Delivered March 25, 2015, this webinar explores the final two practices for audience building detailed in The Wallace Foundation report, Road to Results: Effective Practices for Building Arts Audiences (Building In Learning, Preparing for Success). Case studies explore the successes, challenges, and lessons learned from identifying and knowing your audience.
Presenters: Bob Harlow, author, The Road to Results: Effective Practices for Building Arts Audiences (2014, The Wallace Foundation); Bob Harlow Research and Consulting; Magda Martinez, director of programs, Fleisher Art Memorial, Philadelphia; Ellen Walker, executive director, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Seattle.
Welcome, everyone. Thank you so much for joining us today for the Knowing the Audience American Alliance of Museum’s webinar. Before we get started I’m going to cover a few technical aspects of the online room with you. Once again I’m Adam and I’m your host joining from Learning Times today. Today’s event is generally supported by the Wallace Foundation. I’m joined by my fellow moderator Greg Stevens joining us from the American Alliance of Museums. Would you like to say quick hello?
>>Thanks, Adam and thank you all for joining us today.
>>You will hear much more from Greg as we move to the event. I’d like to point out we have the closed captioning pod available directly beneath the PowerPoint content. Would hope the captioning is useful for you but if a recent it is distracting feel free to click on the captioning button underwrite top-end corner in change it to know captions.
I see many of you have found the chat box in the lower left-hand of the screen. Feel free to enter in your greetings as you have been and comments and questions throughout the session today. We will be responding to some of the questions in the chat so keep an eye on it there. If you don’t get an immediate response, we will keep track of the questions and we will circle back around to address as many as possible doing the Q&A.
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For now, I’m going to start the recording in the session today. Once again, thank you for joining us for Knowing the Audience. Part one of Road to Results: Nine Steps for Identifying, Researching and Building Audiences. My name is Adam La Faci, your host joining from LearningTimes. It’s my pleasure to turn the floor over to your moderator for today, Greg Stevens.
>>Thank you very much, Adam and thank you for hosting us from LearningTmes. Welcome to today’s program, the first of a three-part series generously sponsored by the Wallace Foundation. We are happy to be working with the Wallace Foundation not only on this series but also for a session at our upcoming annual meeting in Atlanta. Today’s program as most of you know is directly connected to the recent Wallace reports, The Road to Results, effective practices for building arts audiences. That is what today’s program and the subsequent two programs is all about.
I’m happy to be joined by my colleagues from several of AAM’s Professional Networks including PRAM, EdCom, CARE, and LMN. They have hosted several “walk and talk” webinar events across the country, and we have several joining us today as our special guests. Thank you to our colleagues from the Professional Networks. I also want to take a moment to give a virtual shout out and a wave to our colleagues who are hosting webinar watch and talk event around the country. You can see a listing in here in front of you. We really appreciate the generosity of each of you opening up your doors to your institution to welcome your local colleagues for the exchange of information, ideas and inspiration.
I’m very happy to welcome today’s presenters, each of whom you will be hearing from a little later in the program. Our lead presenter is Bob Harlow who is the author of the Road to Results report that we are talking about today. Bob will be joined by Beth Tuttle who was the co-author of Magnetic: the Art and Science of Engagement, an AAM publication. You will learn more about the connections between Magnetic and the Road to Results later in the program. I’m also happy to have Magda Martinez on board from the Fleisher Art Memorial. Last but not least, Christopher Taylor from the Clay Studio and they both happen to come from Philadelphia. I mentioned special guests a bit ago and I’d like to welcome them formally and that you put their names and faces together. We have Sarah Lee joining us from Slover Linnet Audience Research and she is representing CARE. My friend and colleague Betty Brewer who is the president of CEO at Minnetrista, and chair of the Leadership and Management Network. Tim Hallman, Director of Communications & Business Development at the Asian Art Museum, and Sarah Jesse my colleague in education who is also the chair of our Educators Committee. Thank you for being here and sharing your expertise throughout the program. Today’s program is as I mentioned the first of a three-part series and we will do a quick overview of The Road to Results study and report, and you should have gotten a link to the report. We will talk about the connections between Road to Results and Magnetic. We will provide a couple of case studies from the Fleisher Art Memorial and The Clay Studio and then were going to engage in some colleague conversation with each other and with you in response to questions or comments. Our overarching goals for this series are to help you find ways to use research data to support whatever audience-building initiatives you may have at your institution. We also hope you will come away with some ideas about how you can engage internal and external stakeholders in this important process of audience building. And recognize the challenges you might face and the changes in the museum environment and what kinds of things might impact you and your audience building strategies.
We wanted to put these guiding questions in front of you and you are free to respond to these questions in the chat box if you would like. They really are just thought questions to get you thinking about this series and today’s program in particular. Another question we wanted to get you to think about and respond to is: why engage in audience building at your institution? What is the purpose and rationale behind it? Why are you doing so, or if you’re thinking about it, why are you thinking about it? What are the situations and circumstances? Think about that and perhaps type your comments or thoughts into the chat box. Now it is my pleasure to turn the stage and the microphone over to our colleague, Bob Harlow, who is going to give us a quick overview of the Road to Results report. Bob?
