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10 Things Museums Should Consider as They Take Programs Virtual21786GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>In the wake of COVID-19, many museums and other arts organizations have rapidly <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/engaging-audiences-in-the-age-of-social-distancing.aspx" target="_blank">moved their programming online</a> to help audiences in their community and around the world continue to feel connected. According to David Resnicow, president and cofounder of <a href="https&#58;//resnicow.com/" target="_blank">Resnicow and Associates</a>*, a communications agency serving cultural institutions and enterprises, there are additional steps museums should take to thrive in the long-run. </p><p>Resnicow writes in <em>ARTnews</em>&#58; </p><p class="wf-Element-Callout">During the past month, museums across the globe have been faced with suddenly transforming themselves from physical spaces designed to immerse visitors in installations and on-site programs into producers and distributors of online multimedia content. Without any preparation or playbook. Rather than deliver visitors to the museum, museums must now deliver themselves to the visitor.</p><p class="wf-Element-Callout">The medium is the museum.</p><p class="wf-Element-Callout">My firm has spent 28 years working with major museums’ communications offices in crafting the ways they present themselves to the outside world. In this new world, the communications office finds itself playing a leading role, not a supporting one. It constructs the virtual front door to an amorphous venue that simultaneously welcomes visitors and presents programming. Of course, museums have long produced digital content to support their real-world initiatives, but with the digital realm now the lone space available for engaging the community, they are navigating uncharted territory, with vastly differing visitor patterns and audience reach.</p><p>To read the full op-ed, <a href="https&#58;//www.artnews.com/art-news/news/museums-online-how-to-survive-1202685967/" target="_blank">click here</a>. </p><p>*Resnicow and Associates works with Wallace staff on many of our arts initiatives. </p>Wallace editorial team792020-05-28T04:00:00ZOp-Ed in ARTNews offers advice for museums approaching the new digital reality5/28/2020 7:35:38 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / 10 Things Museums Should Consider as They Take Programs Virtual Op-Ed in ARTnews offers advice for museums approaching the 228https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Ambassadors, Advice and Strategic Discounts Bring Newcomers to Minnesota Opera3672GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p> <em>This post is an update on <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/wallace-studies-in-building-arts-audiences-someone-who-speaks-their-language.aspx">a 2014 case study</a> of Minnesota Opera’s Wallace-funded efforts to attract new opera fans and supporters. It is one of a series of blog posts exploring how organizations' audience-development efforts fare once Wallace funds run out. It does not include a thorough analysis to determine whether the financial benefits of the efforts described are commensurate to their costs.</em></p><p>Those unfamiliar with opera often assume the art form is for a different kind of person; they may think of someone older, wealthier, with different sensibilities and maybe even a bit pretentious. For the marketing staff at Minnesota Opera, the key to bringing newcomers to the performance hall requires, first and foremost, challenging that assumption. One tack has been to enable trusted opera devotees to act as ambassadors and encourage others to give the art form a try. Assisted by a four-year (2009 to 2012), $750,000 Excellence Award from The Wallace Foundation, the organization successfully enlisted an influencer with a wide following who attracted new ticket buyers. When a medical condition forced that influencer to retire, the staff empowered other groups in its audience base to cultivate new attendees.&#160; </p><h3 class="wf-Element-H3">Tapping Local Partners</h3><p> The company, which produces five operas per year for an audience of nearly 45,000, first experimented with this idea in its 2008–2009 season, with a Bring-a-Friend program. Through that effort, its roughly 3,000 subscribers could receive a free companion ticket to a performance, which they were asked to give to a friend who had never attended Minnesota Opera. Staffers were discouraged when fewer than a fifth of subscribers took advantage of the offer but took heart when half the invited friends later bought tickets themselves. That high return rate got the marketing staff thinking about how to expand the model by tapping into a trusted advocate with greater reach. </p><p>As detailed in a <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/wallace-studies-in-building-arts-audiences-someone-who-speaks-their-language.aspx">2014 case study</a>, the company launched a partnership with Ian