‘Transformation begins here’: Inaugural Columbus arts conference coming next week

A new arts conference is coming to Columbus thanks to the partnership between the Springer Opera House, Columbus State University, VisitColumbusGA and other local businesses and organizations.

The Springer Opera House will host the inaugural arts conference “Audience Building Summit” from Oct. 17 until Oct. 19. Over the three days, the theater will welcome more than 100 people from seven states, including some from as far as Flint, Michigan.

“It’s all about audiences,” Paul Pierce, producing artistic director for the Springer Opera House, said at a press conference Wednesday. “Our audience has never been bigger, younger or more diverse than it is today.”

Attendees will learn best practices for keeping, tracking and maintaining their audiences. Training will come from the Springer, Colorado Springs marketing firm TRG Arts and Terri Theisen of Theisen Consulting in Atlanta.

The idea behind the conference came after staff from the Springer trained with TRG Arts, which Pierce calls the “gold standard in best practices for engaging audiences,” over the past four years.

While the conference is primarily focused on the arts, Pierce said the principles that attendees will learn can be applied to any discipline.

Since applying the lessons from TRG Arts, Pierce said the Springer has been able to increase both its audience and its donor base by 18%. These changes are something that Pierce hopes to see happen in other arts programs as well.

This conference is only the beginning, according to Pierce.

“We’re excited to establish Columbus as ground zero for this new discipline in the American arts. Transformation begins here,” Pierce said.

Local partners in the conference also include The Columbus Museum, The RiverCenter and the National Infantry Museum.

The Audience Building Summit was created by the Georgia Repertory Theatre, which is the partnership between the CSU Department of Theatre and the opera house.

Tandra Smith is the Ledger-Enquirer’s newest reporter. A Georgia Southern University graduate, she’s covered everything from protests to hurricanes and more. Here in Columbus and the Chattahoochee Valley, she will focus on breaking and trending news.