Creación de públicos. Investigación de la Wallace Foundation


Esta prestigiosa institución ha publicado el resultado de años de seguimiento de experiencias[1]. Citamos de esta publicación:


“We highlighted five general principles:

1. Market research can sharpen engagement-strategy development and execution.

2. Audiences are open to engaging in the arts in new and different ways.

3. Audience building is an ongoing endeavour, not a onetime initiative.

4. Audience-building efforts should be fully integrated into every element of an organization’s operations, not approached as a separate initiative or program.

5. Programs that emerge from a clear and well-supported organizational mission develop in environments in which they can thrive.

Throughout the U.S., arts organizations face a changing and challenging landscape. Americans have more options than ever in ways to spend their leisure time, and younger generations have less exposure to the arts in school than previous generations. They may also want to interact differently with institutions than their parents and grandparents did. The good news is that many arts organizations are learning how to adapt so they can continue to fulfil their missions and even expand their audiences in the process. Tis publication details the experiences of 10 such organizations that were among 54 arts institutions that received funding from. The Wallace Foundation between 2006 and 2012 to develop audience-building initiatives. An analysis of these programs—each supported by evaluation data—revealed nine practices contributing to their success:

1. Recognizing When Change Is Needed. Organizations saw a pattern of audience behaviour that presented an opportunity or a challenge for their financial viability, artistic viability, or both. They recognized that change was necessary to seize this opportunity or overcome the challenge. In some cases, the urgency of the challenge or opportunity actually served the initiative by keeping it front and centre, capturing and sustaining the attention of the entire organization over the years needed to build a following.

2. Identifying the Target Audience that Fits. Compatibility has two meanings here: First, organizations had reason to believe, based either on research or prior experience, that they could make a meaningful connection with the target audience. Second, leaders agreed that serving the audience reinforced—and did not compromise—the organization’s other activities or its mission.

3. Determining What Kinds of Barriers Need to Be Removed. Successful organizations identified the types of barriers impeding the target audience’s participation and shaped their strategies accordingly.

4. Taking Out the Guesswork: Audience Research to Clarify the Approach. Organizations often started out knowing very little about the new audience they were targeting and why that audience was not participating. Rather than guess, they went to the source—the target audience itself—for the facts. Using audience research, the organizations gained a clearer understanding of their target group’s interests, lifestyles, general attitudes toward the arts, cultural involvement, and opinions of their own institution.

5. Thinking Trough the Relationship. Some case study organizations went so far as to spell out a vision of the relationship they wanted to cultivate with the new audience, including specific roles for the audience and themselves. By doing so, they gave their audience-building initiatives structure and a sense of purpose. Leaders and staff members understood how they wanted the audience to interact with their organization and developed programs to fulfil that vision.

6. Providing Multiple Ways In. Staff expanded the ways people could access their organizations both literally and psychologically. Many organizations provided gateway experiences to acquaint newcomers with their activities. Others generated interest by making connections to things that their target audience already knew or by showing them different sides of their institutions.

7. Aligning the Organization Around the Strategy. Leaders and staff built clarity, consensus, and internal buy-in around the audience-building initiative’s objectives, importance to the organization, and staff roles in implementing it.

8. Building in Learning. Even with considerable research and planning, organizations could never be sure that a new audience would react favourably to their overtures. There were stops, starts, and some downright failures along the way. To stay on track and develop a working knowledge of what clicked with their audiences, many of them did on-the-ground experiments or used formal evaluations that drove program improvements

9. Preparing for Success. Success for the 10 organizations involved serving new audiences and assuming new responsibilities. Staff often worked overtime to handle an increased workload. Organizations found that they had to develop new capabilities and refine existing practices to accommodate newcomers, all while continuing to satisfy existing audiences. Not every institution that was studied implemented each practice, but generally speaking, the more practices they adopted, the greater the success they achieved. Taken together, these practices promoted audience engagement in two ways. First, they created a shared sense of purpose that kept an audience-engagement program front and centre for leaders and staff, thus enabling the initiative to permeate a wide range of an organization’s activities. Second, the practices helped an arts institution make meaningful connections with its target audience. Staff members developed programs that reflected both the audience’s inclinations and the organization’s mission and strengths. As a result, they not only engaged the audience, but also fulfilled important objectives for their organization, establishing a cycle that reinforced itself and gave the initiative momentum.