Punnett, a longtime opera attendee and host of a morning drive-time pop-culture radio show. In show banter and in ads, he told his audience, which was made up mostly of professional women, what they would find enjoyable about specific Minnesota Opera productions. Avoiding esoteric references, he emphasized the drama, spectacle, pageantry and passion on stage. Over the four years of Wallace Foundation funding, more than 1,000 new households redeemed free tickets received in promotions on Punnett's show, in line with the company’s projections. What’s more, 18 percent of these newcomers returned on a paid ticket, well exceeding the 10-percent return rate documented in <a href="https&#58;//www.oliverwyman.com/content/dam/oliver-wyman/global/en/files/community/Pro%20Bono%20Program/Solving%20a%20Classical%20Mystery/OW_EN_PUBL_2008_AUDIENCEGROWTHINITIATIVE%281%29.pdf">a 2008 study of first-time visitors at nine American symphonies</a>.</p><p> <img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Ambassadors-Advice-and-Strategic-Discounts-Bring-Newcomers-to-Minnesota-Opera/Traviata2.jpeg.jpg" alt="Traviata2.jpeg.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /> <br> </p><p>The radio partnership was just one component of the strategy. A local afternoon TV talk show also distributed free tickets to all members of its 50-person studio audience. But the show’s hosts lacked Punnett’s connection to opera and couldn’t speak as compellingly about it. Further, audience members received tickets whether they were interested or not. Few redeemed tickets and the partnership was scrapped in its second year. </p><p>The company also conducted research into audience motivations for buying tickets and, importantly, what prevented first timers who had come through the radio promotion from returning a second time. The research revealed that, although those newcomers may have enjoyed attending the performance, when they were considering a return visit, they didn’t have Punnett to steer them toward another opera. Marketing brochures were designed for traditional audiences, lacked Punnett’s accessible style and had references that newcomers did not fully understand. What’s more, the decision to return not only involved choosing an opera, but also selecting a seat in an unfamiliar hall. Consumer psychologists have long noted that <a href="https&#58;//insight.kellogg.northwestern.edu/article/what-predicts-consumer-choice-overload">too many options can overwhelm unfamiliar consumers</a>, causing them to avoid choosing anything at all. Minnesota Opera’s research suggested that this tendency may be at play among its prospects. They needed help and sometimes a push to identify when and how to return.</p><p>These insights gave rise to multiple marketing strategies to overcome that purchase inertia. One tack was to simplify the decision-making process by creating offers for tickets in a specific seating section, eliminating the need to select where to sit. These promotions typically offered configurations such as “Three tickets for $75,” and produced about 100 new subscribers when they ran in local newspapers. Another approach was an impulse-buy promotion offered at two or three performances each season. First-time subscribers received a discount on a new subscription if they signed up before leaving the performance hall. Approximately 100 new subscribers did so each evening the offer was made available.</p><h3 class="wf-Element-H3">Turning to Existing Ambassadors</h3><p> Severe tinnitus forced Punnett to retire from radio in early 2013, bringing Minnesota Opera's partnership with him to an unexpected end. The company sought a similar partner who shares a love of opera, a large audience and a relatable personality—critical factors that drove the program's success—but was unable to find one. The staff therefore tried to deputize different groups within its audience base. “When a friend recommends going to the opera, it’s very different than being served a marketing message,&quot; says Marketing Director Katherine Castille.</p><p>The company still runs its Bring-A-Friend program but has had to pare it back as its popularity has grown. Minnesota Opera has approximately 3,000 subscribers, and an open offer to all of them meant that the company could potentially hand out more than 500 tickets per production. It therefore offers Bring-a-Friend tickets for just one production each year to the approximately 200 subscribers who automatically renew their subscriptions before the next season’s titles are revealed. The approach provides an incentive to auto-renew while also attracting a small number of newcomers to the performance hall. </p><p>Bring-a-Friend<em> Redemptions and Returning Households<br></em></p><p> <em><img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Ambassadors-Advice-and-Strategic-Discounts-Bring-Newcomers-to-Minnesota-Opera/bring-a-friend-chart.jpg" alt="bring-a-friend-chart.