch" the application process a lot more than we would have liked to, but we see this as not being the case in coming years now that people are used to the form and it is "bug-free"! It is also just a very useful tool in collecting information for our schedule on our web site and in the print program booklet we produce. It is one-stop gathering for us in a super organized way!
Who or what was instrumental in overcoming these obstacles?
The Development Team at ArtMorpheus/New Art Love Liora Beer and Casey were both terrific in correcting any technical problems and responding to our constituency directly at times. Fenway Alliance Assistant Director Mina Kim reached out personally to participants to gather information. I think everyone saw the value in this and wanted it to succeed.
What top three suggestions would you give to others attempting a similar project?
1). Give yourself plenty of lead time to plan, generate categories and get buy in from your constituents/participants--a year is a good amount of time I think
2) Conduct in person presentation to potential app contributors so they understand the value and can see the benefits of it rather than just having a form come across their email as their first point of connection.
3) Really shop around for a good App developer team that understands the unique assets and issues of arts non profits and working w large groups of volunteers.
Project Impact
How has this project strategically connected arts and cultural activities to social, economic, and cultural issues in your community? What is different in your community as a result of this project?
I think a lot more people know that the event exist and now know that the Fenway Alliance and Fenway Cultural District exists, and that the District is a hip, welcoming place to visit with a myriad of cultural experiences.

Also, people can learn easily through this App about each of our 22 formal Fenway Alliance instiutional members and our 20 community partners. This type of marketing and branding exposure and identity-building for an area that depends economically on tourists and residential visitors translates to real dollars.

We also intend it to lead to greater access to arts our neighborhood in general.
Why do you consider the project successful, as related to your project goals above?
The three goals were met, including greater awareness of the event and our area, and people being able to better plan their day.

We need to do more research to understand if more "20-Somethings" were reached vis a vis the App.
How did you measure this success or progress?
New Art Love was able to provide us with numerous analytics generated directly from the App, including how man users, how many visits, number of pages visited, how long visitors rested on each page, etc. Will happily discuss in more detail at workshop. These applications as we know provide easy access to important tools for assessment, analytics and evaluative information.
Please describe any unexpected impacts:
We realized the App not only achieved our three goals, but it also brought a "buzz" to our event and our neighborhood as well as highlighted our individual institutions and Opening Our Doors participants. It had a much bigger branding reach then we initially assumed it might. It definitely helped us brand the Fenway Cultural District, and got us to be perceived as a social technology-savvy place.