>>Thank you very much, Greg. I am pleased to be here and delighted you are sharing part of your afternoon with us. I wanted to say a little bit about what the work is about and talk about some of the key practices we identified related to knowing audiences. I am a market researcher and — I was asked to lead a team of researchers conducting in-depth reviews of the organizations they have been working with. To identify what practices contribute to sustained audiences. I asked my team to look at 54 organizations that had received funding between 2007 and 2012. Of those organizations, some had great success, other didn’t. The question was: what made the difference? We were able to look at that question with quite a bit of rigor because without the initiative funding the included budgets for research and evaluation, Wallace included that development to address the need for more evidence -based guidance in what works around building audiences.
>> Within the 54 organizations Wallace-funded, we looked at those successes if audiences were sustained even after the funding had stopped. We focused on 10 organizations of the 54 chosen largely because they had strategies and strong results. These organizations were chosen for individual case studies. You can see it is a mixed bag. It includes performing arts of different shapes and sizes. When we first started, our intention was to treat these as individual case studies. Now they have been speaking to each other. We would look across diverse organizations we found common themes. We identified nine practices associated with successful audience building across a diverse range of organizations. I don’t want to say these are the only nine, I’m sure there are more, but these are practices that have been proven. What could outweigh companies with $20 million budgets is Seattle have in common with smaller organizations in Philadelphia and San Francisco? On the organizations you have been looking at have the same challenge and that was building a following among people who may be unfamiliar with the kind of art they present. Audiences who may not see them as relevant but who the organizations deemed were important and wanted to go after. That’s a tall order and building that kind of a following takes time and sustained effort because organizations need to work through audiences. It’s not going to happen after just one visit. It takes time for audiences to build meaningful connections and relationships that arts organizations keep them coming back. I’m sure you don’t have to tell anyone this is hard work over a long trajectory. It’s not something that can be taken casually or lightly. It requires a prolonged commitment from the organization to get to know and serve audiences. We are asking audiences to change their behavior. We may need to make changes ourselves in how we do things for that relationship to develop.
These are the nine practices that help make a habit. Today we’re going to focus on the first four, the things that prompted the initiative and organizations get to know audiences. We need to get to know the audience, understand who they are in but they may need to get the most out of their visit. Successful organizations among the Wallace grantees focused on a particular audience and learning how to work well with that audience. A one-size-fits-all strategy is not as meaningful. They weren’t a successful to build the connection to get people excited up to return. These were tailor-made strategies. We talk about learning about the audience, we talk about the flipside, how do we help new audiences get to know was? It was a question for organizations to ask. Many organizations looked into the mirror if the newcomer visited our institution or websites, would they find accessible ways in? What do we do to get people get to know us? The focus today on learning about the audience, and we will get to the other steps five through nine in other webinars. Before I jump in, let me say in trying to understand best practices and audience building, there is a temptation to focus on tactics and activities. Those are the sexy things like the after-hours social events or the media strategy. Successful audience building at least for those organizations that were successful working with Wallace was more than that. Success came over building relationships over a long period. Then came not just one visit but ongoing relationships. How did it start?
Successful initiatives didn’t begin with plans and objectives or even with the goal in mind. Successful initiatives were prompted what organizations recognized change is mission critical. It’s not something they could take casually or lightly. This is hard work. Like I said it requires a long-term commitment. Something needs to happen for it to become a top priority. If it is not a top priority, it’s not going to work out. For some organizations, something told them they needed to do something differently. Changes in their environment or national data and participation patterns and believe they can do things differently in order to stay relevant. The success stories were prompted by challenges that instilled a sense of urgency in the urgency was important. That is what is necessary.
Some examples from organizations we would hear from today, Fleisher Art Memorial offers free and low-cost classes to thousands. It happens to be in one of the most diverse places in Philadelphia. It was founded around the turn of the 20th century with the mission to make art accessible to people of diverse background. It was in an immigrant community and had a mission to make art available. The organization was successful for many years. Then the neighborhood started to change around them. It was prompted when staff began to realize the organization was not keeping up. People from Mexico and Southeast Asia were not coming in and large numbers. That kind of impetus has helped audience building because it is that stuff that keeps it on the front burner.
You will also hear from the Clay Studio in Philadelphia and they have classes in ceramics and the Galleria shop and they realized the audience was getting older and the staff needed to identify the next generation of supporters. They brought in young professionals. Both of these groups had things keeping them up at night and they set out to build their audiences. One thing that helped their success is when the targeted audiences they found audiences that were a good fit for the organization.
