Contemporary Expression

What’s Your Strategy?
January 13, 2010, 9:23 pm
Filed under: branding, community building, social media

Read more about how to build community for your business, nonprofit or organization on my SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY PAGE


I may have to sell you a ….
December 29, 2009, 3:55 pm
Filed under: Balance, branding, change, Nancy VanReece, Unemployment

Job Search: 16th week  since the lay off.

The Tally: Applied for 48 jobs so far … 90% in Nashville, 10% out of state.

Interviews: zero

No thank you responses: three

Still waiting to hear back: forty-five

Jobs I applied for that I really would like to have: five

I really don’t want to end up selling widgets (defnition 2.) Here is my thing, I am a really good sales person.  If I believe in it, I will find a way for you to believe in it too.  It may take a few hours, it may take a few months, even years.  However, I am extremely tenacious and if I am passionate about something, I will find a way to help you see it.

For now over twenty-five years, I’ve been extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with projects, products and services that I really actually do believe in. For the past fifteen weeks since my lay-off I have had to  get to know all over again the product I believe in the most; myself.

I have been consulting and networking and painting and networking and drinking a lot of coffee. I have been coping by putting my head down and grunting through like a rugby player.

There will be great change in 2010 because there is nothing but change possible.  I have faced this current challenge with equal tenacity to any project I have had before me.  I am grateful for the helpful support and confidence boosting that many friends have given to my little family and look forward to the New Year with anticipation.  I may have to sell you on it.

What are you doing to sell yourself  in 2010?

Get back to the music

Watercolor by Nancy VanReece - "Creative Direction"

Over the course of the last 28 years, my work has been all about advocating creative opportunities for my community to achieve it’s potential.

25 of those years 1982-2007 I worked in the music business – all of it: Marketing, Promoting, Managing, Advocating, Soliciting, Encouraging, Guiding, Buying and Selling, Licensing and Negotiating.

When I jumped off into the non-profit sector it worked out well.  I was able to take my understanding as a painter and my experience working with musicians and lawyers into a new sector.  Bringing creative and practical business practice to a non-profit organization was a good thing.  As a business person, I could speak “the language” of the potential donor easily.

I learned quite a bit the last three years.  I learned that “development” means “fundraising” and that customers were not always the folks that paid for the product. It was, and remains, a fascinating sector of our commerce.

I also learned a lot about social media strategy and community building and the new, always evolving, 21st century tools of marketing, communication and sales. A lot of these things are excellent resources to lead me into the next adventure.

I may remain in the non-profit sector. I might go back to the music business. I may be painting and  putting together marketing and social media consulting work for a season.

One thing I know; I will always be looking at art and listening to music for divine creative direction.

“I’m saving all my lovin’ for someone who’s lovin’ me…” Gloria Gaynor

“There’s a cry asking why, I pray the answer is up ahead , ’cause I know where I’ve been… there is a promise we must make, worth the risk and the chances we take. There is a a dream in the future..’Cause just to sit still would be a sin.” .. Hairspray Soundtrack

Breakfast with Gov. Kunin and lunch with Ms. Steinem
October 21, 2009, 9:25 am
Filed under: branding, candidates, community building, Equality, Living An Artful Life

I attended my first Tennessee Economic Summit for Women conference this year as a volunteer.  There were panels on the economic impact of wage earnings for TN women, communication strategies, healthcare, debt management and others.

Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey,  challenged early on to “Be excited about change. The first woman at anything needs to be sure they are not the last”.  

Gov. Madeline Kunin and Nancy VanReece

Gov. Madeline Kunin and Nancy VanReece

I started the morning with a breakfast chat with  the former Gov. of Vermont, Madeleline Kunin before she gave her opening session speech she selected a random table to sit down at chat with people about what they may what to hear and learn that day.  I was fortunate to be at this table and we were able to talk about  the struggles of non-profit management, the  righteous indignation that comes with still not having equal rights as a gay woman and the joys of living in “the blue heart of a red state”, oh yeah, and being unemployed at 45.  Her encouragement and the way she willingly listened was the lesson I needed most that day and I didn’t even realize it. 

Here are some of my live Tweets from her speech:

  • “learn how to transfer your skills from one thing to another. Have you organized a 5yr old’s birthday party? You can run a political campaign.” 9:27 AM Oct 19th
  • “Lilly Ledbetter is more significant than Joe the Plummer” – Gov. Kunin 9:16 AM Oct 19th
  • Gov. Kunin “there are too few women’s voices in the political discussion. When a woman is talking the climate does change.”9:04 AM Oct 19
Nancy VanReece and Gloria Steinem

Nancy VanReece and Gloria Steinem

Over a very loud service staff at lunch I locked in as much attention as I could give to the keynote speaker, Gloria Steinem. A highschool classmate of mine now runs the Hedgebrook retreat where Ms. Steinem serves on the Advisory Creative Council.  I wanted to make sure I said  hello on her behalf at some pont during the day.  Later, as she was signing books I was able to send those greetings.  When she asked if I too then was from Oklahoma we laughed like it was an unspoken inside joke about how awkward it is to live in places that don’t embrace your full potential.  Something that she undoubtedly has felt as well. 

