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The Pandemic is Transforming The Arts—and It’s Not All Bad News23328GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​​Last summer, with theaters across the country shuttered by the coronavirus, Kate Maguire set out to break through the pandemic fatigue. To succeed, the artistic director and CEO of the Berkshire Theater Group in Pittsfield, Mass., knew she would need to do something that had not been attempted since union performances closed down last March&#58; bring a group of actors together in front of a live audience. </p><p>Maguire convinced Actors’ Equity to allow <a href="https&#58;//www.nytimes.com/2020/08/05/theater/godspell-berkshires-coronavirus.html">an outdoor production of <em>Godspell</em></a> and devised an acceptable safety plan. She worked with local and state authorities to ensure everyone would feel safe and be protected—the stage would be under a tent, everyone in masks, and the audience size would be capped at 50. Still, Maguire hoped the play with its theme of community and spiritual unity would resonate with an emotionally battered audience—and she saw that wish fulfilled. </p><p>“People were weeping because they were in the presence of music, of language and of this story,” she recalled. “All of a sudden we were in the midst of really understanding what the arts mean to peoples’ lives.” </p><p>Maguire recounted this story for the more than 600 participants gathered online for <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/reimagining-the-future-of-the-arts-session-one-what-audiences-want.aspx">the first of Wallace’s five-part “Reimagining the Future of the Arts”</a> conversation series. She went on to explain that she’s thinking about reducing the number of plays the company typically produces in a season and examining artistic choices in order to offer audiences the kind of emotional connections they experienced this summer. Even after the pandemic fades, she says, she expects to continue with these changes. </p><p>“I think what happened this summer was really monumental artistically, and that freshness changes your focus,” she said. “I’m not so sure I’m going to build the circus as I have in the past. I would like to be able to concentrate on intensity, not variety.” </p><p>She is not alone. The coronavirus pandemic, coupled with an energized racial justice movement, has sparked an urgency among many nonprofit arts leaders to rethink their how their organizations approach everything from audience interaction to inclusivity and equity. </p><p>“We will never go back,” <strong>Lisa Richards Toney</strong>, president and CEO of the Association of Performing Arts Professionals, said on the same panel discussion. She and Maguire kicked off the series, along with <strong>Arthur Cohen, the founder and CEO </strong>of the LaPlaca Cohen, a strategy and arts marketing firm, <strong>Franklin Sirmans</strong>, president and CEO of the Pérez Art Museum in Miami; the panel was moderated by Wallace's communications director Lucas Held. While each of the panelists&#160;acknowledged the stresses pulling at an old system, they embraced this moment as an opportunity to come up with forward-looking ideas and determine how to carry them out. &#160; </p><p><strong>Audiences Are Changing</strong><strong> </strong></p><p>Cohen kicked off the panel with a presentation based on the <a href="https&#58;//culturetrack.com/research/covidstudy/">survey</a> his firm conducted with Slover Linett Research last spring. More than 124,000 people responded, most through 653 arts organizations. Not surprisingly, the attitude expressed by most respondents was, in a word, glum. They said they felt isolated, anxious, bored and disconnected. Asked what they most wanted from arts events in this dark time, most said they wanted to laugh and relax, seek an escape, find hope, feel connected and discover educational opportunities for children.</p><p>“COVID-19, in every fundamental way, has disrupted our sense of what normal looks like,” Diane Jean-Mary, partner and chief strategy officer at LaPlaca Cohen, said in <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/what-we-need-from-arts-and-culture-right-now.aspx">an earlier conversation</a> on The Wallace Blog. “In a time of such great uncertainty, many are turning to creativity, perhaps as a way to regain a sense of agency, expression and enjoyment.” </p><p>The survey also provided powerful evidence that new patterns—meaning new opportunities—are emerging. Most striking, perhaps, is the diversity of new audiences. Digital events, many free of charge, are attracting people from lower income groups. Audiences are skewing younger and have different levels of education. Many of those enjoying digital arts offerings had not visited an arts institution in the previous year, meaning they were considered new audience members, now hungry for artistic stimulation. </p><p>There were other examples of this diversity. For example, those taking in digital orchestra performances who had not attended a live concert in the previous year were 15 times more likely to be Black, and three times more likely to be from Gen Z, ages 18 to 23 years old, than those who had attended a performance. Of the people viewing digital content from art museums, those who had not visited a museum in the previous year were almost twice as likely to have a high school education or less than those who had visited. [For more survey results, see <a href="/knowledge-center/Documents/Culture-and-Community-in-a-Time-of-Crisis-Slides.pdf">Cohen’s presentation from the event</a>.] </p><p>“This represents a really interesting opportunity to perhaps view the digital audience as a growth audience for us,” said Cohen. </p><p><strong>Digital Is Here to Stay</strong><strong> </strong></p><p>When the shutdown hit in March, Sirmans of the Perez Art Museum says he quickly pivoted to greater use of digital alternatives. “We went into it with abandon in the first few months of the pandemic without knowing exactly what we were doing, but we’re learning now,” he explained in a conversation following the webinar. Although it’s too soon to assess the full impact of these offerings on audiences, Sirmans said he expects that many of the changes will be permanent. </p><p>A new section of the organization’s website showcases its strong Caribbean art collection while a redesigned smartphone app creates a more robust mobile experience. “Digital is primary for us now,” Sirmans said. “Our community expects it and we know we have fans in the world, especially for our Latin American and Caribbean art. This is how we expand to them.”</p><p>Toney of APAP, a national service organization that supports and advances the performing arts presenting, booking and touring fields, carried the thought further, saying that by using online technologies, arts organizations could reach audiences globally, not solely the local audience members who can attend events in person. Moreover, the organizations can now expand time and run programming year-round, not just seasonally. This greater flexibility, she said, “should create an obligation to change” how the organizations conduct their activities. </p><p>Cohen agreed that the experimentation with online events in this new environment has transformed digital efforts from what had been decidedly secondary activities in the past to what are now a primary means of artistic expression and audience connections. They have taken on a new primary role, he said, side by side with the live event&#58; “These are new pathways to connection with people who wouldn’t have come in the door.”</p><p><strong>&#160;“Outdoors Is the New Indoors” </strong></p><p>The need to protect audiences from the virus has encouraged some organizations to seize opportunities to use and transform outdoor spaces. Maguire says the outdoor tent used for <em>Godspell </em>normally holds 400 people but because the organizers could allow only 50 people to view the show at a time, they had to improvise with the space. “We’re going to have to think more about how we do that so it’s a good experience,” she said.