The creative industry is central to the health of New England's regional economy. But aspects of that industry operate inefficiently. The primary goal of the Online Cultural Marketplace is to strengthen the creative industry by linking performing artists in New England with the theaters, community centers, libraries, churches, schools, festivals, and coffee houses that hire them.
The Marketplace will be a transaction-oriented, web-based, online booking service that will allow artists to market their work and interact directly with a wider variety of presenters. Presenters will be able to use this comprehensive management tool to locate, schedule, promote, and track their artist bookings. The intended outcome is that the number of presenters that hire New England artists will increase.
The artists will post and maintain their portfolios directly to the Marketplace, including low-cost, high-quality audio and video samples of their work. Presenters will use the tool to locate appropriate artists, view work samples, negotiate and draw up contracts. Both artists and presenters will have access to information on funding sources and technical assistance, such as how to document their work or tips on writing contracts.
Using customer relationship management tools, the site will provide an easy-to-use interface that is tailored to each individual user. A third-party service provider will encode and host the audio and video clips. While these technologies are widely used commercially on sites like Amazon, non-profit organizations rarely use them, as they are complex and expensive.
To develop, test, and promote the Marketplace, NEFA and the six state arts agencies will partner with 20 artists and presenters who will provide input on system specifications, test the customized tools and interfaces, and be the first to post and access audio and video work samples on the site. Big Bad, Inc., a local technology company, will create the customized interfaces and design the database. Streaming Culture, a New York-based non-profit, will provide low-cost digitization and content management services for all audio and video work samples.
Following testing, the Marketplace will be open to the 930 artists currently included on the New England States Touring roster. Once a critical mass of artist portfolios are online, the site will be marketed aggressively to all artists and presenters across the region.