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Data and Deliberation: A Dynamic Duo for Arts Organizations23735GP0|#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 https://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.6/4/2020 9:01:18 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 569https://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 477https://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 521https://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 435https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
What Theater Can Do Best3559GP0|#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 1277https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
New Name, New Look to Draw a New Generation of Fans3997GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>In 2015, World Music/CRASHarts set out to build name recognition and draw new, younger audiences to its music and dance performances. It commissioned extensive audience research and developed a multipronged engagement strategy centered on an annual global-music festival called CRASHfest. <br></p><p>That strategy <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/world-music-crasharts-tests-new-format-new-name-to-draw-new-audiences.aspx">is showing promising results</a>. But the related market research suggested that the organization's name was too hard to remember and its brand could be clearer, more consistent and more inspirational. So the organization set out on a rebranding process, the results of which it revealed last month.</p><p> <a href="https&#58;//www.globalartslive.org/content/worldmusiccrasharts-is-now-globalartslive">World Music/CRASHarts is now Global Arts Live</a>. With the new name come a new logo, a new color palette, detailed design guidelines and new templates for posters, brochures, stage backdrops and other marketing materials. </p><p>The organization, along with branding and design firm Minelli, Inc., chose a name that describes its work more clearly and succinctly than the somewhat wordy &quot;World Music/CRASHarts.&quot;</p> <img class="wf-Image-Left" alt="global-arts-before-after.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/New-Name-New-Look-to-Draw-a-New-Generation-of-Fans/global-arts-before-after.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /> <p>To give the descriptive name some emotional resonance, Minelli proposed a dynamic tagline, &quot;Performance that shapes our world.&quot; It also offered alternatives so Global Arts Live could adapt the tagline to fit the wide variety of performances it offers. The organization's announcement of the change demonstrates the use of the tagline better than we can explain it here&#58;</p> <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https&#58;//www.youtube.com/embed/91i3so4sVEw" frameborder="0"></iframe> <br><p>&quot;We present many different artists from all over the world—performing dance, world music, jazz—in different venues across the city,&quot; said associate director Susan Weiler in an email. &quot;The tagline, messaging and other brand assets give us a road map to adjust the brand to each artist, discipline and venue.&quot;</p><p>Accompanying the name and tagline are visual and verbal cues to communicate the creativity, diversity and vibrancy of the performances the organization presents. These cues are designed to create a clear, more consistent identity that audiences and supporters can recognize wherever they encounter it.</p><p><img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/New-Name-New-Look-to-Draw-a-New-Generation-of-Fans/global-arts-before-after3.jpg" alt="global-arts-before-after3.jpg" class="wf-Image-Left" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br><br></p> <p>&quot;The new identity is full of energy and movement,&quot; Weiler said. &quot;We have a single clarified name, one contemporary logo, dynamic tag line, updated messaging and complete style guide—all things we didn’t have before.&quot;</p><p>The organization is now working with digital consultants to reclaim the search-engine rankings the name-change compromised and to analyze web users' behavior in preparation for a full site redesign. This fall, it will launch an advertising and awareness campaign to promote the new brand to new audiences. </p><p>It's an extensive undertaking that has so far cost Global Arts Live about $300,000. But the organization is confident it will help boost its public profile and solidify its reputation for high-quality performances. &quot;Creating a new brand requires deep resources in staff time, staff capacity and financial investment,&quot; Weiler said. &quot;But operating with an ineffective brand can ultimately cost an organization more.&quot;</p>Wallace editorial team792019-06-20T04:00:00ZYour 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.6/21/2019 5:35:22 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / New Name, New Look to Draw a New Generation of Fans World Music/CRASHarts changes name to Global Arts Live, gets a facelift 498https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
