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Why We Focus on the Arts

At Spektrix, we have an unwavering commitment to the arts. We have made it our mission to help them overcome their challenges and thrive. Ultimately, we believe a world where you couldn’t go to the opera, where you couldn’t take you children to a pantomime (a uniquely British experience that you can read more about here), where you couldn’t catch the newest musical or some of the oldest Shakespeare, would be a world much worse off. Unfortunately, we see that to be an actual risk.

We see the funding challenges arts organizations face and we know the increasingly competitive landscape they operate in; they’re no longer competing against other local theaters or cinemas, but now against Netflix and Xbox for their patrons’ time and attention. So we see our mission as very much being focused on helping those organizations thrive through giving them the tools and support to know and grow their audiences, to increase their revenue and to become more operationally efficient.

We created this mission nearly ten years ago now, and we’re just as committed, if not more so, than we were back in 2007. Back then, one of our founders had been running a theatre in Cambridge, UK. Having experienced ongoing frustration with his box office system, with everything from its usability, to its cost structure, to its feature set, he decided to try to do it himself. Fortunately, he had a background in computer science and a keen interest in online technology, so he thought he’d give it a go.

There were a few key principles behind the solution he wanted to deliver, which run true to this day:

  1. It must be cloud based. The days of hosting servers on-site were over. Companies like SalesForce and Google were already moving in this direction, and it represented the future approach to delivering business critical software.
  2. It must be multi-tenant. This means all of our users access the same version of Spektrix (while still having their own secure databases). Possible only with cloud based software, it allows us to scale the product quickly and effectively, to put a lot of investment into security and to offer great support, as we’re only working with one version of it rather than lots of versions.
  3. It’s about more than ticketing. Ticketing is the easy part. The value of ticketing transactions is the data that comes out of it, so being able to support CRM and fundraising had to be core to the product, not an add-on.
  4. Usability and reliability at all costs. For some users, this is the tool they use all day everyday, so making it intuitive and user-friendly is critical. Making sure it’s a pleasant, logical and easy experience is vital. And reliability, i.e. uptime, has to be a priority.
  5. Insightful and accessible support. To really deliver on our mission of helping the industry thrive, the support we offer clients needed to be relevant and insightful. Our team all come from the arts industry and are there to do more than just set up printers. They’re there to be consultative, to share learnings from the other 300 clients we’re working with and to help our clients grow.
  6. All inclusive pricing. We know that arts organizations don’t have big cash reserves, so we wanted our pricing to be transparent and include everything from moving over to Spektrix, to unlimited users and custom reports, and access to all of our upgrades when they happen.
  7. More than a supplier. Making sure we are bringing more value to the industry than just being an arms-length supplier is what makes us happy. We do conferences, socials, workshops, blogs, presentations, case studies, roundtables - all to share knowledge and to really help make the industry stronger.

Ultimately, all of this comes down to client success. Everything we do is about ensuring our clients can do as well as possible.

After proving this model in the UK, where around 40% of the UK arts market use our product and we have 99% client retention within that, we wanted to bring it to the US and Canada. We’d experienced a number of enquiries from North American arts organizations before we opened up here. Through those conversations we started to understand how arts organizations work in North America, the differences and similarities, and ultimately the opportunity to come in to a new market and do some good work.

There are a lot of similarities to how arts organizations work in the US, but some key differences as well - the approach to fundraising being a clear point of differentiation. However, we don’t see that as an obstacle, but rather an opportunity. Updating our product to reflect the different models of fundraising on both sides of the pond, allows us to share tools and practices across the Atlantic. We think there’s a lot the UK can learn from the US approach to fundraising, so it made sense for us to introduce features to support that approach. Vice versa, we think some of the UK approaches to pricing (multi-buys etc.) make an interesting set of tools to bring to North America.

Going back to where I started, our mission is strong and clear. We want to support and strengthen the arts industry to ensure it’s here for the long run. We love what we do and we’d like to make an impact all over the world.