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /></em><br> </p><p>Beginning in the 2016–2017 season, Minnesota Opera also began offering complimentary 'loyalty tickets' to some subscribers, not just to show appreciation but also to help introduce their friends to the company. The group that receives the offer varies. That way, no one gets used to relying on free tickets and the marketing team can target larger or smaller groups depending on the number of seats available. For one show, free tickets might be offered to weekend subscribers; for another, they could go to new subscribers or those who have subscribed for more than ten years. Unlike Bring-A-Friend, these tickets do not need to be given to someone new to the company, but many are. Some preliminary results (below) show that the program is providing a very low-cost way to bring in new audiences; 183 (25 percent) of the 720 new households that came through the program purchased tickets themselves afterwards. </p><p> <em>Loyalty Ticket Redemptions and Returning Households<br></em></p><p> <em><img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Ambassadors-Advice-and-Strategic-Discounts-Bring-Newcomers-to-Minnesota-Opera/loyalty-ticket-chart.jpg" alt="loyalty-ticket-chart.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /></em><br> </p><p>The staff is aware of the arguments against offering free tickets&#58; They can deflate perceptions of the operas’ value and, if used too liberally, teach people to expect them. For that reason, it distributes loyalty tickets in a highly targeted way. For starters, the company offers at most one free ticket to each patron each year and, to capitalize on patrons’ social connections, asks the recipient to invite a friend. The company typically makes these tickets available only in circumstances where sales are likely to need a lift—e.g., less popular showtimes, hard-to-fill seats, less familiar titles and shows early in the season that don't have much time for advance sales. </p><h3 class="wf-Element-H3">Offers and Messages to Encourage Ticket Purchases</h3><p> Relying on insights from its research with first-time attendees, the company still offers impulse-buy subscriptions following certain performances. It provides a discount of between 30 and 50 percent to single-ticket buyers who opt for these offers. The company targets well-known titles and performances outside of the subscription series, because those evenings are likely to have the most non-subscribers in attendance. Over three nights at the end of a run of <em>La Traviata</em> in May 2019<em>, </em>the company sold 160 new subscriptions, together worth approximately $25,000. The year prior, it ran the offer at two performances of <em>Rigoletto, </em>bringing in approximately $14,000 through 90 new subscribers. </p><p> <img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Ambassadors-Advice-and-Strategic-Discounts-Bring-Newcomers-to-Minnesota-Opera/Traviata.jpg.jpg" alt="Traviata.jpg.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /> <br> </p><p>The company also tries to point newcomers in the direction of operas they might like, much as Punnett did on his radio show. The practice began when the staff heard in focus groups that people who had not returned to the opera missed Punnett’s guidance. Staffers initially responded by rewriting season brochures to signal which works were “perfect for an opera newbie” or “perfect for an opera buff.” But they nixed the strategy after one season; staffers became concerned that the phrasing might sound as if they were suggesting “opera smart” or “opera dumb.” </p><p>The need to help newcomers pick an opera was still there, however. “We have to find new ways to help people relate,” says Castille. “The seemingly natural reaction seems to be, ‘It’s not for me,’ and we need to make it more approachable.” </p><p>Now, communications targeting single-ticket buyers, who are more likely to be newer to opera, provide guidance on who should see what opera by including references to similar works and pop-culture. For a recent production of <em>Marriage of Figaro, </em>for example, audiences were told that it would be perfect for people who like <em>Downton Abbey, Amadeus </em>and <em>Cosí Fan Tutte. </em></p><p>In all communications Minnesota Opera also targets misperceptions about opera more directly. The company always promotes the fact that tickets start at $25, as it has done for the past ten years, because people assume opera is expensive. It also shows simultaneous English translation during performances, and has consistently communicated that point in print, TV and radio advertising for more than a decade. Even so, misconceptions have proven to be resistant to change (that’s true for other art forms as well). The company recently completed focus-group research and, Castille says, “Those perceptions are still out there—that opera is super expensive, it’s stuffy, it’s exclusively for much older people, I have to know a different language. The work is never done.&quot;</p><p><em>La Traviata, 2019. Photos by Dan Norman courtesy of Minnesota Opera.</em></p> <strong></strong><p></p>Bob Harlow822020-01-21T05:00:00ZA midwestern company taps its networks and carefully crafts promotions to introduce new audiences to opera.1/29/2020 2:35:54 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Ambassadors, Advice and Strategic Discounts Bring Newcomers to Minnesota Opera A midwestern company taps its networks and 534https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