For Steppenwolf Theatre the Connection’s the Thing3710GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​A little more than 10 years ago, Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company shifted its relationship with its patrons by offering them face-to-face conversation with the company’s performers and artistic staff. The new approach came about after Steppenwolf used an Excellence Award from The Wallace Foundation to develop a series of online and in-person programs that supported a vision of the company as “a public square”—a forum where audience members could participate in discussions with artists and one another about the meaning of a work they experienced.&#160;</p><p>The goal for Steppenwolf, which produces plays for more than 200,000 audience members every year, was to promote ongoing dialogue that would strengthen audience members’ connection to the company—and even encourage them to attend performances more often. This three-year effort (from 2007 to 2009) helped move the company towards its objective as described in <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/wallace-studies-in-building-arts-audiences-building-deeper-relationships.aspx">a 2011 case study</a>. </p><p>We recently revisited Steppenwolf to see where the programs stand today and found the company not only continuing to engage audiences through lively discussions but also expanding opportunities for more of them. </p><h2 class="wf-Element-H2">2007–2009&#58; The Public Square Launches, and Expands</h2><p> Steppenwolf began creating its public square through three engagement tactics&#58; </p><ul><li>Post-show discussions after every performance during which members of the artistic staff posed questions to the audience (not the other way around) and everyone shared reactions as a group. Over the first three years, 52,000 audience members, or approximately 14 percent of the audience, stayed to take part in these conversations.<br><br></li><li>A free-event series called “Explore” that introduced visitors to settings, playwright histories and themes related to Steppenwolf plays. Held in a social environment featuring immersive live entertainment, food and beverages, these events were separate from play performances—in Steppenwolf’s smaller theaters and rehearsal spaces—and each hosted between 50 and 230 attendees.<br><br></li><li>An extensive collection of printed and online content in which ensemble members and artistic staff shared conversations they were having with one another about work as it was being produced. Video and transcripts of those conversations included dialogue about Steppenwolf artists’ own questions regarding meaning and artistic intent—questions that sometimes remained unresolved. Over the three-year grant period, the videos and podcasts were accessed more than 750,000 and 175,000 times, respectively.</li></ul><p> ​While the public square forums attracted large numbers of audience members, they may have&#160;also encouraged repeat attendance during the grant period. In fact, the number of nonsubscribers who purchased tickets to more than one performance per season grew by more than 61 percent from&#160;September 1, 2007, to&#160;August 31, 2009. Subscription rates, which were already above industry trends, rose as well. </p><h2 class="wf-Element-H2">Continuing the Public Square </h2><p> Since that time, the theater has found many programs worth extending. Post-show discussions still follow every performance, and between 10 and 25 percent of audience members (14 percent on average) stay to take part. A 2016 survey revealed that more than 80 percent of participants say the conversations help them better appreciate the work they have seen, and what they enjoy most is the opportunity to reflect on the play immediately after seeing it. </p><p>The company also still produces a wide range of videos, including ensemble and staff reflections on artistic intent and meaning. Increasingly in recent years, the staff has also tapped audience members’ post-performance reactions to a work. One tack is to approach attendees in the lobby after the show and ask them to share their observations on video. Those clips are then edited and posted on the company website or included in production-related e-mails. The reactions are not of the “I love it, go see it” variety used strictly for promotion; instead, they are more personal reflections about specific elements that an audience member finds moving.</p><p>In a similar vein, Steppenwolf has also begun asking attendees to share personal experiences at the theater through social media, which was in its infancy when the original case study was published in 2011. For example, some audience members at a recent performance of <em>A Doll’s House, Part 2 </em>had seats at the back of the stage and they were prompted to post selfies once they took their places. That strategy of encouraging user-generated content may be one reason Steppenwolf has one of the most popular Instagram accounts among not-for-profit theater companies, with nearly 16,000 followers. &#160;​<br>​​<img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/For-Steppenwolf-Theatre-the-Connection’s-the-Thing/IG3.png" alt="IG3.png" class="wf-Image-Left" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br></p> <p class="wf-Element-ImageCaption">To promote interaction among its audiences, Steppenwolf Theatre encourages visitors to post images on social media, such as this post on Instagram.