<strong></strong></p><p>The Perez museum is using its space differently, too, Sirmans said, and is trying to turn pandemic necessities into benefits. For a show on the African diaspora, for example, the museum doubled the indoor space that normally would have been allotted. This, he said, allowed for new types of juxtapositions and greater use of illustrative written and graphic materials. </p><p>In addition, the museum is repurposing its outdoor sculpture garden, which features an array of steel and stone works by artists such as Anthony Caro, Gonzalo Fonseca and Edgar Negret. The museum is holding lectures, a film program and collaborations with other arts institutions and educational programs outside. </p><p>“Outdoors is the new indoors,” Sirmans said. </p><p><strong>From Equity to Activism</strong><strong> </strong></p><p>Arts organizations are grappling with much more than logistical improvisation. They are having serious conversations about what the national reckoning with racial injustice means for them. &#160;Some organizations are considering fundamental shifts in their structure and the composition of their leadership to respond to the calls for greater equity and inclusiveness, according to the panelists. </p><p>Cohen, for one, called for organizations to better incorporate community and audience perspectives into their endeavors. “For some, audiences have been the ones least present in the planning,” he said, adding that reaching out to and including community input could be critical to organizations struggling to grow their audiences and maintain their relevance. “That’s your greatest opportunity going forward.” </p><p>This is true also in programming. For instance, Toney noted that it has become traditional that organizations offer every February—Black History Month—a Black-themed event or something created by Black artists. But artists of color should be integral to the arts events throughout the year, she said, so that organizations move away from the “white-centric canon.” In a conversation after the webinar, she followed up on that theme. “I know and have heard people in these organizations say, ‘Our audience won’t come. I know them,’” she said. “Then you have to do something about your audience. This is not easy to do.”</p><p>Toney also suggested that arts organizations might reimagine themselves as engines of progressive change. They could do this, in part, she said, by joining forces and speaking collectively, particularly on policy issues, more than they have in the past. “Really, it’s about positioning ourselves as one ecosystem with more joint action,” she said. </p><p>How much nonprofit arts organizations might embrace that advocacy model is unclear. Sirmans said he’s proud that Miami’s Perez museum has a staff and board as diverse as the city itself and features many artists of color in its collections and shows. How much the museum might speak up as a social advocate is a question, he said, that remains unanswered. </p><p>“We want to be that kind of place,” he said. “But we’re trying to figure out how we fit into that conversation.” </p>James Sterngold 1122020-11-12T05:00:00ZDespite the many challenges they face, arts organizations have some reason for optimism, according to a recent panel discussion11/23/2020 4:59:28 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / The Pandemic is Transforming The Arts—and It’s Not All Bad News Despite the many challenges they face, arts organizations 23https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
What We Need from The Arts Right Now24124GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​​​​​As arts organizations around the country plan to reopen, strategists and researchers at LaPlaca Cohen and Slover Linett have teamed up on a research initiative to help arts leaders understand what audiences want and expect from organizations during the pandemic—and how organizations can address the hopes, fears and needs of people as they consider returning. The new study, <a href="https&#58;//culturetrack.com/research/covidstudy/">Culture Track&#58; Culture and Community in a Time of Crisis</a>, based on responses from more than 120,000 survey respondents, sheds light on the current cultural landscape.<u> </u></p><p>We caught up with Jen Benoit-Bryan, vice president &amp; co-director of research at Slover Linett Audience Research and Diane Jean-Mary, partner and chief strategy officer at LaPlaca Cohen, over email to learn more about the implications of the study and how people might look to it for guidance.</p><p> <strong>We know you have been sharing these findings with arts leaders around the country. What has resonated with the field? How are organizations applying this data? </strong></p><p> <strong> <img class="wf-Image-Left" alt="Djm headshot_color.png" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/What-We-Need-from-Arts-and-Culture-Right-Now/Djm%20headshot_color.png" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;175px;height&#58;175px;" />DJM</strong>&#58; Presenting the findings amidst our placeless, Zoom-fueled, reality has provided space for a truly national conversation surrounding the role of arts and culture in our society. Previously, our Culture Track road shows were highly localized, bringing in audiences from a particular city or region to discuss the latest findings. This year, we were able to have far greater dialogue at the national level as participants tune into our presentations from all around the country. This feels particularly vital in a year when we are all navigating the same global issues of health, a hurting economy, and the fight for racial justice. It’s been pretty incredible to see institutions around the country not just take meaningful insights from the study but also from each other. </p><p> <strong> <img class="wf-Image-Left" alt="Jen6.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/What-We-Need-from-Arts-and-Culture-Right-Now/Jen6.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;175px;height&#58;117px;" />JBB</strong>&#58; One of the most surprising and meaningful insights from the data has been the high level of arts and culture digital participation among the general public during COVID-19, and crucially, the finding that digital offerings seem to be expanding and diversifying participation. It has been fascinating to see that for many segments of the arts and culture sector, a lot of the people using digital content from organizations hadn’t attended that type of organization in person in the previous year—for example, 51 percent of people using digital content from science museums during COVID-19 hadn’t been to a science museum in person in 2019. </p><p>Perhaps even more importantly, those using digital content who hadn’t been in-person were much more likely to be diverse along demographics that we know are underrepresented in arts and cultural organizations, such as people with low incomes, low education levels and Black or African Americans. We have heard from many organizations who are already using these findings to explain why resources for digital engagement are critical now and in the future.</p><p> <strong>You’ve both been doing research on audiences for many years. What is different about these findings? What do audiences continue to value during a pandemic?</strong></p><p> <strong>JBB&#58;</strong> &#160;A central assumption we held when designing this work was the need to understand what communities require and want from cultural organizations during COVID-19. Therefore, it was critical that we hear from a range of audiences and attenders to culture—defined quite broadly—as well as the public with their varied types and degrees of connection to culture. That’s unique. Most studies focus on a single organization’s audiences or perhaps a portion of the cultural landscape like orchestras, but this study goes way beyond those frames of reference. The sheer scale of participation in the study—over 120,000 respondents—allowed us to slice and compare segments of the data in a more granular way, which is extremely powerful for understanding portions of the whole like users of digital arts and culture activities.</p><p> <strong>DJM</strong>&#58; COVID-19, in every fundamental way, has disrupted our sense of what normal looks like, and we’re seeing that bear out in the research. In a time of such great uncertainty, many are turning to creativity, perhaps as a way to regain a sense of agency, expression and enjoyment. It was great to see how many people are leaning into their inner artist and maker&#58; singing, crafting, baking, painting and more. There are also facets of culture that are just as vital now as they were before the pandemic, particularly in the ways that people perceive the value of the arts&#58; a force for connecting us to each other, for understanding the vastness of human experience, and for emotional and intellectual escape.&#160;</p><p> <strong>Was there anything that surprised you about these findings?</strong> </p><p> <strong>JBB&#58;</strong> I was surprised by the proportion of the public—96 percent—that sees a role for arts and culture organizations during a crisis like COVID-19. When we wrote this question, we thought many people might tell us that arts and culture should just “get out of the way” during a crisis, but people are looking to arts and culture for four main kinds of help&#58; support staying connected with others and educating kids; emotional support; practical support and opportunities for distraction and escape.