The Flagstaff Arts Council is seeking to engage a marketing firm to provide the following services: naming and brand architecture review, identity design, website development, brand activation strategy, and stakeholder education. We are pursuing these services to better fit our new 2020 mission, vision, and strategic plan.
This project will be supported by a final draft strategic plan which will address many research components necessary to inform brand implementation. To learn about the process that was underway prior to the COVID pandemic, download this brochure which was used in this year’s Spring Appeal.
Primary Project Goals
Our primary project goals are to:
- Inspire philanthropy for our organization and others throughout the sector. For example, our research shows that individual giving to the arts in Flagstaff is at roughly half the rate as the rest of the state.
- Be a resource for the creative sector. For example, providing easy access to materials for our Art & Science grantees.
- Communicate the impact of the arts and creative sector in our community and to inspire change. Currently, there is not a single resource that tells the stories of the entire sector.
- Provide a brand framework that is extendable and supportable by multiple branded initiatives. For example, Viola Awards, Artwalk FLG, Coconino Center for the Arts, and potential future other initiatives such as the Dark Sky Art & Ideas Festival and a United Arts Fund.
- RFP Issued: 08/31/2020
- Questions deadline: 09/21/2020
- Answers to any consultant question will be added to this page.
- Responses Due: 09/30/2020
- Finalists Selected & Contacted:10/07/2020
- Finalist Interviews: 10/13/2020
- Finalists may be requested to submit additional information or to revise their proposals.
- Winner Selected & Contacted: 10/29/2020
- Project Kick-off: 11/09/2020
- Website Launch Target Date: 03/01/2021
Download Full RFP Document
To access the full RFP document, please complete the following form. Your name and interest in the project will be kept confidential.
Submission Format and Instructions
The proposal must be received by 11:59 pm on 09/30/2020
Interested firms should submit proposals at:
The form will close at the deadline. The upload site requests some proposal information in a standardized format. Respondents are encouraged to review the upload form prior to designing their primary proposal document. The upload site allows for up to 3 video or alternative media attachments. The primary proposal document must be in PDF and demonstrate the quality of the applicant’s work.
Questions may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following questions have been received by FAC staff related to this proposal. The deadline for questions is midnight 9/21/2020. All questions will be answered within 24 hours.
- The budget is based on currently available funds dedicated by one of our funding partners. Limited additional funding may be immediately available. Phases significantly beyond the initial budget will likely have to be planned for future budget cycles. Firms that propose amounts higher than the initial budget should demonstrate the long-term value their proposal would bring to the art and culture sector in Flagstaff.
- For the “naming” scope, the consultant does not need to conduct in-depth research about brand equity of the current name. The consultant will be provided with initial research about brand awareness and qualified feedback about equity. The naming scope is intended to identify IF a name change benefits the new mission and vision of the organization.
- The consultant will be provided with a final draft strategic plan that addresses brand attributes. Focus groups, surveys, and other research should be assumed to not be needed unless it is to test a proposed naming/identity concept.
- The client lead will be FAC Executive Director, Jonathan Stone, who has led the current strategic planning process including the related market and stakeholder research. He has an MBA in Marketing from Boston University and has worked on several strategic branding projects.
- Phasing can be approached in two ways. One, reducing or streamlining the scope in a proposed scope area. Example: reducing the number of document templates, limiting initial website functionality such as translations or e-commerce. Or, two, sequential phasing based on the order of the elements of the scope of work.
- Do you require true seat-based ticketing where each individual has an assigned seat, or would tier-based ticketing address your needs?
- Ticketing is a “nice to have” integration. We are separating out the CCA website so are not reliant on this functionality. That said, we currently do assign seat ticketing for CCA. We may be open to tiered and not assigned seat ticketing as an add-on to this project. This would ultimately have to be decided in consultation with CCA’s presenting partners. For most if not all other arts council events, tier-based ticketing is fine. That said, a future item that is being advocated by some performing arts organizations is a unified ticketing platform across venues that would likely require assigned-seat ticketing.
- How many tickets do you anticipate selling (in a normal year)?
- If the ticketing platform supports CCA events, we processed approximately 3,000 tickets on our current platform between July 2019 and March 2020. This could have easily been 4,000 to 5,000 outside of the pandemic.
- We now require timed-ticketing (donation based) for CCA’s gallery. This is in response to the pandemic and limiting building access. It is unclear yet how much attendance this will see and if this will be a practice post-pandemic.
- Viola Awards in a normal year sells between 500 and 600 tickets.
