• arts & culture
  • aboriginal
  • regional

With limited marketing dollars to spend, two Victorian arts organisations have learned to leverage the power of shareable content.

Marketing has new meaning in the digital media landscape, and content is king. As commercial brands are already well aware, one of the strongest ways to connect with audiences and consumers today is to create engaging, shareable content that does more than just communicate information about a product. Through the power of social media, content that is entertaining, inspiring, funny or affecting can take on a life of its own.

With support from the Marketing Innovation Fund, two Victorian arts organisations launched new strategies for audience engagement in 2016.  Neither Kaiela Arts in Shepparton nor Back to Back Theatre in Geelong were especially well-resourced to expand their marketing reach, but with seed funding, a couple of great ideas and the leverage of social media, they were able to share their brand story with many thousands of people online.

Channelling Scott Price

Scott Price has been a part of the Back to Back Theatre ensemble for almost ten years, one of a group of actors with intellectual disabilities that produces internationally acclaimed, award-winning theatre. Throughout his career, Scott has been asked why the company makes such provocative work, and if he actually understands the plays he helps devise and perform. The Back to Back Theatre content marketing campaign, The Scott Price Project, sought to tackle these questions.

Over the course of twelve months, Back to Back collaborated with Scott to film and edit a series of interviews with provocative personalities and artists to ask them why provocation is an important part of their work. In the mix were Jonathan Holloway (Artistic Director of the Melbourne Festival), Vallejo Gantner (Artistic Director of Performance Space 122 in New York) and theatre maker Nicola Gunn, amongst others. Through the conversations, Scott was able to draw out some of the themes and ideas that underpin Back to Back’s work, while drawing audiences into the mind of other creative personalities.

The videos were published on Youtube and shared on both Scott’s and Back to Back’s social media channels. Following the release of a funny and engaging teaser, the launch video featuring Vallejo Gantner had 4,200 views of Facebook, reaching twice the number of people that like or follow their page. Three of the films released as part of the Scot Price Project drew more than 6,200 full views, while the Facebook posts containing Price film content had an average of 124 engagements per post.

Back to Back Theatre experienced a boost in its marketing reach as a result of the project, with 192 new email addresses added to their subscriber database and a 10% increase in their Facebook likes. “The Price project has supported our goal to develop our audiences between shows,’ says Rebecca Kleindienst, Back to Back’s Marketing Manager It has also created more space for an outsider voice in the public realm. The success of Price has inspired the company to continue to dedicate real time and resources to individually-led, ensemble-based artistic marketing projects.”

As an added benefit, Scott has developed a range of media and presenting skills which could be an asset to future marketing campaigns. ‘I’ve been interested in digital media since I was about ten and through the Price project, I’ve expanded myself as an artist. The opportunity for me to interview provocative artists and other leaders in their chosen fields is a beautiful, wondrous thing,’ he says.

Rebranding with a smile

Established in 2006, Kaiela Arts (formerly Gallery Kaiela) is a focal point for Aboriginal artists from across Kaiela Dungala country, otherwise known as the Goulburn Murray region. A community owned and run studio gallery in Shepparton, Kaiela represents over sixty Koorie artists from the region, including artists from the Yorta Yorta, Gundijmara and Kamilaroi clans. It is a place that showcases Aboriginal art, providing commercial opportunities for local artists, but it is also a place that promotes ‘physical, spiritual and emotional wellbeing through art – for both the artists and the wider community’.

With support from the Marketing Innovation Fund, Kaiela devised a content marketing campaign that was designed to promote awareness and bring a bigger and more diverse audience to the gallery, and rebrand the facility as Kaiela Arts. The aim was to welcome people with a smile, using comedy to build a bridge between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal patrons.

Jason Timaru, a comedian, producer and proud Yorta Yorta man, was engaged by Kaiela to make a short film promoting the gallery, which would be shared via social media. Called ‘Kaiela Dungula Woka Bro’, the film featured Jason as the character ‘Coonie Moom’, an excitable man wearing a straw hat and name tag who takes viewers on a tour of the gallery. ‘G’day!’ he begins, ‘This is Coonie Moom here. I’m in regional Australia and mate, guess what? I’ve just discovered there’s aborigines here!’

The video produced by Jason and Kaiela was simple, but effective, gently skewering stereotypes about Aboriginal culture while showing real community members at work in the space. It introduced viewers to Kaiela’s art and artists with a video that, first and foremost, made people laugh. When posted to the Kaiela Arts Facebook page, the video very quickly went viral, racking up 11,000 views, representing more than 10 times the reach of Kaiela’s current Facebook audience.

In November 2016, Kaiela Arts extended the project, presenting a live community event called ‘Blackwiz’. Hosted by Jason Timaru at Rumbalara Football and Netball Club, Blackwiz was a community comedy and trivia night featuring local artists and identities, and general knowledge trivia about the local community.

‘The impact has been incredible,’ says Kaiela Arts director Angie Russi. ‘We received great press coverage in the local paper and ABC Radio, as well as launching our social media campaign. We drew a good-sized audience of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people (who) are still telling us how much they enjoyed the night and how much they learned. The new brand, Kaiela Arts, is well and truly launched!’

Read more about the Marketing Innovation Fund