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January 2021

Marketing for Online Performances, Festivals, Workshops, and Panels



Today I wanted to share a few marketing and outreach ideas on my mind right now. Some ideas might feel an ounce obvious, but hopefully reading and reflecting on this list as a whole will spark new ideas and actions as you plan for your upcoming event, whether it is a dance performance, online film festival, or panel discussion.


The past year has necessitated and challenged many artists, teachers, and organizations to consider pivoting to online presentations and projects. For many, this is the first time offering online programming. Truth is, the online format can be a marketing and outreach blessing. Your reach and impact could be beautifully expanding in ways you have not considered in years past.



Most of our past marketing efforts for shows and events was hyper local. Who can make it to the event? Who lives within an hour? While marketing to your loyal base is still very important right now, sketch out what it would mean to expand the engagement and audience to people in your state. And, how would you reach them through social media, asking colleagues to post information, and such?

Additionally, what efforts will reach a national audience for your event?

Consider drawing concentric circles on a large paper and noting who are your local, state, and national potential audience members.



If you are running a performance, festival, workshop, or talk, can it only be experienced in real time? Will it be live, and then people could access it for a limited time via recording? Or is it recorded and available for an extended amount of time? Tease out this key detail.


Family members

Online activities are an incredible way to invite and engage family members and in-laws who might be new to your work! This is one of the most beautiful gifts of the online platforms.


Alumni networks

Events online are a perfect opportunity to engage with your alma mater, and also the alma maters of your collaborators. This can be a high school, college program, or graduate program. It's a great moment to rekindle connections.


College courses

I cannot express this enough! There is so much potential to reach out to college professors, to use your performance, exhibit, or talk as a component of a college course. Consider a list of 5 professors to reach out to, whether locally, regionally, or nationally.


Sliding scale fees/NOTAFLOF

Understanding the financial reality of this moment, are you able to offer your event sliding scale for maximum access? Consider your budgetary goals.


High touch/personal touch

If you have the time and bandwidth, select 12-20 people you will personally reach out to about your event. The extra effort cuts through the noise of social media and a cluttered email inbox. Consider texting a colleague, sending a personalized Facebook message, or picking up the phone.


Enlisting your collaborators

Related to all of the ideas above, you might consider asking your artistic team (for example, the 4 dancers in your show) if they would consider helping with some marketing and outreach work during the coming weeks. This will require clarity about hours involved, plus a stipend or hourly rate for the work. This is not free labor! But, this is such a great way to maximize the connections for your particular project.


After reading over this list of marketing and outreach ideas, it is time to articulate your GOALS.

  • How many viewers/participants do you want for the event?
  • How many viewers over the course of the project (considering the link might be accessible for a few weeks or months)?
  • What is your income goal?


Best wishes with your new project!