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How Can Artists Help Reimagine Our Future Post-COVID?24344 <p>As society looks to address the ravaging effects of both COVID-19 and systemic racism, artists and arts organizations have an essential role in reimagining the future. In an Op-Ed for <em>KCET’s Southland Sessions</em>, Kristy Edmunds, Executive and Artistic Director for UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance, argues that while the products of the creative sector will undoubtedly continue as indispensable contributions for a thriving society moving forward, it is artistic process and creative problem solving that are most crucial to paving the way towards a vital and inclusive future. Edmunds argues that these intrinsic benefits of the arts are often overlooked, particularly in discussions about post-pandemic recovery. </p><p>To nurture this philosophy, arts organizations can and must help get artists to the recovery table. It starts with a commitment to what Edmunds calls “duty of care.” For Edmunds, what this looks like is maintaining transparency and cultivating pathways of information&#58; “We have to provide as much information as possible to artists. We’re saying here’s what we’re seeing, here’s what we’re learning from various organizational/institutional vantage points, so that knowledge is transferred and shared rather than left dangling in the air. Artists will know what to do for their work and process and decision-making. The most important thing for them to know is that they’re not being abandoned—they are being sought.” </p><p>In addition, Edmunds says, arts organizations can proactively work to ensure that artists have a prominent voice in post-pandemic recovery conversations. She observes that it tends to be the most visible leader who is invited to the policy roundtable, but that person may not necessarily be best suited for the task at hand. To address this, she offers, “It’s incumbent upon us, as leaders, to understand the dynamic of what’s being sought, and to bring artists into the room with us.” </p><p><a href="https&#58;//www.kcet.org/shows/southland-sessions/kristy-edmunds-public-care-is-our-most-durable-good">Read Edmunds’ Op-Ed on the KCET website</a>. </p> Op-Ed for KCET argues that artists—and the organizations that support them—can play a vital role in post-pandemic problem solvingGP0|#459b8438-9b87-47d0-814e-02452652da81;L0|#0459b8438-9b87-47d0-814e-02452652da81|arts;GTSet|#e1be52fb-ad26-4379-9818-fd44f616dcf2;GP0|#7ee74777-f4ad-4204-a3cc-1a02bb45abab;L0|#07ee74777-f4ad-4204-a3cc-1a02bb45abab|arts audiences;GP0|#a0d4f287-6ff9-448d-8c80-654a5fcb15c1;L0|#0a0d4f287-6ff9-448d-8c80-654a5fcb15c1|market research;GP0|#b0d59089-4c9d-435f-bdfb-dcc911093ba5;L0|#0b0d59089-4c9d-435f-bdfb-dcc911093ba5|artists;GP0|#d12b494a-8c5d-4014-9866-51539e68ea50;L0|#0d12b494a-8c5d-4014-9866-51539e68ea50|COVID-19GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61Wallace editorial team79<img alt="" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/blog-Edmunds-kcet-lg-feature.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />2020-08-11T04:00:00ZOp-Ed for KCET argues that artists—and the organizations that support them—can play a vital role in post-pandemic problem solving8/11/2020 6:17:51 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / How Can Artists Help Reimagine Our Future Post-COVID Op-Ed for KCET argues that artists—and the organizations that support https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Once Focused on System Problems, Principal Supervisors Now Drive Support22986<p>In 2014, Des Moines Public Schools was one of six urban school districts selected to participate in Wallace’s Principal Supervisor Initiative, a four-year effort to overhaul a central-office position from its traditional focus on administration to a focus on developing principals’ skills at supporting effective teaching. Des Moines, which serves 33,000 children across more than 60 schools, was eager to get to work. </p><p>A year earlier, newly appointed superintendent Thomas Ahart had increased his staff of supervisors, known in the district as directors, to five from three, thereby reducing the number of schools each supervisor oversaw. At the time, a single director managed all of the district’s 39 elementary schools. Over the course of the effort, Des Moines made substantial changes that allowed principal supervisors to spend more time working alongside principals to strengthen their instructional leadership practices. A new report, <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/changing-the-principal-supervisor-role-to-better-support-principals.aspx"> <em>Changing the Principal Supervisor Role to Better Support Principals&#58; Evidence from the Principal Supervisor Initiative</em></a>, describes the experiences of Des Moines and the other districts, as well as the impact of the work. In early March, Ahart sat down with us to discuss how the supervisor effort had unfolded in Des Moines and his plans to keep the momentum going. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.&#160;</p><p> <strong>One of the key components of the Principal Supervisor Initiative (PSI) was to strengthen central office structures to support and sustain changes in the principal supervisor’s role. How did you accomplish this in Des Moines? </strong></p><p>Prior to the PSI grant, we had a central-office structure that supervised schools, not principals. In theory, our principal supervisors evaluated principals, but what they really did was help principals solve problems with the system, whether it involved facilities, business and finance, human resources. Then at the end of the year, they did an evaluation that, from my own experience as a principal, was of very little value.