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First let’s wish a Happy Birthday to JAM (Journal of Arts Marketing) which has just celebrated its 10th birthday! And is it still jamming at 10? I think so, with this excellent issue dedicated to Friends and Membership schemes in the Arts.

Very timely this, it arrived the day after I went to the excellent AMA “Best of Friends” workshop hosted by Liz Hill – if you get the chance, take the opportunity. In fact JAM has a nice extract from her book “The Complete Membership Handbook” (with Brian Whitehead) on page 6, just to get you started. Go through the checklist, if it’s right for you then read teh rest of the article, then buy the book then start your scheme! Couldn’t be easier.

Actually if you are thinking of starting a scheme, or already have one then a good read of this JAM is a must. Heather Maitland first poses the question of whteher you really should have a friends scheme dipping into lots of statistics (Did you know that The Friends of Norwich Theatre Royal Scheme had a return of 460%!) and drawing on articles and case studies to help you answer the question.

Of course not all schemes are effective so Sarah Gee’s article “Friends or foes” takes you through what to do if it all stops adding up. This could be making no financial return, the objectives of the Friends (if an external organsiation) might not be the same as yours, plus a number of other pitfalls.

Roger Tomlinson takes us back to the starting point, posing the question “what relationships should we seek?” in Fans not fiends. Are fans of an arts organisation analgous to football fans? Can we have fans? An interesting question and it changes the way we might look at the competition – fans don’t switch sides on a whim. And how does social media affect this?

In addition, there are a couple of excellent case studies, by Jennifer Faure Francis of the Royal Academy of Arts, Sarah Chambers of the National Theatre, and there is an extract of Nina Simon’s interview with Kristen Denner about the new scheme at the Whitney Musuem of American Art, to put it all into the context of real organisations.

Finally, get to know Sam Eaves, marketing manager of Birminham Royal Ballet in the “Just a minute” column.

As I always say, if you don’t get JAM – sign up today.