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Addressing the "Uncertainty Gap" and Other Audience-Building Strategies16085GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p><em>Two years ago, we kicked off our BAS (Building Audiences for Sustainability) Stories Project with a written and video account of Ballet Austin’s effort </em><a href="/knowledge-center/pages/ballet-austin-building-audiences-for-sustainability.aspx"><em>to expand audiences for unfamiliar works</em></a><em>. To see how the work has been progressing, we asked the company’s executive director Cookie Ruiz to jot down some thoughts. The following is an edited version of our email exchange. </em></p><p><strong>In the original story, the author notes that Ballet Austin was “not considering altering programming to meet audience tastes, but they hoped to understand how audiences were viewing and responding to what the ballet company produced.” Why is it so important to you not to change who you are for the sake of growing your audience, and how do you strike a balance between what audiences expect and what Ballet Austin wants to deliver. </strong></p><p>While we value and respect the restaging of wonderful works that reflect the history of ballet and great classic stories, we cherish the process of bringing new works to the stage. There is simply nothing like it. Today’s artists have much to say and we believe that art is an effective way to share different perspectives. </p><p>So we wonder…why are people so reluctant to try something new when it comes to their entertainment? What is the source of the reluctance? Knowing now that there is an “uncertainty gap,” what does it take to close that gap and trigger a sale for work with which people are less familiar? </p><p>If all we needed to do was change the programming, we would never have needed to ask this question, and we would have missed out on the most fascinating three years of learning. </p><p><strong>Based on market research findings, Ballet Austin adjusted many activities surrounding the performances to help audiences feel more comfortable about attending the ballet. Have you continued growing these programs, and do you have any new findings to share?&#160;</strong></p><p>One of the most valuable disciplines coming from BAS is the importance of the “not to do” list. Many arts organizations offer a veritable plethora of audience engagement opportunities. We all do them because, let’s face it, people keep coming and it’s probably not hurting anything. </p><p>No more.&#160; Even the safe “legacy” strategies we’ve all been doing for years–such as the pre-curtain lecture and the post-performance talk-back–take time and planning that could be used elsewhere, if these strategies are deemed to be ineffective. </p><p>In Round One of BAS we learned that our audience seeks two major connections through the work&#58;&#160; 1) a social connection and/or 2) an emotional/intellectual connection.&#160; We used this information to design an array of pre-sale to post-performance experience paths. </p><p>Last season we had the opportunity to sit down with six groups of audience members; one of those groups was comprised of adult dance students selected from the 35% of our audience that self-reports that they are currently taking dance classes.</p><p>When showed sample digital video content that was used to promote ticket sales to a recent “less familiar work,” this one group skewed dramatically away from the other five groups in their response to the content. What emerged from this research engagement was the realization that we have a third connection…a<strong> </strong>“kinesthetic connection.” These audience members experience the work through their own bodies, with a focus on the choreography itself. Through data mining we learned the happy news that those taking a dance class prior to purchasing their first ticket are more than twice as likely to buy a ticket. </p><p><strong>How does Ballet Austin make decisions on what to continue and what to abandon?</strong> <strong>Can you give an example of something you stopped doing, because the research told you the costs outweighed the benefits?</strong></p><p>When we design a prototype, it has a clearly articulated goal and specific measureable expectations. The Wallace method requires routine evaluation of the prototype. During this process we discuss if there is a variable we might change, followed by a retest. When we realize that the prototype completely failed to meet its goals, then it is out and the prototype is retired.</p><p>An example of this came in year one when we piloted a livestream studio rehearsal, “Ballet Austin Live.” Our team became quite adept at delivering a series of well-produced episodes, but the livestream did not meet its key benchmarks. In fact, during a series of focus groups we learned that we were actually confusing some members of the audience who had no understanding of where the livestream was taking place, or why the dancers weren’t in costume. We made the assumption that viewers would understand the rehearsal process. &#160;</p><p>Ultimately by freeing up the time and considerable dollars, we learned that these “social connectors” preferred for us to send them a “movie trailer” style video with all the pertinent information, helping them to quickly forward to their friends as a suggestion to join them.</p><p><strong>What advice can you offer to organizations who seek to learn from Ballet Austin’s experiences?</strong></p><ul><li>Listen to your audience. We often assume we know what our audiences want, without ever actually asking. At Ballet Austin, we implemented a “Listening Tour” where we conducted calls and in-person sessions to listen to our customers. We found this information essential to help us understand where to focus our efforts.