The Contemporary Jewish Museum Is Now (Also) a Family Destination15701GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p><em>​​​This post is an update of a </em><em><a href="/knowledge-center/pages/converting-family-into-fans.aspx">2016 case study</a></em><em> of The Contemporary Jewish Museum’s Wallace-funded efforts to attract larger numbers of families with young children. It is one of a series of bl​​og posts exploring how organizations' audience-development efforts fare once Wallace funds run out. It does not include a thorough analysis to determine whether the financial benefits of the efforts described are commensurate to their costs.</em></p><p>San Francisco’s Contemporary Jewish Museum (The CJM) presents a continuously changing program of exhibitions about Jewish art and culture to a diverse audience, approximately half of which does not identify as Jewish. In 2008, it moved from a 2,500-square-foot, single-gallery exhibition space to a 63,000-square-foot facility with room for multiple exhibitions shown simultaneously. Leaders of The CJM believed the expansion opened up a promising opportunity&#58; to attract more parents visiting with children, who could fill the space with intergenerational conversations and vitality. To that end, the museum set out to engage this audience in large numbers. </p><p>That aspiration brought The CJM into largely unfamiliar territory. The museum had not previously targeted families, who made up about 10 percent of the museum’s 10,000 to 13,000 annual visitors in the two years preceding the move. What’s more, more than half of family visits occurred on just two free days each year during Christmas and Purim. As described in <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/converting-family-into-fans.aspx">a 2016 case study</a>, a four-year Wallace Excellence Award helped change this picture. Between 2008 and 2011, the museum developed programs and partnerships that bring in more than 12,000, sometimes as many as 20,000, family visitors each year. </p><p>Eight years after that grant ended, the museum continues to draw large numbers of families. While The CJM no longer sees the runaway success of the early years, visitor response has been enthusiastic enough to build a stable base of family patrons, even as kids age out of the target audience each year.</p><h3 class="wf-Element-H3">The CJM Builds a Family Audience </h3><p> The original family initiative included several elements&#58;<u></u></p><ul><li>Exhibitions of work by well-known Jewish authors and illustrators, such as Maurice Sendak (<em>Where the Wild Things Are</em>), and Margret and H.A. Rey (<em>Curious George</em>), designed to appeal both to adults and children;<br><br></li><li>Year-round programs every Sunday, including (1) “Drop-In Artmaking” for parents and children every Sunday and (2) special family programming on the second Sunday of each month during the school year, consisting of a “Preschool Gallery Hour” in the mornings for preschoolers and their families and tours later in the day for families with older children; <br><br></li><li>“ArtPacks,” kits with activities connected to exhibitions on display and available to check out anytime, to help families explore on their own schedules;<br><br></li><li>Free admission to all visitors under age 18;<br><br></li><li>Several family days with special activities;<br><br></li><li>Partnerships with local libraries, including educator-led art-making in public libraries and a “Library Day” where library-card holders were allowed free admission; and <br><br></li><li>Partnerships with a small but diverse group of public schools, which included both classroom instruction and parent/child art-making, with 300 to 400 children and families taking part each year. </li></ul><h3 class="wf-Element-H3">Marquee Exhibitions Bring in Large Audiences </h3><p> With the opening of the new building, total attendance grew more than tenfold, with considerable variation each year (largely driven by blockbuster exhibitions featuring work by household names such Maurice Sendak and the Reys). Family attendance increased as well, and at a faster clip. As shown in the table below, families visiting with children made up about 10 percent of the visitors in the years leading to the move. In the first years of the initiative, they made up between 13 and 19 percent of general admission visits. Additional programs outside general admission brought in between 1,000 and 3,000 more family visitors each year. </p><p>The exhibitions of well-known children’s book authors were the biggest draw. In the first six years in the new space, families made up a larger proportion of visitors (18 percent) when those exhibits were on view compared to times when they were not (8 percent). Family visitors also made up 15 percent of all attendees on Sundays throughout the year, with especially large numbers visiting on second Sundays. <br> <u> </u><u> </u></p><p><img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/CJM-attendance-wallace-funded-years.jpg" alt="CJM-attendance-wallace-funded-years.