​ </p>​ <p>As for the Explore events, former Marketing Director John Zinn notes that a new performance series and a recently added in-house café (both described below) provide opportunities to continue dialogue in a more flexible and ongoing way. As a result, the company has​ discontinued the Explore programming. </p><h2 class="wf-Element-H2">Creating More Conversations and Opportunities to Have Them </h2><p> Even as its leadership has changed, Steppenwolf's commitment to discourse remains a defining feature of how it engages audiences. In 2015, ensemble member Anna D. Shapiro took over as artistic director from David Schmitz, who moved into the role of executive director. Under both, the company expanded audience opportunities to participate in conversations at Steppenwolf that suit the lifestyles and circumstances of different groups.</p><p>&#160;The recognition that not everyone wants to have a conversation inside the theater itself was one motivating factor behind the 2016 opening of the Front Bar. A hybrid bar and coffee shop connected to the Steppenwolf lobby, it was designed as a gathering place post-performance or throughout the day, with the hope it would be a space where patrons could mingle with one another and with the artists. Marketing Director Kara Henry notes that within three years the cafe has exceeded all expectations, becoming a place where ensemble members and visiting artists mingle with patrons after a performance and during rehearsals. At other times it serves as an impromptu workspace for theater artists from communities and companies across the city, many of them performing in or drawn to programming in Steppenwolf’s more intimate<u> </u>black-box theater.</p><p>Encouraged by the success of the Front Bar, the company plans to create other kinds of gathering spaces as it expands its campus into a new building now under construction. In that same spirit of reducing distance between audience and artists, Steppenwolf is designing the theater within the new space to be more intimate by bringing patrons closer to the stage.</p><h2 class="wf-Element-H2">Telling More Stories </h2><p> The artistic staff at Steppenwolf believes its mission, first and foremost, is to tell narratives that are relevant to Chicago. It is now expanding what that duty means as well. Increasingly, the company is looking beyond audiences who are already coming to the theater and is focusing on new ones, what Henry calls “a&#160;commitment to creating more stories for more of Chicago.” She adds, “Our invitation to theater patrons must be wide, with programming that reflects Chicago’s diversity. As we see the composition of Chicago change, we have an obligation to have our work reflect that.” </p><p>With that in mind, the company has featured a more diverse array of voices on the main stage. In 2016, it launched LookOut, amulti-genre performance series in its black-box theater, which provides an intimate cabaret-like setting. LookOu<em>t</em> programming draws from a wide range of Chicago-based artists, and its smaller scale allows for a greater diversity of shows to be presented within any one season. On select occasions the company has featured work that complements main-stage productions in order to build on conversations happening there. To date, LookOu<em>t</em> has featured 1,190 visiting artists, who have presented 146 shows in 422 performances to an audience of 29,005. That audience skews younger than the traditional Steppenwolf visitor&#58; 46 percent are Millennials, according to the theater's ticketing database,&#160;and another 20 percent are Gen X. </p><p>Ultimately the company hopes that giving audience members multiple means to connect with its work and artists will create stronger, more personal bonds and include broader segments of Chicagoans. Henry sees the engagement strategy as supporting Artistic Director Shapiro’s intent to “make connections that transcend ideas onstage, with experiences that seek to enhance the lives of every person who walks through our doors.”</p>​<br>Bob Harlow822019-06-11T04:00:00ZIn the past decade, the Chicago theater company has grown its audiences by cultivating a “public square” and connecting with patrons.6/11/2019 2:00:44 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / For Steppenwolf Theatre the Connection’s the Thing In the past decade, the Chicago theater company has grown its audiences 860https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
A Range of Opportunities Brings New Audiences to Decades-Old Ceramics Studio3628GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​​​​​​The Clay Studio in Philadelphia welcomes more than 30,000 people every year to its ceramics classes, workshops, gallery&#160;and retail space, including thousands who&#160;are first-timers to the studio and to clay itself. The organization’s popularity with newcomers&#160;​seemed impossible 12 years ago when The Clay Studio (TCS) was on the cusp of its 30th anniversary. Despite the studio’s international reputation for excellence in ceramics, visitor growth appeared to be stagnating. Its core audience of college-educated professionals and retirees was getting older, and few newcomers were signing up for classes or making purchases in the shop.&#160;The solution,&#160;senior staff&#160;determined, was to find opportunities among Philadelphia’s large population of young professionals.