<br><br><strong>What is one key finding you hope organizations will take away from the study?</strong></p><p> <strong>DJM</strong>&#58; The single most revealing finding was just how big the racial inclusion problem is in our sector. Anecdotally, the field understands that it has failed to welcome and serve communities of color and has made strides to confront diversity, but there’s still a long way to go to achieve equity and inclusion, and this is reflected in the data. Our survey reached 122,000 respondents, largely pulled from lists provided by over 650 cultural organizations around the nation. The overwhelming majority of those audiences are white, 85 percent of the audiences surveyed through their lists to be exact. Of those surveyed through cultural organizations’ lists, just three percent are Black, five percent are Hispanix/Latinx and four percent are Asian/Pacific Islander. Less than one percent is Native American. Every organization should reflect on this data, unpacking the barriers that have signaled to BIPOC audiences that we do not belong. </p><p>For the future relevance of the arts, cultural organizations will have to change alongside our society. And that change cannot be limited to the visitor-facing channels at their disposal. Audiences can see through the optics of superficial inclusion, they can feel when diversity is a mere checkbox. Cultural organizations should instead focus on building trust, relevance and connection with their audiences of color.&#160; </p><p> <strong>JBB&#58;</strong> &#160; The research also provides some clear evidence about the changes that would make arts and culture organizations better for Black or African American respondents and Hispanic or Latinx respondents. Almost three-quarters of Black or African American respondents, two-thirds of Hispanic or Latinx respondents and about half of the public want arts and culture organizations to become more centered on their communities and the people in them. This includes changes such as greater diversity; a focus on local artists, nonprofits and community; deepening engagement with young people; treating employees fairly; and being friendlier to all kinds of people. There’s more to unpack and explore here, particularly through the upcoming qualitative research coming next. </p><p> <strong>Did the data give any clues as to the future of organizations using digital content going forward?</strong></p><p> <strong>DJM</strong>&#58; With increasing financial pressure placed on cultural organizations to recoup revenue lost to COVID-19 closures, many institutions are assessing how best to monetize their virtual content. It is important as they examine all the options on the table, not to regard digital as a substitute for prior onsite revenues. The data suggests that the audience’s appetite for paid digital content is quite low. Instead, digital offerings present an opportunity for broadening audiences beyond the typical visitor. We’re seeing greater engagement particularly amongst people of color and lower income families.&#160;Digital is a great tool that institutions should deploy in service to bettering the lives of their communities, rather than as a driver of revenue.</p><p> <strong>What is the level of confidence on these findings? Do you feel they are broadly applicable?</strong></p><p> <strong>JBB&#58; </strong>As we designed the study, we made a few decisions with the goal of creating a broadly applicable and useful dataset. First, we defined “arts and culture” quite widely and worked to recruit participating organizations across the sector. We also worked with NORC [National Opinion Research Center] at the University of Chicago to draw an extremely rigorous and representative sample of the public with a margin of error of 2.88 percentage points. In survey design, we made the strategic decision not to ask any questions that were focused just on the organization distributing the survey—although we considered it—because we wanted these findings to be broadly useful to the arts and culture sector.&#160;</p><p> <strong>Given the findings, what kind of an arts experience would people be responsive to over the next six to 12 months?</strong></p><p> <strong>DJM</strong>&#58; Based on what we’re seeing from the data and hearing from the field, the most successful arts experiences of the future will be designed around what audiences are so desperately missing in their lives—connection, novelty and adventure. We’re in the wild west of creativity and invention, and people seem more willing to experiment with activities that help them reconnect with the parts of life we’ve lost. We are all craving connection with our loved ones and that will only grow in intensity as we move from one year in quarantine to the next. I bet that any arts organization that provides a way for friends and families to connect through shared, novel experiences will be a major hit with audiences. This is especially true if the experience embraces a participatory approach that invites the audience to be the engineers of the adventure, fun and sense of togetherness. Bonus points for experiences that get us off Zoom and into the world (safely, of course), and also for experiences that help parents and caregivers educate children in a fun and interactive way.&#160; </p><p> <em> <span> <span> <strong> </strong></span></span>Diane Jean-Mary is a global strategy consultant with expertise in organizational change and transformation for the field of arts and entertainment. As Partner and Chief Strategy Officer at LaPlaca Cohen, Diane oversees a dynamic range of projects, nationally and internationally, on cultural entrepreneurship, mission and purpose development, brand strategy, strategic visioning, and audience development across non-profit and corporate creative institutions. She also leads the firm's ongoing Culture Track study, an insights and innovation platform dedicated to addressing the most pressing challenges in the cultural sector. <br></em></p><p> <em><span><span><strong></strong></span></span>Jen Benoit-Bryan is the Vice President &amp; Co-director of Research at Slover Linett, a firm that uses the tools of research and evaluation to help the cultural sector understand its participants and communities, experiment with new strategies for engagement, and connect more deeply to more people. Jen has overseen a portfolio of over sixty complex client engagements over the past six years at Slover Linett, using the tools of research and evaluation to help organizations meet their goals. Since coming to Slover Linett in 2014, she has worked on wide-ranging, often multi-year projects with the National Academy of Sciences, Central Park Conservancy, the Kennedy Center, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Carnegie Hall, Washington National Opera, Ballet Austin, the High Line, Dallas Zoo, and SFMOMA, among many other arts, culture, and informal learning organizations. Jen serves as the Principal Investigator &amp; Slover Linett Team Director for the Culture &amp; Community in a Time of Crisis (CCTC) study conducted in 2020 in partnership with LaPlaca Cohen. Jen earned her Ph.D. in public administration &amp; research methodology at the University of Illinois, Chicago. </em></p><em> </em>Wallace editorial team792020-09-09T04:00:00ZNew large-scale survey on cultural sector in the pandemic finds audiences crave meaningful digital experiences, more racial inclusion and connection with others9/11/2020 3:26:35 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / What We Need from The Arts Right Now New large-scale survey on cultural sector in the pandemic finds audiences crave more 443https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
How Can Artists Help Reimagine Our Future Post-COVID?24344GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61 <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> Wallace editorial team792020-08-11T04:00:00ZOp-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 541https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