In targeting a particular audience, they identified an audience they knew from research or past experience they could satisfy. Maybe they had seen it and worked at it at other institutions or maybe something in the market research pointed to an audience. At the Clay Studio, they had seen results about how young adults warm up to more active participation and created opportunities for them to have that. It has two sides. One site that is not often paid attention to drive the long-term commitment is leaders see the audience as important. Making art accessible to a broad range of people was important and that is what attracted leaders and the board. What they said was to target people from ethnically diverse communities; it was something they rallied behind. One of the board members told me this is who we are and what we do. It was wonderful to see that but it did not always happen. Sometimes audiences are pursued with some leaders or department heads or curators. They may think of going after in the audience as a distracted and or dumbing down what they do. It sounds harsh but unfortunately, it is what I saw. If leaders of an organization don’t agree the audience makes sense the initiative won’t get the long-term attention it needs to develop and will not be able to build momentum.
Once the audiences identified with organizations were going to go after, they consider carefully what kinds of barriers they were basing it on. It turned out that there is that needed to be addressed depending on the audience’s prior inclination to attend our institutions or participated in the arts. There were some organizations who targeted people who were already inclined to take part in the arts. They were culturally active but they may not be taking part in that specific organization. Staff wanted to get them in the needed to remove practical barriers. Perhaps the price is too high or the commitment level too large. They found young professionals were culturally active but their main course offering they had from newcomers were $300 classes. It is actually a bargain but it is too much for a newcomer. Someone who isn’t sure they would want to take part. The Clay Studio unintentionally erected barriers to participation. Other organizations were targeting audiences who were disinclined and had no interest in the organization. Perceptions were barriers that needed to be addressed. Often they found they had nothing to offer. Maybe they thought there would be nothing for their children or they would know how to share with their children. We found perceptions of — organizations. Those perceptions may not have been reflected but the target audience [Indiscernible].That is what needed to be targeted first. When organizations are going after it disinclined audience they have to target those perceptions. That is the hardest work, is changing perception but it needs to be done. There were some organizations looking to increase engagement with current audiences. They found providing a different kind of experience, [Audio Cutting In/Out] sometimes called the new framework and building audience participation. Not all organizations follow this theme that success came when they followed it and if they didn’t they didn’t succeed. I want to give you a quick overview on taking out the guesswork. It is learning about your audiences research. In most cases organizations were targeting audiences they knew little about. They were flying blind and they were tasked with developing programs that would bring in people they hadn’t had success from. That is a huge challenge. They wanted to bring in these unknown entities and worked with in the past. I didn’t know much about them that they didn’t let the lack of experience get in their way. They designed programs by using audience research to pinpoint what barriers were standing in the way and identify what might pique the interest of a target audience. It wasn’t what they thought. There were some organizations targeting young audiences and they thought the newer way it was with young people and contemporary work. They found the opposite to be true and was the looked at the box office and other ticketing data, for the first experiences young newcomers went to see more traditional work. [Indiscernible]. Organizations can use market research to identify those inclinations and preferences and can use market research to develop more effective programs. The poster child for using market research transforming an organization was the Clay Studio. I’m going to steal a little bit of their thunder by telling you some of the changes they made and how they used research to use changes in their organization. They used research and observation. They used their own market research and kept their eyes and ears open. When they did that they came up with insights that help them come to adjustments in their programming and marketing. When they heard that classes were too large of a commitment for newcomers, they made classes with shorter commitments with lower price points. Over a period of four years, their enrollment tripled and school revenue doubled. Those are future results. They knew from national studies what adults were looking for — and created social workshops and handling instructions with working with clay. When they did market research they found their brochures were overwhelming for people who had been — too much stuff and detail. Young newcomers couldn’t find a way in. They developed targeted communications for different audience segments. They also found when they did focus groups they had all these brochures that with beautiful images of ceramics, but those didn’t move people who weren’t familiar with the institution. Instead they were fascinated by images that show people working with clay. That was the side of institution they were fascinated by and the Clay Studio leveraged that insight by incorporating actions and images into its promotional material.
This quote sums up how they changed their orientation. A tag line that appeared on their brochures and the reaction they got in a focus group. Shaping the future of ceramics. That was great but that was for us. People would say in these focus groups why would I look at this? Why would it make me want to come? Clay Studio ran with that insight. This slide shows some of the before and after marketing materials. On the left-side of each of these boxes this is what their marketing materials looked like. Then images of the objects, but once they heard how fascinated young people work with the idea of working with clay they had a workshop and started to put images in their communication. They then started to focus their website not so much of what the Clay Studio had but what you could do. You can learn and shop. There is an organizational framework the website became structured around. All of these are available on the Wallace foundation website. Some of these particular cases studied by Clay Studio will be there. In addition there is market research guide books on how to use research that will be available for free download and hard copies if you want to get them from Wallace. Now I’ll turn it back to Greg.
>> Thanks very much Bob. I appreciate you providing that overview on the Road to Results report and highlighting a little bit of the work at the Clay Studio and the Fleisher Art Memorial and we will be hearing from Magda and Chris in just a moment. I want to pause now and to address any comments that might be coming in from the audience, but also turn to our special guests who are in the audience with us to see if you have any comments or questions at this time. Adam, I know in the spirit of knowing your audience we are going to reach out to our audience to find out how many people are with them at their location. Special guests, anything you want to add that Bob has provided an overview on?