Here are some of my live Tweets from her speech:

  • “Our job is not to make young women grateful for what has happened before them but to make them recognize change is still necessary.” GS 1:07 PM Oct 19th
  • GS recommends the film “The High Cost of Low Prices” and is discussing WalMart …….1:03 PM Oct 19th
  • “When we democratize our families we are performing an act of revolution. Women are becoming the men they want to marry.” -GS 12:56 PM Oct 19th
  • “The country is escaping it’s own type of family violence & we are in the most danger during that escape. We need the help each other’s awareness.” – GS. 12:52 PM Oct 19th
  • It is time to attribute appropriate value to the work being done in the care-giving sector – GS 10:45 PM Oct 19th
  • Nationally parking lot attendants make more than child care providers..12:41 PM Oct 19th
  • Pink collar ghetto .. Jobs that can’t be outsourced …12:36 PM Oct 19th
  • My table seemed amazed to find out that GS is 75 years old12:35 PM Oct 19th
  • “We need to live the un-lived lives of our mothers.” -GSteinem 12:28 PM Oct 19th

The conference itself was run well but I was disappointed in the lack of diversity in those that were speaking.  Most of the women there were over 50 and had great wisdom and insight and depth of history to share but it wasn’t really called upon.  I saw very little effort to engage Generation X, much less Generation Y, to attend or participate in the conference and I’m not sure that it will succeed in its mission without a real overhaul in the way the event is presented in the 21st century.

Old Shingle Starts To Swing

I am officially re-introducing services that have been tracking beside my work for over a decade. Please e-mail for a free initial consultation.


Carpe Diem Copyright Management:

publishing administration, music supervision and intellectual property licensing.

Contemporary Expression:
( a div of Carpe Diem Copyright Management)

marketing and social media administration with the goal of community building for both non-profit and for-profit business.


What others are saying:

“Nancy possesses a unique blend of visionary perspective and action orientation. She well-articulates the big picture possibilities and necessities for healthy arts organizations to strengthen the community while working diligently on day-to-day actions to promote the Nashville Shakespeare Festival. A great example is Nancy’s vision for the potential of social media which she acted on to great results, in particular, using Twitter to build a strong presence and following for the Nashville Shakespeare Festival.” August 24, 2009 Deb Palmer George, Owner, Palmer Solutions

“I am Vice Chair of the Nashville Shakespeare Festival, and I have been able to directly observe Nancy’s performance as Executive Director of the Festival, and the results of her efforts. Nancy has done a very good job marketing the Festival, and creating new outlets for making sure the community knows about the Festival and what it does. This includes moving marketing efforts into non-traditional venues like social networking sites, which have proven to be extremely effective. I would highly recommend Nancy and her marketing skills.” August 18, 2009 James Cartiglia, Member, Waddey & Patterson

“Nancy is incredible, and relentless in her pursuit of action and results. An extremely creative individual that knows how to make things happen while embracing everyone involved. I learn a lot from her whenever we talk. She is a real delight to work with.” August 17, 2009 Jonathan Saad, Grants Program Manager, Metro Nashville Arts Commission

“Nancy practically wrote the book on marketing arts oriented non-profits. Of particular note is her mastery of social media marketing. @nashvilleshakes was tweeting before tweeting was cool. And, she integrates the social media outreach with traditional media and marketing outreach, resulting in great results for the Nashville Shakespeare Festival.” July 29, 2009 Aileen Katcher, Partner, KVBPR (Katcher Vaughn & Bailey Public Relations)

“Nancy is a big thinker who also has a big heart. She’s quick to come up with creative ideas for growing important community causes and is always up to a challenge, whether it’s learning a new technology, bringing people together, or working with a new community partner. We’re always excited to work with Nancy as she seeks outcomes where everyone wins.” July 29, 2009 Sam Davidson, President and Co-Founder, CoolPeopleCare

“I will always be extremely grateful to Nancy for all the time and effort she put in to writing for The Muse’s Muse while she had her own copyright and publishing column. Her articles and advice were always spot on and regularly commented favorably upon by the people who dropped by the website. It’s been a pleasure to work with her.” September 15, 2009 Jodi Krangle, Owner & Creator, The Muse’s Muse Songwriting Resource

