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Pandemic Ups Game on Scenario Planning in The Arts26330GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​As the COVID-19 pandemic and national reckoning with racial justice continue, arts and culture organizations find themselves in an utterly transformed, and potentially decimating, landscape. To help organizations make their way through this unprecedented time—and even envision some silver linings—global strategic and business planning firm AEA Consulting has released a <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/navigating-uncertain-times-a-scenario-planning-toolkit-for-arts-culture-sector.aspx">scenario-planning toolkit</a>. </p><p>Created specifically for the arts sector, the toolkit describes four possible scenarios for the pandemic’s course, and people’s behavior in the wake of it, over the next five years. A <a href="/knowledge-center/Pages/Arts-Organizations-Early-Response-to-COVID-19-Uncertainty-Insights-from-the-Field.aspx">companion report</a> looks at a recent survey of arts leaders and field experts, providing insights that arts organizations can draw on as they undertake their planning. </p><p>The Wallace Blog conducted an email dialogue about the report with <a href="https&#58;//aeaconsulting.com/about/people/daniel_payne">Daniel Payne</a>, a managing principal at AEA Consulting. The exchange has been edited for clarity and length. </p><p><strong>Given the extraordinary degree of uncertainty we are facing, scenario planning might seem counterintuitive. Why is it especially helpful in conditions of high uncertainty?</strong></p><p>COVID-19 shortened our planning horizons from years to weeks. Scenario planning presents an opportunity to think beyond near-term predictions and be more imaginative about multiple possible futures—exactly what is needed when the fog of uncertainty makes it hard to clearly determine likely outcomes. It encourages organizations to focus less on individual bets about direction and instead think about core principles (purpose, mission, and service to communities and audiences), consider potential impact in multiple possible outcomes and lay out different paths to achieve success.</p><p>In other words, there is no right future or wrong future in scenario planning. It is a process that helps an organization imagine itself in different future settings and craft a response, perhaps even uncovering previously hidden opportunities. It extends the planning horizon beyond the near-term—whether to reopening, the end of a financial crisis or otherwise—and ensures organizations can best position themselves for success in multiple possibilities in the long term.</p><p><strong>What is the difference between scenario planning and “strategic planning” exercises—what are the pros and cons of each, especially when uncertainty is so high?</strong></p><p>Scenario planning and strategic planning are related to one another in many ways. One way to think about scenario planning is as a form of long-range strategic planning that emphasizes an understanding of the wider environment that you are operating in. It also turns out that some of the weaknesses that we see in traditional strategic planning processes can be mitigated by scenario planning. So, rather than thinking of them as either-or, you can think of them as yes-and, and consider adding a scenario planning process to your next round of strategic planning. &#160;&#160; </p><p>One of the cons often said about strategic planning is the plan can be seen as a rigid direction toward a three-year or five-year horizon that may become irrelevant when the context shifts in six months or one year. Scenario planning offers a counter to that, both prompting people for more flexibility in their consideration of the future and providing a systematic way to find commonalities in those possibilities to create more solid footing for a plan. In contrast, one of the potential cons to scenario planning is that it becomes too abstract, and you end up without clear actionable outcomes. But a good strategic planning process would provide a framework to take the outputs from scenario planning and then develop action steps and implementation plans, track financial impacts and other resource needs, and create the tools to measure whether you are achieving the desired impact. Neither are a magic bullet, but in concert (and with continued attention and evaluation), they can help prepare organizations to advance their mission, no matter what may be next.</p><p><strong>Though each of the tool’s four scenarios presents a very different future, are there any commonalities among them that organizations might prepare for now?</strong></p><p>While we would say there are no absolute certainties, there are certainly a number of common themes that you can find if you were to sit in each of the four futures that we’ve identified in the toolkit. We highlighted a number of these in the overview document—often these are related to the impacts of longer-term trends in demographics or advances in science and technology. For example, one common theme we highlight is an increased focus on racial equity and social justice&#58; beyond the moral imperative itself, most future projections show the U.S. becoming a majority-minority country sometime in the 2040s. It’s going to become an increasingly critical issue simply so that arts organizations can engage the audience.</p><p>There are other commonalities that deal more with the likelihood of increasing uncertainty and volatility—for example, a need for the sector to better engage with and manage mental health impacts. There are also potential impacts of this in how the sector creates the physical spaces it uses—to increase flexibility to deal with the possibilities of continued distancing, but also to increase their openness to create a renewed sense of welcome. And we will need to rethink how all spaces can be managed to mitigate the effects of the climate crisis. These are trends that already existed in many new cultural spaces, but they seem to become more urgent no matter the future scenario. </p><p><strong>In what ways can scenario planning go wrong—or at least fall into traps—and how can these potential pitfalls be avoided?</strong></p><p>One way that scenario planning can go wrong is embedded in the name itself—to spend too much time with the scenarios and not enough time thinking about their implications for an organization. We’ve tried to emphasize the need to make this work actionable through the materials, but for some, there’s a rabbit hole of spending so much time and energy crafting those different futures. We hope the toolkit can help that by providing these four future scenarios, so that the focus can move more quickly to their implications. However, we know there’s no one size fits all answer, and different organizations may have different contexts to emphasize or specific situations they want to address in the scenarios.</p><p>Another common challenge is spending too much time and energy on one preferred future—whether because that is the future seen as most likely or because there is some preferred outcome with in it. One way we suggest dealing with that is to make sure that you bring together a diverse group of participants for the process—diverse in backgrounds and experiences, but also bringing voices to the table that may be newer to an organization’s strategic process. It can be a great opportunity to bring in a board member who recently joined or a member of your community that you don’t get to speak with enough.</p><p><strong>What is an example of a perspective that doing scenario planning opened up for you?</strong><br> One thing this process has opened our eyes to—not entirely new at all, but certainly something this highlights in a significant way—is the array of skills an organization needs to be able to manage their future direction. We built this toolkit after talking to a wide range of arts leaders for the work discussed in <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/arts-organizations-early-response-to-covid-19-uncertainty-insights-from-the-field.aspx">Arts Organizations’ Early Response to COVID-19 Uncertainty&#58; Insights from the Field</a>. There was a wide range of skills these leaders discussed as critical to moving forward—from data analysis, digital expertise, business modeling and core leadership training to, yes, scenario planning resources—and that doesn’t even get into the skills needed to produce most organization’s core programs. It is going to take a diverse but coordinated set of people to achieve success.</p><p>And more directly related to the scenarios, one thing that constantly popped out to me in creating the scenarios and using them in workshops with several organizations is how significant the digital component of arts and culture is likely to be, and how far behind most of the arts and culture sector is there.</p><p><strong>What are alternative ways other than scenario planning to think systematically about the future?</strong></p><p>If you search for “future thinking” or “strategic foresight,” there are lots of lots of different methods that you will come across, ranging from relatively straightforward methods like prediction games and markets to the <a href="http&#58;//www.millennium-project.org/publications-2/futures-research-methodology-version-3-0/">highly idiosyncratic (and usually trademarked!)</a>. Others might suggest the Tarot, I Ching and spin-the-bottle as popular strategies! One thing that we do like about scenario planning is that it does seem to be readily linked to creative and imaginative outputs that may be familiar to arts and cultural organizations. You can take the futures identified in your scenarios and turn them into a sort of science fiction. We’ve seen organizations illustrate them graphically, imagine future situations as one-act plays or even turn them into choreography. It’s a great way to engage teams in an exercise that is outside their normal daily work, too.<br></p><p>For more on scenario planning and the future of the arts see<a href="/knowledge-center/Pages/Reimagining-the-Future-of-the-Arts-a-Webinar-Series-from-The-Wallace-Foundation-Session-3.aspx"> this panel discussion ​</a>featuring Payne and others, part of&#160;Wallace's <em>Reimaginging the Future of The Arts</em> series.&#160;<br></p> Wallace editorial team792020-11-20T05:00:00ZResearcher/Author of new toolkit and report seeks to help arts and culture organizations add scenario planning to their strategic toolbox11/20/2020 4:43:25 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Pandemic Ups Game on Scenario Planning in The Arts Researcher/Author of new toolkit and report seeks to help arts and 154https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