- You mentioned that you are looking for a CRM that supports fundraising efforts and digital engagement. Can you expand on this a bit and list a few specific features you are looking for to that end?
- We are flexible but are impressed by platforms that support responsive email marketing, advertising, and social media engagement. We dream about adding on features like satisfaction surveys, drip campaigns, and interest and behavior-based segmenting.
- Fundraising should support a range of fundraising activities but especially support tracking of donor event participation, engagement, and other aspects of donor cultivation. Ideally, this integrates with ticketing.
- How much of the RFP and pending strategic plan is based on consensus?
- The strategic plan is based on extensive community input and we’ve shared our strategic priorities, mission, and vision back out with good feedback. The draft strategic plan with detailed objectives, initiatives, and programs has not yet been shared. We hope to share that out for feedback mid-October. That said, quite a few stakeholders have provided feedback and support for our proposed Dark Sky Arts & Ideas Festival which embodies our thinking about how to position and catalyze the sector. An excerpt of our NEA Our Town grant application can be downloaded here. (P.S. If the festival moves forward as proposed, it is a potential future opportunity.)
- Is there a page limit for the RFP response?
- Does the brand architecture evaluation stop with FAC, CCA and a potential umbrella or sector name? Or are branded initiatives to be evaluated as well ie. Viola Awards, Art Walk, etc.
- The brand architecture should consider the family of brands and how they relate to the new name. This project is not naming CCA or branded initiatives.
- Should the brand work with the existing visuals of the initiatives Viola Awards, Art Walk, etc.? Are you looking for a system/rules/guide that will then inform the future of those identities?
- We want a new brand to be strong and durable. Start there. That said, if there is a compelling option that ties everything together from the get-go, that is interesting. We don’t necessarily need a system or rules for sub-brands. That said, your work on a style guide could go that direction if it makes sense.
- You mention brand confusion between Coconino Center for the Arts and Flagstaff Arts Council – is this due to the naming or visual identity of each? Or is it confusion around the overall vision, mission etc.?
- This is a complex series of issues.
- 1. Naming history. Our organization was called the Coconino Center for the Arts before 2000. It went defunct and reemerged as Flagstaff Cultural Partners where our primary focus was operating the center until 2014. Then, we changed our name from FCP to Flagstaff Arts Council. People still casually refer to our organization regularly as CCA or FCP. People often refer to our staff as employees of CCA or we are the ones that operate that facility.
- 2. Few know what we do beyond CCA or the Viola Awards. Our current visual identity is designed to work together. This isn’t a bad thing, but we haven’t done a ton of work to define what the arts council is beyond CCA.
- What platform does the existing website use?
- WordPress. We are open to sticking with it, but we’ve had tremendous problems with plugins and storage.
- Are there benchmark brands/website within the industry you look to?
- Not specifically. But, the ones we are attracted to feel custom and intentional… not like a template forced to do what we want to do. It needs to be refined with some flair but not gimmicky.
- Is the current website platform flexible & easy to use?
- Our current platform is flexible but not very easy to use.
- Brand Activation Strategy—Will the selected consultant be responsible for placing media buys
- Anything beyond a strategy, however simplified or detailed that scope is defined, is additional service, that is unless you are able to fit it within the $40,000 budget. We are budget conscious, so likely we are interested in hearing how our internal team can help leverage the consultant team’s work.
- Stakeholder Education—Who makes up this stakeholder group? Or are there multiple stakeholder groups needing targeted education?
- Our strategic plan is primarily focused on supporting sector nonprofits for the next 3-5 years. It is through them we hope to build alignment with the brand as early as possible. We don’t need “education” beyond nonprofits and partners such as county and city government unless it emerges as a primary strategy in the brand activation scope.
- Do you anticipate any community engagement or engagement from the local creative sector in the project process?
- As much as is needed to support your creative process, however, there has been extensive engagement in the formation of the strategic plan. That said, stakeholders have not yet had a chance to voice their opinion on the final draft plan. We hope to do some sort of feedback period in October. A survey might be useful for naming and to test some brand concepts. We are happy to help distribute those. The board appointed committee supporting this project will reflect diverse stakeholders. If a major name/identity shift is anticipated, a presentation and Q&A may be helpful for buy-in to a larger set of stakeholders.
- Are you accepting proposals from firms that do not have offices in the US?
- We did not specifically limit proposals to U.S. firms.
- It is a formal review process, but there is a fair amount of latitude in our review criteria. It is unknown how the committee would judge a foreign vendor’s ability to complete the scope of work. Aside from the qualitative aspects, considerations that stand out include budget if there is travel involved and experience working in similar markets/sectors.
