Throughout the Arts Participation Leadership Initiative, we documented events and results with written “responses” to the forums, video recording of forums, a research synthesis, and two summative videos (a short and long version). Read more in the documentation report:
In 2012, the Wallace Excellence Award cohort agreed on the importance of distilling the findings of their audience research into a format that they could share with their boards, staff, and colleagues throughout the region and nationally. ArtsWA hired the research firm Slover Linnett to create a synthesis of the audience engagement insights from the cohort's research and evaluation studies. The resulting report, Connecting with Audiences, was presented at a forum hosted by ArtsWA in December 2012.
In addition to numerous insights reported in Connecting with Audiences, Slover Linett identified the following key points related to audience engagement:
- Build audience engagement strategies and new formats as legitimate cultural experiences in their own right.
- Humanize the institution, the art, and the artists.
- Provide tools to help audiences share cultural experiences with others.
- Offer a variety of experience types—from “receptive” to “active”—to enable patrons to self-select based on their preferences and needs.
- Allow patrons to tailor the amount and type of content with which they interact.
- Programs or activities that are social in nature should also be either art-focused or content-focused, or both. Bring audiences behind-the-scenes to make the artistic process more accessible, familiar, and relatable.
- Go beyond opening your doors to newcomers—actively invite them and then welcome, orient, and listen to them.
- Be wary of over-discounting; emphasize the value and benefits of the experience to make the cost “worth it.”
- Don’t rely solely on programs and benefits that make attendance more convenient; such strategies only remove barriers without providing an active reason to participate.
Besides funding the research report, we also contracted with writers from the community to document and reflect on each forum.
- Relections, by Kari Healy
- Connecting with Audiences: Building and Maintaining Relationships, by Dawn Rego
- Permeable Membranes by Felicia Gonzalez