The Pandemic is Transforming The Arts—and It’s Not All Bad News23328GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​​Last summer, with theaters across the country shuttered by the coronavirus, Kate Maguire set out to break through the pandemic fatigue. To succeed, the artistic director and CEO of the Berkshire Theater Group in Pittsfield, Mass., knew she would need to do something that had not been attempted since union performances closed down last March&#58; bring a group of actors together in front of a live audience. </p><p>Maguire convinced Actors’ Equity to allow <a href="https&#58;//www.nytimes.com/2020/08/05/theater/godspell-berkshires-coronavirus.html">an outdoor production of <em>Godspell</em></a> and devised an acceptable safety plan. She worked with local and state authorities to ensure everyone would feel safe and be protected—the stage would be under a tent, everyone in masks, and the audience size would be capped at 50. Still, Maguire hoped the play with its theme of community and spiritual unity would resonate with an emotionally battered audience—and she saw that wish fulfilled. </p><p>“People were weeping because they were in the presence of music, of language and of this story,” she recalled. “All of a sudden we were in the midst of really understanding what the arts mean to peoples’ lives.” </p><p>Maguire recounted this story for the more than 600 participants gathered online for <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/reimagining-the-future-of-the-arts-session-one-what-audiences-want.aspx">the first of Wallace’s five-part “Reimagining the Future of the Arts”</a> conversation series. She went on to explain that she’s thinking about reducing the number of plays the company typically produces in a season and examining artistic choices in order to offer audiences the kind of emotional connections they experienced this summer. Even after the pandemic fades, she says, she expects to continue with these changes. </p><p>“I think what happened this summer was really monumental artistically, and that freshness changes your focus,” she said. “I’m not so sure I’m going to build the circus as I have in the past. I would like to be able to concentrate on intensity, not variety.” </p><p>She is not alone. The coronavirus pandemic, coupled with an energized racial justice movement, has sparked an urgency among many nonprofit arts leaders to rethink their how their organizations approach everything from audience interaction to inclusivity and equity. </p><p>“We will never go back,” <strong>Lisa Richards Toney</strong>, president and CEO of the Association of Performing Arts Professionals, said on the same panel discussion. She and Maguire kicked off the series, along with <strong>Arthur Cohen, the founder and CEO </strong>of the LaPlaca Cohen, a strategy and arts marketing firm, <strong>Franklin Sirmans</strong>, president and CEO of the Pérez Art Museum in Miami; the panel was moderated by Wallace's communications director Lucas Held. While each of the panelists&#160;acknowledged the stresses pulling at an old system, they embraced this moment as an opportunity to come up with forward-looking ideas and determine how to carry them out. &#160; </p><p><strong>Audiences Are Changing</strong><strong> </strong></p><p>Cohen kicked off the panel with a presentation based on the <a href="https&#58;//culturetrack.com/research/covidstudy/">survey</a> his firm conducted with Slover Linett Research last spring. More than 124,000 people responded, most through 653 arts organizations. Not surprisingly, the attitude expressed by most respondents was, in a word, glum. They said they felt isolated, anxious, bored and disconnected. Asked what they most wanted from arts events in this dark time, most said they wanted to laugh and relax, seek an escape, find hope, feel connected and discover educational opportunities for children.</p><p>“COVID-19, in every fundamental way, has disrupted our sense of what normal looks like,” Diane Jean-Mary, partner and chief strategy officer at LaPlaca Cohen, said in <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/what-we-need-from-arts-and-culture-right-now.aspx">an earlier conversation</a> on The Wallace Blog. “In a time of such great uncertainty, many are turning to creativity, perhaps as a way to regain a sense of agency, expression and enjoyment.” </p><p>The survey also provided powerful evidence that new patterns—meaning new opportunities—are emerging. Most striking, perhaps, is the diversity of new audiences. Digital events, many free of charge, are attracting people from lower income groups. Audiences are skewing younger and have different levels of education. Many of those enjoying digital arts offerings had not visited an arts institution in the previous year, meaning they were considered new audience members, now hungry for artistic stimulation. </p><p>There were other examples of this diversity. For example, those taking in digital orchestra performances who had not attended a live concert in the previous year were 15 times more likely to be Black, and three times more likely to be from Gen Z, ages 18 to 23 years old, than those who had attended a performance. Of the people viewing digital content from art museums, those who had not visited a museum in the previous year were almost twice as likely to have a high school education or less than those who had visited. [For more survey results, see <a href="/knowledge-center/Documents/Culture-and-Community-in-a-Time-of-Crisis-Slides.pdf">Cohen’s presentation from the event</a>.] </p><p>“This represents a really interesting opportunity to perhaps view the digital audience as a growth audience for us,” said Cohen. </p><p><strong>Digital Is Here to Stay</strong><strong> </strong></p><p>When the shutdown hit in March, Sirmans of the Perez Art Museum says he quickly pivoted to greater use of digital alternatives. “We went into it with abandon in the first few months of the pandemic without knowing exactly what we were doing, but we’re learning now,” he explained in a conversation following the webinar. Although it’s too soon to assess the full impact of these offerings on audiences, Sirmans said he expects that many of the changes will be permanent. </p><p>A new section of the organization’s website showcases its strong Caribbean art collection while a redesigned smartphone app creates a more robust mobile experience. “Digital is primary for us now,” Sirmans said. “Our community expects it and we know we have fans in the world, especially for our Latin American and Caribbean art. This is how we expand to them.”</p><p>Toney of APAP, a national service organization that supports and advances the performing arts presenting, booking and touring fields, carried the thought further, saying that by using online technologies, arts organizations could reach audiences globally, not solely the local audience members who can attend events in person. Moreover, the organizations can now expand time and run programming year-round, not just seasonally. This greater flexibility, she said, “should create an obligation to change” how the organizations conduct their activities. </p><p>Cohen agreed that the experimentation with online events in this new environment has transformed digital efforts from what had been decidedly secondary activities in the past to what are now a primary means of artistic expression and audience connections. They have taken on a new primary role, he said, side by side with the live event&#58; “These are new pathways to connection with people who wouldn’t have come in the door.”</p><p><strong>&#160;“Outdoors Is the New Indoors” </strong></p><p>The need to protect audiences from the virus has encouraged some organizations to seize opportunities to use and transform outdoor spaces. Maguire says the outdoor tent used for <em>Godspell </em>normally holds 400 people but because the organizers could allow only 50 people to view the show at a time, they had to improvise with the space. “We’re going to have to think more about how we do that so it’s a good experience,” she said.<strong></strong></p><p>The Perez museum is using its space differently, too, Sirmans said, and is trying to turn pandemic necessities into benefits. For a show on the African diaspora, for example, the museum doubled the indoor space that normally would have been allotted. This, he said, allowed for new types of juxtapositions and greater use of illustrative written and graphic materials. </p><p>In addition, the museum is repurposing its outdoor sculpture garden, which features an array of steel and stone works by artists such as Anthony Caro, Gonzalo Fonseca and Edgar Negret. The museum is holding lectures, a film program and collaborations with other arts institutions and educational programs outside. </p><p>“Outdoors is the new indoors,” Sirmans said. </p><p><strong>From Equity to Activism</strong><strong> </strong></p><p>Arts organizations are grappling with much more than logistical improvisation. They are having serious conversations about what the national reckoning with racial injustice means for them. &#160;Some organizations are considering fundamental shifts in their structure and the composition of their leadership to respond to the calls for greater equity and inclusiveness, according to the panelists. </p><p>Cohen, for one, called for organizations to better incorporate community and audience perspectives into their endeavors. “For some, audiences have been the ones least present in the planning,” he said, adding that reaching out to and including community input could be critical to organizations struggling to grow their audiences and maintain their relevance. “That’s your greatest opportunity going forward.” </p><p>This is true also in programming. For instance, Toney noted that it has become traditional that organizations offer every February—Black History Month—a Black-themed event or something created by Black artists. But artists of color should be integral to the arts events throughout the year, she said, so that organizations move away from the “white-centric canon.” In a conversation after the webinar, she followed up on that theme. “I know and have heard people in these organizations say, ‘Our audience won’t come. I know them,’” she said. “Then you have to do something about your audience. This is not easy to do.”</p><p>Toney also suggested that arts organizations might reimagine themselves as engines of progressive change. They could do this, in part, she said, by joining forces and speaking collectively, particularly on policy issues, more than they have in the past. “Really, it’s about positioning ourselves as one ecosystem with more joint action,” she said. </p><p>How much nonprofit arts organizations might embrace that advocacy model is unclear. Sirmans said he’s proud that Miami’s Perez museum has a staff and board as diverse as the city itself and features many artists of color in its collections and shows. How much the museum might speak up as a social advocate is a question, he said, that remains unanswered. </p><p>“We want to be that kind of place,” he said. “But we’re trying to figure out how we fit into that conversation.” </p>James Sterngold 1122020-11-12T05:00:00ZDespite the many challenges they face, arts organizations have some reason for optimism, according to a recent panel discussion11/23/2020 4:59:28 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / The Pandemic is Transforming The Arts—and It’s Not All Bad News Despite the many challenges they face, arts organizations 43https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