</li><li>You don’t need expensive tools to gather information. The phone calls and in-person sessions were a low-cost way to receive feedback, and Survey Monkey is an easy tool, available to anyone.</li><li>When developing new strategies, articulate and write down a specific goal so that you’re able to accurately measure the outcome.&#160; This is important because it reminds you to end a prototype if it is not successful. This also helps prevent “legacy strategies” that remain year after year, without being able to point to the specific outputs that justify the time and budget support. </li></ul><p><strong>In the 2017 video you said, “We’re asking ourselves what we know and what do we need to know?” What do you know now that you didn’t know two years ago? </strong></p><p>We thought we were dealing with an issue of familiarity, a lack of information. If that had been true we could have solved this by simply providing information. We now know we are dealing with something far more nuanced, an “uncertainty gap” that must be closed in order to trigger a sale. We also found that from time to time we were actually inadvertently “widening” the gap rather than closing it. </p><p>Titles matter, too.<strong> </strong>If the title of the work does not resonate,<strong> </strong>we can lose potential audience members, and we don’t get them back. Related, we’ve retired the term “non-narrative<strong>.”&#160; </strong>The attraction and need for a narrative arc is strong among most audience members, but there is room to differentiate between story, plot and inspiration. Audiences are not homogeneous. If we fail to approach our audience members in a highly-segmented way, they simply won’t hear us. </p><p>Young does not necessarily equal open-minded.&#160; Our research shows us that while 70 percent of our audience is under the age of 51, and while our city is filled with young technology-focused professionals, younger audience members tend to select the most familiar work. The audience for less familiar/new work currently relates to educational attainment (the average educational attainment of these audience members is a Master’s degree) and life experience. Also, nearly 60% of our audience members were involved in our art form (dance) as a child; 34% of our audience is taking dance today and 35% of their children are currently taking dance. </p><p>Finally, the magic of number three&#58; we’ve learned that once an audience member attends their third performance, they are more likely to repurchase, becoming our repeat customer with whom we can develop a long relationship.</p>Wallace editorial team792019-01-29T05:00:00ZBallet Austin continues to gather information, listen to its audiences and develop new strategies.1/29/2019 3:00:08 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Addressing the "Uncertainty Gap" and Other Audience-Building Strategies Ballet Austin continues to gather information 454https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Experienced Hands Help Marketers Refine Strategies to Build Arts Audiences16094GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>Marketing and communications professionals from arts organizations around the country come together every year for the <a href="https&#58;//namp.americansforthearts.org/get-smarter/conference" target="_blank">National Arts Marketing Project Conference</a>, an event hosted by the advocacy and support organization <a href="https&#58;//www.americansforthearts.org/" target="_blank">Americans for the Arts</a>. Here, they share ideas about how they can engage larger numbers of ticket-buyers and reverse decades long declines in arts audiences in the U.S.</p><p>The conference often includes panels on the nuts and bolts of marketing&#58; effective use of social media, making sense of web analytics, best practices for email marketing and the like. </p><p>This year’s event, held in Seattle in November, featured a pre-conference workshop that took a broader view of audience development. About 90 attendees huddled together to identify major hurdles they encounter when trying to build audiences and propose solutions to overcome them. They had more than just their collective wisdom to work off, however. They could also rely on the experiences of Ballet Austin, the Pacific Northwest Ballet and the Seattle Symphony, three organizations participating in Wallace’s <a href="/how-we-work/our-work/pages/building-audiences-for-the-arts.aspx">Building Audiences for Sustainability initiative</a>, and on the research of Bob Harlow, a market research expert who has been observing Wallace’s audience-development efforts for years.</p><p>The problems participants identified, and their proposed solutions, may sound familiar to many arts organizations. The panel used its experience and research to add important context.</p><p>“People think we’re elitist,” said one person trying to bring more ethnic diversity to her audiences. Would they change their minds if they saw more diversity in the organization?</p><p> <img class="wf-Image-Left" alt="NAMP-final2-lg-feature.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Experienced-Hands-Help-Marketers-Refine-Strategies-to-Build-Arts-Audiences/NAMP-final2-lg-feature.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;529px;" />A bit of familiarity could go a long way, said Charlie Wade, senior vice president of marketing and business operations at the Seattle Symphony. The symphony <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/can-the-citys-boom-mean-new-audiences-for-seattle-symphony.aspx">increased retention rates by 12 percentage points</a> among target audiences simply by assigning staff members to greet visitors by name. A personal connection, he said, especially when greeters look like the audience an organization is hoping to attract, could pay dividends.