6 Data-Tested Approaches to Building New Audiences24055GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<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> Joseph O’Neill1102020-07-22T04:00:00ZYour 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 768https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Data and Deliberation: A Dynamic Duo for Arts Organizations24065GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<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>Francie Ostrower, Ph.D. 1092020-07-14T04:00:00ZNew 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 485https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Helping Museums Navigate Through the COVID-19 Fog21907GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61 <p>​​Museums, like the rest of the country, are grasping for ways to endure America’s largest economic disruption since the Great Depression. Few yet understand the true effects of the coronavirus pandemic; none can precisely predict how they will shape the future.</p><p>In such murky times, we must chart our courses based on educated guesses about the road ahead. We must prepare as best we can for the potholes and forks we might encounter along the way. And we must reevaluate plans as the fog clears and a new cultural and economic landscape begins to reveal itself.</p><p>Two documents from the American Alliance of Museums may help with this daunting task. <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Three-New-Scenarios.2020.pdf" target="_blank">Three New Scenarios for Financial Survival in 2020</a>, written by Elizabeth Merritt, the alliance’s vice president for strategic foresight, helps envision three different ways in which the pandemic may play out and how museums could prepare for each of them. And <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Considerations-for-Museum-Reopenings-5.27.2020.pdf" target="_blank">Considerations for Museum Reopenings</a> ponders measures museums may need to enact to help ensure safety when they welcome visitors again.</p><p>Wallace’s editorial team spoke with Merritt to see how museums, and perhaps other organizations as well, could build on those documents and create plans for possible scenarios in their own communities. An edited transcript of our conversation follows.</p><p> <strong>The Wallace Foundation&#58; The first step to coming up with possible scenarios for the future is to get the right information. You cited a few resources in <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Three-New-Scenarios.2020.pdf">Three New Scenarios for Financial Survival in 2020</a>. How do you decide where to go for information in this uncertain time? </strong></p><p> <strong>Elizabeth Merritt&#58;</strong> Usually, foresight scanning encompasses a range of material. You look at both credible, mainstream projections, and you're intentionally looking at fringe sources so you don't get trapped into confirmation bias and only see what everybody in the mainstream is expecting to happen.</p><p>However, in this situation, it felt prudent to stick with the most authoritative sources of information. I don't think projections on how the pandemic will play out is where you want to be looking at fringe sources. So that's why I focus on, for example, research from major universities. </p><p>Three that I keep going back to are the <a href="https&#58;//www.hsph.harvard.edu/" target="_blank">T.H. Chan School of Public Health</a> at Harvard, the <a href="http&#58;//www.healthdata.org/" target="_blank">Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation</a> at the University of Washington and the <a href="https&#58;//coronavirus.jhu.edu/" target="_blank">Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center</a>.</p><p>The other thing is that there's such a huge amount of information out there. I'm not an expert or an epidemiologist, so one of the things I rely on is responsible science reporting from people I trust. For example, the science reporters I look at regularly are <a href="https&#58;//www.theatlantic.com/author/ed-yong/" target="_blank">Ed Yong</a> and <a href="https&#58;//www.nytimes.com/by/carl-zimmer" target="_blank">Carl Zimmer</a>. </p><p>I turn to them because, having done strategic foresight scanning for 10 years now, you get to know somebody’s body of work and you get a feeling for how they look for sources and how good they are at synthesis. I've also listened to several interviews with each of them about their process of science reporting, and I think both of those writers are very meticulous and responsible in how they find their sources and make their summaries.</p><p> <strong>WF&#58; Now once you had that information, you picked different indicators for your low-, medium- and high-impact scenarios, including the number of infections, the number of deaths, unemployment figures, etc. How do you choose the indicators you look at? How do you determine the levels they must reach in order to fit the scenarios you lay out? </strong></p><p> <strong>EM&#58;</strong> One of the daunting things about planning in the wake of a disruptive event like this is that there are literally an unlimited number of potential combinations of the variables. But if you contemplate that fact, you’ll just freeze. It isn’t possible to wrap your head around that number of possibilities.</p><p>The whole point of creating scenarios is to provide a manageable framework for planning by collapsing all those possibilities into a few manageable stories. The stories aren't meant to be exclusive; those aren't the only things that could happen. They are three credible, useful starting points to think about what <em>could</em> happen.</p><p>In general scenario planning, you might use <a href="http&#58;//www.foresightguide.com/dator-four-futures/" target="_blank">a framework that comes from Jim Dator of the Manoa School of Future Studies at the University of Hawaii</a>. The classic four-scenario set might be a scenario of growth, where everything's getting better, a scenario of collapse, where there are very few resources, a scenario of constraint, where there's one big constraint going forward, and a transformative future in which things could be wildly different.</p><p>But that's for general foresight. In this particular situation, where you're looking at a very specific issue—how bad is this for the next 16 months—it seemed obvious that the basic categories should be low, medium or high impact.</p><p>Once I had those three categories, I created the list of variables that might fit them. Again, the list of variables could be endless, so I tried to pick a manageable number of things that are clearly important. Variables that, if you left them out, anybody looking at the scenarios would say there's a gap in that picture. How can you not look at the unemployment projections, for example?</p><p>I then went back to my credible sources, looked at the range of values those variables could take, and then partitioned them into ranges. I looked at how good it might be, how bad it could turn out to be, and then the number that falls in between those extremes for the medium impact category.</p><p>I think it’s important to realize that when you're doing scenarios like this, especially in a situation like this that's evolving so quickly and where critical decisions need to be made pretty quickly, the perfect is the enemy of the good. None of these scenarios are perfect. But they're good enough to get you thinking. They are tools to help you think about what might happen.</p><p> <strong>WF&#58; Given that the pandemic is playing out differently in different parts of the country, should different museums think differently about scenario planning? Or do you think this is a general framework anyone can use?</strong></p><p> <strong>EM&#58;</strong> I absolutely think the scenarios have to be tailored for a specific locality. How this is playing out is very different, not only by region but potentially also on a very local level. Many specific circumstances are determining how the effects vary. </p><p>For example, I was listening to <a href="https&#58;//www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/05/11/854157898/coronavirus-infections-continue-to-rise-on-navajo-nation" target="_blank">an NPR story</a> that said that, if the Navajo Nation were a state, it would have the highest rate of coronavirus infections per capita after New York. That's a very rural, sparsely populated area. You might wonder why they would have such a high density of COVID cases when all the other hotspots are cities. It's because their infrastructure for food, water, health and housing is so poor due to a long history of neglect and mismanagement by the federal government. </p><p>That's very specific. You couldn't go to another area in the U.S. that's comparably rural and has a similar population density and say that it's going to be like the Navajo Nation. They had very specific parameters that's making the pandemic play out so badly there.</p><p>So I think any organization, when it takes the scenarios I wrote, should use them as a starting point and modify them to their circumstances. They should look for the best numbers they can find that are applicable to their situation.</p><p> <strong>WF&#58; Are there any tips you could offer people to help them modify them to their local situation?