High-Quality Art and Community Relevance Key to Healthy Arts Organizations29432GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>What are common strategies employed by leaders of sustainable arts organizations? How might arts and culture institutions achieve organizational health and financial sustainability? A recent report by SMU DataArts, in partnership with The Wallace Foundation addresses these questions and more. </p><p><a href="/knowledge-center/pages/the-alchemy-of-high-performing-arts-organizations.aspx">The Alchemy of High-Performing Arts Organizations</a> studies two cohorts of organizations&#58; 10 with a long track record of high performance and 10 that engineered a “turnaround” from low to high performance. Through an analysis of similarities across the two groups, the report offers a blueprint of how they achieved organizational health, the cornerstone of which appears to lie between programmatic excellence and community relevance. Though the study was undertaken prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s being shared with the hope that the past experiences of 20 arts organizations may inform thinking about strategies for recovery.</p><p>We spoke with Zannie Voss, Ph.D., director of SMU DataArts, over email to explore pivotal insights from the report. </p><p><strong>What is the significance of examining arts organizations that engineered a “turnaround” from low to high performance, instead of focusing your research solely on arts organizations that have proven to sustain organizational health over a long period of time?&#160; </strong></p><p>The situation of the average organization is a need and desire to improve performance—how to get from their current Point A to Point B and beyond. Turnaround organizations have been in a similar position not long ago and can illuminate the path forward. Had we focused only on arts organizations that had proven to sustain organizational health over a long period, we might have missed the opportunity to better understand how to get the ball rolling towards high performance. </p><p>We learned that the high performing arts organizations in this study were once turnaround organizations.&#160; Their turnaround simply occurred prior to the timeframe captured in the data for this project. This finding reinforced the notion that turnarounds are not only possible, but their success can endure.</p><p><strong>You shared that both cohorts follow the mantra “success breeds success,” and assert that achieving “tactical wins” creates a positive feedback loop. For organizations currently struggling to obtain financial health, how might they identify their first “tactical win” to pursue? </strong></p><p>Initial tactical wins come in all shapes and forms, and typically result from some degree of risk-taking or innovation. We heard several examples such as&#58; 1) a first large gift that followed a big idea or strategy shift for the organization’s future; 2) the first time a shift in strategy or new programming successfully attracted the intended audience; 3) the first time another organization agreed to the idea of a partnership; 4) the first time board giving reached 100%; and, 5) the first time people were willing to pay for digital programming. </p><p>Each organization will have its own answer to the question&#58; “What will be our first, early win?”</p><p><strong>Recognizing that this data was gathered and synthesized prior to the onset of COVID-19, how can the findings still serve as a guide for other arts organizations?&#160;</strong></p><p>Coming out of the pandemic, many organizations will be looking for guidance on how to turnaround performance and become more stable. We contacted study participants two months into the COVID-19 crisis to ask whether their mental model for how success happens still held at this unique time. They unanimously confirmed that the underlying principles still hold, although some indicated that aspects, such as community orientation and adaptive capability have taken on even greater importance. Still, we acknowledge that the pandemic’s toll on human lives, the economy and public perceptions about the safety of gathering to share cultural experiences in closed spaces may impact aspects of this model in untold ways (e.g., introduction of new elements, the critical nature of some elements over others, timeframe required, etc.).</p><p><strong>What do you hope leaders of arts organizations will take away from the report’s findings and insights? </strong></p><p>Success is not accidental or haphazard. All interviewees possess a mental map—or playbook—for how success happens, created with involvement from staff and board. I hope arts leaders use the model as a framework for analyzing where their organization stands on the various elements. Does it heavily emphasize high standards of program excellence but underinvest in its community? Is the organization’s culture built on trust, transparency and a participatory management style? Is the organization’s energy in a place of passion, aggression or resignation? Are all decisions guided by mission alignment? Given what the organization has, what it does and where its expertise lies, where are there new opportunities to be seized? </p><p>Ultimately, success takes a slow, controlled burn. Grounded plans recognize multiple steps in the process rather than assuming a single action or miracle moment will provide transformation. </p>Wallace editorial team792020-10-06T04:00:00ZAuthor of new report finds that successful arts and culture institutions credit careful planning and dedicated work10/6/2020 1:51:44 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / High-Quality Art and Community Relevance Key to Healthy Arts Organizations Author of new report finds that successful arts 223https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
What We Need from The Arts Right Now24124GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​​​​​As arts organizations around the country plan to reopen, strategists and researchers at LaPlaca Cohen and Slover Linett have teamed up on a research initiative to help arts leaders understand what audiences want and expect from organizations during the pandemic—and how organizations can address the hopes, fears and needs of people as they consider returning. The new study, <a href="https&#58;//culturetrack.com/research/covidstudy/">Culture Track&#58; Culture and Community in a Time of Crisis</a>, based on responses from more than 120,000 survey respondents, sheds light on the current cultural landscape.<u> </u></p><p>We caught up with Jen Benoit-Bryan, vice president &amp; co-director of research at Slover Linett Audience Research and Diane Jean-Mary, partner and chief strategy officer at LaPlaca Cohen, over email to learn more about the implications of the study and how people might look to it for guidance.</p><p> <strong>We know you have been sharing these findings with arts leaders around the country. What has resonated with the field? How are organizations applying this data? </strong></p><p> <strong> <img class="wf-Image-Left" alt="Djm headshot_color.png" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/What-We-Need-from-Arts-and-Culture-Right-Now/Djm%20headshot_color.png" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;175px;height&#58;175px;" />DJM</strong>&#58; Presenting the findings amidst our placeless, Zoom-fueled, reality has provided space for a truly national conversation surrounding the role of arts and culture in our society. Previously, our Culture Track road shows were highly localized, bringing in audiences from a particular city or region to discuss the latest findings. This year, we were able to have far greater dialogue at the national level as participants tune into our presentations from all around the country. This feels particularly vital in a year when we are all navigating the same global issues of health, a hurting economy, and the fight for racial justice. It’s been pretty incredible to see institutions around the country not just take meaningful insights from the study but also from each other. </p><p> <strong> <img class="wf-Image-Left" alt="Jen6.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/What-We-Need-from-Arts-and-Culture-Right-Now/Jen6.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;175px;height&#58;117px;" />JBB</strong>&#58; One of the most surprising and meaningful insights from the data has been the high level of arts and culture digital participation among the general public during COVID-19, and crucially, the finding that digital offerings seem to be expanding and diversifying participation. It has been fascinating to see that for many segments of the arts and culture sector, a lot of the people using digital content from organizations hadn’t attended that type of organization in person in the previous year—for example, 51 percent of people using digital content from science museums during COVID-19 hadn’t been to a science museum in person in 2019. </p><p>Perhaps even more importantly, those using digital content who hadn’t been in-person were much more likely to be diverse along demographics that we know are underrepresented in arts and cultural organizations, such as people with low incomes, low education levels and Black or African Americans. We have heard from many organizations who are already using these findings to explain why resources for digital engagement are critical now and in the future.</p><p> <strong>You’ve both been doing research on audiences for many years. What is different about these findings? What do audiences continue to value during a pandemic?</strong></p><p> <strong>JBB&#58;</strong> &#160;A central assumption we held when designing this work was the need to understand what communities require and want from cultural organizations during COVID-19. Therefore, it was critical that we hear from a range of audiences and attenders to culture—defined quite broadly—as well as the public with their varied types and degrees of connection to culture. That’s unique. Most studies focus on a single organization’s audiences or perhaps a portion of the cultural landscape like orchestras, but this study goes way beyond those frames of reference. The sheer scale of participation in the study—over 120,000 respondents—allowed us to slice and compare segments of the data in a more granular way, which is extremely powerful for understanding portions of the whole like users of digital arts and culture activities.</p><p> <strong>DJM</strong>&#58; COVID-19, in every fundamental way, has disrupted our sense of what normal looks like, and we’re seeing that bear out in the research. In a time of such great uncertainty, many are turning to creativity, perhaps as a way to regain a sense of agency, expression and enjoyment. It was great to see how many people are leaning into their inner artist and maker&#58; singing, crafting, baking, painting and more. There are also facets of culture that are just as vital now as they were before the pandemic, particularly in the ways that people perceive the value of the arts&#58; a force for connecting us to each other, for understanding the vastness of human experience, and for emotional and intellectual escape.&#160;</p><p> <strong>Was there anything that surprised you about these findings?</strong> </p><p> <strong>JBB&#58;</strong> I was surprised by the proportion of the public—96 percent—that sees a role for arts and culture organizations during a crisis like COVID-19. When we wrote this question, we thought many people might tell us that arts and culture should just “get out of the way” during a crisis, but people are looking to arts and culture for four main kinds of help&#58; support staying connected with others and educating kids; emotional support; practical support and opportunities for distraction and escape.<br><br><strong>What is one key finding you hope organizations will take away from the study?</strong></p><p> <strong>DJM</strong>&#58; The single most revealing finding was just how big the racial inclusion problem is in our sector. Anecdotally, the field understands that it has failed to welcome and serve communities of color and has made strides to confront diversity, but there’s still a long way to go to achieve equity and inclusion, and this is reflected in the data. Our survey reached 122,000 respondents, largely pulled from lists provided by over 650 cultural organizations around the nation. The overwhelming majority of those audiences are white, 85 percent of the audiences surveyed through their lists to be exact. Of those surveyed through cultural organizations’ lists, just three percent are Black, five percent are Hispanix/Latinx and four percent are Asian/Pacific Islander. Less than one percent is Native American. Every organization should reflect on this data, unpacking the barriers that have signaled to BIPOC audiences that we do not belong. </p><p>For the future relevance of the arts, cultural organizations will have to change alongside our society. And that change cannot be limited to the visitor-facing channels at their disposal. Audiences can see through the optics of superficial inclusion, they can feel when diversity is a mere checkbox. Cultural organizations should instead focus on building trust, relevance and connection with their audiences of color.