</p><p>Frankly, it just checked a box. </p><p>When we started to break down how to better support our schools, the big challenge was&#58; How do we take care of the things currently on the principal supervisor’s plate that detract from coaching around student growth? That was the driver in shifts made holistically at central office. Rather than principal supervisors brokering resources from the district for their principals, we needed a system that allowed that to happen organically. </p><p> <strong>So what changes did you make? </strong></p><p>We created a cadre of five principal supervisors called directors and put each in charge of a network of schools. They [originally] reported to two executive directors who served as a go-between between the rest of the central administration and the schools. I’m embarrassed that I didn’t figure this out earlier, but we soon recognized a problem with this solution. Why were we relegating executive directors, bright people with years of experience in the district, to this type of work? It was true that they knew the system inside and out, and had relationships to navigate it, but their work wasn’t contributing to a more powerful system. </p><p>That’s when we created a structure in which each principal supervisor has a district support team for their school network. Each of them has one point of contact in human resources, business and finance, operations and other central-office departments. These [central-office] individuals now hear the whole range of questions, frustrations and wants from principals relative to their department, and they’re going back to their [department heads] with really good thinking about how to make their department work better. This is a paradigm shift in how the central office functioned. In the past, departments like business and finance never felt connected to what was happening in schools. The new structure makes them feel like, hey, I’m not just pushing numbers. I’m a critical piece of making this work at the classroom level. They’re motivated and highly engaged. Interestingly, we now have principals inquiring about openings in human resources. We’ve never had that before, so I think that’s a positive development. </p><p> <strong>The job description of a principal supervisor has been completely rewritten in Des Moines. How did you manage the change in expectations for the role? </strong></p><p>I became associate superintendent for teaching and learning in 2011, and 10 months into it, I was named interim superintendent. By the time I was appointed superintendent in 2013, I already had been working on a different organizational strategy. I drafted a new org chart and showed it to the three directors who were supervising schools at the time. Their eyes got really big and they said, what about us? I said, great question, tell me what you do right now. They said they supported schools and described the brokering role I mentioned earlier. Then I showed them the monitoring reports I submit to the board of education every year and asked them to which ones they contributed. They looked at each other and said none. That’s the problem, I told them. These guys were working really hard, feeling like they were doing everything for our schools and principals, but it didn’t show up anywhere on paper. They didn’t own anything, and that actually did them a great disservice in terms of how the position was viewed by the rest of the organization.</p><p>After I became superintendent, I hired two more directors and gave them each smaller networks of schools. Both had been sitting principals, both were dedicated to students, but they had no idea what they were doing as supervisors. In terms of coaching, they had a lot of work to do. Shortly after, the grant application for the PSI came about. It was perfect timing. The PSI provided us the resources to put in place a leadership framework and an instructional framework, and to develop shared language and shared expectations. It allowed us to support our principal supervisors so they can coach effectively and take a different coaching disposition based on the problem of practice they’re trying to solve. </p><p> <strong>According to the </strong> <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/changing-the-principal-supervisor-role-to-better-support-principals.aspx"> <strong>report</strong></a><strong>, over the course of the PSI initiative principals reported that the quality of the evaluation feedback they received from their supervisors improved. How has the culture around evaluations changed in Des Moines? </strong></p><p>A number of big changes have happened. First, our principals now receive a meaningful evaluation, whether they like it or not. It’s much more integral to their work with their supervisors. They also have much more clarity about their job and the system’s expectations for them. They’re not flying blind and then worrying at the end of the school year when someone goes through an exhaustive checklist to determine if they’re doing an okay job. Our principals see their supervisor at least once a week all year. In most cases, they’re spending several hours together each week. So even if they don’t like something in their evaluation, they can’t say it’s not an informed assessment of their practice. </p><p> <strong>Do you think a principal supervisor can be both coach and evaluator? </strong></p><p>We’re still wrestling with that question. I do think an evaluator should have coaching skills. We want the evaluation process to be one of growth and improvement, not punitive. But if my only coach is my evaluator, while he may do a wonderful job in supporting me, I think there are some inherent limits to that when ultimately he has to judge my performance. Right now, we’re working to build coaching capacity in the folks who serve on our network support teams.