</strong></p><p> <strong>EM&#58;</strong> I think the best way to do scenario planning, including editing and modifying something like the templates I created, is to get together a bunch of smart people, hopefully from very different backgrounds and points of view, and talk it over. With a group like that, somebody's going to say, ‘Hey, you know, that just feels wrong. That might be true for the nation, but that's not how it's playing out in Des Moines, Iowa,’ for example.</p><p> <strong>WF&#58; When you wrote your essay about a month ago, the low-impact future envisioned 100,000 deaths by the end of 2020; we’re already past 80,000 in May. The medium-impact scenario envisioned unemployment at 15 percent by the end of the year; we're already here. Given how quickly the situation is changing, and always seems to be worse than we thought, are those low- or medium-impact scenarios something anybody should consider anymore? Should we just be preparing for the worst-case scenario now?</strong></p><p> <strong>EM&#58;</strong> We're already past 81,000 deaths in the U.S. and I think it was up to like 287,000 globally. On unemployment, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin said this past weekend that the U.S. unemployment rate <a href="https&#58;//www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/05/10/853505446/unemployment-numbers-will-get-worse-before-they-get-better-mnuchin-says" target="_blank">may have already reached 25 percent</a>. The Congressional Budget Office, which is widely considered to be nonpartisan and credible, forecasts that <a href="https&#58;//www.cbo.gov/publication/56335" target="_blank">unemployment rates will stay in the double digits</a>, not only for the rest of this year but through 2021. So yes, we should take the riskiest scenario very seriously. </p><p>But the whole point of scenario planning is to remember that we don't have a crystal ball. We don't know what will happen. The point is to always consider and plan for a range of potential situations because that way you stay open to a number of appropriate responses.</p><p>As things develop and as you see how the numbers play out, some of the projections are going to get more and more accurate because we're getting closer and closer to that point in time. So it's definitely going to be necessary to refine the scenarios that an organization is working with.</p><p>But there always should be more than one scenario, even if you narrow the range of how good or bad it could be. You always want to be planning for a range of potential options because the real key to successful planning is being nimble and responsive; to not just take one look, say, ‘this is what's going to happen,’ create a plan and execute the plan and find out you ended up in the wrong place because the ground shifted underneath you.</p><p> <strong>WF&#58; At what point do you narrow that range? At what point do you decide that a scenario you had once envisioned wasn’t really worth considering? </strong></p><p> <strong>EM&#58; </strong>That's where your little group of planners is really useful. At some point, it becomes a judgment call. </p><p>One thing you can do to formalize that decision is to say, ‘What are the trigger points in these scenarios? If we got to point X, then we're pretty sure that we can take these other scenarios off the table.’ For example, an organization might have envisioned a scenario in which there’s so much economic relief from the <a href="https&#58;//www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/paycheck-protection-program" target="_blank">Paycheck Protection Program</a> that most businesses don’t have to lay off workers. Its plans for that scenario wouldn't work because <a href="https&#58;//www.sba.gov/about-sba/sba-newsroom/press-releases-media-advisories/statement-secretary-mnuchin-and-administrator-carranza-paycheck-protection-program-and-economic" target="_blank">there wasn't enough money</a> and <a href="https&#58;//www.nytimes.com/2020/04/20/business/shake-shack-returning-loan-ppp-coronavirus.html" target="_blank">it wasn't distributed effectively</a> to a lot of small businesses. So at that point, you know that the best case is off the table.</p><p>You can identify those turning points. You can say, ‘We should be looking at what happens when this projection is issued by this agency, or when there's a vote in Congress on this relief bill.’ If you pre-identify where those key turning points are, you'll have a prompt for when to reevaluate and update the scenarios.</p><p> <strong>WF&#58; Moving on to responses, one of the drivers of museum attendance that will almost certainly be limited for a while is travel. How should different museums think about how they should plan for reductions in travel and tourism in the future?</strong></p><p> <strong>EM&#58;</strong> There already are a lot of museums that aren't heavily reliant on tourism. They're reliant on visitation from their local communities. These might be museums that somebody one, two, three towns over or one state over have never heard of.</p><p>I think it would be very difficult for large museums whose business models are based on large numbers of international tourists, the kind of museums that are part of what's driving tourism to New York City or San Francisco or Chicago, it's very hard for museums of that size to pivot to serving local audiences in a way that would generate the same income.</p><p>You could even have museums that are in relatively remote areas that rely on drive-by tourism. Museums people stop at because they always stop on the way to the Grand Canyon. If people stop driving to the Grand Canyon, they're not going to have that traffic and they may not be able to find a comparably large local audience because there aren't a sufficient number of people living there.</p><p>If you're a large museum that has a very large endowment that's underwriting a lot of your operating expenses, the lack of travel may be a blow to your feeling of fulfillment. But if you're not relying heavily on earned income, it may not be a big blow to your economics.</p><p>Conversely, you might be relying very heavily on the earned income. That's a financial problem. Then you'd be having to say, ‘Well, if these are our relatively fixed immutable operating costs, where else could we find the money?’</p><p>It’s probably challenging to shift the earned income from an international audience to a comparably large local audience. So you might have to say, can we get more government funding? Can we find more foundations willing to underwrite who we are and what we do? </p><p>A lot of what museums do is relatively inflexible. You're not going to suddenly constrict and shed part of your property. You're not going to get rid of huge chunks of your collections. Unfortunately, what some museums may find themselves forced to do is lay off staff for longer periods of time. Or stop doing some things that are very important parts of their service to the public, things like research or conservation or public education.</p><p> <strong>WF&#58; In <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Three-New-Scenarios.2020.pdf" target="_blank">Considerations for Museum Reopenings</a>, you noted a few things that museums could do to adhere to rules of social distancing, such as marking six-foot distances on the ground and ensuring one-way traffic through galleries. Given the changes in our understanding of the effects and transmission of the virus, is there a way for museums to prepare if new information comes to light?</strong></p><p> <strong>EM&#58;</strong> I'm going to pivot slightly from that to what sorts of expectations museums should be living up to. If you're talking about recommendations like health and sanitation and how many people should be in the building, a lot of that is going to come from on high, from organizations like the CDC or local government.</p><p>I think museums are deciding that, on top of those concerns, they need to listen to the concerns of their staff and their audiences. For example, the governor of Texas has said that museums can reopen, with some restrictions about how many people can be in them. But the vast majority of museums in Texas <a href="https&#58;//www.kvue.com/article/entertainment/places/coronavirus-texas-museums-open-closed-list-gov-abbott-reopen-plan/269-27eb1153-43a0-49dc-ae56-77d5d175424b" target="_blank">are not reopening yet</a>, probably because they haven't felt that it's safe and appropriate for their staff and their communities. Museums may choose to go above and beyond basic safety measures or what has been allowed by authorities if they feel that those extra measures are prudent and responsible.</p><p>We have to acknowledge that there's a limited amount we know about what's really going to keep us safe. And that's probably going to change month to month. Six feet isn't a magical number; they're starting to come out with permutations, like if you’re bicycling, it might be more like 20 or 30 feet. So don't put permanent six-foot markers on the floor because next week, the recommendation might be 10 feet.