&#160; </p><p> <strong>JBB&#58;</strong> &#160; The research also provides some clear evidence about the changes that would make arts and culture organizations better for Black or African American respondents and Hispanic or Latinx respondents. Almost three-quarters of Black or African American respondents, two-thirds of Hispanic or Latinx respondents and about half of the public want arts and culture organizations to become more centered on their communities and the people in them. This includes changes such as greater diversity; a focus on local artists, nonprofits and community; deepening engagement with young people; treating employees fairly; and being friendlier to all kinds of people. There’s more to unpack and explore here, particularly through the upcoming qualitative research coming next. </p><p> <strong>Did the data give any clues as to the future of organizations using digital content going forward?</strong></p><p> <strong>DJM</strong>&#58; With increasing financial pressure placed on cultural organizations to recoup revenue lost to COVID-19 closures, many institutions are assessing how best to monetize their virtual content. It is important as they examine all the options on the table, not to regard digital as a substitute for prior onsite revenues. The data suggests that the audience’s appetite for paid digital content is quite low. Instead, digital offerings present an opportunity for broadening audiences beyond the typical visitor. We’re seeing greater engagement particularly amongst people of color and lower income families.&#160;Digital is a great tool that institutions should deploy in service to bettering the lives of their communities, rather than as a driver of revenue.</p><p> <strong>What is the level of confidence on these findings? Do you feel they are broadly applicable?</strong></p><p> <strong>JBB&#58; </strong>As we designed the study, we made a few decisions with the goal of creating a broadly applicable and useful dataset. First, we defined “arts and culture” quite widely and worked to recruit participating organizations across the sector. We also worked with NORC [National Opinion Research Center] at the University of Chicago to draw an extremely rigorous and representative sample of the public with a margin of error of 2.88 percentage points. In survey design, we made the strategic decision not to ask any questions that were focused just on the organization distributing the survey—although we considered it—because we wanted these findings to be broadly useful to the arts and culture sector.&#160;</p><p> <strong>Given the findings, what kind of an arts experience would people be responsive to over the next six to 12 months?</strong></p><p> <strong>DJM</strong>&#58; Based on what we’re seeing from the data and hearing from the field, the most successful arts experiences of the future will be designed around what audiences are so desperately missing in their lives—connection, novelty and adventure. We’re in the wild west of creativity and invention, and people seem more willing to experiment with activities that help them reconnect with the parts of life we’ve lost. We are all craving connection with our loved ones and that will only grow in intensity as we move from one year in quarantine to the next. I bet that any arts organization that provides a way for friends and families to connect through shared, novel experiences will be a major hit with audiences. This is especially true if the experience embraces a participatory approach that invites the audience to be the engineers of the adventure, fun and sense of togetherness. Bonus points for experiences that get us off Zoom and into the world (safely, of course), and also for experiences that help parents and caregivers educate children in a fun and interactive way.&#160; </p><p> <em> <span> <span> <strong> </strong></span></span>Diane Jean-Mary is a global strategy consultant with expertise in organizational change and transformation for the field of arts and entertainment. As Partner and Chief Strategy Officer at LaPlaca Cohen, Diane oversees a dynamic range of projects, nationally and internationally, on cultural entrepreneurship, mission and purpose development, brand strategy, strategic visioning, and audience development across non-profit and corporate creative institutions. She also leads the firm's ongoing Culture Track study, an insights and innovation platform dedicated to addressing the most pressing challenges in the cultural sector. <br></em></p><p> <em><span><span><strong></strong></span></span>Jen Benoit-Bryan is the Vice President &amp; Co-director of Research at Slover Linett, a firm that uses the tools of research and evaluation to help the cultural sector understand its participants and communities, experiment with new strategies for engagement, and connect more deeply to more people. Jen has overseen a portfolio of over sixty complex client engagements over the past six years at Slover Linett, using the tools of research and evaluation to help organizations meet their goals. Since coming to Slover Linett in 2014, she has worked on wide-ranging, often multi-year projects with the National Academy of Sciences, Central Park Conservancy, the Kennedy Center, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Carnegie Hall, Washington National Opera, Ballet Austin, the High Line, Dallas Zoo, and SFMOMA, among many other arts, culture, and informal learning organizations. Jen serves as the Principal Investigator &amp; Slover Linett Team Director for the Culture &amp; Community in a Time of Crisis (CCTC) study conducted in 2020 in partnership with LaPlaca Cohen. Jen earned her Ph.D. in public administration &amp; research methodology at the University of Illinois, Chicago. </em></p><em> </em>Wallace editorial team792020-09-09T04:00:00ZNew large-scale survey on cultural sector in the pandemic finds audiences crave meaningful digital experiences, more racial inclusion and connection with others9/11/2020 3:26:35 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / What We Need from The Arts Right Now New large-scale survey on cultural sector in the pandemic finds audiences crave more 453https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
How Can Artists Help Reimagine Our Future Post-COVID?24344GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61 <p>As society looks to address the ravaging effects of both COVID-19 and systemic racism, artists and arts organizations have an essential role in reimagining the future. In an Op-Ed for <em>KCET’s Southland Sessions</em>, Kristy Edmunds, Executive and Artistic Director for UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance, argues that while the products of the creative sector will undoubtedly continue as indispensable contributions for a thriving society moving forward, it is artistic process and creative problem solving that are most crucial to paving the way towards a vital and inclusive future. Edmunds argues that these intrinsic benefits of the arts are often overlooked, particularly in discussions about post-pandemic recovery. </p><p>To nurture this philosophy, arts organizations can and must help get artists to the recovery table. It starts with a commitment to what Edmunds calls “duty of care.” For Edmunds, what this looks like is maintaining transparency and cultivating pathways of information&#58; “We have to provide as much information as possible to artists. We’re saying here’s what we’re seeing, here’s what we’re learning from various organizational/institutional vantage points, so that knowledge is transferred and shared rather than left dangling in the air. Artists will know what to do for their work and process and decision-making. The most important thing for them to know is that they’re not being abandoned—they are being sought.” </p><p>In addition, Edmunds says, arts organizations can proactively work to ensure that artists have a prominent voice in post-pandemic recovery conversations. She observes that it tends to be the most visible leader who is invited to the policy roundtable, but that person may not necessarily be best suited for the task at hand. To address this, she offers, “It’s incumbent upon us, as leaders, to understand the dynamic of what’s being sought, and to bring artists into the room with us.” </p><p><a href="https&#58;//www.kcet.org/shows/southland-sessions/kristy-edmunds-public-care-is-our-most-durable-good">Read Edmunds’ Op-Ed on the KCET website</a>. </p> Wallace editorial team792020-08-11T04:00:00ZOp-Ed for KCET argues that artists—and the organizations that support them—can play a vital role in post-pandemic problem solving8/11/2020 6:17:51 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / How Can Artists Help Reimagine Our Future Post-COVID Op-Ed for KCET argues that artists—and the organizations that support 542https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
6 Data-Tested Approaches to Building New Audiences24055GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>It’s safe to say that most museums would like new visitors. Visitors actualize museums’ missions, give them vibrancy as places of insight and connection, and contribute to their financial welfare. Even for museums that receive plenty of visitors in number, there may be interest in seeing <em>different</em> ones, from backgrounds and identity groups outside of the usual audience makeup.</p><p>But though the <em>why </em>is clear, the <em>how </em>can be elusive. There is no shortage of ideas about how to attract newcomers, and it’s hard to know which are worth the investment of time and money to implement. Thankfully, The Wallace Foundation has made it a mission to partner with cultural organizations and help them address this question with research rather than guesswork, publishing the results in a series of detailed and candid <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/wallace-studies-in-building-arts-audiences.aspx">reports</a>. AAM has summarized the findings from these case studies in <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/programs/building-audiences/resources/">fact sheets</a>, with key insights and thought-provoking discussion questions tailored to the museum field.</p><p>Though the institutions profiled are an assorted bunch—spanning museums, performing arts organizations, and art studios around the country—many of the lessons they learned overlap. Here are some tips that recurred throughout their experiments.</p><h2>1. Identify a target audience and get to know them well.<img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/6-Data-Tested-Approaches-to-Building-New-Audiences/Omar-Lopez-on-Unsplash.jpg" alt="Omar-Lopez-on-Unsplash.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br></h2><p class="wf-Element-ImageCaption"> <em>Photo credit&#58; Omar Lopez on Unsplash</em><br></p><p>It’s not enough to want “new visitors” in general. Different visitors want different things, and a strategy aimed at everyone is likely to please few. Instead, you need to get specific about who you want to come, so you can identify precisely what they want and why they aren’t already coming.</p><p>Your target audience might be young professionals, teenagers, parents with children, or recent immigrants from Latin America and Asia—to name some of the examples from the Wallace studies. Choose one that makes sense for the type of museum you are and the area you’re located in.