>> This is Sarah Lee. I would just pick up on and elaborate on some of what Bob said about the new framework. We have done some work with a number of museums and other performing arts organizations as well that suggest even among audiences who are inclined to attend a performance or visit a museum or generally participate with a certain kind of art form that even if they are already inclined, sometimes there are perceptual barriers about the experience that can still prevent them or make attendance a little less compelling to them. I’m thinking of work we did with a contemporary art museum a few years ago where we were looking at an audience we defined as the almost to your audience. The people who thought of themselves as very predisposed and participated in a lot of culture generally, but for them there were a lot of perceptual barriers about what they expected the atmosphere to feel like and they weren’t sure what the experience would be like in the sense they weren’t sure that experience would be something that felt relevant to them. Even for that highly inclined audience, it can still be important to look at perceptual barriers in addition to the practical barriers.
>> That’s a fantastic point. The framework was written at perception of the arts in general but we found you also have to look at the organization.
>> Thanks Sara and Bob. A question has come in that relates to what you’re talking about. How does all of this relate to history organizations? Do you see any differences in the audiences or their motivations for different types of museums or different types of cultural organizations?
>> I would think it would be similar. We’re talking about people and how they are spending their leisure time. If you’re going after an inclined audience, if you’re talking about the framework it would be the same thing in looking at audience inclination in the abilities according to that. I don’t know if you’re talking about particular insights or beyond that or not.
>> The question specifically was do you have any insight as to the transferability of these principles to history organizations? The steps are outlined in this part of the program, with about the same kind of steps or initiatives a history organization might take?
>> I have talked about this work with people that have worked in zoos and aquariums and science museums. This really rings true with what we have been seeing. A lot of these things in the Road to Results it is surprising. We want to identify effective principles. Without it was going to be tactics and programs but so much of the stuff is organization of. What gets initiated at the focus of the organization? You will find — it is very much not art specific even though it applies to art organizations.
>> This is Sarah Lee again. That resonates from our work. We have worked with museums as well as aquariums and I think the general idea of marrying your mission -based goals and where you want to go as an organization and thinking about what is relevant and compelling to the audiences you want to reach, I think those general principles are equally important in other disciplines as they are in the arts and the general approach feels like the right approach to take. I think some of the specifics about what that looks like in terms of the tactics he would use to reach audiences or make your experience compelling to them might be different in different kinds of new museums but I think as a general roadmap for how to better understand your audiences and think about who you want to engage more deeply, I think it does make sense.
>> Bob, what are your thoughts about new museums? How might they embark on a research agenda on who might be coming or should be coming to their institutions?
>> That is for you have to look, it depends on what the museum has to offer. We found organizations, the identified new audiences by thinking back to their own experiences. They did a little bit of fishing. It is not just doing research and identifying the audience. They sort of envisioned if the audience could work. For example the Contemporary Jewish Museum. The Executive Director at the time had been at the Whitney Museum. There is a bit of triangulation between the thing every search and past experience and visionaries. I don’t know if I can think of one organization — triangulation on all of those things.
>> This is Beth Tuttle, having done this when we initially conceptualized the museum, the interactive museum in Washington many years ago, there really wasn’t anything similar to that to look to. The way we did our audience identification was the first looked at the market and we were in the tourism market in Washington, DC so we looked at who was coming. We began to do some direct sampling of different elements of that marketing to understand what was important to them. The news is a fairly broad-based category and topic so could be people interested in sports, people interested in history, and we began to do what Bob says which is the triangulation. At the end of the day probably the most important insight we gained, and it’s similar to one you mentioned from the Contemporary Jewish Museum is we were probably two thirds of the way through the planning and design in the research we were doing came back and said 50% of the visitors in Washington have children under the age of 18 in their group. If you do not build an experience that is good for the family, you will not build an experience good for anyone in the family. That caused some significant thinking and changes in the makeup of the museum. I can remember the meaning for the president at the time looked at me and said are you telling me we need to build a children’s museum? The answer was no. You need to build the museum that accommodates families with children and made all the difference in the world for the museum.
>> Thanks very much Beth. I think that’s a perfect segue to your portion of today’s program and that is The Magnetic Connection so I will turn the microphone over to you now.
>> Thank you. I’m happy to be here with you and to have the opportunity to draw some strength from the Magnetic study. For those of you not familiar, Magnetic is the result of a three-year study conducted looking at the practices of museums that outperformed their peers in terms of the ability to attract and retain resources in the first decade of the 21st century. We began with the quantitative look at organizations and quantitative performance metrics related to Roads to Results although in the end we did not equate roads that were necessarily better. We looked at that we went down deep and did identify a handful of museums that had really changed their organizations dramatically and we went to study what happened in those institutions. We learned each of these museums very much like the case study groups on the webinar today, they successfully transform their organizations by adopting conservative strategies, focused on engagement with internal and external communities. While Magnetic largely focused on understanding the new rules for engagement and the organizational impact of adopting this essential strategy for change, I think what the Road to Results does is it takes it a step further and provides useful primer for the how-to side of things.