</p><p>Besides listening to experts, I think the real burden on museums is having that room full of stakeholders, whether its staff or members of the community, to guide them. The safety measures mandated or recommended by experts is the minimum. It's quite possible that what makes people feel safe is going to be over and above that, and that's important too.</p><p> <strong>WF&#58; So it’s clearly a difficult and worrisome situation. We’ve seen it get worse than we thought it would get and it’s not showing very many signs of getting better. Do you see any silver linings here?</strong></p><p> <strong>EM&#58;</strong> I've already seen some people writing that any crisis is also an opportunity. If the system is broken, maybe this is an opportunity for the U.S. in general and museums specifically to engage in some reinvention. </p><p>The good news is that the system was already broken, so you don't need anybody's permission to start saying, ‘maybe it should be different.’</p><p>Destabilized moments are opportunities for change. Maybe as a country we’ll be spurred to develop more resilient and mutually supportive systems that ensure vulnerable populations are protected from the effects of global disaster. Even better, maybe we will work together, making sure there are fewer vulnerable populations like the Navajo Nation.</p><p>But specifically about museums, this stress reveals vulnerabilities. Museum financial models are very vulnerable. They rely on some earned income, some charitable income, some government income, and usually on a very thin margin. </p><p>Part of the problem is a lot of funders are only willing to fund specific pieces of the work. They might fund a program or a new building. That funding, if it's like bricks-and-mortar capital campaigns, may actually add to the operating costs without providing any more benefit to the community. If you fund a program, it may deliver the program, but it may not actually increase the health and resilience of the organization that's developing the program. So I'm hoping that this crisis might spark a pivot towards more general operating funds and unrestricted endowments that make museums more resilient and stable when we have a disaster like this.</p>Wallace editorial team792020-06-04T04:00:00ZThe pandemic could play out in many different ways. Here’s how arts organizations could plan for them.8/27/2020 3:09:32 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Helping Museums Navigate Through the COVID-19 Fog The pandemic could play out in many different ways I'm not an expert or an 727https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Experimentation and Refinement a Key to Audience Building in the Arts3968GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>Introducing a recent panel on how to build audiences in the arts, Monique Martin, director of programming at New York’s Harlem Stage stressed the human aspects of arts performances. “I want to acknowledge the importance of community and the desire for our audiences to be part of a community,” she said. “We are in polarizing times and the arts are a refuge for many.” </p><p>But how can organizations help ensure that people seek out that refuge and continue to take advantage of it?</p><p>For the last four years, The Wallace Foundation has been working with 25 performing arts organizations on the <a href="/knowledge-center/building-audiences-for-the-arts/pages/default.aspx">Building Audiences for Sustainability (BAS)</a> initiative to help stem declines in arts audiences. Using data, market research and other tools, BAS organizations take on a process of continuous learning to bring in new audiences, encourage repeat attendance, attract a particular demographic or address any other goal that serves their mission.</p><p>“Continuous learning begins with the premise&#58; we are unlikely to get it right the first time,” Bahia Ramos, Wallace’s director of arts, told the crowd gathered at the panel at The Association of Performing Arts Professionals (APAP) annual conference. Martin was moderating the panel, which also included Jenny Reik, director of marketing and communications at Cal Performances, Maure Aronson, executive director at Global Arts Live and Andrew Jorgensen, general director at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis (OTSL). All shared stories of risk taking and resilience on the road to building their audiences. &#160;</p><h3><strong>Opera, Food, Millennials…oh my!</strong></h3><p>Opera Theatre of Saint Louis had set out to <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/think-opera-is-not-for-you-opera-theatre-of-saint-louis-says-think-again.aspx">target millennials and Gen-Xers</a>, with a special emphasis on populations of color. The journey began with a period of research, after which the company launched a multifaceted campaign with the goal of expanding OTSL’s visibility throughout St. Louis. With expanded print advertising and digital billboards, the organization hoped that greater visibility would heighten awareness of OTSL and ultimately help sell tickets. Unfortunately, the campaign did not produce tangible results. </p><p>“The campaign taught us that we don’t have the resources necessary to blanket the entire St. Louis region with our brand message year-round,” Jorgensen explained. “More importantly, it underscored that visibility by itself, without meaningful context, is not enough to entice potential audiences to buy tickets and get them into the theater.” </p><p>In revisiting the company’s past experiences with hosting preperformance lawn picnics and other community events, Jorgensen noted that they learned the social component is a key part of the OTSL experience. So the organization implemented “Opera Tastings,” a series of concerts with a diverse group of singers performing a range of popular pieces from the history of opera at restaurants and other venues across the St. Louis region. Local chefs pair food and drink to the music, and tickets are $25. In the first year, nearly 50 percent of new attendees at Opera Tastings ended up buying a ticket to the company’s festival season.</p><p>Although they were successful, Jorgensen said, Opera Tastings were also expensive. “They did not produce enough revenue to support themselves without philanthropic backing,” he explained. When asked how the organization plans to move forward, he noted, “It’s a question we are struggling with. As passionate arts presenters, we have a desire to always be adding programming and reaching more people. Opera Tastings is only four years old, and it’s hard to imagine letting go of it.” </p><p>This spring OTSL will host a modified version of Opera Tastings with fewer events, larger audiences and a slightly higher price point, as they continue to learn how to better reflect the demographics of key audiences. For example, African Americans comprise the largest non-white group in St. Louis, so the organization will continue its commitment to present work that they’ve learned might appeal to African American audiences. “Representation matters” Jorgensen said. </p><h3><strong>A Music Festival Grows in Boston</strong></h3><p>Global Arts Live (formerly World Music/CRASHarts) learned a similar lesson about programming when it began its <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/world-music-crasharts-tests-new-format-new-name-to-draw-new-audiences.aspx">effort to expand audiences</a> with extensive market research. The research suggested that the organization's name was too hard to remember and its brand could be more clear and consistent. So the organization rebranded, revealing <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/new-name-new-look-to-draw-a-new-generation-of-fans.aspx">its new name, Global Arts Live</a>, in May 2019.</p><p>Research also suggested that the organization’s current audience was growing older. This led Aronson and his team to start programming events for a younger audience, specifically in the 21-40 age range. “We thought that changing our marketing and adding small, secondary events, such as meetups, classes and talks, would reengage the younger audience by creating a sense of community,” he said. “But we learned that experimenting with on-mission programming was far more effective.” </p><p>Global Arts Live started producing 10 to 15 targeted concerts per year in “millennial-friendly clubs,” which were incredibly successful. These target concerts attracted between 7,000 and 10,000 attendees, which was a big jump from the 500 attendees that the less-successful secondary events attracted. Aronson and his team also developed CRASHfest, a global festival offering a vibrant and social atmosphere. This idea stemmed from focus groups the company executed during its market research phase. The festival, targeted toward millennials, showcased different types of performances in the same place. “We found that expanding artistic programming worked in parallel with CRASHfest, not only as a reengagement tool, but also as an audience building tool,” Aronson said. “The two strategies worked together to create multiple points of frequency.”