<br></p><p>&#160;It was no easy feat. Staffers were used to serving an older audience of ceramics devotees and were unsure how they could attract the next generation of participants, who, they suspected, had little or no experience with clay. An Excellence Award from The Wallace Foundation&#160;gave them leeway to experiment with new programs and marketing strategies over four years (from 2008 to 2011). After a year of experiments that had mixed success (as described in a <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/wallace-studies-in-building-arts-audiences-opening-new-doors.aspx">2015 case study</a>), the organization hit on a winning formula&#58; programs that provide new angles for discovering TCS, combined with more inviting marketing. Since that time, innovations using that formula have continued to deliver a steady stream of new audiences. </p><h2 class="wf-Element-H2">Finding New Ways for Young Audiences to Get to Know TCS<br></h2><p>TCS’s first attempt to bring in young people was a series of gallery-focused social events. When those efforts failed to bring in as many as TCS hoped, the staff tried instead to tap into young people’s desire for more participatory experiences and surmised that classrooms and workshops might make an appealing entry point. TCS’s primary class offering in those years was a relative bargain—10 weeks of lessons for $300—but audience research suggested that the time requirement and expense were too much for people unfamiliar with either TCS or ceramic art.</p><p>In response, TCS introduced shorter workshops such as <em>Date Night, </em>a three-hour after-work event—with a $35 price tag—that gave newcomers a chance to work with clay in a social setting with food and beverages. <em>Date Night</em> ticked all the boxes for Philadelphia’s young professionals who were looking for unique experiences, and it became a hit, selling out weeks in advance. The staff followed up with a range of formats to suit a variety of schedules and propensities to commit, including weekend workshops, five-week classes and more. </p><p>To draw this new audience to its programs, TCS’s marketing materials got a full makeover, guided by findings from research. The staff heard from young professionals in focus groups that TCS brochures and promotional materials were directed too much to an insider audience, with jargon that went over their heads and images of ceramics they weren’t equipped to appreciate. The staff then shifted to more accessible language and images of people working with clay, pictures that the focus-group participants found more enticing. </p><p>The direct appeal to newcomers, combined with the new programs, delivered results. During the five years from 2007 to 2012, enrollments tripled and revenue from classes and workshops doubled (see chart below). That growth came not only from the new programs but also from rising enrollment in the 10-week classes.</p><h2 class="wf-Element-H2">New Programs Build on Momentum</h2><p>The Wallace funding has ended, but many of the programs created during its tenure live on, as does TCS’s experimentation with new formats. <em>Date Night</em> is still held on most Friday evenings and continues to sell out in advance. To meet demand, the staff introduced <em>Let’s Make! </em>in 2013—Saturday-afternoon workshops similar in length to <em>Date Night</em> but without food and beverages, a nod to the fact that not everyone wants an overtly social experience. These workshops regularly sell out as well, serving 250 to 300 enrollees every year. The new programs have fueled revenue growth, which has continued to rise at a healthy clip.<br></p><p><img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/A-Range-of-Opportunities-Brings-New-Audiences-to-Decades-Old-Ceramics-Studio/school-revenue-enrollment-chart.jpg" alt="school-revenue-enrollment-chart.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br></p><p class="wf-Element-ImageCaption">Note&#58; Enrollment data before 2006 not available.​<br></p><p>Jennifer Martin, executive director of TCS since 2018, has served in a variety of roles since joining the organization in 2007, including vice president from 2012 to 2018. She believes the key to bringing in new kinds of visitors is providing different avenues to get to know the organization. Take the <em>Hand Crafted</em> event series, for example, which was developed in 2015 after staff members noted the rising interest in local craft movements and recognized that TCS lacked options for people who appreciate handmade products but don’t want to create them. Over three hours and for a fee similar to <em>Date Night </em>($35 to $40), <em>Hand Crafted</em> participants hear local food and beverage artisans and ceramic artists discuss how their products are made and interrelate. Following an exploratory three-year period supported by the Barra Foundation, the program now continues every quarter and hosts an average of 20 participants. Chief Operating Officer Josie Bockelman notes that the goal of the program is to break even financially while promoting TCS, its artists and the pleasure of having handmade objects. Martin sees <em>Hand Crafted </em>as providing “a way to educate our audience about clay without making them feel like they’re in a class; they’re having an experience with us in a different way.” </p><h2 class="wf-Element-H2">Serving Multiple Audiences</h2><p>One tricky balance is welcoming newcomers while maintaining the commitment to fine ceramic arts. Chris Taylor, who served as TCS president from 2011 through 2018, does not believe those goals are incompatible. Instead, he says TCS has become more inclusive, noting that the organization “serves the community, and that includes artist communities and it includes kids, equally.” Some long-term supporters expressed concerns about the commitment to fine arts as they began to see in the social workshops a large number of new audiences of “weekend warriors.” But Taylor notes that unease has dissipated as TCS has continued to support artists and exhibitions through such programs as an ongoing roster of 12 artists in long-term residencies and by providing studio space and resources for 14 early-career artists and 35 local artists every year. That’s in addition to hosting approximately 20 exhibitions annually, ranging from retrospectives of established international artists, to group shows highlighting relevant concepts in the field, to work from emerging artists.