Tuesday Blink: Checking in with Urban Arts Productions

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UAP homepage featuring their new show, The Woman In Black
The current Urban Arts Productions homepage, which features their new show, The Woman in Black.

In March of 2011, I went to see an excellent theatre production while visiting relatives in Victoria, BC.

It was called Marie Antoinette: The Color of Flesh.

The company was Urban Arts Productions.

My reaction to the disproportionate audience size—quite small relative to the high quality of the play, acting and production—spawned a six-part series on theatre promotion in the age of social media.

Catching up? Here’s the back story:

I subscribed to their email newsletter over the course of writing the initial blog post.

And a few weeks ago, I clicked through it and noticed they’ve completely overhauled their communications channels.

This blink is about what’s changed.

Revamped Web Presence

Archived material on Urban Arts website
Here’s a production still from Marie Antoinette: The Colour of Flesh

Urban Arts has revamped their web presence from top to bottom.

Their design now includes:

  • A simplified foundation that loads more easily.
  • Clean, well-structured navigation bar.
  • Better links to Facebook and now Twitter.
  • Access to online tickets (it used to be done by email).
  • Archived information about past shows.
  • Clear link to the Maritime Museum of British Columbia, where many of their productions are staged.
  • Testimonials from key people in their network.

It’s a vast improvement.

If you want to compare, contrast what’s there now to the screenshots I took when I was writing about their web presence.

Joining Twitter

Urban Arts has joined Twitter. They weren’t on that platform when I first wrote about them.

Urban Arts Productions Twitter PageTheir handle, @urbanartsyyj, is clever since ‘#yyj’ is a well-used hashtag for their city. It also clearly distinguishes them from others with “urban arts” in their handles in a meaningful way.

In the year or so that they’ve been on, they’ve grown to over 200 followers, which is a solid result considering their tweet volume is moderate (e.g., less than 1,000 tweets in a year).

Now that Twitter accounts are common, building a committed following is not an overnight project.

I had a quick look at their list, which includes people in the entertainment and theatre industry, locals and a few journalists, among others.

As Scott Stratten is fond of observing, it’s better to have 200 people who are really committed to your message than 20,000 who take only a passing interest in what you’re up to.

Stronger Use of Facebook

Urban Arts on Facebook
Using the same image as the anchor for both their Facebook page and their website gives Urban Arts’ presences a connected feel despite vast differences in each platform.

Urban Arts continues to use Facebook and is doing so with greater proficiency.

I see strong design overlap between the two presences—the anchor images for their current production, The Woman in Black, play well off each other on their website and on their page.

They’ve added likes for other local tourist attractions and update their material with a variety of news and information.

More importantly, the Twitter and Facebook messages are different and customized for each platform.

Other Pages Urban Arts Productions Likes on Facebook
Some of the pages Urban Arts likes on Facebook, most of which have a theatre or local business connection.

I was going to write about them last week, but their site was down.

The news was clearly communicated across their social channels and was part of what convinced me that they had made a solid commitment to real-time, transparent communication with their audience.

Summing Up: Lessons for Bloggers

Of all the posts I’ve written, the Urban Arts case study series taught me the most.

Here are a few things I wish I’d figured out sooner:

  1. Blogging is closer to journalism than I had assumed, particularly if I choose to write, as I have, about areas that touch people’s professional lives. Choosing to write in a professional style makes this point even more important.
  2. I need to be accountable for what I write.
  3. People whose work interests me would probably appreciate a heads-up before I write about them. If they decline to respond, it’s their choice.

Super obvious, right?

Urban Arts Expanded Navigation Menu
I have nothing to say about their navigation menu, except that I like it. I’m a sucker for red, black and white.

Except it wasn’t.

When I started this blog, it felt like the previous blog I’d experimented with—something small that had about 10 readers, most of whom were my friends.

But it was clear even in the early days that The Analytic Eye would reach a larger audience than my first effort.

I lost out on the potential opportunity to interview both Urban Arts staff and Adrian Chamberlain, the journalist who covers theatre in Victoria (and who now follows them on Twitter), because I didn’t extend them the courtesy of asking for an interview.

Strange as it sounds, it didn’t occur to me that I should do that or that they might say yes.

And when I did extend that same courtesy to Vee Popat, the results got me published. Believe me when I say I’ve learned my lesson.

For the record, I sent Urban Arts an interview request this time. They opted not to reply, which is their choice.

Feedback from Urban Arts Productions via TwitterUpdate: Urban Arts Productions shared this post with their Twitter followers. I sent them a message to say thanks and was delighted to get this response.


I’m delighted that Urban Arts has upped their communications game. Their material deserved it.

I don’t know if anything I said helped to inform their evolution or not. I hope am glad it did.

I’m equally hopeful that the improvements have translated into other successes for them.

And you can bet I’ll be in their audience the next time travel brings me to Victoria, provided they’ve got a play running.