</p><p>“People are not certain about the value they will get and whether it is worth their time and money,” said another who was hoping to draw audiences to edgy, contemporary performances. Could they be convinced if the organization recalibrated costs and benefits by offering discounts or explaining why the performances are important?</p><p> <img class="wf-Image-Right" alt="NAMP-final3-lg-feature.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Experienced-Hands-Help-Marketers-Refine-Strategies-to-Build-Arts-Audiences/NAMP-final3-lg-feature.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;192px;" />“Uncertainty is complex,” responded Cookie Ruiz, executive director of Ballet Austin. It is more important, she said, to sell a story than it is to offer deals or recount the history of an art form. <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/ballet-austin-building-audiences-for-sustainability.aspx">People go to the ballet for social experiences or emotional rewards, her organization’s research suggested, not for ticket prices or a performance’s place in the artistic tradition</a>.</p><p>“Our audience is so damn tired. Why would they want to try one more thing?” asked one woman hoping to draw busy young professionals. Could previews of events help entice them?</p><p>Lia Chiarelli, director of marketing and communications at the Pacific Northwest Ballet, believes they could. “You need to give people a little something to go on,” she said. <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/showing-young-people-they-belong-at-the-ballet.aspx">Her organization offers live events and video previews that are drawing thousands of teens and young professionals every year</a>. </p><p>Implicit in these ideas was an emphasis <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/encouraging-frequent-attendance-for-the-arts.aspx">on the audience’s journey</a> from a passing interest to a lasting commitment. “Starting with empathy [for the audience,]” said Ruiz, “and then removing the points of friction along the way is a great way to start.”</p><p> <img class="wf-Image-Left" alt="NAMP-final4-lg-feature.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Experienced-Hands-Help-Marketers-Refine-Strategies-to-Build-Arts-Audiences/NAMP-final4-lg-feature.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;423px;" /> </p><p>Bob Harlow, who has authored <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/wallace-studies-in-building-arts-audiences.aspx">several detailed case studies about Wallace-funded audience-development efforts</a>, added a larger point to the discussion. He pointed to <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/the-road-to-results-effective-practices-for-building-arts-audiences.aspx">nine effective practices he distilled from these case studies</a>. “My group found that of the nine effective practices, only five have to do with building relationships,” he said. “The other four are all about organizational factors.”</p><p>Success is impossible without a sustained commitment and a coordinated effort throughout an organization, he said. Pacific Northwest Ballet would not have seen the success it did with younger audiences, Harlow said, if Artistic Director Peter Boal had not recognized their importance for the future relevance of the art form and the organization. <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/research-and-self-reflection-help-strengthen-community-ties.aspx">The Fleisher Art Memorial in Philadelphia would not have increased local youth participation by 13 percentage points</a>, he added, if the organization’s leaders hadn’t decided that the organization had to change with its neighborhood.</p><p> Such changes don’t come without resistance from within the organization, Harlow added. But this resistance must be heard and understood. “They care about the organization and that’s where the resistance comes from,” he said of staffers who may be unhappy about proposed changes. “They are your allies. Don’t shut them down.” </p><p><em>Top left photo&#58; Charlie Wade, senior vice president of marketing and business operations at the Seattle Symphony. </em><em>Right side photo&#58; Cookie Ruiz, executive director of Ballet Austin.</em></p>Wallace editorial team792018-11-15T05:00:00ZThree arts organizations and a researcher share lessons they’ve learned about practices that help attract and retain new audiences11/16/2018 3:00:51 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Experienced Hands Help Marketers Refine Strategies to Build Arts Audiences Three arts organizations and a researcher share 457https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Encouraging Frequent Attendance for the Arts13010GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61 <p>If you could attract neophyte audience members and get them to return by buying them a glass of wine, wouldn’t you do it? And if it was even easier to get them to the next step, becoming regulars—say, all it took was greeting them by name—wouldn’t you do that?</p><p>At the third gate in the decision-making journey potential audience members navigate, they are looking to have compelling, rewarding experiences, while arts organizations are hoping to not only meet those expectations but also exceed them. For it’s a truth readily acknowledged that getting new audience members through the door once is easier—but also more costly—than getting them to return. With attendees who have come at least once before, arts organizations are not starting their overtures on the first note.