“Nancy was a dedicated and dogged negotiator, with a true heart and passion for protecting the interest of BMI’s songwriters. Her instincts for creating partnerships between BMI and our clients were among the best I’ve seen. In a tough industry, Nancy proved herself adept at building long-lasting relationships here all parties involved could appreciate the benefits of doing business togther.” September 15, 2009 Aaron Mercer, Former Assoc. Director of Key Accounts, BMI, Now Sr. Director, Creative & Licensing at Sony/ATV Music Publishing

“Nancy gets the job done! Whatever the task, Nancy owns it and uses her unique skill set to accomplish things that would leave others laying dead by the roadside. Nancy is tenacious yet always creative, professional and personable in representing people, projects or groups. Nancy has integrity and always shows respect for others. Her ability to administer and manage copyrights as well as her ability to negotiate the deal, always results in win-win scenarios on behalf of clients. I highly recommend Nancy to you.” September 16, 2009 Glenda McNalley, The Select Artist Group, LLC

“Nancy is competent handling numerous roles on behalf of her clients and doing so well. She cares not only about her clients’ business, but personally as well. Her attention to detail is of great benefit to those she serves. She also is a talented negotiator, and strives to do so in a way that the parties mutually benefit. I have always been impressed with Nancy’s ability to network and assist those she meets, both as a professional and as a friend. I am always confident that Nancy provides the best of her talents to every one she serves. Greg Seneff, Sr., Esq. The Seneff Law Office” September 26, 2009
Greg Seneff, Owner, The Seneff Law Office

Facilitating Community
September 10, 2009, 8:25 pm
Filed under: artful living, branding, change, community building, mission statement

Is everyone around you evaluating something of high importance? It seems that way to me. The non profit sector is evaluating mission statements and services to be sure they are meeting real need and not duplicating the work of others. The for profit sector is evaluating if the product they provide is something people actually want, or better yet, need. I see artists of all stripes, the creative class, evaluating if their voice is being heard or if they are shouting in the wind.

Plenty of us have also taken the time to stop and evaluate ourselves. In the last blog post I talked about branding. As luck would have it, I was able to attend a workshop this morning sponsored by Nashville CABLE about building a personal brand. Clearly the universe was telling me to knuckle down and do some evaluating.

The process of forming brand is the result of unrelenting passion, not spin. So, I asked myself what I felt passionate about, what was the essence of what I was about and is it something I am already doing and, if so, is it impacting others?
I enjoy leading. People follow leaders because they can see the vision when the rest are paralysed by fear. I really needed to clear my vision!

I was able to develop my own personal mission statement:
“Advocating Creative Opportunities For My Community to Achieve Its

What is thrilling to me is that I am already doing this and continue to find new ways to expand it. Advocacy, Creativity, Development, Community Service.

Laura Berman Fortang suggests these questions that will help your own evaluation:
What are you built to do?

  • How do people use you?
  • What have people always said you should be?
  • What is the essence of your dream?

I am a cowpoke afterall
August 24, 2009, 2:43 pm
Filed under: branding, social media

I put out a call for some recommendations for my Linked In Page and I have been pleasantly surprised at how my marketing work has floated to the surface of the comments so far. It is the part of the job that I like the most because it is all about relationship building. Who wouldn’t want to work in a community based, mission driven organization with an excellent selfless staff and committed board of directors.

Seth Godin nails it for me:
Brands that matter In this era, there are two questions every marketer answers:

  • Do I want people to interact with me and my brand in unexpected ways (as opposed to just quietly consume it)?
  • When they interact, do I overwhelm people with delight worth remarking about?

Vibrant growing brands manage to answer both questions with a resounding ‘yes.’ It’s not an accident and it’s not easy, but if you do it right, it may be worth it.

When I was a little girl I thought the cowboy way looked pretty cool. Now I realize I’m just a cowpoke branding my way through life after all.

Hey marketers: Does this sound about right?: A cowpoke is a hired ranch hand who is responsible for managing cattle. Cowpokes may also be referred to as cowboys, paniolos, or vaqueros, depending on the region of the world under discussion.
A cowpoke must be talented in a number of fields. He or she is a skilled rider, able to handle a horse and work with the animal to accomplish common goals. Cowpokes must also be comfortable with cattle, sometimes in large amounts, and they often perform basic medical care for horses and cows alike. On very large spreads, a cowpoke may spend a fair amount of time away from the ranch, camping in the field with other cowpokes, who take turns preparing food.

Self Portrait 1971 in Colorado, from the Oklahoma Memories series painting by Nancy VanReece, (c) 2006 Contemporary Expression, a div. of Carpe Diem Copyright Management
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