&#160;&#160; </p><p> <strong>The PSI researchers recommend that districts embed the principal supervisor role within the broader work of the central office to sustain the changes they’ve implemented. What’s your plan in Des Moines?</strong></p><p>Currently, our principal supervisors report to the associate superintendent, but we may have them report up through our executive director of teaching and learning instead. Her department is responsible for curriculum and works closely with principals to implement it. We’re at a place now where we’re asking, how many voices do we want in our principal’s ear? By better integrating our work at central office, we can eliminate the number of at least perceived demands on our principals. It would also be further doubling down on the principal supervisor’s ownership of executing district-wide priorities. </p><p> <em>A number of other reports about the principal supervisor job, including </em> <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/leading-the-change-a-comparison-of-the-principal-supervisor-role.aspx">Leading the Change</a><em>, a look at the role in larger districts nationally, can be found </em> <a href="/knowledge-center/school-leadership/pages/principal-supervisors.aspx"> <em>here</em></a><em>.</em></p>Des Moines schools chief Thomas Ahart discusses how his district re-made the principal supervisor job GP0|#cad33471-a186-455a-836f-0d0657808f00;L0|#0cad33471-a186-455a-836f-0d0657808f00|research;GTSet|#e1be52fb-ad26-4379-9818-fd44f616dcf2;GP0|#9bd3b07b-0109-42ab-81a9-dbffde0c42be;L0|#09bd3b07b-0109-42ab-81a9-dbffde0c42be|education leadership;GP0|#d8c6884c-01d7-4a90-96c3-5e633b2e0470;L0|#0d8c6884c-01d7-4a90-96c3-5e633b2e0470|principal supervisor;GP0|#37e72e97-63c0-4a59-a307-c9cd87ec9ef2;L0|#037e72e97-63c0-4a59-a307-c9cd87ec9ef2|education researchGP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61Jennifer Gill83<img alt="" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/thomas-ahart-lg-feature.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />2020-07-28T04:00:00ZDes Moines schools chief Thomas Ahart discusses how his district re-made the principal supervisor job7/27/2020 8:50:10 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Once Focused on System Problems, Principal Supervisors Now Drive Support Des Moines schools chief Thomas Ahart discusses 73https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
6 Data-Tested Approaches to Building New Audiences22824<p>It’s safe to say that most museums would like new visitors. Visitors actualize museums’ missions, give them vibrancy as places of insight and connection, and contribute to their financial welfare. Even for museums that receive plenty of visitors in number, there may be interest in seeing <em>different</em> ones, from backgrounds and identity groups outside of the usual audience makeup.</p><p>But though the <em>why </em>is clear, the <em>how </em>can be elusive. There is no shortage of ideas about how to attract newcomers, and it’s hard to know which are worth the investment of time and money to implement. Thankfully, The Wallace Foundation has made it a mission to partner with cultural organizations and help them address this question with research rather than guesswork, publishing the results in a series of detailed and candid <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/wallace-studies-in-building-arts-audiences.aspx">reports</a>. AAM has summarized the findings from these case studies in <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/programs/building-audiences/resources/">fact sheets</a>, with key insights and thought-provoking discussion questions tailored to the museum field.</p><p>Though the institutions profiled are an assorted bunch—spanning museums, performing arts organizations, and art studios around the country—many of the lessons they learned overlap. Here are some tips that recurred throughout their experiments.</p><h2>1. Identify a target audience and get to know them well.<img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/6-Data-Tested-Approaches-to-Building-New-Audiences/Omar-Lopez-on-Unsplash.jpg" alt="Omar-Lopez-on-Unsplash.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br></h2><p class="wf-Element-ImageCaption"> <em>Photo credit&#58; Omar Lopez on Unsplash</em><br></p><p>It’s not enough to want “new visitors” in general. Different visitors want different things, and a strategy aimed at everyone is likely to please few. Instead, you need to get specific about who you want to come, so you can identify precisely what they want and why they aren’t already coming.</p><p>Your target audience might be young professionals, teenagers, parents with children, or recent immigrants from Latin America and Asia—to name some of the examples from the Wallace studies. Choose one that makes sense for the type of museum you are and the area you’re located in.</p><p>Once you’ve identified this target audience, start by getting to know them well—ideally by listening to them directly, as Wallace participants did in focus groups and other market research. That way, you can test your assumptions about how they feel and what they want, which are likely to be wrong by instinct. Research can reveal surprising, overlooked, and even radically simple barriers to attendance, <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.Fleisher.pdf" target="_blank">like the Fleisher Art Memorial’s revelation</a> that its building was intimidating to people who had never been inside.</p><h2>2. Get the whole organization on board.