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br></p><h3 class="wf-Element-H3">New Gateways into the Museum</h3><p> Wallace funding ended at the close of 2011, but according to Fraidy Aber, who is Constance Wolf director of education and civic engagement, the museum remains committed to continuous innovation to build on its success. “Families have changing habits and needs,” she says. So The CJM’s staff continuously experiments with more efficient and effective ways to attract new families and create experiences that bring them back. </p><p>One opportunity came in 2013, when The CJM built on the popularity of an exhibition of the work of author-illustrator Ezra Jack Keats by launching what would become an annual “Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition.” Children from public schools across the city design and write their own books in a competition juried by a panel of illustrators, curators, librarians and writers. The competition, now in its seventh year, is a less costly alternative to the museum’s previous school-outreach program, in which CJM educators traveled to area schools to lead artmaking sessions. &#160;Activities for the new program are now largely managed by the schools, which submit student-made books to the museum. More than 800 children from 19 public schools participate. The competition culminates with a showcase of the children's books, attended by more than 400 students and their families (visitor surveys show that 45 percent are first-timers). The museum has recently begun a separate program for Jewish schools, hoping to recreate the culminating showcase with the Jewish community. </p><p>The CJM has largely shifted away from presenting exhibitions of children’s book authors and illustrators to focus more on contemporary art, though it still schedules a show every fall with content designed to appeal to both children and adults (including, for example, a 2018 exhibition exploring the work of Rube Goldberg). </p><p>Even so, these exhibits do not bring in the large numbers of family visitors attracted by those earlier exhibitions of authors with household names, and the staff is using other programming to attract new family audiences. For example, in 2016 it broadened the audience for the second-Sunday programming beyond families with preschoolers. The museum invited older children and their accompanying adults to attend and added age-appropriate art-making, storytelling, and entertainment to the day’s programs. Visitor surveys in 2017 revealed that second Sundays had built an audience of repeat visitors; up to 95 percent of attendees on those days had visited previously. The strong repeat attendance signaled to the staff that it was satisfying those who came, and also had considerable potential to expand its audience. </p><p>With that potential in mind, The CJM introduced a bigger, more highly promoted event in 2018. The new “Sunday Family Artbash” offers five hours of art-making, story-telling, music, entertainment, tours and dance movement connected to the exhibitions. The museum boosted advertising and publicity for those days and offered free admission for up to two adults accompanied by a child. That larger scope has required a reduction in frequency—four times a year instead of eight—but early results suggest the strategy is delivering. Family attendance regularly reaches 400 visitors and beyond (compared to 100 to 200 for the original second-Sunday program), and surveys show that 40 percent are first-timers. </p><p><img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/CJM-photo.jpg" alt="CJM-photo.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br><span style="color&#58;#666666;font-size&#58;16px;text-align&#58;center;">Multiple generations p</span><span style="color&#58;#666666;font-size&#58;16px;text-align&#58;center;">articipate in Drop-in Artmaking at The CJM's Family Artbash; photo by Andria Lo​</span><br></p><h3 class="wf-Element-H3">“Hands-On” Visits Create Positive Experiences<br></h3><p> In 2014, The CJM opened the Zim Zoom Family Room, an interactive, activity-filled space housing artist installations, artmaking facilities, a screening booth and more, accessible any time. Focus groups in 2016 showed that attendees enjoy visits more when they include hands-on activities involving parents with their children, so the museum continually refreshes the Zim Zoom Room with new installations and activities. A major section of the space is devoted to an interactive artist exhibit, which changes each year. Past installations included interactive digital projections, an infinity room of mirrors that changed as children added objects to it and a piano that added paint to a canvas whenever anyone pressed a key. Visitor research shows the typical family visits the