These themes are reinforced in the experiences of the organizations in the group of case studies and were more fully developed:


BUILDING DEEPER RELATIONSHIPS How Steppenwolf Theatre Company Is Turning Single-Ticket Buyers into Repeat Visitors. Steppenwolf Theatre Company is building a deeper relationship with its audience by developing an ongoing conversation about the work on stage. Steppenwolf has launched an ongoing dialogue around the process of creating theatre. Audience members take part in nightly post show discussions, attend special thematic events, and enjoy a rich selection of online content—including multiple videos, podcasts, blogs, articles, and slide shows—in which the artists discuss their work from multiple perspectives. The number of non-subscribers who purchased tickets to more than one performance grew by more than 61 percent, to 2,281 households.


CULTIVATING THE NEXT GENERATION OF ART LOVERS How Boston Lyric Opera Sought to Create Greater Opportunities for Families to Attend Opera. BostonLyric Opera (BLO), the largest opera company in New England decided on a plan, Opera for Young Audiences (OYA) program, to nurture a new generation of operagoers. It

would take its abridged operas used in school programs, and turn them into high-quality productions for families. BLO planned to supplement and promote those productions with free previews, scaled-down workshops to be presented at local libraries and other community venues. Ultimately, in all its efforts, BLO hoped to introduce children to the art form, provide more opportunities for their parents to attend performances, and, perhaps, increase attendance at its main stage productions.

SOMEONE WHO SPEAKS THEIR LANGUAGE. How a Non-traditional Partner Brought New Audiences to Minnesota Opera. Learn how an opera company found new audience members among women age 35 to 60. Minnesota Opera’s partnership with Ian Punnett and radio station myTalk 107.1 addressed a serious issue confronting arts organizations across the country: the need to attract new audiences to ensure the futures of their art forms. That challenge is even greater for traditional art forms such as opera, ballet, and classical music that have seen their “bread-and-butter” patrons get greyer with every passing season. Minnesota Opera has certainly noticed the aging of its most loyal patrons. Patrons over the age of 60 make up roughly half of its audience.


ATTRACTING AN ELUSIVE AUDIENCE How the San Francisco Girls Chorus Is Breaking Down Stereotypes and Generating Interest among Classical Music Patrons. The San Francisco Girls Chorus (SFGC) found itself struggling to diversify beyond “friends and family” audiences. Despite producing high-quality, award-winning vocal music, SFGC had difficulty attracting large numbers of classical music patrons to its concert series in the San Francisco Bay Area. Focus group research revealed that classical music patrons were generally unaware of the artistic potential of girls choruses in general, and the SFGC in particular. Determined to improve its local image and awareness to match its performance level, SFGC has embarked on a focused rebranding campaign. The Chorus is overhauling its marketing materials, finding new performance venues, and refining the way it presents its choral programming to project better the image of a world-class performing arts organization. Thanks to these efforts, SFGC is beginning to make inroads in its goal of attracting greater numbers of classical music patrons.


GETTING PAST “IT’S NOT FOR PEOPLE LIKE US” Pacific Northwest Ballet Builds a Following with Teens and Young Adults. A Seattle-based ballet company garnered new interest in traditional and contemporary ballet among teens and adults under the age of 25. The Pacific Northwest Ballet sought to cultivate interest among teens and adults under the age of 25, in part by showing that the art form could be meaningful to them. The ballet company’s efforts included revising promotional materials to appeal to younger audiences, posting online videos to familiarize viewers with the ballet, and holding teen-only previews. One result over four years was a doubling of ticket sales to teens.


MORE THAN JUST A PARTY How the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Boosted Participation by Young Adults. Senior management gave a team of young middle managers the authority to plan and run an evening event aimed both at attracting more eighteen- to thirty-four-year-olds and encouraging them to engage with the art. Through a series of inventive steps, from hosting games that enabled exploration of the artworks to using hip, young volunteers, the team created a program that exceeded its expectations. Crowds consistently are at capacity; 73% of visitors fall into the target demographic; the museum has recruited 241 new members; 25% of attendees are repeat visitors; and 93% explore the galleries.