<img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/6-Data-Tested-Approaches-to-Building-New-Audiences/airfocus-on-Unsplash.jpg" alt="airfocus-on-Unsplash.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br></h2><p></p><p class="wf-Element-ImageCaption"> <em>Photo credit&#58; airfocus on Unsplash</em></p><p>Before you proceed with an audience-building initiative, make sure to discuss the plans with the entire organization. Cultivating a new audience has real impacts on how you operate, and without sufficient dialogue, staff and board members may feel blindsided or undermined by these changes.</p><p>But this emphasis on transparency and collaboration is not only to preserve morale. Letting staff or leadership express their concerns about your ideas can strengthen them, accounting for wrinkles you didn’t consider and pushing you toward creative compromises to retain existing audiences.</p><p>For many in the organization, a sticking point might be how a plan adheres to the museum’s mission. They may think the museum will lose its focus and change for the worse if it tries to pursue a new audience. For that reason, it’s important to keep your mission statement close at hand while you’re working on audience-building strategies, to think about how they will tie into rather than deviate from those goals.</p><p>Another possibility is that your audience-building work will <em>reconnect </em>you to your mission. In the process of figuring out why a target audience isn’t visiting, you may realize you’ve been falling short of the purpose your museum was created for to begin with. That was the case for the <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.San-Fran-Girls-Chorus.pdf" target="_blank">San Francisco Girls Chorus</a>, which realized it had lost focus on performance in favor of other aspects of its operations, and ended up following its rebrand into a refocused culture and board composition. </p><h2>3. Revamp your marketing.<img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/6-Data-Tested-Approaches-to-Building-New-Audiences/Yitzhak-Rodriguez-on-Unsplash.jpg" alt="Yitzhak-Rodriguez-on-Unsplash.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br></h2><p class="wf-Element-ImageCaption"> <em>Photo credit&#58; Yitzhak Rodriguez on Unsplash</em><br></p><p>If there is one throughline from the focus groups in the Wallace studies, it is that participants expected the cultural organizations’ offerings to be boring, old-fashioned, and intimidating for people inexperienced with the medium or focus area. If you think this is untrue for your museum, your marketing and communications are the place to bust these stereotypes.</p><p>In many of the studies, target audiences were put off by the organization’s existing marketing, reading it as flat, esoteric, and uninspiring. It came from and spoke to an in-group of enthusiasts, or was lacking in intention and flair altogether. Several of the organizations found success by using more dynamic visuals, like emotive close-ups of ballerinas or choral singers, and letting these do most of the talking rather than text.</p><p>But don’t neglect the text in your communications, either. Simple, short, and approachable information was important to many focus group participants, who found existing materials dense and confusing. Based on this feedback, <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.Fleisher.pdf" target="_blank">Fleisher Art Memorial</a> redesigned its course catalog to be simpler and more scannable. The <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.Minnesota-Opera.pdf" target="_blank">Minnesota Opera</a>, accustomed to marketing its performances with information on composers and historical contexts, tried to speak in terms of storylines and spectacle instead.</p><p>Both in images and words, it helps to emphasize the universal themes and benefits of your experience, those at the root of what you offer. This could be the joy of creating something with your own two hands, as <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.Clay-Studio.pdf" target="_blank">The Clay Studio</a> emphasized, or the excitement of watching interpersonal dramas unfold, as the <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.Minnesota-Opera.pdf" target="_blank">Minnesota Opera</a> did. You likely already know why your museum is worth visiting—why the subject it explores is fascinating—but for people who don’t, you need to spell it out.</p><h2>4. Roll out the welcome mat.<img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/6-Data-Tested-Approaches-to-Building-New-Audiences/Russ-Martin-on-Unsplash.jpg" alt="Russ-Martin-on-Unsplash.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br></h2><p class="wf-Element-ImageCaption"> <em>Photo credit&#58; Russ Martin on Unsplash</em><br></p><p>As powerful as marketing and communications can be, they aren’t everything. Ideally, they should illuminate an experience that is <em>actually</em> engaging and welcoming, not misrepresent it as such—which won’t go far in cultivating visitors in the long run.</p><p>Ask yourself whether you can offer exhibitions and programs relevant to the target audience. (If not, you probably have the wrong target audience.) Then work to create them, if they don’t already exist. When the <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.Jewish-Museum.pdf" target="_blank">Contemporary Jewish Museum</a> wanted to reach parents with children, for instance, it mounted exhibitions exploring the work of famous Jewish children’s book authors, and began a series of special programs designed for parents and children to mingle. When <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.Clay-Studio.pdf" target="_blank">The Clay Studio</a> wanted to reach a millennial audience, it adapted to their preferences with relaxed, social alternatives to its normally intensive sculpture classes.