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James Powell
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Manage my venue effectively

Restructuring ArtifaxEvent: An Interview with Staff from California Center for the Arts Escondido


At our latest ArtifaxEvent North American User Group we interviewed Julianna Crespo, Director of Performing Arts and Laura McMullin, Studio Booking Coordinator from the California Center for the Arts Escondidoin (you guessed it) Escondido, California!

With over a decade of history using Artifax, California Center for the Arts (CCAE) is in the midst of a strategic overhaul. Specifically, they are looking to improve methods of communication, as well as overall efficiency for the organization.

During the interview, we heard how, despite their long time usage and veteran client status, they realized they were not utilizing the software to the fullest extent of its capabilities and how they are moving towards tapping into areas of Artifax they had not taken advantage of before. 

Can you tell us about the California Center for the Arts Escondido and your roles at the organization?

(Julianna Crespo) The Center has two main performance spaces, a 1500 seat theater and a 400 seat theater, a number of studio spaces, an outdoor performance space that holds 500 people, a lawn that is also programmed for community events and outdoor festivals and that can hold anywhere from 2,000 to 10,000 people. In addition we have a museum, a visual art museum, a conference center, a full-time executive chef, and an education department who works with the local school district, then of course our administration and marketing offices.

(Laura McMullin) In addition to being the Artifax Administrator for the organization, I am also the Studio Booking Coordinator and was previously one of the Theater Sales Coordinators. Having a background in different operations at the venue is great for Artifax purposes as it helps you understand the processes from all angles. Both Studios and Theaters require a great deal of attention from my new role as Artifax Administrator.

(JC) I'm the Director of Performing Arts - I oversee the department which is specifically in charge of the theater performance spaces and studios.

We are working on streamlining our processes with our theater department and figuring out how much information can go into Artifax. We are slowly learning that a lot of information CAN go into Artifax so we are trying to go department by department now to see what we can standardize in Artifax and what will need a little bit more creative thinking on how to input it into the system.

How has the use of Artifax expanded over the past decade?

(JC) In the beginning, we were just using Artifax as a calendar for the two indoor theaters and the conference center, that was it. Other spaces (including the studio) were managed in a giant Word document and that was painful. Migrating to Version 4 was a huge catalyst for us to reconsider what we were using it for.

What made you start your review of usage?

(JC) I went to the Artifax Summit in Dallas and learned about what other organizations are getting out of ArtifaxEvent.  This sparked an internal conversation regarding our basic use of the system.  We discussed options with Anne and James from JCA and decided that the best way forward was for us to migrate to version 4 and use that process to make some changes.

(JP) We started off this project by looking at the fact that you were putting quite a lot of information into Artifax but not really getting much back out. We decided to kick off with the  "Campus Signage" report, can you explain what that is?

(JC) Since our campus is so large, one of the only ways that we have of really notifying patrons of where and when events are happening is to create daily campus signage.  Previously this meant one person going into Artifax, looking up every event for the next day and literally typing out every single event.

We were already using Artifax to put all the events in there with all of the necessary information, it just made sense efficiency wise to have Artifax pull the information via a report instead of a person doing double the work. Now, nobody is manually typing or reformatting. It pulls already completely formatted from Artifax and it sends automatically to our security guards for the next day and they are able to print it and post it that night so it's super easy.

One thing our initial review exposed was sort the quirky and different ways that people were representing their bookings in Artifax as well. Did this feel like a good opportunity to review consistency, campus-wide and across departments?

(LM) Yes, one hundred percent. It really started the conversation on how everybody is entering the information so that they can get it back out of Artifax in a way that makes sense for their needs. This immediately improved the way people entered information as they began to realize the different ways it can be brought back out. We've since started pulling reports for front of house and production needs as well as the basics of what's happening where and when.

How has it been with getting other departments on board?

(LM) I've learned along the way that I can't show them what *I think* it's going to look like, I have to show them what it IS going to look like or have solid examples for them. That's something that's worked for me across the board with all the Departments before I roll something new out. I really have to flesh out the details, have something already built so that they can see it in real time and we can go through it together, already created.

I put a lot of thought into things like, which custom field they are going to want to edit and what is easy for them to digest and makes sense for their usage. I make sure to ask myself "is this a good replacement system? Is this going to be saving them time?"

It's also not an "all-or-nothing" kind of thing. We are happy for people to continue to use systems outside of Artifax if they don't need to communicate the information beyond their department (although we want them to link to that information from Artifax wherever possible.

My role is trying to make Artifax as efficient and easy for them to use as possible so that the decision to get rid of their old system is their own, not mine.