</p><p><a href="http&#58;//2017study.culturetrack.com/home" target="_blank">Recent research</a> shows that, aside from seeking emotional, mental, and social engagement with the arts, potential attendees—especially members of the millennial generation—are increasingly seeking a “total experience.” They want to have fun and connect with others just as much as they want to be enlightened or entertained by the art they are seeing.</p><p>That’s why the <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/denver-center-for-the-performing-arts-is-cracking-the-millennial-code.aspx" target="_blank">Denver Center Theatre Company</a> staged a large-scale immersive production called “Sweet &amp; Lucky” at an offshoot called Off-Center. These interactive performances, designed to engage a generation that is used to immersive, participatory experiences, sold out to attendees with an average age of 41 (vs. 53 for traditional productions). In post-performance surveys, 94 percent of that group rated the play “very rewarding” or “extremely rewarding.” Another key component of the evenings was a purpose-built bar where audience members could socialize before and after the show—meeting another demand of a generation that likes to network.</p><p>The <a href="https&#58;//www.opera-stl.org/" target="_blank">Opera Theatre of St. Louis</a>, another participant in <a href="/pages/default.aspx" target="_blank">The Wallace Foundation’s</a> six-year, $61.5 million “Building Audiences for Sustainability” initiative, didn’t modify its opera offerings, but it too discovered that the opportunity to socialize was crucial to a better return on its outreach initiatives. In 2016, OTSL invited newcomers to attend a pre-performance wine reception, then measured its success. It discovered that 21 percent of the new-to-file audience members who attended the wine welcome returned in 2017 vs. only 17 percent of those who had not attended the wine reception. Joe Gfaller, Director of Marketing and Public Relations, said that OTSL will continue the wine receptions&#58; “It’s a very low-cost, worthy investment.”</p><p>Further on the continuum of reducing audience churn, the <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/can-the-citys-boom-mean-new-audiences-for-seattle-symphony.aspx" target="_blank">Seattle Symphony</a> has been successful, with even less expense, at keeping new subscribers. The orchestra simply assigned staff members to greet them by name (learned as their tickets were scanned) when they arrived at Benaroya Hall and to say that the Symphony was happy that they’d come for the performance. “What we found,” said Charlie Wade, Senior Vice President for Marketing and Business Operations, “is that, in fact, the people that we greet renew at a significantly higher rate than people that we don’t greet.” In the 2016-17 season, that tally was 41 percent versus 29 percent.</p><p>During the 2017-18 season, the Symphony greeted more than 900 subscribers, nearly double the first year’s number, and the rate of renewal among them remained significantly higher, too. “It earned us on the order of $60,000 more” in subscription sales, Wade said.</p><p>These initiatives are elements of what has become known as the “surprise and delight” approach to enhancing the total customer experience&#58; it involves giving attendees an unexpected reward that cultivates a bond with them and therefore fosters loyalty. These gestures often turn people into frequent attendees.</p><p>Taking this idea a step further, the Seattle Symphony has for the last two years provided customer experience training to all employees who interact with the public, from parking attendants to food and beverage servers to box office staff. They learn to greet all guests with a smile, eye contact, and a welcome (though they do not have access to names); to listen, care about, and anticipate rather than react to customer desires; and to end each interaction effectively, perhaps inviting audience members to return. As a result, Wade says that customer satisfaction, measured in surveys, has climbed in each of the last three years, undoubtedly helping with customer retention.</p><p>Younger audiences in particular say in surveys that it’s not quite enough for an arts experience to be engaging; they are looking to go to places where they feel an emotional tie, have positive interactions, and experience a sense of community. Efforts like these examples may well help turn first-timers into multi-timers.</p><p><em>This three-post series outlines the Audience Journey, a conceptualization of people's decision-making process when choosing to attend an arts performance, exhibition or event. This post focuses on how to create a rewarding experience that makes people want to return. Other posts suggest ways organizations might <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/countering-myths-and-misperceptions-of-the-arts.aspx">engage people who are less inclined</a> to participate in the arts and how to combat <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/breaking-the-practical-barriers-of-arts-participation.aspx">the practical barriers</a> of participation. All posts originally appeared on the National Arts Marketing Project's&#160;<a href="https&#58;//namp.americansforthearts.org/2018/10/16/the-arts-experience-and-reducing-audience-churn">blog</a> and are reprinted here with permission. </em></p><p>&#160;</p> Judith H. Dobrzynski892018-11-09T05:00:00ZThird in three-post series examines how to create a rewarding arts experience that makes people want to return11/9/2018 3:31:39 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Encouraging Frequent Attendance for the Arts Third in three-post series examines how to create a rewarding arts experience 256https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Taking Down the Practical Barriers of Arts Participation16088GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61 <p>Try taking a youngster to a museum. It’s not easy. Where will you put the stroller? What about the crackers and the Cheerios? It’s even harder to manage a visit to an opera or a dance performance.