</p><p>With a relevant experience in place, you should figure out how to make your welcome loud and clear, especially if your target audience is one used to feeling out of place in your setting. The <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.Pacific-Northwest-Ballet.pdf" target="_blank">Pacific Northwest Ballet</a>, for instance, made a special announcement before performances to thank teenagers attending through a special ticket program. The <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.Jewish-Museum.pdf" target="_blank">Contemporary Jewish Museum</a> designed its lobby to be inviting to children, with trained staff available to guide them. <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.Fleisher.pdf" target="_blank">Fleisher Art Memorial</a> created its first paid visitor services positions and trained staff in cultural competency, to address the unwelcoming atmosphere its immigrant target audience reported.</p><p>In the focus groups, intimidation was a recurring barrier to attending. Rightly or wrongly, many people expect elitism from cultural institutions—that they will be shamed or embarrassed for not already knowing a topic well, or otherwise not “fitting in.” Though it may be hard to perceive from the inside, inviting newcomers to visit your museum can feel like inviting them to a party where they don’t know anyone and won’t be able to follow the conversation. So, just like a good party host, you need to look for ways to make them feel comfortable and bring them into the fold.</p><h2>5. Partner with organizations already serving your target audience.<img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/6-Data-Tested-Approaches-to-Building-New-Audiences/My-life-Through-a-Lens-on-Unsplash.jpg" alt="My-life-Through-a-Lens-on-Unsplash.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br></h2><p class="wf-Element-ImageCaption"> <em>Photo credit&#58; “My Life Through a Lens” on Unsplash</em><br></p><p>Like transparency, partnerships are more than a feel-good buzzword. They can make your job easier, drawing on existing expertise rather than reproducing it from scratch. This is especially true with reaching new audiences—surely there are organizations in your area already reaching the audience you want, and working with them can bring mutual benefit.</p><p>Several of the Wallace participants found luck through partnerships like these. For example, the <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.Boston-Lyric.pdf" target="_blank">Boston Lyric Opera</a> went to elaborate lengths to bring full-scale performances to new neighborhoods, but only succeeded in attracting newcomers when it hosted “previews” with local libraries. The <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.Minnesota-Opera.pdf" target="_blank">Minnesota Opera</a> partnered with a local celebrity news radio host who effused on-air about the spectacle of its performances, speaking in terms he knew his audience would relate to.</p><p>But not all partnerships are created equal. Don’t just look at them as a means to an end to promote your offerings. For best results, you need your partners to be actively engaged, and the best way to ensure that is to collaborate on a strategy that also meets their needs and abilities. <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.Fleisher.pdf" target="_blank">Fleisher Art Memorial</a> stressed this in its work with community organizations serving local immigrants, calling it a “give and take” that required active listening to understand the constraints of its partners.</p><h2>6. Stay agile.<img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/6-Data-Tested-Approaches-to-Building-New-Audiences/Fores-Simon-on-Unsplash.jpg" alt="Fores-Simon-on-Unsplash.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br></h2><p class="wf-Element-ImageCaption"> <em>Photo credit&#58; Forest Simon on Unsplash</em><br></p><p>Your work on audience-building strategies doesn’t stop after you begin deploying them. On the contrary, you should be vigilant of the data on how they perform, so you can tweak ideas that fall behind and boost those that excel. In the process of refining a lagging strategy, you might discover an important variable you hadn’t thought of, which can then be applied to future endeavors. If nothing will turn it around, you have the freedom to stop doing it and shift resources to successful ideas—a blessing in resource-strapped non-profits.</p><p>At the <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.Seattle-Opera.pdf" target="_blank">Seattle Opera</a>, staff organized their multi-year digital outreach initiative into phases, sourcing audience evaluations in between each phase. From these evaluations, they learned that certain of their early strategies—like podcasts, blog content, and interactives—did not appeal to audiences as much as behind-the-scenes videos. So they dropped the content that was least appealing and channeled their resources into more ambitious video concepts, going with the flow of what audiences were responding to.</p><p>Think of your strategies as experiments. It’s okay—and likely—that some of them will fail. Not even the <a href="https&#58;//www.vulture.com/2020/07/is-anyone-watching-quibi.html" target="_blank">best-resourced company</a> is immune to this. But if you commit to trying, and staying open-eyed about what is and isn’t working, your successes just might revitalize and sustain your museum.