I’ve heard it said that in deep space, no one can hear you scream.

In cyberspace everyone can hear you scream… but do they care?

Last week – or a couple of Mondays ago I attended a very informative SAMAG Seminar called SOCIAL MEDIA AND THE ARTS… (For those keen to find out what SAMAG is click here.… )

It’s a fact that the theatre community relies on Facebook and Twitter and other social media to market their shows. So it’s of little surprise and with great delight that the Australia Council have tapped into this contemporary world and conducted some research into the effectiveness of Social Media in the promotion of the Arts. And their study/website can be found here.

It’s true that I am an avid/voracious facebook user/consumer. I use it as a means of updating people on me/my thoughts, as a means of networking, advertising, promoting, provoking, spruiking and distributing information. I like it because it is visual – and becomes a hub in which I can generate discussion/rants or even share something funny, or soulful or artistically gratifying. (Yes – there are Phil Collins film clips distributed amongst my Facebook friends).

It’s also handy as a means of feeling connected. As a freelance “working from home” artist – it can be very reassuring to witness that at 2am in the middle of some writing , there is another artistic obsessive online… not as a means of distraction – no need to even chat or acknowledge – but seeing friends online and working can be instantaneously reassuring and inspiring.

I am not surprisingly, friends on Facebook with the BIENNALE of SYDNEY… and last week they opened up and asked Via facebook –

BOS:”so, it’s social media day today huh? Great time to get some feedback from the digital universe … Got any feedback for us? What do you think we’ve been doing well and what do you think we could do more of?”

AUGUSTA: Isn’t everyday social media day? After all the digital universe doesn’t sleep, or obey a calendar…

(Three people liked this)

(And there were some posts from other folk. And I continued…)

AUGUSTA: BoS Facebook could be a great place for discussion around art in Australia, infact Lynda Kelly from the OZ museum said at the SAMAG panel at OZCO on Monday said “blog is the meat, twitter is the advertising and facebook is the conversation” – I’d love the Biennale to host some conversations with their FB buddies.

(Two people liked this)

AUGUSTA: ‎(So I guess I’m saying… MORE FB updates please on what’s new, what’s exciting and what’s controversial!… am I being too demanding/cheeky, BoS?)

(two people liked this)

Ten years ago, that kind of feedback/interaction between a punter (me) and the organisation (BoS) would have been very minimal. Now it is fast and immediate. There is the ability for arts organisations and artists to have conversations online. Which is great. It’s also tricky to manage all those relationships – to manage media and not let it manage you.

It seems everyday I have friedns changing their FB profile pictures to the flyer for their show (infact its what I encourge my co-creators to do when we are working on a show – for Stories From the 428 it gave the project a potential visibility of 20,000 people)… plus was great in creating a community feel on a 100 person project. In addition to this, I am in the extremely fortunate position of being invited to lots of shows, and on a daily basis 15-20 event invitations appear. Which can be a little overwhelming.. so what can help this?

The answer is very simple, yet very time consuming –

Personal Emails or FB Messages. Direct personal contact – and then follow up. It takes time, but it is worth it. And also I think making sure people talk about your show. (previews can be great – paper them when and how you can)

And then the responsibility falls on the audience to promote your work. In fact, I believe blowing your own trumpet is not as effective as letting someone else blow it for you. I watch Facebook – I watch as shows open – I watch who is saying what about which shows – there are some I trust more than others – but I am watching. It’s online word of mouth and it is powerful and compelling. Companies and artists who have figured out how to harness the collective imagination of FB do this really well – Kate Revz is onto it, so too is the Griffin Theatre Company.

but also, let’s remember that with power to crowd source audiences at our facebooking fingertips, we also must be mindful of being the boy that cried wolf – if you love it, say so… if you didn’t you should also say so. You should never pretend to like something. Art is not a charity. Art is to be debated and deconstructed and celebrated and damned and opposed and elevated. The Australian Arts industry should be robust enough to withstand grand criticism and personal response…

Facebook is a powerful tool – don’t abuse it. Don’t abuse each other.

Back brilliance.