"We remember best through stories." -- Pon Angara
The arts providing tools for nonprofit businesses to grow?! As I read about branding and listen to all the balu about social media, I find the need for experience-based marketing to be ever more relevant. I recently caught up with Pon Angara, creative director and principal of Barkada Creative to discuss his launch of Barkada Circle. Barkada Circle provides educational arts-based programs that help participants discover and harness the transformative power of the visual arts, music, theatre and more to spark creativity in telling their organization's stories, stories that fully engage people.
What made you launch Barkada Cicle?
After years of years of working with nonprofits on branding, visual communication and marketing, it became apparent that a critical piece of the message was missing. This lack of message prevents a nonprofit from taking it to next level. I kept thinking, “Your story isn’t compelling. Why should I care? Why should I want to be conncted to this organization?" To effectively help my clients, I realized that I had to help them tell their story.
Isn't a story the same as a mission statement?
No, a mission statement is just a statement of purpose. One statement of why a business exists. That's it. A story goes deeper. It involves the emotions, relating the struggles and successes of a nonprofit, its people and its consituency. It can take many more forms than a statement. It may be told in different mediums - word, image, sound, etc. The key thing is the emotional part. We remember stories because we remember the emotions running through them.
Give me an example.
The mission of Barkada Circle is to give nonprofits a creative forum in order to develop different ways to craft their own stories using techniques in the arts that is usable on their website, in their brochures, etc.
One story of Barkada Circle is in why I launched it. Immersing myself in the activities of a nonprofit organization, I had the opportunity to experience the same struggles they were having in trying to get a compelling message across. Some nonprofits were more successful than others, but the challenges were there nonetheless.
I'm reading a lot these days about the use of storytelling in branding. How is Barkada Circle different?
The Barkada Circle approach differs from the others in that the focus is on a multi-sensory experience using the arts, whether the visual arts, theater, music, writing or cooking. The best way to really embody a story is for the storyteller to engage as many of his/her senses as possible in creating the story, so that telling it engages multiple senses for the listener. This approach was inspired by the book The Experience Economy: Work Is Theater & Every Business a Stage by James H. Gilmore and B. Joseph Pine.
Why have your targeted nonprofits for your program?
In my book, they are the ones that deal the most with complex emotions, concepts, ideas, and challenges. They deal heavily with humans, not just products for humans. It’s all about the people. Nonprofits generally have direct impact on issues that affect the quality of life in our communities. It has become my personal choice to share in this mission.
If teaching artists are interested in working with you, what’s the best way to contact you and what will they need in terms of experience?
They have to be skilled in their craft, but also have a personal mission for educating others about it. They need a minimum of 5 years of teaching experience with adults, sharing and demonstrating their passion. I am willing to talk to new artists after June to see what they have to offer. It's best if they read through the website and then leave of comment expressing their interest on the Our Artists page.
I'm honored to have been working with Pon on this venture since its inception. My workshop for Barkada Circle, The Power of Symbols, looks at the way symbols have inspired change throughout history. It's an amazing experience to work with directors from small and large nonprofits, helping them to better understand and harness the storytelling potential of their organization's visual symbols.