Arts Center, I Choose You!

I was walking in to work on Saturday and met a woman who has offices in the arts center who told me that there was a Pokemon in the fountain in front of the building.

Sure enough, as part of the new augmented reality game Pokemon Go, when she pointed her phone at the fountain, the virtual map overlay showed a Pokemon in the fountain. She then lamented that someone else was battling to capture it. I assume it was the kid standing on the sidewalk just south of the fountain.

Then she explained that she and her kids had seen some Pokemon in a tree at the Farmers’ Market that morning, but the virtual critters got away.

As we walked into the arts center, her phone informed her my building was a Pokemon center and she told me if I downloaded the app, I could capture them every morning when I came into work.

I asked her how the building and fountain had been designated as spawning points and she said someone must have come along before her, taken a picture of the building and added it to a list of possible points.

At that point, I realized it could be a great boon for getting younger people in the door if they could get their venues included in the game.

Jason Evangelho at Forbes Magazine had the same idea and suggested businesses use the game to lure in customers. Unfortunately, if you read down to the Update postscript at the end, the game creators are the ones who designated these locations using Google Maps, not the general public.

However, Evangelho figures given the opportunities the game represents, they may come up with a way for different places to get themselves added or offer some sort of premium features for game players.

One of the things he mentions places that already are designated as “Pokestops” can do is buy a lure module that attract Pokemons to the location for 30 minutes. (for 100 Pokecoins currently selling for 99 cents.)

It may be worth checking if your location is already designated as a central location in the game so you can think about how to adapt that into your activities.

It should be noted, you may not have any choice in whether you want to accommodate game players. Some police stations designated as Pokemon centers have had a steady stream of people coming in to capture them. It may be necessary to brief staff very soon on whatever customer service policies and procedures you create in response to these visitors. Especially since there have been an increase in accidents due to people paying even more attention to their phones as they swing them about trying to locate their virtual prey.

On the other side, players have posted on social media about the Pokemon company’s sneaky attempts to get them to go back to church.

The game is getting people to wander around in places they haven’t been before so it may increase foot traffic near your organization even if you aren’t a designated game location. Though in an incident echoing the movie Stand By Me, a girl found a dead body when she jumped a fence to find a Pokemon.

All in all, something to be aware of and keep an eye out for associated opportunities. Once it becomes clearer what sort of promotional opportunities exist, I will probably get a post up on ArtsHacker.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

I am currently the Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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