</p><p>Such practical thoughts, and others like them, run through the minds of people (be they parents, friends, couples, or individuals) who are interested in participating in the arts—but haven’t yet committed. Their decision making isn’t over because they haven’t worked out when, where, and how they might participate. The barriers they face at this stage are largely practical ones, not perceptual ones, where they are unsure about what to expect. People ask questions like&#58; Does this specific arts opportunity fit in my schedule? Can I afford the tickets? Is it worth my time and effort to participate (opportunity cost)? Where is the show, and can I get there easily? Where will I park my car? Whom will I go with? Do I have all the information I need to make a decision?</p><p>In other words, they ask, does it work for me?</p><p>Several arts organizations participating in <a href="/pages/default.aspx" target="_blank">Wallace Foundation</a> initiatives have taken measures to make attendance work for a larger number of people, then tracked the results. In San Francisco, when the <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/converting-family-into-fans.aspx" target="_blank">Contemporary Jewish Museum</a> targeted families as a desired audience, it first tried offering discounts. But they didn’t come; something else was needed. So, aside from offering a panoply of family activities, like art packs, the museum has marked off a space in its lobby to park strollers, installed changing tables in every restroom, and added low sinks that children can reach on their own. The museum also created family seating nooks in many exhibitions, including places where children may safely draw or read. As families enter the museum, they are told about areas where children may snack and where they may engage in touchable activities. “We try to be clear about what we can allow in a really friendly way,” said Fraidy Aber, Director of Education and Public Programs.</p><p>As a result, family visits since 2008 have jumped nearly tenfold, to some 13,000 families visiting a year—or 15 percent of total attendance versus 10 percent at the start.</p><p>Several years ago, the <a href="https&#58;//www.opera-stl.org/" target="_blank">Opera Theatre of St. Louis</a> began to hear very clearly that childcare was a practical barrier for many there, too. Now, at select matinees, OTSL offers a half-day “Kids Camp” for $20 per child. “Kids learn all about the performance you are seeing. They hear live music. They learn the story. They make their own little costume and set elements,” said Timothy O’Leary, who was the OTSL’s General Director until July 1 of this year. “And then, when you get your kid at the end of Opera Kids’ Club and you’ve been to the opera, you’ve got a little sheet about what they learned, and you ask them questions on the drive home. This is an incredibly great experience that people responded to really well.” It also exposes a very young generation to the arts, with potential reward in the future.</p><p>Other arts institutions have made different modifications to pull down practical barriers. The <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/can-the-citys-boom-mean-new-audiences-for-seattle-symphony.aspx" target="_blank">Seattle Symphony Orchestra</a>, for example, realized that its two- to three-hour concerts starting at 8 p.m. were inconvenient for some would-be patrons, so it started a new series of one-hour concerts, called “Untuxed,” that begin at 7 p.m. They’ve been very successful, attracting many new attendees.</p><p>Cost may be the biggest practical barrier for some groups—especially millennials, who, <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/building-millennial-audiences-barriers-and-opportunities.aspx" target="_blank">surveys show</a>, typically overestimate ticket prices to arts events—though cost issues may also reflect deeper concerns about risking money on events they do not enjoy. Still, communicating actual ticket prices, and sometimes offering discounts, has helped pull in millennials.</p><p>Such practical matters can play a large part in the individual decision making of potential patrons; reducing these barriers can yield measurable results.</p><p><em>This three-post series outlines the Audience Journey, a conceptualization of people's decision-making process when choosing to attend an arts performance, exhibition or event. This post highlights ways to overcome some practical barriers to participating in the arts. Other posts suggest ways organizations might <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/countering-myths-and-misperceptions-of-the-arts.aspx">engage people who are less inclined</a> to attend or visit and how to create a <a href="http&#58;//www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Encouraging-Frequent-Attendance-for-the-Arts.aspx">rewarding experience </a>that makes people want to return. All posts originally appeared on the National Arts Marketing Project's&#160;<a href="https&#58;//namp.americansforthearts.org/2018/10/16/taking-down-practical-hurdles">blog</a> and are reprinted here with permission. </em></p><p>&#160;</p> Judith H. Dobrzynski892018-11-02T04:00:00ZSecond in three-post series highlights audiences' practical concerns like cost or venue and how organizations can address them11/9/2018 12:11:54 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Taking Down the Practical Barriers of Arts Participation Second in three-post series highlights audiences' concerns such as 268https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Countering Myths and Misperceptions of Participating in the Arts10323GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61 <p>​​“What would I wear?” That age-old question is not simply the whining of a teenager facing a monumental quandary despite a closetful of clothes. It’s one of the many questions that newcomers ask when deciding whether or not to partake of the arts.