</p><p>It’s only natural that some newer visitors will look for a different kind of experience from the one the established audience enjoys. Taylor notes that contrast led to considerable discussion about the visitor experience and whether shorter workshops like <em>Date Night</em> were education, entertainment, a gateway or something else. For his part, Taylor takes a pragmatic stance, saying, “Some may go on to take classes, but if they don’t, that’s OK. They had a nice night, and we don’t have to judge them on their continued involvement or not.” </p><p>As it turns out, some new students do move on from shorter workshops to TCS’s longer five- and ten-week classes. The number is small (around 2 percent), but because those programs bring in hundreds of people, the impact is significant. Between 2014 and 2018, 95 students who first came in through <em>Date Night </em>reengaged with TCS. Specifically, 20 took a one-day weekend workshop, 25 enrolled in a five-week class and 50 took a ten-week class. It’s no surprise, then, that the longer formats have grown alongside the new programs, with five- and ten-week classes selling out in the prior three years. </p><p>Similarly, <em>Hand Crafted</em> events are creating a new audience of ceramics buyers whose engagement extends beyond the event. That wasn’t the intent, but it appears to be a natural outgrowth of the program’s objective of fostering an appreciation for handmade objects. Bockelman notes that many participants go on to make purchases in the retail shop, where sales receipts are several hundred dollars higher on days when <em>Hand Crafted </em>events are held. </p><p>Somewhat counterintuitively, the organization’s departments, with all their growth, have become more—not less—integrated. That’s in part because conversations regarding the visitor experience and lifecycle have led the staff to be more intentional in thinking about how people move through the organization. One significant shift is that TCS has stepped up communications between staff in development and in the earned-income programs, whose plans are now more in concert with one another. Martin notes, “Things were somewhat siloed earlier on. The school did its thing, the development department did its thing, everyone did their own thing. I feel like we’ve made a conscious effort as a staff and team to look at the organization holistically and think about how our programs can interact with each other, how we can funnel people through the organization, and the user experience from the time they walk in, to the time they leave.”</p><h2 class="wf-Element-H2">Growing into a New Space<br></h2><p>The organization’s programs are now filled to capacity, leaving the staff to find makeshift solutions to accommodate demand. To better serve its multiple audiences, TCS will relocate in 2020 from its 21,000-square-foot space to a newly-designed 31,000-square-foot facility farther north in South Kensington, a former industrial area that in recent years has become home to increasing numbers of local artisans and artist studios. The new location is providing an opportunity to design the building to fit what TCS has become, with more flexibility to host classes as the staff envisions them, instead of having the space define their capabilities. It will contain more and, in some cases, larger classrooms that can accommodate different instruction models, as well as additional space for artists and a classroom dedicated to youth and children. The retail shop and gallery will remain roughly the same size.&#160;</p><p>Beyond better accommodating specific programs, TCS also is designing the new facility to host a more integrated institution. In its current home, programs are on separate floors that, for security reasons, have separate access privileges. In its new location, TCS has designed and created spaces that encourage opportunities for interaction.&#160;Says Martin, “I envision all of these people across programs, from different walks of life, different ages, interacting, being social and experiencing the material and sharing that joy with each other.”​<br></p>Bob Harlow822019-05-30T04:00:00ZYour 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.5/30/2019 3:11:02 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / A Range of Opportunities Brings New Audiences to Decades-Old Ceramics Studio Philadelphia’s Clay Studio tapped into the 574https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Many Questions, Some Leads to Build Arts Audiences3081GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​At Wallace, all of our initiatives are designed with two goals in mind&#58; to benefit the organizations we fund and to benefit those we don't fund by providing credible, relevant knowledge derived from the initiative. For that reason all of our initiatives have a learning agenda. </p><p>In <a href="/knowledge-center/building-audiences-for-the-arts/pages/default.aspx">our current arts initiative</a>, for