</p><p>The first CRASHfest event took place at the House of Blues in Boston in 2016. Fifteen-hundred people attended, meeting the organization’s goal and grossing $38,000. Sixty-one percent of the audience was new to the organization, and 56 percent of the new audience was under the age of 40. “It’s nice to see it being multigenerational--reaching new audiences but keeping our old audience happy as well,” Aronson said. “You’re still finding a fair amount of people over the age of 40 coming to these events, which is important because we’d be in trouble if we lost our old audience.” </p><p>One surprising finding, according to Aronson, was that millennials didn’t mind being in an intergenerational audience. The two other organizations on the panel agreed that they had also made presumptions about their target audience that proved untrue. </p><h3><strong>Students Take the Reins</strong></h3><p>Reik noted that through her team’s efforts at Cal Performances to reach a younger audience, they too learned that millennials had more things in common with their older audiences than they would have expected. “Many of us had preconceived ideas of what a millennial generation would need. Some of what we found was that younger audiences liked the same things that the older audiences did—they actually like our core programming,” Reik said. “The other really interesting thing is that the current audience actually liked the really edgy stuff.” </p><p>During the first year of the BAS initiative, Cal Performances tested multiple approaches to target the 18- to 22-year-old student demographic on the UC Berkeley campus. “One of our most illuminating failures came in that very first year, and it is important to start with because our successful programming evolved as a result of that,” Reik shared. </p><p>Cal Performances had implemented a program called Citizen Dance to give students access to the organization’s resources and stage. Staff saw this as an opportunity for the many student-led dance crews to create large-scale work in cooperation with emerging choreographers. But participation was much lower than expected. “We learned quickly that students wanted to be in charge of their own program delivery, and they saw Citizen Dance as competing for their time and attention. It wasn’t enhancing their own experience,” Reik explained.</p><p>The difficulties they experienced launching Citizen Dance led Cal Performances to significantly strengthen student ownership of events. The organization attracted a close-knit group of students who were involved in every decision regarding the genesis, production, artists, programming, marketing and more. The organization then launched Front Row, an event curated by the students themselves. “We taught students how to be presenters themselves—they received all of the credit,” Reik said. The results were quite different from Citizen Dance—more than 45,000 students attended Front Row, many for the first time. </p><p>While building this community of students, the staff at Cal Performances also learned that price matters greatly to this audience. As a result, the organization implemented Flex Pass, which offered students four tickets for $40 to Cal Performances’ main stage events. Reik said Flex Pass was a great success in its first two years. In year three of the programming, the organization increased the price of Flex Pass in an attempt to “move the needle upward” against the investment costs of making seats available at discounted prices. “We found that even a five dollar increase had a fairly significant impact on sales,” said Reik. </p><h3><strong>Risks and Rewards</strong></h3><p>The three leaders agreed that risk taking and experimenting with new strategies and tactics, such as those described, was vital to better connect with their audiences. While they may have tried different methods and experienced different challenges along the way, they agreed that all departments must be involved in the audience-building work from the beginning for it to succeed. “When different departments work together from the beginning—when the structure and whole concept is built from that foundation—you can move quicker to execution and success,” Reik explained. </p><p>“You have to be all in&#58; the staff, the board, to succeed or to fail in this project,” Aronson added. “We see the future as optimistic. The work is continuous; it’s incremental, and you have to have a vision in the organization to implement your learnings.”&#160; </p><p><em>Learn more about the arts organizations who were on the panel&#58;</em><br> <a href="https&#58;//calperformances.org/">Cal Performances</a> is a performing arts presenting, commissioning and producing organization based at the University of California, Berkeley. &#160;</p><p><a href="https&#58;//www.globalartslive.org/">Global Arts Live</a> brings international music, contemporary dance and jazz from around the world to stages across Greater Boston. </p><p><a href="https&#58;//www.opera-stl.org/">Opera Theatre of Saint Louis</a> is known for its short annual festival season in late May and June, and for its commitment to commissioning new operas and developing emerging talent. </p><p><a href="https&#58;//www.harlemstage.org/">Harlem Stage</a> provides opportunity and support for artists of color, makes performances easily accessible to all audiences and introduces children to the rich diversity and inspiration of the performing arts. </p><p>To learn more about Wallace’s building audiences work, visit our <a href="/knowledge-center/building-audiences-for-the-arts/pages/default.aspx">knowledge center</a>.</p>Jenna Doleh912020-02-11T05:00:00ZYour 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.2/13/2020 5:37:34 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Experimentation and Refinement a Key to Audience Building in the Arts Arts leaders on panel say data, market research and 512https://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 668https://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 572https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
What Theater Can Do Best24121GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>Two years ago, we embarked on our Building Audiences for Sustainability (BAS) Stories Series, which has chronicled early accounts from the BAS initiative. <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/denver-center-for-the-performing-arts-is-cracking-the-millennial-code.aspx">One of the organizations featured</a> was Denver Center for the Performing Arts (DCPA), focusing on Off-Center—an experimental branch of DCPA’s Theatre Company. Off-Center is helmed and curated by Charlie Miller, who also serves as the&#160;Associate Artistic Director of&#160;Denver Center&#160;Theatre Company. </p><p> To see how the work has been progressing, Corinna Schulenburg, Director of Communications at Theatre Communications Group, sat down with Miller to discuss Off-Center’s work to date, what they’ve learned and recommendations for other organizations seeking to expand their work in audience building. <br> <br> This following is an excerpted and edited version of the exchange.</p><p> <strong>Schulenburg&#58; Can you provide a brief overview of the Denver Center and your work with the Building Audiences for Sustainability initiative?</strong> <br> <br> Miller&#58; The Denver Center for the Performing Arts is a nonprofit theater based in Denver, and it's a unique organization because it houses both the Broadway presenting house and the regional theater that we call the Theatre Company. Inside the Theatre Company, there's a line of programming that I lead called Off-Center, which was created in 2010 to be a theatrical testing center, a place where we could experiment with new ideas and new forms and new ways of engaging a new and younger audience. <br> <br> This really came out of the challenge we were facing a decade ago—subscriptions were declining and audiences were aging. There was more competition for entertainment dollars, so we had to find a new way to engage an audience who wasn’t necessarily predisposed to theater the way that their parents and grandparents were. We were determined to create a new kind of programming geared toward that audience and that’s where Off-Center came from. </p><p>Around the same time, I became really fascinated with immersive theater and the way that it put the audience at the center of the experience. I also felt like it was a great thing for Denver because people who come to Colorado enjoy experiences. They like being active, and immersive theater allows an audience to be active inside of a story. So we set out to build the DCPA’s capacity to produce large scale immersive work through Off-Center.