</p><p>Among the others&#58; Will I know what to do? Will I see members of my peer group there? Will I feel included? Will I like it? Is it for me?</p><p>Over the last few decades, in the deep belief that the arts belong to everyone, The Wallace ​Foundation has funded audience-building initiatives at many arts organizations; it’s now in the middle of a six-year, $61.5 million <a href="/knowledge-center/building-audiences-for-the-arts/pages/default.aspx" target="_blank">“Building Audiences for Sustainability”</a> program. Reviewing theoretical and data-driven research, along with practical experiences from arts organizations over the past 10 years, Wallace and its partners have developed a much better understanding of the reasons people choose to go, or not to go, to an arts performance or exhibition.</p><p>The decision is not a simple case of yes or no. It’s a series of decisions that could be construed as a journey with gates set up along the way. At each one, some people will choose to continue on, while others will drop out. At the first juncture, people tend to consider, usually subconsciously, many questions about their expectations of an arts opportunity—with answers that can be influenced by arts organizations intent on building their audiences.</p><p>Sometimes all it takes is a small gesture or more information; sometimes, more.</p><p>For example, because young people had told the Opera Theatre of St. Louis in focus groups that they didn’t know what to wear to an opera, OTSL posted pictures of audience members in all manner of dress, casual and fancy, on its Facebook and Instagram pages. That was one question taken care of, with a reassuring answer—wear what you want.</p><p>When <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/ballet-austin-building-audiences-for-sustainability.aspx" target="_blank">Ballet Austin</a> discovered that potential audience members were turned off by its promotional materials for contemporary works—and didn’t know what to expect, let alone if they would like it—the company changed tactics. It discontinued traditional open rehearsals, popular with regular attendees but not new people, and instead started Ballet Austin Live! That’s a 30-minute livestream of a rehearsal that allowed more, and different, people to see what a production might be like before they bought tickets.</p><p>To make sure that millennial visitors to the <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/isabella-stewart-gardner-museum-case-study-update.aspx" target="_blank">Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum</a> felt comfortable at its “Third Thursdays” evenings—which feature gallery games, music, hands-on artmaking, food, and drinks—the museum recruited volunteers from the same generation. They provide a welcoming, unintimidating presence, answer questions about the art on view, and sometimes even join in the games by offering helpful hints.</p><p><a href="/knowledge-center/pages/wallace-studies-in-building-arts-audiences-getting-past-its-not-for-people-like-us.aspx" target="_blank">Pacific Northwest Ballet</a>, which once was viewed by teens as boring and stuffy, conquered the “it’s not for me” syndrome with a raft of measures including teen-only previews of PNB’s annual choreographers showcase, increased Facebook activity about the company’s performances, and behind-the-scenes videos.</p><p>Changing attitudes—which is what these measures aim to do—isn’t always easy, especially if they were formed by a negative previous arts experience or are ingrained within a person’s social group. But with specific overtures to hesitant individuals or reluctant groups, some arts organizations are countering misperceptions that may prevent some people from attending an arts experience and attracting new audiences.</p><p><em>This three-post series outlines the Audience Journey, a conceptualization of people's decision-making process when choosing to attend an arts performance, exhibition or event. This post suggests ways organizations might engage people who are less inclined to attend or visit. The next two posts cover how to combat the <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/breaking-the-practical-barriers-of-arts-participation.aspx">practical barriers </a>of attending and how to create a <a href="http&#58;//www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Encouraging-Frequent-Attendance-for-the-Arts.aspx">rewarding experience</a> that makes people want to return. All posts originally appeared on the National Arts Marketing Project's <a href="https&#58;//namp.americansforthearts.org/2018/10/16/the-road-to-participation-countering-misperceptions" target="_blank">blog</a> and are reprinted here with permission.</em></p>Judith H. Dobrzynski892018-10-26T04:00:00ZFirst in three-post series examines people's questions about arts experiences and how organizations can help answer them to build audiences11/9/2018 12:11:56 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Countering Myths and Misperceptions of Participating in the Arts The first in a three-post series examines people's 264https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx

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