- There is a lot of variability in the front-end of the schedule, depending upon whether a new name is selected for the Flagstaff Arts Council. Any advice on how best to describe this variability to your assessment team? Would you prefer to see multiple scenarios or longest-possible scenario when we talk schedules? How hard is that 3/1/21 target date for a website launch?
- The 3/1 date is less important than price and process. The consultant may consider showing the naming review as a variable phase which then affects the earliest and latest projected completion date. The consultant may also consider stating how the budget might change if the schedule was more compressed.
- Could you clarify your web content expectations? Will the council’s team be providing the written content for the site or should we be proposing, budgeting, and scheduling web content development?
- We hope for the consultant’s guidance on content strategy. After all, the architecture of the website is likely going to be fairly different than how it currently is. This is especially true with the content/storytelling nature of the new site that really isn’t emphasized on our current website. With the consultant’s guidance, we can create much of the content based on the style guide, formative work on brand activation strategy, and proposed site architecture. That said, we are open to reviewing add-on services for copywriting, etc.
- What sections/pages exemplify your most important content?
- On our current website it would be news and the arts council sections. On a new website it will be how do we build new immersive sections that enhance our existing content that communicate the messages the RFP seeks to promote.
- Your current CRM is Arts People by Neon and through their ticketing system you can purchase tickets by seat. In the RFP you discuss wanting to offer ticketing and in the supplemental information you discuss that ticketing would be a nice to have. Do you want to move away from the Arts People solution? If so, what is not meeting your needs?
- Arts People is an affordable ticketing platform that for the most part meets the needs of ticketing at Coconino Center for the Arts. It is not tremendously flexible and its user interface for donations and memberships especially is clunky. It is also functioning as our CRM and does not track donor engagement, notes, tasks, meetings, soft credits, households, or complex seasonal contact information well. It is possible to keep Arts People for assigned seat ticketing, but eventually, we are needing to move away from it as a CRM for better donor management.
- The RFP mentions Google Translate of your pages to Spanish (and other languages). Do you see this as offering other language options on the pages and when the user chooses their language Google translates the page live? Or do you see this as implementing Google Translate on the backend to create alternate language options?
- Honestly, portions of this section of the RFP were borrowed from Discover Flagstaff’s most recent website relaunch. We are not that familiar with translating technology but like the idea of making our site more accessible. We are open to ideas. If this is a complicated plugin to implement and budget is an issue, it can also be phased.
- The RFP lists integration with FB Ads and Google Adwords. Your current site doesn’t utilize paid ads. How do you envision using FB Ads and Google Adwords?
- We do use FB ads somewhat regularly for concerts and other events. We have not made use of Google Adwords however like taking advantage of the Google Ad grant to help boost the visibility of our content. Again, this is borrowed from Discover Flagstaff’s RFP. Down the road, we see ourselves as marketers for the sector so have this in mind for future use cases.
- Integrated image editing is also listed. What kind of editing would you like available?
- We have users of all abilities managing the back end of our website. Our most common needs are resizing and cropping. More functionality is nice to have.
- Your site is currently hosted on SiteGround, is staying with this host a requirement, preferred, are you open to change, or do you desire to move to a new host?
- Our current host is relatively inexpensive however we have run into issues of running out of CPU time in a given month as well as out of space. They also don’t accept American Express for auto-billing which is our preference. We are open to change.
- We specialize in accessibility and usually recommend implementing WCAG 2.2 at a level of A or AA. Do you have any additional accessibility needs or specific concerns?
- Thank you for bringing this up. We are unfamiliar with web accessibility standards. Since our strategies are to bring people together and reduce barriers to opportunity, it is prudent to consider accessibility. We are open to learning more about accessibility and hope to lead by example.
- Can you further clarify if there is a need or desire for all “venues/event-type program initiatives” to sell via one ticketing platform? (e.g., one database with all events for all parties). For example: even as you spin CCA off to a standalone site — do you envision providing one ticketing platform that it could link back to flagartscouncil.org to process ticketing and/or other e-commerce activities?
- In an ideal world, we would have a centralized database for our CRM that allows for sophisticated donor management and cultivation and meets all of our ticketing requirements. That said, we are well aware that assigned seat ticketing, particularly with encumbrances of membership discounts, free tickets, etc complicates things into a multi-software solution or an expensive all-in-one customized platform. Kindful is one platform that we are aware of that integrates with Eventbrite when it makes sense for complex ticketing that bridges the gap of needs.