>> In Magnetic, we wrote about the four types of capital these successful organizations develop and retain. We wrote about core capital and that is the human and intellectual resources as well as the tangible assets required to deliver meaningful programs you can experience. Brand capital is the thing that encompasses the good will, trust and reputational equity that make up some of the most critical intangible aspects of highly magnetic and successful organizations. The third was financial capital which is of course self-explanatory and honestly the result of building the other forms of capital. Finally we looked at the concept of social capital which is a term closely associated with Robert Putnam’s work on communities. This is the place where that extent intersects with the Road to Results. While building new audiences might serve any number of different kinds of organizational purposes, it always results in increased social capital. Whether the efforts are designed to bond existing audiences more tightly to your institution or build bridges to new audiences or build bridges between different audiences, when museums and other cultural organizations serve as anchors in their communities engage in these practices, they are leaving the stronger fabric for their community. As a result of the Magnetic study, a broader definition of engagement began to emerge and I thought it might provide a useful context. You can see the definition on the screen, we will note there is an emphasis on three key aspects. The first is about building trust. The second is that focuses on creating meaning in meaningful experiences in the third is facilitating relationships between the organization and its stakeholder and among its stakeholders. In a minute you were hear from Magda and Chris but both of those organizations stories show they also embrace this nuanced understanding of what audience building and engagement for all about because this form of engagement goes beyond a marketing strategy. It is something that goes to the heart of the organization and it changes the organization fundamentally when they commit to this kind of work. The Magnetic museum leaders we studied, they found success by pursuing engagement that comes from the intersection Sarah just mentioned. The connection of meaning and market. It is driving out of the core focus of the organization. It is intended to create meaningful kinds of experiences to meet the needs of the community as opposed to meeting the needs of the organization and its informed by deep market understanding such as what is going on around us, what are these people interested in, who are they and those kinds of questions. It brings me to the other parallel we saw between the Magnetic study and the Road to Results. All the organizations listed in the study began with the period of discovery, deep self-reflection and learning. I think that is what is embodied in the first four steps Bob talks about. Sometimes the importance for change and a new focus on engagement was internally driven so there might’ve been a transition in board or professional leadership which brought the introduction of the new organization of vision but oftentimes it was externally driven by changes in finding social forces that either caused some kind of negative effect on the organization or someone perceived that need there was a possibility to open a new door of opportunity. Either way, once the need for change was recognized and once the need for change was expressed and owned in a shared sense of urgency and an imperative to make the change, all of those Magnetic institutions began to use qualitative or quantitative data to develop market insight that guided their actions. This move to insight is an important link. The process has to work from the inside out but also from the outside in. I think this kind of transformation work requires deep self-examination. It requires curiosity and the willingness to listen and learn and act upon what we hear. It requires gaining a real understanding of the stakeholders as well as their aspirations and it does rely on using that information and data to inform the decisions you make. We will talk more about the role of data and where and how to get it, but I think it’s probably best if I just handed off to Magda to tell us her story for the Fleisher Art Memorial.
>> Before we go to Magda, I know some of our special guests had some — information from the Magnetic study, Betty, I think you had some insights at your institution.
>> We began this process about five years ago but it feels like we have been in a much longer than that. Listening to Bob and Beth talk about this and the value and the importance of leadership engagement, and I wanted to talk about how we began this process at our leadership table as a whole. The entire leadership team at the institution, we talked about the issues we had been having with our audiences, identifying them and understanding them and knowing had to serve them and it was the beginning of the new strategic planning process. This took the forethought of all the major things we did in the next several years. All the things Beth was talking about and utilizing the data once you get it. We worked with a research firm and identified our audiences in a meaningful way to us and it lead to a cascade effect of new processes and ways of working and thinking. We had a goal of becoming audience-centric and that is what we have been focusing on. I think it’s also important to know this is a process that never really ends because you were constantly evaluating and looking at your services and are you meeting the needs and is your audience growing?
>> I appreciate that. Sarah Jesse, I know you had some thoughts from the education point of view.
>> I did want to pipe in because I liked what Betty said about this being a marketing strategy or effort. I feel like audience development is definitely within the purview of museum education and a critical part of our responsibility. I think this has always been the case in museums. Today I think the extent to which we dedicate resources to this [Audio Cutting In/Out] help us codify some of these ideas we’ve been talking about in the field. These concepts of building a long-term relationship, having institutional buy-in and real and perceived barriers, these are things educators have talked about for a long time. What is new today is we have this codification and articulation of best practices in a common language and I think that is elevating the work we do and I think it is benefiting our audiences. I think reports like this are important and I’m glad you mentioned this just isn’t within the purview of the marketers.
>> I think when it happens in the purview of the marketers, the audience knows. I think when it’s not authentically motivated from the entire organization, its mission and its focus, people know and then it doesn’t feel real.
>> Now I’m going to put Tim Hallman on the spot as our representative.
