New ways of connecting in the world of arts and culture

The world of arts and culture is home to some of the most passionate communities around. The experiences we have in this world inevitably shape who we all are today. This is the power of magic and the impact of artistic and cultural brands.

If you’ve ever purchased a ticket for an artistic or cultural experience, chances are you did so through the Tessitura network. Tessitura is the leading ticketing and CRM platform for non-profit arts organizations. And in the era of Covid-19, few industries have been impacted more significantly than the arts and culture sector. The past two years have challenged age-old industry norms and forced a reimagining of what the future can (and must) bring for these communities to thrive.

I sat down with someone on the front lines of this industry transformation, Andrew Recinos, President and CEO of Tessitura, to get his perspective on building communities in a world full of new realities.

Damian Bazadona: You recently took on the role of CEO of Tessitura, taking over from its co-founder who held the top spot for 20 years. When an organization is going through dramatic change, what have you found most effective in keeping your community strong, connected, and moving forward?

Andrew Recinos: Our co-founder, Jack Rubin, has built a very successful member-owned technology company. Sometimes a new CEO is brought in to destroy everything, but that wasn’t what Tessitura needed when I took over. The company is in great shape. At the same time, we serve an industry that has been thrown into chaos by the pandemic, and we need to move quickly to meet this challenge.

As a leader, I tried to keep one eye on our strengths and the other on innovation as quickly as possible to meet the ever-changing needs of our industry. This is the heart of how I approached this leadership transition for our team and our members: we are the same Tessitura you know and trust, AND we are evolving in real time to support you.

As you prepared to become CEO, you embarked on a nine-month “listening tour” during which you interviewed more than 100 of the leaders of the more than 750 arts and cultural institutions supported by Tessitura. Why was this tour so important? And how essential was the simple (often not so simple) act of listening and being vulnerable in building and sustaining your own community?

On average, once a day, I talk to the manager of a cultural organization that is part of the Tessiture community. My agenda is always one question: “How are you?” This one question can lead in countless directions. “What do you hear in your community? “How’s your team doing?” “What keeps you up at night?” “How can Tessiture help?”

Sometimes the calls turn into very specific discussions about Tessitura features. Sometimes the calls turn into philosophical ruminations about the future of arts and culture. Sometimes it’s a free therapy session for one or both of us. I can’t imagine doing this job without this daily point of contact. It informs every decision I make, from technology direction to service offerings to our messaging.

Have you heard general themes of these calls?

Yes absolutely. I have been so impressed with the courage of arts and culture leaders at this time. Leaders I spoke with consistently stressed the importance of accepting the reality of their situation and being transparent with their teams. There was also a huge theme around supporting their teams when both life and work were having such great difficulty. This, of course, was particularly poignant as it was coupled with the economic reality of mass layoffs across the industry. For me, the most surprising idea – and I’ve heard it many, many times – is that this time has become a moment of deep introspection. The combination of the enforced pause and the existential nature of this crisis has led many in our industry to look inward and examine the “why” of their organization’s work.

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