- How are giving campaigns typically managed? Can you give us a sense of how many memberships Flagstaff Arts Council has? What percentage of your donations are from one-time donations (as opposed to business/corporations and other forms of membership)?
- FAC has between 350 and 450 members. We have not done a detailed analysis on renewal rates but there is some attrition and new membership each year. Currently, we run two annual campaigns, fall and spring. The importance of those have shifted over time given our focus on memberships. For a couple of years we were using Patron Manager’s dunning email functionality which reduced the need for a campaign to trigger renewals. Since we’ve moved to arts people dunning is not automatic or as effective, placing more emphasis on the fall and spring campaigns. We use the appeals to solicit additional donations on top of membership or to encourage donors to “upgrade”. That said, as we move to broader fundraising (not benefit based) our campaigns and strategies will likely change.
- For website RE: “ArtBox, which provides hands-on interactive learning and a curriculum that covers marketing, communication, planning, financial literacy, and fundraising.” Will this area of the site have any special feature requirements, aside from schedule/calendar and downloads?
- ArtBox is not an active program of ours, so it should be treated like any other program that might be added down the line with flexible templates. No special requirements are required for this program.
- Do you have an incumbent agency?
- No. We’ve worked with a couple of local agencies in the past but have primarily managed graphic design and marketing in-house except for our current logo and website.
- Will submitted proposals be entered into the public record?
- We are not bound by government procurement rules and we are only required to share publicly what would normally be expected of a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The board of directors will likely be presented with a list of proposals considered. We respect the proprietary nature of proposals.
- What does your current brand management team look like?
- Our team is here: https://flagartscouncil.org/the-arts-council/about-us/staff/
- The most aligned team members are Jonathan Stone and Sarah Smallwood. Brand management has been ad hoc in the past. We are seeking to formalize brand management with this project. Jonathan’s masters is in marketing where he took a special interest in heritage and place branding.
- What impact has the COVID-19 crisis had on the art and creative communities and businesses in Flagstaff?
- Our perspective is primarily based on our nonprofit grantee partners. With a couple of exceptions, our organizations are very small relying on part-time volunteer and paid artist contributors. COVID has rocked the sector especially because very few of our organizations have appropriate operating reserves. That said, most seem to have adjusted and are treading water. How long they are able to tread water is unknown.
- The artists that support our creative economy rely heavily on other primary employment. To the extent that this employment is affected, they are affected.
- Our for-profit creative sector businesses (galleries/retail and live performance venues) have been impacted in varying ways but that seems to be consistent with the challenges facing similar businesses elsewhere.
- Will agencies with significant arts, culture and community-driven branding experience and expertise be given as much consideration in the selection process as local agencies?
- We hope that this project will enhance the arts council’s ability to be an arts and culture leader in Flagstaff. Specific weighting has not been defined other than the project goals.
- Can you provide some more background on your organizational name change six years ago? What were the key factors that drove that decision? How was the outcome perceived?
- The board and executive director at the time did not feel that “Flagstaff Cultural Partners” was an accurate representation of the work of the organization which was and has been primarily focused on art rather than culture or science. Also, there was a desire to choose a name that commonly defined the organization alongside a peer set of organizations throughout the country. As discussed in the RFP and other clarifications, the arts council name/brand does not have strong brand recognition outside of a core set of stakeholders. Since then, both science and culture have been reaffirmed and reintroduced into our mission and vision.
- What in particular do you like and dislike about your current branding and website?
- Branding. In general, we don’t dislike our current logo. It may have been a budgetary decision at the time, but we would prefer to have more tools and guidance on how to use and implement the brand. Our dislike is more of curiosity… how do we ensure the brand is working towards our interdisciplinary and leadership goals?
- Website. Our current website was cutting edge when it was developed 6 years ago. It was also created under a different project brief and goals. It emphasizes the Center for the Arts and deemphasizes our work across the sector. Since it was developed, web technology has gotten a lot more sophisticated with respect to fonts, graphics, rich media, formatting, navigation, etc. Our new website should embrace new technology.
- What is the appetite for evolutionary versus revolutionary change regarding your brand identity? What is the appetite for the website?
- The strategic planning process over the past year and how the board has embraced change demonstrates an appetite for revolutionary change. In some ways, if we do choose to change our name, we are ready for bold ideas on how to achieve the goals stated in the RFP. Evolutionary is fine if it is determined that our identity is close but our articulation can be improved.