</p><p><em>This post was originally published on the <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/" target="_blank">American Alliance for Museums</a> website and is reprinted here with permission. </em></p> Most museums would like new visitors, but pursuing them can be a challenge. Here are some takeaways from data-focused case studies.GP0|#7ee74777-f4ad-4204-a3cc-1a02bb45abab;L0|#07ee74777-f4ad-4204-a3cc-1a02bb45abab|arts audiences;GTSet|#e1be52fb-ad26-4379-9818-fd44f616dcf2;GP0|#3684430d-1156-47e2-905a-086b771432fd;L0|#03684430d-1156-47e2-905a-086b771432fd|Building audiences for the artsGP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61Joseph O’Neill110<img alt="" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Bill-Johnston-on-Unsplash.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />2020-07-22T04:00:00ZYour source for research and ideas to expand high quality learning and enrichment opportunities. Supporting: School Leadership, After School, Summer and Extended Learning Time, Arts Education and Building Audiences for the Arts.7/22/2020 5:01:23 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / 6 Data-Tested Approaches to Building New Audiences Most museums would like new visitors, but pursuing them can be a 608https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Data and Deliberation: A Dynamic Duo for Arts Organizations23735<p>Even before the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered performances, many performing arts organizations faced challenges. National statistics have shown stagnant or declining attendance across many art forms associated with the nonprofit performing arts (see <a href="https&#58;//www.arts.gov/sites/default/files/2012-sppa-jan2015-rev.pdf">2015</a> and <a href="https&#58;//www.arts.gov/sites/default/files/2017-sppapreviewREV-sept2018.pdf">2018</a> National Endowment reports, for example). While the problem is widely acknowledged, there is less consensus or confidence about how organizations can respond. </p><p>Can data and market research help? </p><p><img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Data-and-Deliberation-A-Dynamic-Duo-for-Arts-Organizations/francie-headshot.jpg" alt="francie-headshot.jpg" class="wf-Image-Left" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;152px;height&#58;218px;" />The experiences of 25 performing arts organizations in The Wallace Foundation’s Building Audiences for Sustainability (BAS) initiative offer helpful insights. Organizations in the multi-year initiative, which recently came to a close, received grants to try and enlarge and engage their audiences. While their specific projects differed, all the organizations made use of data collection and market research, generally through a mix of focus groups, ticketing database analyses and post-performance audience surveys. </p><p>The emphasis on data and market research was part of the initiative’s continuous learning approach, characterized by an iterative process of design, implementation, analysis and determination of changes needed for improvement. My team and I have been studying the experiences of the organizations in the initiative.&#160;Interim findings about this key part of the initiative are presented in a new report, <a name="_Hlk43134477"></a> <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/data-and-deliberation-how-some-arts-organizations-are-using-data-to-understand-their-audiences.aspx"> <em>Data and Deliberation&#58; How Some Arts Organizations Are Using Data to Understand their Audiences</em></a><em>.</em></p><p>The findings underscore that data is not a magic bullet. To the contrary, engaging with data is a complex and challenging undertaking. Despite the challenges, virtually everyone at the participating arts organizations found engaging with data helpful. Our findings, along with examples from participants’ experiences, are presented in full in the report. To briefly summarize here&#58;</p><ul><li> <strong>Engaging with data appeared most productive when embedded in a larger deliberative process.</strong> Here, data becomes an input into a broader process of reflection and assessment about whether organizational goals are being pursued. <br> <br></li><li> <strong>Data can yield useful insights beyond organizations’ immediate and planned purposes.</strong> We repeatedly found instances where engagement with data prompted organizations to become aware of unexamined assumptions they held about their intended audience. <br> <br></li><li> <strong>Productive data engagement can be complex and costly.</strong> While organizations expressed enthusiasm for taking a data-based approach, they also said that they rarely have adequate funds to do so.<br><br></li><li> <strong>Recognizing the rewards and challenges in advance can help organizations more effectively plan for data engagement.</strong> Key issues to consider are what type of data are most relevant and what resources will be needed to support data collection and analysis<br><br></li></ul><ul><li> <strong>Effectively using data requires that </strong> <strong>organizational participants be able to frankly acknowledge what the data say about what is working and what is not working, in a fruitful rather than punitive fashion. </strong>Productive data engagement is not just about the data—but about how data are approached, the questions asked and a willingness to revise preconceptions.&#160; </li></ul><p>In a <a href="/knowledge-center/Documents/Audience-Building-Financial-Health-Nonprofit-Performing-Arts.pdf">review of the audience-building literature</a> we conducted earlier in our study, we found a dichotomy&#160; between those who value market research as a key tool and others who regard it as a somewhat manipulative sales effort rather than meaningful engagement.&#160;Our findings suggest a reconsideration of this dichotomy.