galleries for half an hour, then goes to Zim Zoom to play for an hour and finishes with lunch in The CJM’s café. Aber believes the Zim Zoom Room and regular family Sundays are cementing The CJM’s reputation as a family-friendly art museum. Visitor data show the institution attracts a consistent family audience year-round, not just when certain exhibitions are on view. </p><p>The CJM’s research revealing the importance of hands-on activities has also reaffirmed the museum’s commitment to offering Drop-In Artmaking for families every Sunday in the education center. When that research also suggested that families appreciate having educators in the gallery near the art itself, The CJM introduced a mobile “Art PushCart” with activities suitable for galleries (i.e., without markers, glue or other wet materials used in Drop-In Artmaking). That immediacy allows educators to help families connect more directly with works on display. Artists featured in exhibitions have even donated in-progress pieces to the Art PushCart that children can explore in the galleries. Drop-In Artmaking still happens on the first and second Sundays of each month; the Art PushCart is offered in galleries on Sundays later in the month. </p><p>Space and material constraints limit Art PushCart activities, and families spend less time with that program than they do with Drop-in Artmaking. But staff observations suggest that the Art PushCart serves more people, because families don’t need to make a special trip to the education center. </p><p>The museum has settled into an annual family attendance of between 10,000 and 12,000 since the Wallace-funded learning period ended. Approaching its eleventh year targeting families, the staff is starting to see signs of a generational cycle of participation. “We’re now part of the lifetime of people’s connections,” says Aber. “We’re beginning to have museumgoers who came as young adults through our teen programs now attending with their own kids, continuing on that life journey.”<br></p><p><img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/CJM-attendance-post-wallace-funded-years.jpg" alt="CJM-attendance-post-wallace-funded-years.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br><br></p>Bob Harlow822020-01-07T05:00:00ZNew strategies and a new space have helped the museum welcome young visitors and sow the seeds for future growth1/7/2020 2:58:48 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / The Contemporary Jewish Museum Is Now (Also) a Family Destination New strategies and a new space have helped the museum 461https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Research and Self-Reflection Help Strengthen Community Ties16114GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​​​About 10 years ago, staff at Fleisher Art Memorial recognized that the organization was not keeping pace with demographic changes in its Southeast Philadelphia neighborhood. Although Fleisher had off-site community and school programs that served the neighborhood’s growing number of residents of Latin American and Southeast Asian descent, this population was not well represented among the approximately 4,000 students taking on-site classes. In 2008, Fleisher received a Wallace Excellence Award to identify barriers to their attendance and launch programs to eliminate them. The school then saw a subsequent increase in the perception of Fleisher as an inclusive organization and experienced an uptick in enrollment of area youth in its classes. That effort is described in <a href="/knowledge-center/Pages/Wallace-Studies-in-Building-Arts-Audiences-Staying-Relevant-in-a-Changing-Neighborhood.aspx">a 2015 case study</a>.</p><p>Because audience diversification can take many years to accomplish, we were eager to revisit Fleisher and see how things now stand. We found an organization that is not only attracting an increasingly diverse audience but is also asking more questions about itself and inviting its community to help provide answers.</p><p> <strong>Engaging the Community</strong></p><p>Fleisher Art Memorial was founded in 1898 in Southeast Philadelphia, which has been an entry point for newly arrived immigrants throughout its history. For most of the 20th century, Fleisher students came from a patchwork of nearby communities of European heritage. In recent decades, however, those populations have been replaced by newcomers from Latin America (mostly Mexico) and Southeast Asia, groups that Fleisher staff came to realize were not signing up for classes. </p><p>Though many of newly arrived immigrants had practiced art in their home countries—and it continued to be an important part of their lives—they did not know that Fleisher could provide them with art-making opportunities. Fleisher’s research revealed that even though the institution was committed to making art accessible to everyone, regardless of economic means, many of the new immigrants believed the school was for wealthier people of European descent, and in the absence of other information, they assumed they would not be welcome. Therefore, the staff put aside