</p><p>Once you’ve identified this target audience, start by getting to know them well—ideally by listening to them directly, as Wallace participants did in focus groups and other market research. That way, you can test your assumptions about how they feel and what they want, which are likely to be wrong by instinct. Research can reveal surprising, overlooked, and even radically simple barriers to attendance, <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.Fleisher.pdf" target="_blank">like the Fleisher Art Memorial’s revelation</a> that its building was intimidating to people who had never been inside.</p><h2>2. Get the whole organization on board.<img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/6-Data-Tested-Approaches-to-Building-New-Audiences/airfocus-on-Unsplash.jpg" alt="airfocus-on-Unsplash.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br></h2><p></p><p class="wf-Element-ImageCaption"> <em>Photo credit&#58; airfocus on Unsplash</em></p><p>Before you proceed with an audience-building initiative, make sure to discuss the plans with the entire organization. Cultivating a new audience has real impacts on how you operate, and without sufficient dialogue, staff and board members may feel blindsided or undermined by these changes.</p><p>But this emphasis on transparency and collaboration is not only to preserve morale. Letting staff or leadership express their concerns about your ideas can strengthen them, accounting for wrinkles you didn’t consider and pushing you toward creative compromises to retain existing audiences.</p><p>For many in the organization, a sticking point might be how a plan adheres to the museum’s mission. They may think the museum will lose its focus and change for the worse if it tries to pursue a new audience. For that reason, it’s important to keep your mission statement close at hand while you’re working on audience-building strategies, to think about how they will tie into rather than deviate from those goals.</p><p>Another possibility is that your audience-building work will <em>reconnect </em>you to your mission. In the process of figuring out why a target audience isn’t visiting, you may realize you’ve been falling short of the purpose your museum was created for to begin with. That was the case for the <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.San-Fran-Girls-Chorus.pdf" target="_blank">San Francisco Girls Chorus</a>, which realized it had lost focus on performance in favor of other aspects of its operations, and ended up following its rebrand into a refocused culture and board composition. </p><h2>3. Revamp your marketing.<img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/6-Data-Tested-Approaches-to-Building-New-Audiences/Yitzhak-Rodriguez-on-Unsplash.jpg" alt="Yitzhak-Rodriguez-on-Unsplash.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br></h2><p class="wf-Element-ImageCaption"> <em>Photo credit&#58; Yitzhak Rodriguez on Unsplash</em><br></p><p>If there is one throughline from the focus groups in the Wallace studies, it is that participants expected the cultural organizations’ offerings to be boring, old-fashioned, and intimidating for people inexperienced with the medium or focus area. If you think this is untrue for your museum, your marketing and communications are the place to bust these stereotypes.</p><p>In many of the studies, target audiences were put off by the organization’s existing marketing, reading it as flat, esoteric, and uninspiring. It came from and spoke to an in-group of enthusiasts, or was lacking in intention and flair altogether. Several of the organizations found success by using more dynamic visuals, like emotive close-ups of ballerinas or choral singers, and letting these do most of the talking rather than text.</p><p>But don’t neglect the text in your communications, either. Simple, short, and approachable information was important to many focus group participants, who found existing materials dense and confusing. Based on this feedback, <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.Fleisher.pdf" target="_blank">Fleisher Art Memorial</a> redesigned its course catalog to be simpler and more scannable. The <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.Minnesota-Opera.pdf" target="_blank">Minnesota Opera</a>, accustomed to marketing its performances with information on composers and historical contexts, tried to speak in terms of storylines and spectacle instead.</p><p>Both in images and words, it helps to emphasize the universal themes and benefits of your experience, those at the root of what you offer. This could be the joy of creating something with your own two hands, as <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.Clay-Studio.pdf" target="_blank">The Clay Studio</a> emphasized, or the excitement of watching interpersonal dramas unfold, as the <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.Minnesota-Opera.pdf" target="_blank">Minnesota Opera</a> did. You likely already know why your museum is worth visiting—why the subject it explores is fascinating—but for people who don’t, you need to spell it out.</p><h2>4. Roll out the welcome mat.<img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/6-Data-Tested-Approaches-to-Building-New-Audiences/Russ-Martin-on-Unsplash.jpg" alt="Russ-Martin-on-Unsplash.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br></h2><p class="wf-Element-ImageCaption"> <em>Photo credit&#58; Russ Martin on Unsplash</em><br></p><p>As powerful as marketing and communications can be, they aren’t everything. Ideally, they should illuminate an experience that is <em>actually</em> engaging and welcoming, not misrepresent it as such—which won’t go far in cultivating visitors in the long run.</p><p>Ask yourself whether you can offer exhibitions and programs relevant to the target audience. (If not, you probably have the wrong target audience.) Then work to create them, if they don’t already exist. When the <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.Jewish-Museum.pdf" target="_blank">Contemporary Jewish Museum</a> wanted to reach parents with children, for instance, it mounted exhibitions exploring the work of famous Jewish children’s book authors, and began a series of special programs designed for parents and children to mingle. When <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.Clay-Studio.pdf" target="_blank">The Clay Studio</a> wanted to reach a millennial audience, it adapted to their preferences with relaxed, social alternatives to its normally intensive sculpture classes.</p><p>With a relevant experience in place, you should figure out how to make your welcome loud and clear, especially if your target audience is one used to feeling out of place in your setting. The <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.Pacific-Northwest-Ballet.pdf" target="_blank">Pacific Northwest Ballet</a>, for instance, made a special announcement before performances to thank teenagers attending through a special ticket program. The <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.Jewish-Museum.pdf" target="_blank">Contemporary Jewish Museum</a> designed its lobby to be inviting to children, with trained staff available to guide them. <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.Fleisher.pdf" target="_blank">Fleisher Art Memorial</a> created its first paid visitor services positions and trained staff in cultural competency, to address the unwelcoming atmosphere its immigrant target audience reported.</p><p>In the focus groups, intimidation was a recurring barrier to attending. Rightly or wrongly, many people expect elitism from cultural institutions—that they will be shamed or embarrassed for not already knowing a topic well, or otherwise not “fitting in.” Though it may be hard to perceive from the inside, inviting newcomers to visit your museum can feel like inviting them to a party where they don’t know anyone and won’t be able to follow the conversation. So, just like a good party host, you need to look for ways to make them feel comfortable and bring them into the fold.</p><h2>5. Partner with organizations already serving your target audience.<img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/6-Data-Tested-Approaches-to-Building-New-Audiences/My-life-Through-a-Lens-on-Unsplash.jpg" alt="My-life-Through-a-Lens-on-Unsplash.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br></h2><p class="wf-Element-ImageCaption"> <em>Photo credit&#58; “My Life Through a Lens” on Unsplash</em><br></p><p>Like transparency, partnerships are more than a feel-good buzzword. They can make your job easier, drawing on existing expertise rather than reproducing it from scratch. This is especially true with reaching new audiences—surely there are organizations in your area already reaching the audience you want, and working with them can bring mutual benefit.</p><p>Several of the Wallace participants found luck through partnerships like these. For example, the <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.Boston-Lyric.pdf" target="_blank">Boston Lyric Opera</a> went to elaborate lengths to bring full-scale performances to new neighborhoods, but only succeeded in attracting newcomers when it hosted “previews” with local libraries. The <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.Minnesota-Opera.pdf" target="_blank">Minnesota Opera</a> partnered with a local celebrity news radio host who effused on-air about the spectacle of its performances, speaking in terms he knew his audience would relate to.</p><p>But not all partnerships are created equal. Don’t just look at them as a means to an end to promote your offerings. For best results, you need your partners to be actively engaged, and the best way to ensure that is to collaborate on a strategy that also meets their needs and abilities. <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.Fleisher.pdf" target="_blank">Fleisher Art Memorial</a> stressed this in its work with community organizations serving local immigrants, calling it a “give and take” that required active listening to understand the constraints of its partners.</p><h2>6. Stay agile.<img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/6-Data-Tested-Approaches-to-Building-New-Audiences/Fores-Simon-on-Unsplash.jpg" alt="Fores-Simon-on-Unsplash.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br></h2><p class="wf-Element-ImageCaption"> <em>Photo credit&#58; Forest Simon on Unsplash</em><br></p><p>Your work on audience-building strategies doesn’t stop after you begin deploying them. On the contrary, you should be vigilant of the data on how they perform, so you can tweak ideas that fall behind and boost those that excel. In the process of refining a lagging strategy, you might discover an important variable you hadn’t thought of, which can then be applied to future endeavors. If nothing will turn it around, you have the freedom to stop doing it and shift resources to successful ideas—a blessing in resource-strapped non-profits.</p><p>At the <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fact-Sheet.Seattle-Opera.pdf" target="_blank">Seattle Opera</a>, staff organized their multi-year digital outreach initiative into phases, sourcing audience evaluations in between each phase. From these evaluations, they learned that certain of their early strategies—like podcasts, blog content, and interactives—did not appeal to audiences as much as behind-the-scenes videos. So they dropped the content that was least appealing and channeled their resources into more ambitious video concepts, going with the flow of what audiences were responding to.</p><p>Think of your strategies as experiments. It’s okay—and likely—that some of them will fail. Not even the <a href="https&#58;//www.vulture.com/2020/07/is-anyone-watching-quibi.html" target="_blank">best-resourced company</a> is immune to this. But if you commit to trying, and staying open-eyed about what is and isn’t working, your successes just might revitalize and sustain your museum.