instance, we set out to understand how audience-building efforts, carried out by nonprofit performing arts organizations in a continuous learning process, could attract new audiences while retaining current ones, and, at the same time, contribute to financial health. Now, the first of three expected reports from the initiative is out&#58; <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/audience-building-and-financial-health-nonprofit-performing-arts.aspx">a literature review</a> of what’s known about the relationship between audience building and financial health. </p><p><a href="https&#58;//lbj.utexas.edu/directory/faculty/francie-ostrower">Francie Ostrower</a>, a professor in the LBJ School of Public Affairs and College of Fine Arts and a senior fellow in the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service at the University of Texas, Austin, is co-author of the literature review and is leading the research effort on the initiative. In addition to the current review, Ostrower expects to publish two more reports&#58; one on how the 25 organizations participating in the initiative implemented their efforts and another detailing the outcomes of their work. </p><p>We asked Ostrower to reflect on some of the key findings of the literature review.</p><p><strong>What is your opinion on the state of research surrounding the topic of audience building?</strong><br> The literature offers numerous intriguing leads, ideas, and case studies—but many remain to be examined more systematically to really understand the consequences of audience-building efforts of different types. Other promising lines for future development would be to build a more cohesive body of research whose individual works reference and build on one another, and to link audience-building studies to the broader literature on organizational change, learning and culture.&#160; </p><p><strong>At a few points in the literature review, you highlight that “audience-building and financial health literatures are distinct (with virtually no exploration of the relationship between the two).”</strong> <strong>Why do you think they’ve been separated historically? And what value is there in combining the two fields?&#160; </strong> <br> There would be great value to having additional studies that combine these fields. That is not to say that audience-building efforts should be judged or motivated by financial returns. They may yield financial returns, or their returns may be social or mission-driven. &#160;However, organizations need to understand the financial costs and returns so that if needed, funding is secured to support the efforts in a sustainable way. &#160;&#160;</p><p><strong>You highlight that empirical support for audience-building efforts is often slim. To what do you attribute this lack of empirical evidence? </strong> <br> Assessing the outcomes of audience-building efforts is far more complicated than it may appear, and faces barriers of time, cost and access to reliable data. Arts organizations themselves may have only limited data on their audiences. The research challenges become even more substantial when we go beyond overall attendance counts to look at audience composition, follow efforts over time to understand their sustainability and try and establish how generalizable an approach tried by some organizations may be to others.&#160; &#160;&#160;</p><p><strong>It seems there are two gaps in the literature&#58; little study of the link between audience-building and financial health and a lack of empirical evidence of the results of audience-building tactics. How does the design of the evaluation for the Building Audiences for Sustainability initiative address these gaps?</strong> <br> Working within the challenges of this very complex data undertaking, we will be trying to establish whether and how organizations attracted new audiences and retained current audiences as they undertook their audience building activities. Combining qualitative and quantitative data, we will also seek to understand the experiences and internal organizational consequences of engaging in audience building efforts. </p><p><strong>Based on this literature review, what are the takeaways you hope nonprofit arts managers will find? Do you have different takeaways for board members? How about for artistic staff? </strong> <br> There are several takeaways&#58;&#160; Audience-building efforts should not be viewed as isolated or mechanical undertakings, and there is every indication that successful and significant audience-building efforts require widespread and sustained organizational commitment.&#160; Therefore, it is very important to think about why the organization is undertaking the activity, the level of commitment it is willing to make and how far the organization is willing to go in order to achieve audience-building objectives, especially where achieving those objectives requires the organization to re-think the status quo.</p> <br><br>Wallace editorial team792019-05-13T04:00:00ZAuthor of new review says literature surveyed offers intriguing ideas and case studies, but empirical evidence of success of audience-building efforts is slim.5/16/2019 2:19:29 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Many Questions, Some Leads to Build Arts Audiences Author of new review says literature surveyed offers intriguing ideas 442https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx

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