The Three Rs at work in Montana
Gomez, Czelsi

The Three Rs at work in Montana

Public Value Partnership grants between Montana nonprofit arts organizations and the Montana Arts Council champion the fact that the arts are of benefit to all the citizens of Montana and are worthy of state and federal investment. 

Public Value Partnerships utilize three tools we call “The Three Rs” to expand the public value of the work being done by Montana’s non-profit arts organizations:

• Building relationships;

• Creating greater relevance and meaning’ and

• Establishing return on investment (measured both as economic vitality and impact on people’s lives).

MAC believes that using “The Three Rs” strengthens participation, understanding and support from audiences, donors and funders. We’d like to share some of the best examples of these stories from 2018 responses:


Building Relationships

Missoula Art Museum: Last year MAM created an exhibition and a myriad of community events titled “From Flower Cloth to Story Cloth: Hmong Textiles in the MAM Collection,” as a timely reminder of the value of art and creativity to the human experience. The exhibition coincided with the arrival of Eritrean, Congolese, and Syrian refugee families to Missoula through the help of the International Rescue Committee and the local non-profit organization Soft Landing.

Questions about refugee resettlement are relevant in light of rising nationalism and a recent proliferation of hate speech nationwide. “From Flower Cloth to Story Cloth” celebrated the diversity of the city and stood as an example of the significant Hmong contributions to the Missoula community.

The Hmong were resettled in Missoula after being persecuted in Laos because of their loyalty to the anti-communist U.S. government and CIA operations. Over the years, Missoula, MAM and the Hmong community have grown and evolved together. Hmong are skilled farmers and artisans who have established successful businesses and are very visible at our farmers’ markets and contribute generously to our local food bank. In addition, Hmong culture in Missoula has been profiled nationally through press and in award-winning publications.

“From Flower Cloth to Story Cloth” marks the third time MAM has presented a significant exhibition of Hmong textiles, first in 1978 and also in 1993. In the ensuing years MAM’s collection of Hmong textiles has grown to the hundreds, along with rich cultural exchange and friendship. The exhibition and related events were aimed at demonstrating the strong and positive relationship MAM and the Missoula community have built with the Hmong people and at the same time welcome new refugees.

Several events were offered to foster discussion and exchange and the culminating event was the Family-Friendly Celebration of Hmong Culture, on July 26, 2017, in the museum and in the Art Park. This included an exhibition reception, musical and dance performances, demonstrations of traditional Hmong embroidery, hand-made musical instruments and a Hmong food truck in the Art Park.


Creating Relevance

Alpine Artisans, Inc., Seeley Lake: For our initial Maclean Festival in 2015, Alpine Artisans received more than $20,000 from Tourism Montana for paid publicity outside of the State of Montana.  We designed a beautiful ad campaign and placed it in regional and national publications. However, our post-festival survey indicated that most of our out-of-state and foreign visitors found the festival through social media. So we changed our approach for the 2017 festival to focus on hiring a professional social media company and the Montana Film Office enabled us to launch an effective publicity campaign. 

In 2017, funding from Tourism Montana enabled the festival to expand its marketing campaign to include digital and magazine advertising to a national and potentially international audience.

The 2017 Maclean Festival’s digital media and paid magazine ad spend targeted our national fan base of general literature fans, fly fishermen, filmmakers, and students in the film and screenwriting world, plus river conservationists, including national Trout Unlimited (150,000 members). We reached these target audiences utilizing the services of professional digital marketers, Bonfire Communications in Missoula, who were hired to carry out an $8,000 digital marketing campaign. Bonfire deployed national digital marketing efforts focused on targeted banner ads, social media ads, and target market influencers. Banner ads were placed on national, relevant websites where our target audiences frequent.

Social media ads were created on Facebook and Instagram which focused on our national target markets. We created Facebook memes that we shared with our organizational sponsors to place on their FB and web pages, which worked well. Digital marketing efforts also extended to national influencers in our target markets in the form of blogs and social media posts on literary, fly fishing, river conservation and cinema sites. Our paid national magazine ad campaign combined paid print and online advertising in Sunset Magazine, Trout Magazine and Narrative Magazine. We also produced four 30-second ads publicizing the festival and Seeley Lake as a tourism destination.

The analytics of the social media campaign shows that our Instagram reach was 9,393, Twitter was 32,437, and the total Facebook reach was 52,285. Our email blast list is 6,580. This targeted media campaign enabled us to establish relationships with a motivated audience nationally and internationally and to maintain that relationship affordably. 


Return on Investment

Montana Ballet Company, Bozeman: Montana Ballet spends significantly in the community. These investments include:

• Willson Auditorium – one of our biggest line items is theater rental for annual “Nutcracker” and “Cinderella” performances. The Willson is also part of the Bozeman Public School District, so fees support local schools. The fee paid to the Willson Auditorium also supports our local stage crew and lighting technicians.

• Rent – another significant annual expense is studio rental. Our space is on North 7th and is owned by a local Bozeman family.

• Bozeman Symphony and local musicians – MBC is committed to performing to live music.

These collaborations create more meaningful experiences with performing arts for our patrons. The Bozeman Symphony accompanies MBC annually in the “Nutcracker,” and a variety of accomplished local musicians perform with MBC during the season. MBC expends significant resources to support these collaborations as well as other arts organizations.

• Sets and costumes – MBC upgrades/builds new sets for local performances; artists using locally purchased materials do all of this work. MBC hires local wardrobe professionals to handle all costuming using local materials.

• Ad sales – MBC works hard to create and maintain a strong presence in the Bozeman community. We purchase advertisements with local publications to publicize performances and our dance academy to accomplish this goal.

• Printing – MBC expends significant funds annually with two local Bozeman print shops to create programs for performances, advertisement posters, and other written materials used in informational packets and donor letters.

• Dancers – MBC has a small number of company dancers. We are committed to paying them for their work in our performances.


Photos: Missoula Art Museum: Family-friendly celebration of “From Flower Cloth to Story Cloth,” an exhibit of Hmong textiles.

Alpine Artisans: Author William Kittredge speaks at the 2017 Maclean Festival.

Montana Ballet Company: “Cinderella” takes center stage at Willson Auditorium.




Montana Arts Council | 830 N. Warren Street, Helena, MT 59601 | P.O. Box 202201, Helena, MT 59620-2201 | P: (406) 444-6430 | F: (406) 444-6548 |      Facebook     Twitter     Instagram     YouTube icon