All posts by mgudrais

About mgudrais

Marisa Gudrais completed a BA in Music in 2007, and an MA in Economic Policy in 2009, both at Boston University. While currently working as an economist, Marisa dances with a local Latvian folk dance group, which has inspired her to pursue studies in Arts Management. Serving on the boards of cultural non-profits in her free time, Marisa has gained new strategic and event planning skills. After leaving GMU, she plans to manage song-and-dance festivals and develop programming for performing arts organizations. Eventually, she hopes to run her own festival management company or cultural center.


Square is a great tool for arts organizations that sell both tickets and merchandise. The tool set is seamlessly integrated with other applications to enable accounting services, inventory management, social analytics, and shipping fulfillment. Payments can easily be processed anywhere with the Square Register app and the Square credit card reader (for smartphones and tablets). The Square reader is free, credit card processing fees are just 2.75%, and there are no monthly fees for basic Square applications. An organization can set up a free online store through Square’s website, and sales can be compared against inventory on-the-go. The most basic Square functions can be set up in under an hour! Square can be utilized by arts organizations to sell branded merchandise, or even by independent artists, like the participants of Artists & Fleas pop-up craft fair, to sell works of art.

The advantage of Square for arts organizations is that it offers more features than other comparable mobile processing systems without monthly fees. One extremely useful feature for arts organizations is the Square Feedback tool. With this tool, customers can provide feedback directly to the organization, as opposed to on social media (publicly). For arts organizations frequently under fire by their customers, this feature may help to manage criticism.

Another useful feature for arts organizations is the option for a rewards/loyalty program- digital punchcards based on spending. The arts organization can cultivate long-term relationships with customers and track their rewards activities easily by email addresses.

Lastly, Square offers opportunities not only for arts organizations’ sales, but also for donations. Donors can send cash via the Square Cash app, or make a donation as a purchase in the organization’s online store.

This image shows the simple steps required to setup Square for payments, easily completed in an hour.
Square Dashboard setup. 24 April 2015. Online image (screenshot). Accessed 24 April 2015.


This image shows the layout of the dashboard on the Eventbrite Neon mobile app.
“Eventbrite Neon”. Accessed 16 April 2015.

Eventbrite is an online portal for promoting events and selling tickets. The affordability, accessibility, and integrative approach of Eventbrite all make it a worthwhile technological tool for a variety of arts organizations. The Eventbrite tool set is intended for expanding a marketplace of live experiences, not just events, suggesting an an arts-inspired business sensibility.

Eventbrite is a comparatively affordable ticketing option. Event hosts are charged 2.5% (2.0% for 501(c)(3) non-profits) of the ticket price plus 99 cents per ticket sold, but for a limited time there is no fee when selling through the Neon app. There is no fee for distributing tickets for free events, although credit card purchases have a 3% surcharge. The free event option is a great way for arts organizations to legitimize and publicize events that they are not able to charge admission for. A great example is the Art League in Alexandria, Virginia, which uses Eventbrite to advertise its free painting demonstrations. Public entities like the Seattle Office of Art & Culture can use Eventbrite to do the same, for informative networking sessions like ARTISTS UP.

Eventbrite’s best feature is its integrative approach to event planning. Events can be published to major social networks directly from the Eventbrite site. Eventbrite also offers a free mobile app called Neon that assists with ticket sales, check-in, and seating on the day of the event. A credit card gadget for a mobile device can also be purchased for a small fee. Such an integrated and user-friendly system is extremely helpful to arts organizations that may not have the resources to work with a more costly and sophisticated system.  Eventbrite gives organizations that are not event-centric the opportunity to still produce events on a professional level. The Art League is able to sell tickets to annual fundraisers like “Art on the Rocks”.


Attention Span

The attention span of the audience should be something the arts organization considers carefully when choosing content for either live programming or its website. Researchers have found evidence that the new generation of arts consumers learns and absorbs information differently.

Can we find a way to capture the attention of the modern audience… and hold it?