</p><p class="wf-Element-ImageCaption"><br><img alt="miller-schulenburg.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/What-Theater-Can-Do-Best/miller-schulenburg.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /> &#160;&#160;Corinna Schulenburg, director of communications, Theatre Communications Group and Charlie Miller, associate artistic director, Denver Center Theatre Company. </p><p><strong>Schulenburg&#58; Can you say a little bit more about the aesthetic and the audience experience of immersive theater?</strong> <br> <br> Miller&#58; For me what immersive means—and I also often use the word “experiential” interchangeably—is that it puts the audience at the center. They have some kind of role in the experience or in the story. It doesn't mean that the audience is playing a part like the actor, but instead that there is no fourth wall. It also needs to engage your senses and often involves not being seated the whole time, sometimes moving through multiple spaces, sometimes moving through the real world, but within a story that serves as a lens through which you’re viewing the world.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; <br> <strong>Schulenburg&#58; I know that an initial impulse was around engaging millennial audiences, particularly because you are a millennial yourself. Do you feel that millennial audience members&#160;have a particular relationship to this kind of work?</strong> <br> <br> Miller&#58; On average we’ve seen 35 percent of the audience is made up of millennials for these experiential productions, which is a departure from the Theatre Company, which is closer to 16 percent. We've also noticed that there is a halo effect, where you create programming that you think will speak to one generation and it becomes compelling to other generations. The common denominator is not your age, it’s how adventurous you are and what you’re looking for in your cultural experience. <br> <br> What’s exciting to us is that the work we’re doing is engaging a significantly newer and younger audience but it’s also engaging a diverse audience and people of all ages who are interested in engaging with their art in a different way. <br> <br> Also through the work we’ve been doing, I've continued to feel a tension in artistic programming between listening to what the audience wants and just doing interesting work that people will be excited about that they didn't know they want. There’s the famous Henry Ford quote that I love, something like, “If I listened to what people wanted I would have just given them a faster horse.” <br> <br> <strong>Schulenburg&#58; I remember in some of your past work you’ve uncovered that there’s a gap in what they think they want and what you actually found they wanted through market research.</strong> <br> <br> Miller&#58; &#160;As we were starting our Wallace-funded work we did a lot of market research, both qualitative and quantitative, to look at millennials in Denver and to understand if they would be interested in immersive theater. And when we asked them what type of experience, what attributes they wanted in an experience, they wanted “entertaining,” “lighthearted and fun,” “casual and relaxed.” They did not want “exclusive,” “serious” or “high end.” </p><p> <em>Sweet &amp; Lucky</em>, which was the first big project we produced, was serious and emotional and contemplative and people loved it, but it was the opposite of what they said they wanted. And it turns out that some of the subsequent work we've done that has been categorized as “entertaining, lighthearted and fun” has not been as popular among audiences. So even though they said they thought they knew what they wanted, it turns out they didn't. <br> <br> <strong>Schulenburg&#58; Since Wallace released the Building Audiences for Sustainability Story on your work, what has changed since then? What have you been up to?</strong> <br> <br> Miller&#58; The production that is running right now is called <em> <a href="https&#58;//www.denvercenter.org/tickets-events/between-us/">Between Us</a></em>, and it is a trio of one-on-one experiences between one actor and one audience member. This was inspired, in part, by an observation from <em>Sweet &amp; Lucky</em>&#58; during that production, every audience member received a brief one-on-one with an actor, and we saw how impactful that was for audience members. </p><p>Through all our projects this spring I've been fascinated with how much agency we can give the audience. How do we create a situation where the audience can show up as themselves, not have to play a part, but can have a meaningful and authentic impact on the direction and possibly even the outcome of the story? And how do we do that in a way that still guarantees that there's satisfying narrative arc? We're really experimenting with that in all of these pieces. We've had to rethink how we do things and learn along the way. <br> <br> <strong>Schulenburg&#58; Do you have any advice for smaller organizations looking to begin the work of audience building?</strong> <br> <br> Miller&#58; &#160;I think it's really important to get feedback from your audience. You don’t have to have a big budget to collect information and to use that to inform some of your decisions. It’s a skill set and a muscle that you can develop, and there are free tools out there to help. I believe that audience members have more buy-in with an organization if they feel like they’re able to share their opinion, so I’m a big proponent of continuous learning—as Wallace calls it—and using data to support strategy. <br> <br> Another thing we've learned is that experimental and nonlinear work has been least successful, as determined by audience response. We’ve heard that loud and clear on three different projects now. I always have to remind myself that at the core you have to provide a good story and that’s what brings people in. Theater is an art of storytelling.</p><p>Finally, I’m a huge proponent of prototyping and taking small, incremental steps to improve based on what you learn. The analogy I like to give is climbing up two feet and trying out your parachute and then climbing up another two feet, rather than just jumping off a cliff and hoping that the parachute opens. The more you can iterate, prototype and experiment, that can be really valuable. It’s a way to take calculated risks.</p><p> <strong>Schulenburg&#58; We’ve been talking a lot about the role human contact plays in the work you do at Off-Center, so I wanted to end by mentioning the New York Times article, &quot;</strong><strong><a href="https&#58;//www.nytimes.com/2019/03/23/sunday-review/human-contact-luxury-screens.html">Human Contact Is Now A Luxury Good</a></strong><strong>&quot; – have you seen it?</strong></p><p>Miller&#58; Oh yes, I did see this piece. <br> <br> <strong>Schulenburg&#58; The research suggests that it used to be that people who had resources and money had access to screens. Now, it's reversed—folks who are economically distressed have screens around them all the time and human contact has become a luxury good for the wealthy. What’s so interesting to me about the work that you are doing, it feels like it's connected to that, that you are hitting on the significance of direct human contact. It seems to me like you're tapping into a real wellspring of hunger.</strong> <br> <br> Miller&#58; I think you're right there. This relates to why I think millennials are drawn to immersive work. Our lives are mediated through screens, and theater like this forces you to put your screen down and to just be real, present and embodied. <br> <br> Spending an hour with a stranger and just getting to know them is a unique experience; you put yourself in someone else’s shoes and see the world from a different point of view. My hope is that this can wake us up from the monotony of our everyday routine and give us a new perspective on our own lives and on the world. That’s what we’re really trying to do at the end of the day. That’s what theater can do best. </p>Wallace editorial team792019-06-25T04:00:00ZChecking in with Denver Center’s Theater Company on what they’ve learned about their audiences from championing immersive theater6/27/2019 3:57:01 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / What Theater Can Do Best Checking in with Denver Center’s Theater Company on what they’ve learned about their audiences 1297https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx

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