&#160;<br></p><p>To a striking extent, we found that data, and an openness to what the data said, prompted the BAS organizations to confront their own insularity and recognize the extent to which they had not understood the perspective of external constituencies. Data is not engagement. Knowing about an audience is not the same as developing a relationship with that audience. But recognizing misconceptions, being prompted to ask about the audience rather than assuming that you understand audience members or that they think as you do can significantly contribute to relating differently and thus developing meaningful engagement. As expressed by one BAS participant while reflecting on her organization’s engagement with data&#58;&#160; </p><p class="wf-Element-Callout">It’s changing the way that we interact. We have a thing we say here all the time. Like do we know it or do we really know it? And with audiences, you have to always ask yourself that…. We’ve gone from describing a couple of departments in this [organization] as outward-facing, and now we understand that we’re all outward-facing. </p><p>Data is not a magic bullet—but when the appropriate data are used with an openness to change and a willingness to question one’s preconceptions, data can provide a powerful tool indeed. ​<br><br></p>New report examines the challenges and rewards of a data-based approach to understanding arts audiencesGP0|#459b8438-9b87-47d0-814e-02452652da81;L0|#0459b8438-9b87-47d0-814e-02452652da81|arts;GTSet|#e1be52fb-ad26-4379-9818-fd44f616dcf2;GP0|#a6e8fc98-9e82-4f7e-836e-a902e32c91c6;L0|#0a6e8fc98-9e82-4f7e-836e-a902e32c91c6|arts organizations;GP0|#7ee74777-f4ad-4204-a3cc-1a02bb45abab;L0|#07ee74777-f4ad-4204-a3cc-1a02bb45abab|arts audiences;GP0|#32ab5a8c-5620-43b0-b5a6-f868041e5364;L0|#032ab5a8c-5620-43b0-b5a6-f868041e5364|data;GP0|#cad33471-a186-455a-836f-0d0657808f00;L0|#0cad33471-a186-455a-836f-0d0657808f00|research;GP0|#6d9bcaca-5be0-4e7e-b9b2-a4800011a6bc;L0|#06d9bcaca-5be0-4e7e-b9b2-a4800011a6bc|audience buildingGP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61Francie Ostrower, Ph.D. 109<img alt="" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/blog-data-deliberation-lg-feature.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />2020-07-14T04:00:00ZNew report examines the challenges and rewards of a data-based approach to understanding arts audiences7/14/2020 2:34:23 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Data and Deliberation: A Dynamic Duo for Arts Organizations New report examines the challenges and rewards of a data-based 332https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Though it May Look Different, Summer Is Not Canceled23668 <p>​Every year, millions of kids—and, let’s face it, many adults too—look forward to the start of summer. But Summer 2020 is shaping up to be like no other. With summer vacations canceled, camps on hold and schools unsure about whether and how they will reopen, we’re facing a new set of questions, challenges and opportunities. </p><p>As we kick off Summer Learning Week, we had the chance to connect via email with Aaron Dworkin, CEO of the <a href="https&#58;//www.summerlearning.org/">National Summer Learning Association</a> (NSLA), a nonprofit organization that has been solely focused on harnessing summer as a time of learning, to see how they are approaching this unprecedented summer. For more in depth information about NSLA and summer learning, <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/summer-from-the-wild-west-to-a-center-of-success.aspx">see our interview with Dworkin</a> when he came onboard with the organization last year. </p><p><strong>Let’s start with the big question&#58; How will summer be different this year?</strong></p><p>The COVID-19 pandemic threatens to worsen the already existing opportunity gap between children from rich and poor families. It has illuminated the nation’s inequities in our school systems and communities like never before, shining a spotlight on the significant digital divide, food insecurities, childcare issues and learning losses millions of underserved students and their families face every summer. And the combination of COVID-19-related learning loss combined with the usual summer slide may have a ripple effect for years to come. Nonprofit organization NWEA, which specializes in student assessments, predicts significant learning loss from COVID school closures, especially in math. Their findings project that “students may return in fall 2020 with roughly 70 percent of the learning gains in reading relative to a typical school year, less than 50 percent of the learning gains in math, and in some grades, nearly a full year behind what we would observe in normal conditions.”</p><p>This means that summer learning programming will be more important than ever in 2020. Across the country, summer programs are adapting and innovating to ensure children and their families can access quality summer learning opportunities and critical supports, exploring safe ways to reopen, developing virtual and at-home learning experiences that families can do together and securing funding and policy support to expand summer meal programs in communities experiencing an increase in food insecurity due to job losses and school closures.</p><p>Parents, educators, summer learning advocates, business leaders and policymakers each play a critical role to save and expand summer learning opportunities in communities across the country this summer.</p><p><strong>How might families think about summer during this pandemic?