>> I couldn’t agree more with Sarah and Betty. We did some strong segmentation studies seven years ago that are still with us today and it is not driven primarily for marketing purposes. It is getting back to the mission meeting market. It is how we use the data and the marketing team helps cultivate and look at it. It helps determine the interpretive strategy for our program and it does inform the marketing messages, but that’s again trying to make sure it is pure and meaningful. Then we measure it to make sure it is working. I couldn’t agree with my colleagues more. It has to be a institutional value from top to bottom and sideways. That’s how it works best.
>> Thanks so much and thank you for weighing in. Now we will turn our attention to Magda who’s going to share a little bit about Fleisher Art Memorial. Thanks for being with us today.
>> No problem. Thank you all. I hope everyone is really excited about what we’ve heard so far because I am. I am director of programs here at the Fleisher Art Memorial. We are situated in Philadelphia. We are founded by the industrialist Samuel Fleisher. We serve about 14,000 people annually. We have operational budget of about 2.2 million dollars. It’s not — of where we are situated in the city. As Bob mentioned, traditionally this area of the city has been where many newly arrived people have first settled and at the turn of the 19th and 20th century it was a very big port city and people were coming to those ports and we are very close to those ports.
>> There we are. What made us pursue this here? I want to say a few things before I get to that. We entered this work, and I think this can sometimes be important to build out what other people are saying. We started this work in a moment of transition, not in a moment of crisis and I think that can change the way you look at the work and how long you were willing to wait for results. For us, this wasn’t necessarily a financial imperative. It was strongly built into our mission and it was based in program. We actually don’t have a marketing department but we also don’t have an outreach program or a community engagement program. The work is embedded throughout the institution.
>> These are the three major areas that made us pursue the work and number one was important. We had begun to see we were doing work off-site and actually seeing the changes in the population around them in real time especially with the work we do in public schools but we weren’t seeing that external change was matching our internal participant profile and that concerned us. We were very clear we were preparing for tomorrow’s participant. I will talk more about that later which is when you are embarking on this work you will become multilingual. Different people want to hear different things about what is important about the work. One of the things we felt strongly about is this was the future population that would support Fleisher. Not to invest in them now would be shortsighted.
>> This is Sam. He had very specific ideas about art and the role it played in people’s lives. He thought art could be a great social equalizer. If people could come to a place where they made art and had access to free art, there first initial contact would be a community of makers. Begin the conversation about what they did outside the walls would merge but then they would happen in a different context and that is really important to us. Here is Fleisher’s mission. I think it’s important because it keeps us asking questions ourselves. Are we doing the work and also the mission allows Fleisher to think about who is participating, the design of our policies and programs and has been the core of what has carried us through this arc of time with our engagement work. It allowed the whole organization to rally around the work. The mission is how people interpret that mission.
>> As I mentioned, there were changes happening off-site in our community and changing demographics. While we were experiencing that in real time with our external programming, we work in schools with afterschool centers and with elders. While we were seeing that shift off-site in real-time, we weren’t seeing it internally. That caused us to question what was going on. Why were those people happy to have this? What was happening there? Also in a practical way there was the issue of sustainability. Could be sustained two so to speak separate identities over time?
>> The other thing we realized is there were other organizations such as religious organizations and social service organizations that work better at responding to these changes in real-time. This is an example of a church nearby built in the 1900’s by predominately Italian community at that time. We sit in the section of the city that has the Italian market but the church itself was already responded to the changes in demographics by offering services in multiple languages.
>> We also used Census information and looked at the rate of growth in different communities over time and with the U.S. Census was predicting at the time to also help but think about this in a real way. We realize there was a call to action and if we didn’t do anything about this we would be in a dramatic deficit position with regards to the balance demographic we always want to keep that Fleisher compared to the reality of our surrounding neighborhood.
>> This is what we originally proposed to Wallace and what we originally thought we needed to do. Is a very standard menu of what people’s initial approach when they first started thinking about this work. Wallace was really great and they said we would like to support your work. During that time, we began to question our initial proposal and question each other. That was myself as part of the leadership team and other people at work that Fleisher and we realized we hadn’t asked anyone any questions. From our experience in watching other people do this work and other organizations do this work, oftentimes no questions have been asked of the people we were trying to engage with. I think of it as inviting a new friend over to dinner but you don’t ask anything about what they like or don’t like and you create the menu and hope it goes well.
>> These were are revised excellence awards. We focused almost three years of the work on research. A very large initial piece of work. Identify who was here and who was not and understand the motives of those who participated versus those who we’d hoped would participate and we zeroed in on three specific ethnic and racial communities in what we consider our attachment area. That was the long-standing African-American community, a newly arrived Latino community and a newly arrived southeastern Asian community. This is what our research was comprised of. There were student focus groups and an ethnic graphic steady then we began having surveys internally to use as a baseline to see if the population was changing over time. I want to emphasize what some of the other speakers have said. Our work was in partnership with the group called the Southeast Philadelphia collaborative and Fleisher is a founding member of that organization. That is a consortium of social service agencies that work with many of the communities we were interested in working in and they were great at helping us find people participate in the focus groups and the ethnographic studies and it allowed Fleisher to have trust by proxy with communities we may not have built a relationship of trust yet. Because we had a relationship with an organization they did trust, we were allowed this privilege.