their original aim to engage community residents by offering new programs and instead focused on the need to challenge an inaccurate perception. </p><p>With that in mind, the school launched a community engagement initiative that integrated Fleisher activities into neighborhood daily life. New programs included&#58;</p><ul><li> <a href="http&#58;//fleisher.community/programs/color-wheels/">ColorWheels</a>, a van serving as a mobile art studio that allowed the school to bring art-making to dozens of neighborhood parks, festivals and schools; </li><li>“FAMbassadors,” two local residents who joined the staff to raise awareness of Fleisher and notify the institution of areas where its programs could complement and enrich celebrations and other happenings; and </li><li>Expansion of ARTspiration, its annual day-long street festival, to make it more inclusive of various community groups.</li></ul><p>At the same time, staff members underwent cultural competency training to create a more welcoming environment on-site. They also participated in workshops on topics such as&#58; building relationships, collaborations and partnerships; marketing and messaging in the community; and developing strategies to work with local agencies. After the staff did this groundwork, the neighborhood’s impression of Fleisher as elitist softened considerably, with visitor surveys showing a sharp increase in the perception of Fleisher as committed to serving non-English speakers and people born outside the United States. Moreover, the school began to serve more students from the neighborhoods immediately surrounding it.</p><p> <strong>Continuing Existing Programs and Creating New Ones</strong></p><p>Since the 2015 case study, Fleisher has continued, and in some cases expanded, its engagement programs in these ways&#58;<u></u></p><ul><li>The ColorWheels van still brings art-making throughout the neighborhood, with funding in part from the <a href="https&#58;//www.pnc.com/en/about-pnc/corporate-responsibility/philanthropy/pnc-foundation.html" target="_blank">PNC Foundation</a>. </li><li>ARTspiration has grown and become more of a family festival. Last year, more than 7,000 people visited, a far cry from the less than 2,000 who came just five years ago. The organization still invites vendors and performers who reflect the community’s diversity. According to former director of programs Magda Martinez, ARTspiration has been one of the most effective ways of introducing large numbers of people to Fleisher. </li><li>As part of their orientation, new staff and board members learn about the community research and engagement work to help them understand its objectives and how they link to Fleisher’s mission.</li><li>Fleisher has hired its first communications director, translated promotional and registration materials into multiple languages and hired bilingual staff and faculty.</li><li>A new video-rich website, <a href="http&#58;//fleisher.community/">Fleisher.community</a>, highlights Fleisher’s activities throughout the neighborhood.</li><li>With the departure of one of the original FAMbassadors and the organization’s changing relationship with the communities, staff members are rethinking what role these liaisons will play in the future. </li></ul><p>The following charts show youth- and adult-program enrollments and the percentage of those enrollments that draw from Southeast Philadelphia (defined as zip codes 19147 and 19148). The greatest growth has been in youth programs, with young people from the neighborhood now making up 38 percent of total enrollment, confirming research findings that suggested that residents wanted art for their children. While growth in adult programs has been slower, neighborhood residents now make up a larger percentage of such enrollment than in the past. </p><p> <em>Youth Class and Workshop Enrollment</em><br><img alt="Fleisher-Youth-Enrollment.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Research-and-Self-Reflection-Help-Strengthen-Community-Ties/Fleisher-Youth-Enrollment.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /></p><p> <em>Adult Class and Workshop Enrollment (incomplete data from 2013 and 2014 not shown)</em><br><img alt="Fleisher-Adult-Enrollment.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Research-and-Self-Reflection-Help-Strengthen-Community-Ties/Fleisher-Adult-Enrollment.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /></p><p>One new program forging relationships with neighborhood residents is the celebration of the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos at Fleisher. Over several weeks each fall, a working artist and community members gather to create the art used for the festivities at Fleisher, including a large thematic altar (an “ofrenda”) that honors those who have passed away. There are also workshops to make papier-mâché sculptures and paper marigolds. The celebration culminates with face painting and a parade in the streets surrounding Fleisher (with music from community artists) and a gathering at the school. </p><p> <em>Altar Created for Día de los Muertos at Fleisher</em><br><img alt="Fleisher-altar-dia-de-los-muertos.