</strong><strong> </strong> </p><p>Families are learning how to be hyper-creative when thinking about this summer. They’re thinking about ways to take advantage of available resources in a safe way. While community libraries and museums may be closed to in-person visits, you can explore their summer library programs or museum tours virtually with your children from the comfort of home. Many library and museum websites across the country and around the world have information posted about free virtual learning opportunities. </p><p>Parents can also access other online resources, such as the new <a href="https&#58;//bealearninghero.org/summer-stride/quick-tips-resources/">Summer Stride</a> resource from Learning Heroes, which includes ways to help your child with math and reading at home this summer.</p><p><strong>It seems parents, guardians and others have a bigger role in summer learning this year, in addition to summer programs. In general, why are summer learning programs important?</strong></p><p>Research shows that high-quality summer programs can make a difference in stemming learning loss and closing the country’s educational and opportunity gaps, particularly for our most vulnerable students. Elementary school students with high attendance in summer learning programs boost their math and reading skills. These skills, along with social and emotional learning, help children not only in school but also in their careers and life.<strong></strong></p><p><strong>What is most important for policymakers to know about summer learning programs, especially this year?</strong></p><p>On the federal level, funding is critical. These dollars serve to launch new programs and allow existing programs to serve more students and improve quality. Recent studies have shown that 88 percent of teachers say summer learning programs are important to students’ success and 85 percent of families support public investment in summer programs. </p><p>The House and Senate continue to show strong support for 21st Century Community Learning Centers, Title IV Part A, and other key funding that supports summer programs in budget allocations. </p><p>On the state level, it is crucial for policymakers to allocate federal funding received toward more quality summer and afterschool opportunities, as well as increase regular state education funding to include financial support for summer and afterschool programs. We are also encouraging local leaders to take advantage of the specific allowable use of funds for summer learning cited in the <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/unpacking-the-federal-response-to-covid-19-in-education.aspx">CARES ACT</a> [the federal relief act in response to COVID-19]&#160;and to continue to promote additional local funding for summer learning. State policymakers could support summer learning and close the opportunity gap for children in their state by adding or refining language about summer learning and afterschool learning in their state school finance formulas and in statues, describe key components of successful opportunities as principles for which the funding should be spent. </p><p><strong>Given the current context, is NSLA doing anything different for Summer Learning Week this year?</strong></p><p>Summer may look different this year, but it isn’t canceled. Even if we can’t all be together, summer programs are adapting and innovating to ensure children and their families can access quality summer learning opportunities and critical supports and services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. </p><p>To that end, we are offering&#160;numerous new resources and launching our national Keep All Kids Healthy and Learning billboard advertising campaign. In addition, with the move to many more virtual programs and events during this pandemic, NSLA is celebrating the week with <a href="https&#58;//www.summerlearning.org/summer-learning-week/theme-days-and-resources/">different theme days</a> and by lifting up inspiring program examples and resources with national webinars each day co-hosted with innovative summer learning partners and leaders. </p><p><em>To find out more about NSLA’s daily webinars and other&#160;resources for Summer Learning Week, visit the organization’s </em><a href="https&#58;//www.summerlearning.org/summer-learning-week/"><em>website</em></a><em>.</em></p> This Year’s National Summer Learning Week Celebrates a Wide Variety of Opportunities Still Available to Kids Across AmericaGP0|#507166ce-121b-4ec6-97dc-339d45606921;L0|#0507166ce-121b-4ec6-97dc-339d45606921|summer;GTSet|#e1be52fb-ad26-4379-9818-fd44f616dcf2;GP0|#e1fa6315-c0f8-43dd-a2ab-442a6bfff3cf;L0|#0e1fa6315-c0f8-43dd-a2ab-442a6bfff3cf|NSLA;GP0|#4250901a-c681-4ad2-a5fd-e20e72f7110c;L0|#04250901a-c681-4ad2-a5fd-e20e72f7110c|summer learning week;GP0|#d12b494a-8c5d-4014-9866-51539e68ea50;L0|#0d12b494a-8c5d-4014-9866-51539e68ea50|COVID-19;GP0|#57aaaed6-d4f9-43f2-b1ba-5385592c62bd;L0|#057aaaed6-d4f9-43f2-b1ba-5385592c62bd|resources;GP0|#ec8a0d0f-0ee2-4b19-b12b-d00566e17880;L0|#0ec8a0d0f-0ee2-4b19-b12b-d00566e17880|opportunities for kidsGP0|#ff9563e3-b973-45a7-8ac3-c9f4122f9a13;L0|#0ff9563e3-b973-45a7-8ac3-c9f4122f9a13|Summer Learning;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61Wallace editorial team79<img alt="" src="/knowledge-center/PublishingImages/blog-summer-learning-week-lg-feature.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />2020-07-08T04:00:00ZThis Year’s National Summer Learning Week Celebrates a Wide Variety of Opportunities Still Available to Kids Across America7/8/2020 4:27:06 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Though it May Look Different, Summer Is Not Canceled This Year’s National Summer Learning Week Celebrates a Wide Variety of 184https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx

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