</p><p><em>This post was originally published on the <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/" target="_blank">American Alliance for Museums</a> website and is reprinted here with permission. </em></p> Joseph O’Neill1102020-07-22T04:00:00ZYour source for research and ideas to expand high quality learning and enrichment opportunities. Supporting: School Leadership, After School, Summer and Extended Learning Time, Arts Education and Building Audiences for the Arts.7/22/2020 5:01:23 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / 6 Data-Tested Approaches to Building New Audiences Most museums would like new visitors, but pursuing them can be a 769https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Data and Deliberation: A Dynamic Duo for Arts Organizations24065GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>Even before the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered performances, many performing arts organizations faced challenges. National statistics have shown stagnant or declining attendance across many art forms associated with the nonprofit performing arts (see <a href="https&#58;//www.arts.gov/sites/default/files/2012-sppa-jan2015-rev.pdf">2015</a> and <a href="https&#58;//www.arts.gov/sites/default/files/2017-sppapreviewREV-sept2018.pdf">2018</a> National Endowment reports, for example). While the problem is widely acknowledged, there is less consensus or confidence about how organizations can respond. </p><p>Can data and market research help? </p><p><img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Data-and-Deliberation-A-Dynamic-Duo-for-Arts-Organizations/francie-headshot.jpg" alt="francie-headshot.jpg" class="wf-Image-Left" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;152px;height&#58;218px;" />The experiences of 25 performing arts organizations in The Wallace Foundation’s Building Audiences for Sustainability (BAS) initiative offer helpful insights. Organizations in the multi-year initiative, which recently came to a close, received grants to try and enlarge and engage their audiences. While their specific projects differed, all the organizations made use of data collection and market research, generally through a mix of focus groups, ticketing database analyses and post-performance audience surveys. </p><p>The emphasis on data and market research was part of the initiative’s continuous learning approach, characterized by an iterative process of design, implementation, analysis and determination of changes needed for improvement. My team and I have been studying the experiences of the organizations in the initiative.&#160;Interim findings about this key part of the initiative are presented in a new report, <a name="_Hlk43134477"></a> <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/data-and-deliberation-how-some-arts-organizations-are-using-data-to-understand-their-audiences.aspx"> <em>Data and Deliberation&#58; How Some Arts Organizations Are Using Data to Understand their Audiences</em></a><em>.</em></p><p>The findings underscore that data is not a magic bullet. To the contrary, engaging with data is a complex and challenging undertaking. Despite the challenges, virtually everyone at the participating arts organizations found engaging with data helpful. Our findings, along with examples from participants’ experiences, are presented in full in the report. To briefly summarize here&#58;</p><ul><li> <strong>Engaging with data appeared most productive when embedded in a larger deliberative process.</strong> Here, data becomes an input into a broader process of reflection and assessment about whether organizational goals are being pursued. <br> <br></li><li> <strong>Data can yield useful insights beyond organizations’ immediate and planned purposes.</strong> We repeatedly found instances where engagement with data prompted organizations to become aware of unexamined assumptions they held about their intended audience. <br> <br></li><li> <strong>Productive data engagement can be complex and costly.</strong> While organizations expressed enthusiasm for taking a data-based approach, they also said that they rarely have adequate funds to do so.<br><br></li><li> <strong>Recognizing the rewards and challenges in advance can help organizations more effectively plan for data engagement.</strong> Key issues to consider are what type of data are most relevant and what resources will be needed to support data collection and analysis<br><br></li></ul><ul><li> <strong>Effectively using data requires that </strong> <strong>organizational participants be able to frankly acknowledge what the data say about what is working and what is not working, in a fruitful rather than punitive fashion. </strong>Productive data engagement is not just about the data—but about how data are approached, the questions asked and a willingness to revise preconceptions.&#160; </li></ul><p>In a <a href="/knowledge-center/Documents/Audience-Building-Financial-Health-Nonprofit-Performing-Arts.pdf">review of the audience-building literature</a> we conducted earlier in our study, we found a dichotomy&#160; between those who value market research as a key tool and others who regard it as a somewhat manipulative sales effort rather than meaningful engagement.&#160;Our findings suggest a reconsideration of this dichotomy.&#160;<br></p><p>To a striking extent, we found that data, and an openness to what the data said, prompted the BAS organizations to confront their own insularity and recognize the extent to which they had not understood the perspective of external constituencies. Data is not engagement. Knowing about an audience is not the same as developing a relationship with that audience. But recognizing misconceptions, being prompted to ask about the audience rather than assuming that you understand audience members or that they think as you do can significantly contribute to relating differently and thus developing meaningful engagement. As expressed by one BAS participant while reflecting on her organization’s engagement with data&#58;&#160; </p><p class="wf-Element-Callout">It’s changing the way that we interact. We have a thing we say here all the time. Like do we know it or do we really know it? And with audiences, you have to always ask yourself that…. We’ve gone from describing a couple of departments in this [organization] as outward-facing, and now we understand that we’re all outward-facing. </p><p>Data is not a magic bullet—but when the appropriate data are used with an openness to change and a willingness to question one’s preconceptions, data can provide a powerful tool indeed. ​<br><br></p>Francie Ostrower, Ph.D. 1092020-07-14T04:00:00ZNew report examines the challenges and rewards of a data-based approach to understanding arts audiences7/14/2020 2:34:23 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Data and Deliberation: A Dynamic Duo for Arts Organizations New report examines the challenges and rewards of a data-based 486https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Helping Museums Navigate Through the COVID-19 Fog21907GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61 <p>​​Museums, like the rest of the country, are grasping for ways to endure America’s largest economic disruption since the Great Depression. Few yet understand the true effects of the coronavirus pandemic; none can precisely predict how they will shape the future.</p><p>In such murky times, we must chart our courses based on educated guesses about the road ahead. We must prepare as best we can for the potholes and forks we might encounter along the way. And we must reevaluate plans as the fog clears and a new cultural and economic landscape begins to reveal itself.</p><p>Two documents from the American Alliance of Museums may help with this daunting task. <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Three-New-Scenarios.2020.pdf" target="_blank">Three New Scenarios for Financial Survival in 2020</a>, written by Elizabeth Merritt, the alliance’s vice president for strategic foresight, helps envision three different ways in which the pandemic may play out and how museums could prepare for each of them. And <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Considerations-for-Museum-Reopenings-5.27.2020.pdf" target="_blank">Considerations for Museum Reopenings</a> ponders measures museums may need to enact to help ensure safety when they welcome visitors again.</p><p>Wallace’s editorial team spoke with Merritt to see how museums, and perhaps other organizations as well, could build on those documents and create plans for possible scenarios in their own communities. An edited transcript of our conversation follows.</p><p> <strong>The Wallace Foundation&#58; The first step to coming up with possible scenarios for the future is to get the right information. You cited a few resources in <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Three-New-Scenarios.2020.pdf">Three New Scenarios for Financial Survival in 2020</a>. How do you decide where to go for information in this uncertain time? </strong></p><p> <strong>Elizabeth Merritt&#58;</strong> Usually, foresight scanning encompasses a range of material. You look at both credible, mainstream projections, and you're intentionally looking at fringe sources so you don't get trapped into confirmation bias and only see what everybody in the mainstream is expecting to happen.</p><p>However, in this situation, it felt prudent to stick with the most authoritative sources of information. I don't think projections on how the pandemic will play out is where you want to be looking at fringe sources. So that's why I focus on, for example, research from major universities. </p><p>Three that I keep going back to are the <a href="https&#58;//www.hsph.harvard.edu/" target="_blank">T.H. Chan School of Public Health</a> at Harvard, the <a href="http&#58;//www.healthdata.org/" target="_blank">Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation</a> at the University of Washington and the <a href="https&#58;//coronavirus.jhu.edu/" target="_blank">Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center</a>.</p><p>The other thing is that there's such a huge amount of information out there. I'm not an expert or an epidemiologist, so one of the things I rely on is responsible science reporting from people I trust. For example, the science reporters I look at regularly are <a href="https&#58;//www.theatlantic.com/author/ed-yong/" target="_blank">Ed Yong</a> and <a href="https&#58;//www.nytimes.com/by/carl-zimmer" target="_blank">Carl Zimmer</a>. </p><p>I turn to them because, having done strategic foresight scanning for 10 years now, you get to know somebody’s body of work and you get a feeling for how they look for sources and how good they are at synthesis. I've also listened to several interviews with each of them about their process of science reporting, and I think both of those writers are very meticulous and responsible in how they find their sources and make their summaries.</p><p> <strong>WF&#58; Now once you had that information, you picked different indicators for your low-, medium- and high-impact scenarios, including the number of infections, the number of deaths, unemployment figures, etc. How do you choose the indicators you look at? How do you determine the levels they must reach in order to fit the scenarios you lay out? </strong></p><p> <strong>EM&#58;</strong> One of the daunting things about planning in the wake of a disruptive event like this is that there are literally an unlimited number of potential combinations of the variables. But if you contemplate that fact, you’ll just freeze. It isn’t possible to wrap your head around that number of possibilities.</p><p>The whole point of creating scenarios is to provide a manageable framework for planning by collapsing all those possibilities into a few manageable stories. The stories aren't meant to be exclusive; those aren't the only things that could happen. They are three credible, useful starting points to think about what <em>could</em> happen.