>> This is what we found. At that time the typical student at Fleisher was a white female, not necessarily from Southeast Philadelphia. Anywhere from 40 to 60 and also had a higher degree and spent three or more years at Fleisher. The community we were attempting to engage was much more culturally mixed. They were less likely to have graduated high school or college and no idea about Fleisher and their programs and have less time for leisure activity. These were people working very hard and creating a new life in a new country for themselves. What we did find is these communities did have artistic practices of their own. I think sometimes we mix up the fact someone is disengaged with our institution and in fact they are disengaged with the arts in general. People have their own artistic practices. We had to know why they didn’t feel free to come to Fleisher.
>> Our mantra emerged from this work which was three things came out of our initial study. People told us what they wanted. We don’t know who you are, come to us. We don’t know what to do, show us what you do. If we choose to interact with your institution, be ready for us and welcome us and make sure this is a place we feel we belong. We realized there was a lot of internal work that had to happen first and we were transforming a cultural institution, and I can go into more detail later about what we did but this is an example of how we share the work with everyone on staff.
>> What I wanted to close with is the work has to be embedded in the institution. This work — as a learning institution. We ask ourselves lots of questions, we became multilingual so we were able to explain the work to other staff, the board and funders and we created our own internal definition for community engagement so everyone could rally around one vision of what that work really meant. Thank you.
>> Thank you so much, Magda. A couple of questions came in at think are relevant to anyone in the audience. I’m going to turn them to all of you, how do you get disengaged community residents to participate in the focus group? How do you do that with people who don’t know you’re there? Anybody have any response to that they would like to share?
>> I touched on that just now. The route we took, we have long been partnering with organizations that served those communities. It was the trust by proxy thing. They helped us find people who didn’t know about Fleisher and helped us put those focus groups together so that was part of our approach.
>> This is Beth. You identify where they are going and that’s where you find them, but then you still have to engage them in conversation. That can be challenging. Sometimes it’s a conversation that is about introducing them to a new concept. Sarah Lee and I worked on a project together that was a lot about finding audiences that were not engaged to understand how a culturally specific organization might be able to engage them and we had to literally go out and find people who had not heard of the institution or ever visited a similar type of institution in order to understand where it might motivate them.
>> This is Sarah Lee, sometimes the place to start isn’t necessarily a focus group or a more formal conversation like that. That is one of the components Magda mentioned about the work we did was to actually engage in the community ethnographic study where we had a team that spent a lot of time in the neighborhoods around Fleisher to really understand — from the community perspective rather than starting with the institutional perspective. Sometimes the way to start the conversation is really to just spend time in this neighborhood among those communities and start by understanding what’s important to them and from there you can go into a more structured conversation about the ways your institution can fulfill from those needs you have identified.
>> Thank you, Sarah Lee. I know Betty had something she would like to share about her process and thinking about goals.
>> Our series of goals had shifted focus, we have been asking ourselves about our audiences. We would tweak this program or at this program or make a change here. As we waited to strategic planning and with the benefit of a grant, we started focusing on the audience research and because I think it was Bob that talked about relationship building, because we knew we really wanted to the audience centric and build a relationship with our audience, we wanted to know not so much the normal demographics, but why they were coming. We were interested in motivation. Very diverse offering and program. The feedback we got in our audience survey information led us toward John Fox’s identification of audience motivation in his book and we identified from key motivators from audiences. One of the largest was rechargers — people that come here primarily because it helps us feel refreshed and helps us refocus of that type of thing. We also have explorers and facilitators in somebody who wants to see what is going on but facilitators think modeling child or parent and child. We also decided we would focus a little on some of our — we do a lot of canning and a lot of gardening projects. This allowed us to refocus on who was coming which allowed us to refocus our messaging to bring more of those folks. It is still a work in progress and we are still really key on the motivation.
>> Betty, I appreciate you sharing motivators with us. I happen to have one of these files in stock. I pulled it up so folks would have a little idea of what you were referencing. Sarah Jesse, I want you to touch which you mentioned earlier about funders and funders being okay with shifting goals and revisions to a proposal.
>> Magda brought that up. I love you shared with us your original proposal and how much it shifted once you knew more about the goals of the audience. It is lovely when a funder is willing to go on that journey with you and they understand that. We had a similar situation where we were doing a project where we specifically wanted to work with people we had never worked with and go to communities we had never been. With that, there were a lot of things we learned along the way and attentive surprises. It seemed like every three months or so we were going to the funders saying we learned this information — I think often when we write grant proposals we feel this pressure to put ourselves in the position of knowing everything or being the expert. It’s nice when funders understand we are trying to do something that is unprecedented and to work with us and it is great Wallace did.
>> This is Betty. When we submitted our proposal, one of the reviewers said we are not really sure they know what it is they need to do and another reviewer came back with they don’t, that is why they need this grant.
>> How often does that happen?
>> Thank you for weighing in. Now I’d like to turn our attention to the Clay Studio and ask Chris Taylor to share with us a little bit the experience you have seen happening at your institution.
