The Sunfest Committee is a London, Ontario-based, non-profit community arts group whose mandate is to promote cross-cultural awareness and understanding of the arts across a range of disciplines. Currently, they present a year-round concert series, two annual shows of visual art, and TD Sunfest, a free four-day world music festival with an estimated attendance of 250,000 in 2014 and performances by the likes of Alpha YaYa Diallo, the Warsaw Village Band, and this year’s headliner, the Afro-Cuban All Stars.

When the Sunfest Committee came to us to help them improve their connections with fans and audiences, we were delighted. Not only for the opportunity to use our connection-building skills to assist them, but also to work with another extraordinary arts organization. The Committee's three most important goals were increasing awareness of their non-festival events, improving the online experience for festival goers and raising the profile of Sponsors who support both the festival and the concert series.

The festival has been a cornerstone of the Sunfest Committee's work—and a very exciting four days each summer; however, the concert series they also present often gets lost in the shuffle, and had little presence on the old site. This series showcases nationally and world-renown jazz and world music performers throughout the year at one of London’s finest venues, at ticket prices that are often half or a third of the cost that fans in larger centres would pay. 

When it came to event promotion (both festival and concert series), our strategy was quite simple: put the information where casual visitors to the Sunfest website would see it. It may seem an obvious tactic (say it with me: “That’s so crazy, it just might work!”), but so many organizations build websites that highlight the information they want to share, which rarely has a 1-1 correlation with the information that their visitors want to find. With that in mind, we set up the site so that upcoming events were automatically pushed to the home page, where they’d be the first thing that a visitor encountered.

So, during the festival, the content is all about the four-day experience and the performers who make it a must-see event each summer. The rest of the year, the Committee can feature upcoming events in the concert series to give exposure to those performers, increasing awareness and attendance.

To make it easy for infrequent site visitors to hear about upcoming concerts and events, we added a more prominent call to action for newsletter sign-ups, too.

We also raised the sponsors’ profile on the site. It’s a reality that arts organizations, no matter how successful, rely on public and private sponsorship; being able to demonstrate to those sponsors that their contribution will not only go to support great work, but will also be publicly, and elegantly, acknowledged helps make those requests easier for all involved parties.

And then to attend to the final goal: making a free festival with some of the world’s best music even better for the thousands of Sunfest attendees. Yes, indeed.

Here’s where Ellipsis Digital got to literally live our raison d'être: “deepening the connections between the online world and the offline experience.” Sunfest’s previous site had not been mobile friendly, which was a challenge for festival goers who were relying on their devices to get information while they were actually at the festival. With the new site, visitors can view festival listings by date, with genre and venue information, either before or while they’re on site, enabling them to quickly see which musicians are performing, or coming up, and helping them schedule and personalize their festival experience.

The Sunfest Committee and their work have helped put London, Ontario on the globe, and brought the music of the globe to the city, connecting communities and cultures, and artists and audiences. We’re proud to have played a part in making those connections, and look forward to seeing new and strengthened ones, be they local or halfway around the world.

 

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