</p><p>In general scenario planning, you might use <a href="http&#58;//www.foresightguide.com/dator-four-futures/" target="_blank">a framework that comes from Jim Dator of the Manoa School of Future Studies at the University of Hawaii</a>. The classic four-scenario set might be a scenario of growth, where everything's getting better, a scenario of collapse, where there are very few resources, a scenario of constraint, where there's one big constraint going forward, and a transformative future in which things could be wildly different.</p><p>But that's for general foresight. In this particular situation, where you're looking at a very specific issue—how bad is this for the next 16 months—it seemed obvious that the basic categories should be low, medium or high impact.</p><p>Once I had those three categories, I created the list of variables that might fit them. Again, the list of variables could be endless, so I tried to pick a manageable number of things that are clearly important. Variables that, if you left them out, anybody looking at the scenarios would say there's a gap in that picture. How can you not look at the unemployment projections, for example?</p><p>I then went back to my credible sources, looked at the range of values those variables could take, and then partitioned them into ranges. I looked at how good it might be, how bad it could turn out to be, and then the number that falls in between those extremes for the medium impact category.</p><p>I think it’s important to realize that when you're doing scenarios like this, especially in a situation like this that's evolving so quickly and where critical decisions need to be made pretty quickly, the perfect is the enemy of the good. None of these scenarios are perfect. But they're good enough to get you thinking. They are tools to help you think about what might happen.</p><p> <strong>WF&#58; Given that the pandemic is playing out differently in different parts of the country, should different museums think differently about scenario planning? Or do you think this is a general framework anyone can use?</strong></p><p> <strong>EM&#58;</strong> I absolutely think the scenarios have to be tailored for a specific locality. How this is playing out is very different, not only by region but potentially also on a very local level. Many specific circumstances are determining how the effects vary. </p><p>For example, I was listening to <a href="https&#58;//www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/05/11/854157898/coronavirus-infections-continue-to-rise-on-navajo-nation" target="_blank">an NPR story</a> that said that, if the Navajo Nation were a state, it would have the highest rate of coronavirus infections per capita after New York. That's a very rural, sparsely populated area. You might wonder why they would have such a high density of COVID cases when all the other hotspots are cities. It's because their infrastructure for food, water, health and housing is so poor due to a long history of neglect and mismanagement by the federal government. </p><p>That's very specific. You couldn't go to another area in the U.S. that's comparably rural and has a similar population density and say that it's going to be like the Navajo Nation. They had very specific parameters that's making the pandemic play out so badly there.</p><p>So I think any organization, when it takes the scenarios I wrote, should use them as a starting point and modify them to their circumstances. They should look for the best numbers they can find that are applicable to their situation.</p><p> <strong>WF&#58; Are there any tips you could offer people to help them modify them to their local situation?</strong></p><p> <strong>EM&#58;</strong> I think the best way to do scenario planning, including editing and modifying something like the templates I created, is to get together a bunch of smart people, hopefully from very different backgrounds and points of view, and talk it over. With a group like that, somebody's going to say, ‘Hey, you know, that just feels wrong. That might be true for the nation, but that's not how it's playing out in Des Moines, Iowa,’ for example.</p><p> <strong>WF&#58; When you wrote your essay about a month ago, the low-impact future envisioned 100,000 deaths by the end of 2020; we’re already past 80,000 in May. The medium-impact scenario envisioned unemployment at 15 percent by the end of the year; we're already here. Given how quickly the situation is changing, and always seems to be worse than we thought, are those low- or medium-impact scenarios something anybody should consider anymore? Should we just be preparing for the worst-case scenario now?</strong></p><p> <strong>EM&#58;</strong> We're already past 81,000 deaths in the U.S. and I think it was up to like 287,000 globally. On unemployment, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin said this past weekend that the U.S. unemployment rate <a href="https&#58;//www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/05/10/853505446/unemployment-numbers-will-get-worse-before-they-get-better-mnuchin-says" target="_blank">may have already reached 25 percent</a>. The Congressional Budget Office, which is widely considered to be nonpartisan and credible, forecasts that <a href="https&#58;//www.cbo.gov/publication/56335" target="_blank">unemployment rates will stay in the double digits</a>, not only for the rest of this year but through 2021. So yes, we should take the riskiest scenario very seriously. </p><p>But the whole point of scenario planning is to remember that we don't have a crystal ball. We don't know what will happen. The point is to always consider and plan for a range of potential situations because that way you stay open to a number of appropriate responses.</p><p>As things develop and as you see how the numbers play out, some of the projections are going to get more and more accurate because we're getting closer and closer to that point in time. So it's definitely going to be necessary to refine the scenarios that an organization is working with.</p><p>But there always should be more than one scenario, even if you narrow the range of how good or bad it could be. You always want to be planning for a range of potential options because the real key to successful planning is being nimble and responsive; to not just take one look, say, ‘this is what's going to happen,’ create a plan and execute the plan and find out you ended up in the wrong place because the ground shifted underneath you.</p><p> <strong>WF&#58; At what point do you narrow that range? At what point do you decide that a scenario you had once envisioned wasn’t really worth considering? </strong></p><p> <strong>EM&#58; </strong>That's where your little group of planners is really useful. At some point, it becomes a judgment call. </p><p>One thing you can do to formalize that decision is to say, ‘What are the trigger points in these scenarios? If we got to point X, then we're pretty sure that we can take these other scenarios off the table.’ For example, an organization might have envisioned a scenario in which there’s so much economic relief from the <a href="https&#58;//www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/paycheck-protection-program" target="_blank">Paycheck Protection Program</a> that most businesses don’t have to lay off workers. Its plans for that scenario wouldn't work because <a href="https&#58;//www.sba.gov/about-sba/sba-newsroom/press-releases-media-advisories/statement-secretary-mnuchin-and-administrator-carranza-paycheck-protection-program-and-economic" target="_blank">there wasn't enough money</a> and <a href="https&#58;//www.nytimes.com/2020/04/20/business/shake-shack-returning-loan-ppp-coronavirus.html" target="_blank">it wasn't distributed effectively</a> to a lot of small businesses. So at that point, you know that the best case is off the table.</p><p>You can identify those turning points. You can say, ‘We should be looking at what happens when this projection is issued by this agency, or when there's a vote in Congress on this relief bill.’ If you pre-identify where those key turning points are, you'll have a prompt for when to reevaluate and update the scenarios.</p><p> <strong>WF&#58; Moving on to responses, one of the drivers of museum attendance that will almost certainly be limited for a while is travel. How should different museums think about how they should plan for reductions in travel and tourism in the future?</strong></p><p> <strong>EM&#58;</strong> There already are a lot of museums that aren't heavily reliant on tourism. They're reliant on visitation from their local communities. These might be museums that somebody one, two, three towns over or one state over have never heard of.</p><p>I think it would be very difficult for large museums whose business models are based on large numbers of international tourists, the kind of museums that are part of what's driving tourism to New York City or San Francisco or Chicago, it's very hard for museums of that size to pivot to serving local audiences in a way that would generate the same income.</p><p>You could even have museums that are in relatively remote areas that rely on drive-by tourism. Museums people stop at because they always stop on the way to the Grand Canyon. If people stop driving to the Grand Canyon, they're not going to have that traffic and they may not be able to find a comparably large local audience because there aren't a sufficient number of people living there.</p><p>If you're a large museum that has a very large endowment that's underwriting a lot of your operating expenses, the lack of travel may be a blow to your feeling of fulfillment. But if you're not relying heavily on earned income, it may not be a big blow to your economics.</p><p>Conversely, you might be relying very heavily on the earned income. That's a financial problem. Then you'd be having to say, ‘Well, if these are our relatively fixed immutable operating costs, where else could we find the money?’</p><p>It’s probably challenging to shift the earned income from an international audience to a comparably large local audience. So you might have to say, can we get more government funding? Can we find more foundations willing to underwrite who we are and what we do? </p><p>A lot of what museums do is relatively inflexible. You're not going to suddenly constrict and shed part of your property. You're not going to get rid of huge chunks of your collections. Unfortunately, what some museums may find themselves forced to do is lay off staff for longer periods of time. Or stop doing some things that are very important parts of their service to the public, things like research or conservation or public education.</p><p> <strong>WF&#58; In <a href="https&#58;//www.aam-us.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Three-New-Scenarios.2020.pdf" target="_blank">Considerations for Museum Reopenings</a>, you noted a few things that museums could do to adhere to rules of social distancing, such as marking six-foot distances on the ground and ensuring one-way traffic through galleries. Given the changes in our understanding of the effects and transmission of the virus, is there a way for museums to prepare if new information comes to light?</strong></p><p> <strong>EM&#58;</strong> I'm going to pivot slightly from that to what sorts of expectations museums should be living up to. If you're talking about recommendations like health and sanitation and how many people should be in the building, a lot of that is going to come from on high, from organizations like the CDC or local government.