Arts & Cultural Takeaways from bbcon 2019 | npENGAGE

Arts & Cultural Takeaways from bbcon 2019

By on Dec 9, 2019


It’s been nearly two months since bbcon 2019 in Nashville, and I’m still thinking about the live music, inspiring mainstage content, and incredible sessions delivered in the Arts & Cultural track. With 150+ attendees from the Arts & Cultural community in attendance, we had so many great opportunities for sharing best practices and rallying around big ideas in our space. Here are three takeaways I am bringing into 2020; whether you joined us in Nashville, or you’re considering attending bbcon 2020 in Seattle, I hope some of these ideas resonate.

  1. Connection is Everything

Colleen Dilenschneider of IMPACTS Research delivered our opening day keynote for Arts & Cultural, and I found myself thinking about the applicability of her themes throughout the rest of the conference. This idea of human connectivity is the driver behind your patrons’ connection with your organization and its mission. It’s also the reason so many of us have such positive associations with a specific cultural organization (or cultural institutions in general). One of the major call-outs from Colleen’s session was that Personal Facilitated Experiences (PFEs) are the most remarkable way to connect with your audience.

How can you operationalize the goodness of the PFE? When you’re thinking through new programs or initiatives, come up with additional ways to foster and facilitate one-on-one interaction. Educate your staff and volunteers on the magic of these engagements. Build in flex-time to seek out visitors and patrons to make these connections. We all have an opportunity to slow down a little and talk to the people who make our missions possible – I bet we will each reap the benefits of those connections in our own ways, too.

  1. Collaboration is the Next Evolution

There are many big issues facing cultural organizations today: the changing demographics of visitors and donors, the increased pressure on data-driven decision-making, and the opportunity for transformation promised by technology to name a few. Nik Honeysett of the Balboa Park Collaborative outlined some future-looking ideas and opportunities for organizations to band together to solve some of these complex problems. Rather than looking at each other as competitors, are there ways to work together to find solutions that challenge each entity similarly? Nik’s rallying cry that united we are stronger was inspiring.

I saw this notion of collaboration in action time and again at bbcon. From our Altru User Group session to the impromptu gatherings of folks sharing best practices or tips and tricks, it looks like the time is ripe for a lot more cooperation across all kinds of organizations and technology users.

  1. The Time for Transformation is Now

Whether you’re thinking about implementing digital membership cards, you’re re-vamping your entire fundraising strategy, or you’re dealing with  , there’s no better time than the present. bbcon 2019 featured so many examples of organizations diving in to change and adapting as they go along. I left Nashville thinking of one of my favorite quotes from Dale Carnegie (no relation to that Carnegie): “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit at home and think about it. Go out and get busy”.

I hope to see you at bbcon 2020 in Seattle, WA, and to hear all about how you’ve Connected, Collaborated, and Transformed your amazing organizations.


Piper Browne is the Director of Marketing for Blackbaud’s Arts and Cultural business, so she gets to spend her days working with Museums, Zoos, Performing Arts organizations, Aquariums, and other Cultural organizations. She has three children in whom she is instilling her love of cultural organizations. Piper has a B.A. in Film and Literature from American University in Washington, DC and an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin.

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