- Our draft strategic plan has a big idea, “to be known as one of the southwest’s most creative cities.” That statement is the sanitized version… it started with to be known as Arizona’s most Creative City. We can and should lead by example and that should be manifested in our brand identity and communications platforms. We should be cutting edge but stable and consistent.
- Are there any examples of branding efforts by other arts or cultural organizations that you’re inspired by?
- As a city-wide agency, we are compelled to tell a story about our community and its creators. We are inspired by examples that accentuate a community’s creative vibe. In fairness to the project committee, the staff responding to this question do not want to point to specific examples. That said, we are happy to undergo a precedent exercise as part of the proposed process.
- Can you provide some history and background on the relationship between the Arts Council and the city of Flagstaff? How do you think your community currently perceives you and understands your impact?
- This answer assumes the question is referring to FAC’s relationship with the city government. Much of the context is provided in the RFP section “About Flagstaff Arts Council.” We have a strong working relationship with City staff and city councilmembers. Our strongest relationship is with respect to our grantmaking programs funded primarily though BBB tax funds and key studies such as the recent facility feasibility and economic impact studies.
- Beyond our government relationship, our relationship is through our programs. Citizens are probably not aware of who we are, but they are aware of our programs such as Art Walk and Coconino Center for the Arts. Artists and creative nonprofits are much more aware of us particularly for the Viola Awards which is the city’s largest gala event (nearly 600 attend every year) and our grantmaking programs awarding $460,000 in the past year.
- What in your opinion makes the arts and creative community in Flagstaff unique and stand out from other communities across the country?
- Our creative sector is young and enthusiastic about how it can use its talents to strengthen our community. We are not an established arts community in the sense that we are largely not a professional or destination arts community. People love Flagstaff’s creative culture and vibe but the arts is not a primary driver of tourism. That said, the most unique thing about our creative community is the belief in the interdisciplinary vision that was established early on with the tax-funded art & science fund, the Museum of Northern Arizona’s art and science mission, and demonstrated willingness to collaborate by nontraditional institutions. The art & ideas festival shared in another question response embodies the vision and creativity of our community. That proposal can be downloaded here: https://flagartscouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/NEA-Our-Town-Excerpt.pdf
- Are you looking for a recommendation on whether to pursue a name change as a part of the proposal, or do you anticipate this decision being a part of the collaboration once the work begins?
- We are not expecting a recommendation as part of the proposal. That said, inclinations or initial observations are not unwelcome.
- If a name change is determined to be the right course of action, is the name change process itself a part of the included scope of work and budget?
- As mentioned in the RFP, formalities of a name change such as legal requirements are not part of the scope. That said, the proposed budget and phasing plan should address if a name change is proposed and accepted. We will likely evaluate all proposals on the assumption that a name change is confirmed unless a specific proposal makes a compelling argument that a name change is not beneficial and is therefore not part of the proposed scope.
- Can you provide more information about what you would like included in the brand architecture recommendation? (In marketing, the same terms can sometimes be used to refer to similar but different ideas, and we want to make sure we have a full understanding of your needs here)
- The brand architecture recommendation is primarily about how a chosen name ultimately relates to all other related brands.
- Broader outcomes could include recommendations for visual or verbal unity or distinction between the brands.
- Do you have any existing documentation of your current messaging/a written explanation of your brand? If so, are you able to share it for reference?
- We do not have an existing verbal style guide. Our website is our best example.
- In stakeholder education, would you like the successful vendor to develop the training materials only, or do you envision them conducting the trainings as well?
- This is up to the consultant. You may alternatively choose to show the material creation as one scope and the presentation as an additional service.
- For the Brand Activation Strategy, does the scope of work include the development of the strategy only, or should implementation also be included?
- Per the RFP, implementation is additional. We will work with the selected consultant to define an implementation budget by which to design the strategy.
- Can you share the names of any current systems that integrated with your existing website?
- At this point, we really don’t have any deep integrations other than some plugins.
- Is it possible to view existing workflows for your current site to understand what the new site needs to accommodate? Or, are you able to describe the core functions desired with the new site?
- It is unclear what is meant by existing workflows.
- Outside what was described in the RFP and in other supplemental question answers, we are unable to provide additional information.
- Is content writing an included part of the scope of work for the new website? If you have someone on your team who can serve as a content advocate, owning written content for the new site, this is a great way to keep the budget down.
- As mentioned in other clarifications, we are open to proposals that leverage our team for content development. That said, we are open to proposals that include content development or that show content development as an add-on service.