</p><p>I think museums are deciding that, on top of those concerns, they need to listen to the concerns of their staff and their audiences. For example, the governor of Texas has said that museums can reopen, with some restrictions about how many people can be in them. But the vast majority of museums in Texas <a href="https&#58;//www.kvue.com/article/entertainment/places/coronavirus-texas-museums-open-closed-list-gov-abbott-reopen-plan/269-27eb1153-43a0-49dc-ae56-77d5d175424b" target="_blank">are not reopening yet</a>, probably because they haven't felt that it's safe and appropriate for their staff and their communities. Museums may choose to go above and beyond basic safety measures or what has been allowed by authorities if they feel that those extra measures are prudent and responsible.</p><p>We have to acknowledge that there's a limited amount we know about what's really going to keep us safe. And that's probably going to change month to month. Six feet isn't a magical number; they're starting to come out with permutations, like if you’re bicycling, it might be more like 20 or 30 feet. So don't put permanent six-foot markers on the floor because next week, the recommendation might be 10 feet.</p><p>Besides listening to experts, I think the real burden on museums is having that room full of stakeholders, whether its staff or members of the community, to guide them. The safety measures mandated or recommended by experts is the minimum. It's quite possible that what makes people feel safe is going to be over and above that, and that's important too.</p><p> <strong>WF&#58; So it’s clearly a difficult and worrisome situation. We’ve seen it get worse than we thought it would get and it’s not showing very many signs of getting better. Do you see any silver linings here?</strong></p><p> <strong>EM&#58;</strong> I've already seen some people writing that any crisis is also an opportunity. If the system is broken, maybe this is an opportunity for the U.S. in general and museums specifically to engage in some reinvention. </p><p>The good news is that the system was already broken, so you don't need anybody's permission to start saying, ‘maybe it should be different.’</p><p>Destabilized moments are opportunities for change. Maybe as a country we’ll be spurred to develop more resilient and mutually supportive systems that ensure vulnerable populations are protected from the effects of global disaster. Even better, maybe we will work together, making sure there are fewer vulnerable populations like the Navajo Nation.</p><p>But specifically about museums, this stress reveals vulnerabilities. Museum financial models are very vulnerable. They rely on some earned income, some charitable income, some government income, and usually on a very thin margin. </p><p>Part of the problem is a lot of funders are only willing to fund specific pieces of the work. They might fund a program or a new building. That funding, if it's like bricks-and-mortar capital campaigns, may actually add to the operating costs without providing any more benefit to the community. If you fund a program, it may deliver the program, but it may not actually increase the health and resilience of the organization that's developing the program. So I'm hoping that this crisis might spark a pivot towards more general operating funds and unrestricted endowments that make museums more resilient and stable when we have a disaster like this.</p>Wallace editorial team792020-06-04T04:00:00ZThe pandemic could play out in many different ways. Here’s how arts organizations could plan for them.8/27/2020 3:09:32 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Helping Museums Navigate Through the COVID-19 Fog The pandemic could play out in many different ways I'm not an expert or an 730https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
10 Things Museums Should Consider as They Take Programs Virtual21786GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>In the wake of COVID-19, many museums and other arts organizations have rapidly <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/engaging-audiences-in-the-age-of-social-distancing.aspx" target="_blank">moved their programming online</a> to help audiences in their community and around the world continue to feel connected. According to David Resnicow, president and cofounder of <a href="https&#58;//resnicow.com/" target="_blank">Resnicow and Associates</a>*, a communications agency serving cultural institutions and enterprises, there are additional steps museums should take to thrive in the long-run. </p><p>Resnicow writes in <em>ARTnews</em>&#58; </p><p class="wf-Element-Callout">During the past month, museums across the globe have been faced with suddenly transforming themselves from physical spaces designed to immerse visitors in installations and on-site programs into producers and distributors of online multimedia content. Without any preparation or playbook. Rather than deliver visitors to the museum, museums must now deliver themselves to the visitor.</p><p class="wf-Element-Callout">The medium is the museum.</p><p class="wf-Element-Callout">My firm has spent 28 years working with major museums’ communications offices in crafting the ways they present themselves to the outside world. In this new world, the communications office finds itself playing a leading role, not a supporting one. It constructs the virtual front door to an amorphous venue that simultaneously welcomes visitors and presents programming. Of course, museums have long produced digital content to support their real-world initiatives, but with the digital realm now the lone space available for engaging the community, they are navigating uncharted territory, with vastly differing visitor patterns and audience reach.</p><p>To read the full op-ed, <a href="https&#58;//www.artnews.com/art-news/news/museums-online-how-to-survive-1202685967/" target="_blank">click here</a>. </p><p>*Resnicow and Associates works with Wallace staff on many of our arts initiatives. </p>Wallace editorial team792020-05-28T04:00:00ZOp-Ed in ARTNews offers advice for museums approaching the new digital reality8/27/2020 3:10:42 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / 10 Things Museums Should Consider as They Take Programs Virtual Op-Ed in ARTnews offers advice for museums approaching the 306https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Engaging Audiences in the Age of Social Distancing24067GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​As social distancing measures are enacted across the globe to slow the spread of COVID-19, arts organizations are taking creative approaches to engage their audiences through nontraditional means. In recent weeks, museums, galleries and performing arts organizations have significantly expanded their online offerings through virtual tours of their collections, broadcasts of performances and interactive educational programs, making their work more accessible to a greater public. The Metropolitan Opera, for instance, announced that it would stream encore performances of its most famous productions, free to the general public. Similarly, the National Theatre in London is releasing new performances from their archives every Thursday, made available for free and “on demand” to audiences for a full week. While the crisis has brought tremendous uncertainty, it has also created opportunities to reach new audiences at a time when the sanctuary and connection offered by the arts is needed most. </p><p>“The traditional live arts experience has been predicated on physically bringing people together, and it relies so heavily on the chemistry between performer and audience, and the immediacy of that exchange,” noted Corinna Schulenburg, director of communications at Theater Communications Group “As we all adapt to new ways of working, we are seeing a real flourishing of experimentation that will likely have a long-lasting impact on how we present and create art.” </p><p>Many of the performing arts organizations in The Wallace Foundation’s Building Audiences for Sustainability (BAS) initiative have also implemented similar efforts to meet audiences where they are. From free broadcasts to classes and educational workshops, these offerings help audiences in their community—and around the world—continue to feel connected. A sample of digital events and activities are outlined below, with more content added regularly.</p><ul><li> <strong>Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has </strong>started the <a href="https&#58;//www.alvinailey.org/ailey-all-access">Ailey All Access</a>,&#160;an online streaming series allowing audiences to connect with performances, including full length works from the repertory, Ailey Extension dance classes, and original short films created by the Ailey dancers.<br><strong><br></strong></li><li> <strong>Baltimore Symphony Orchestra</strong> has expanded their offerings on <a href="https&#58;//www.bsomusic.org/offstage">BSO Offstage</a>, an online platform where audiences can find performance videos, BSO podcasts, and other content and resources. <br> <strong> <br></strong></li><li> <strong>La Jolla Playhouse</strong>’s online <a href="https&#58;//lajollaplayhouse.org/the-staging-area/">Staging&#160;Area</a>&#160;is dedicated to virtual content, which features conversations with La Jolla artists and weekly posts from Playhouse artists and staff who share their favorite stories and memories. <br> <br> <strong></strong></li><li> <b>Opera Philadelphia </b>brings you opera on the couch through its first-ever <a href="https&#58;//www.operaphila.org/festival/digital-festival/lineup/?promo=145780">Digital Festival​</a>, with free streams of five past productions, including four world premier​es​. &#160; &#160;<br> <br> <strong> </strong></li><li> <strong>Pacific Northwest Ballet</strong> has posted at-home workouts for dancers and footage of rehearsals shot before their lockdown on their <a href="https&#58;//twitter.com/PNBallet">Twitter</a> and <a href="https&#58;//bit.ly/InstaPNB">Instagram</a>, while also uploading articles to their <a href="https&#58;//blogpnborg.wordpress.com/">blog</a>. <br> <br> <strong></strong></li><li> <strong>Seattle Opera </strong>has created a special section on their website, <a href="https&#58;//www.seattleopera.org/inside-look/opera-at-home/">Opera at Home</a>,&#160;which features new playlists, talks, podcasts and other online content for their audiences. <br> <br> <strong></strong></li><li> <strong>Seattle Symphony</strong>’s musicians will share <a href="https&#58;//seattlesymphony.org/live">free broadcasts</a> with the public, streamed via the Symphony’s <a href="https&#58;//www.youtube.com/seattlesymphony">YouTube</a>&#160;channel and&#160;<a href="https&#58;//www.facebook.com/seattlesymphony">Facebook</a>.<br><br><strong> </strong></li><li> <strong>Steppenwolf Theatre Company </strong>is leading weekly free and public <a href="https&#58;//www.steppenwolf.org/education/">virtual workshops</a> for early career professional, teens&#160;and educators. They also released their interview-style podcast <a href="https&#58;//www.steppenwolf.org/tickets--events/half-hour-theatre-podcast/">Half Hour</a> this month. <br>​​<br><strong></strong></li><li> <strong>Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company </strong>has shifted their <a href="https&#58;//www.woollymammoth.net/events/springbenefit">Progressive Party</a> online—free and open to the public—allowing viewers to view performances, participate in an auction&#160;and experience a sneak-peak into Woolly’s 41st Season.<strong><u> </u></strong></li></ul> Wallace editorial team792020-04-16T04:00:00ZYour 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.8/27/2020 3:13:24 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Engaging Audiences in the Age of Social Distancing Arts organizations who participated in Wallace’s Building Audiences for 1391https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx

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