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Research-and-Self-Reflection-Help-Strengthen-Community-Ties/Fleisher-altar-dia-de-los-muertos.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /></p><p> <em>Día de los Muertos Parade and Celebration at Fleisher<br><img alt="Fleisher-altar-dia-de-los-muertos3.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Research-and-Self-Reflection-Help-Strengthen-Community-Ties/Fleisher-altar-dia-de-los-muertos3.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br></em></p><p> <em> <br> <img alt="Fleisher-altar-dia-de-los-muertos2.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Research-and-Self-Reflection-Help-Strengthen-Community-Ties/Fleisher-altar-dia-de-los-muertos2.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /></em>&#160;</p><p>Images by Gustavo Garcia, Colibri Workshop </p><p>The Día de los Muertos celebration began six years ago when Fleisher FAMbassador Carlos Pascual Sanchez connected Exhibitions Manager José Ortiz-Pagán with a local merchant hosting an ofrenda. The merchant, in turn, connected Ortiz-Pagán to local artists, dancers and community leaders involved with other Día de los Muertos festivities around the city. They formed a volunteer committee to create a large-scale ofrendaat Fleisher, inviting the local Mexican community and others. Ortiz-Pagán notes that the school did not invite an artist to come in for just one weekend and build an ofrenda. Instead, it asked the community to inform every step of the process, start to finish, in order to better nurture a long-term relationship. </p><p>Run by an autonomous committee of eight community members who create the budget and plans, the festivities have grown to become one of the largestDía de los Muertos celebrations in the Northeast. Fleisher provides space, materials and expertise such as fundraising and grant-writing support. Last year the observance also included a community fundraiser. Staff members say it was welcomed by neighborhood residents, who wanted to play a larger role in supporting the effort, and by Fleisher’s board and donors, who appreciated the event as an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding about the cultural tradition of Día de los Muertos.</p><p>Ortiz-Pagán sees the commemoration as emblematic of Fleisher’s commitment to being an integral part of Southeast Philadelphia by supporting communities to manifest their cultures, a mission reflected in other art-based partnerships as well. Such partnerships include a new Bring Your Own Project initiative funded by the <a href="http&#58;//www.pewtrusts.org/en">Pew Charitable Trusts</a>, which invites artists to Fleisher to work with surrounding communities and the social service organizations that represent them. Says Martinez, “Instead of the artist coming in with a project already set, the artist spends time meeting the community, and we prepare participants to talk about what’s important to them and if they see art playing a role for their concerns in their community and if so, how?”</p><p> <strong>Working as Part of the Community</strong></p><p>Stemming from the first period of research and program development, programs like Bring Your Own Project represent a rethinking of the institution’s approach to engaging with the community. In reaching out to the people they hope will be involved, staff members pose questions and try to learn about neighborhood needs before acting. They also constantly ask themselves why they want to take on a particular initiative and how it will have an impact on the community.</p><p>Martinez notes that the questions are the same regardless of whether the work involves community engagement or other Fleisher programming. In thinking through a new program for older adults, for example, Fleisher has reached out to a predominantly Latino immigrant–serving health agency to identify what art forms most interest its older clients, what kind of engagement would be best for them and what Fleisher can provide that would enrich their lives and is not available elsewhere. This inquiry has led to a new ceramics curriculum designed to promote story sharing and reduce social isolation among the elderly in immigrant communities. </p><p>This way of developing programs is a significant shift for the institution. “Questioning is now an intrinsic part of Fleisher’s culture. I’m not so sure we were good at that ten years ago,” says Martinez. “We now question ourselves, what we’re doing and why. We’re more aware of what’s happening in the city and on a national level.” </p>Bob Harlow822018-08-22T04:00:00ZThe Fleisher Art Memorial builds on its success in connecting with newly arrived immigrants in South Philadelphia10/16/2019 1:22:36 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Research and Self-Reflection Help Strengthen Community Ties The Fleisher Art Memorial builds on its success in connecting 5616https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx

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