>> Thank you. Thank you all for logging on and staying on and thank you to Greg and Adam and all of my other colleagues. I’m Chris Taylor and I’m the president of the Clay Studio. I have been here since 2011. I’m going to split my presentation a bit today between the first few steps Bob mentioned and a discussion about our history and programs and some of our early results and the shift of our own thinking results and next steps. I got an e-mail about 20 minutes ago that popped up that is relevant with extremely good news so I hope you tune in on March 18 and I can share with you next steps. We were funded over four years with Wallace to do market research, to understand and expand our audience and grow our impact on 25 to 45 -year-old and we were interested in the marketing and messaging and how we speak to that particular demographic. The history of the Clay Studio, we were founded in 1974 by five artists. We are a place for artists and a building community. In 1971 we started to expand our reach and have a long history of moving out into communities with exhibitions and bringing international artists through. Along with that the expansion of programming and expanding our community. In 1989 we move into moved into our current facility with three other partnering art organizations. There were subletting with us and it was the creation of Philadelphia’s First Friday activities. I have a few slides later that will help you understand who we are and what our facility looks like.
>> here are a few programs listed here. We are in a 21,000 square-foot building with four floors. Our residency program is a highly competitive professional artist residency for up to 12 emerging artists. Classes and workshops are very much a public education opportunity for ceramic art and processes to do 10-week classes, five-week classes, workshops or clay camps. The rental program allows artists and amateurs to rent space from us and build a community. The work exchange program is training for future young ceramic artists and those going into the nonprofit professional fields. The outreach program is an award-winning Claymobile that travels around the city to work with schools and community centers and interact and festivals. Our shop and gallery is highlighting the functional artwork and the scope work of artists from all over North America. We also have an international guest artist program we have come to be known for in our field.
>> In 2007, we did start to recognize when changes — effective practices. You might be familiar with a lot of the folks on the webinar today trying to understand the and expansion you look at your audience and things start to grow that may be don’t grow for you think you are and what you need. At the time we were just past our 30th anniversary and this year — last year was our 40th anniversary. We take a peek at our audience and people participating in the newly expanded facility. I noticed someone asked a question about social workshops. We had some of those workshops underway that weren’t understanding the audience for the younger group we were starting to identify as a target. The intention is a little more social, maybe — rather than an educational motivation for you might be building a skill and pottery or mosaics or mold making. When I say she’ll so workshops were talking about the social side and activity.
>> They started to tell us a lot about participation. We were targeting young professionals age 25-45. We identified specific codes where we thought there was a growing professional group and with some disposable income would engage in our programs. These are the neighborhood of old city, Queens village in the art museum sections of Philadelphia. The market research was conducted with online surveys, focus groups, telephone interviews, looking at those zip codes and demographics. We discovered most people were coming as a group, or at least not alone. 67% versus 33% so we knew it was a social experience. When we look deeper at that audience, I think the larger graph to the right is I think one of the most interesting graphs that many people were coming who were never before. Are due 6% had never before visited the Clay Studio. There were this group of people who may have considered themselves high cultural consumers but they were skipping stones, were they protested one time at one theater, one time at a museum in one time at the Clay Studio. You may see them as a one-time shot at your particular institution. Then we look at the left part of the graph, 40% for coming four times or more. There was an interesting dip between those samplers and then those deeply committed so we have those two ends of the spectrum. When we did a deeper dive into those who were brand-new we realize that was our target group and they were the ones in the 25-45 young professional bracket. We started taking out some of the guesswork to the audiences we were investigating. We all know from performing arts groups this idea of season tickets were starting to shrink and the more flexible participation was talked about among theater groups, but here was some data telling us the same thing — they were coming in sampling and [Indiscernible].
>> We were trying to understand as well how to speak with these new audiences and what avenues we were speaking to them and the language we were using. When we asked how did you hear about us, this was over two particular samplings, the yellow in 2008 and the darker color in 2010. We found over 50% of people were hearing by word-of-mouth. We realized very clearly customer service and the experience once they were year have become important and integrated into the institution as far as hiring and training and putting a strong focus on the user experience and interactions. We would talk more about that in subsequent webinars. As Bob mentioned earlier, the phrasing of shaping the future of ceramics was really meaningless to a lot of newcomers. We have since dropped back from our logo and we are working to think through a new tagline because it was a meaningful. Bob also mentioned action words thinking about how people wanted to interact with this rather than looking so much at what they wanted to roll up their sleeves and get dirty with us. I love putting the ad out there, these are two of the straightest guys you ever met that decided that would be fun to do the ad for the date night. There really two cool work exchange guys who work with us. The phrase again get dirty with us was a little more playful. An interesting note on the graph between 2008 and 2010, there was a tripling on the Internet and we focused have people heard about us through the Internet. We all know that is happening. To see that and say we’re focusing much more on our social media and e-mails and how our e-mails look and feel it interact, it is more about aligning the institution, but it was important as we started to talk with the new audience.
>> To summarize for today, I do want to leave a little cliffhanger for March 18, I do want to mention the conversation about changing end of being flexible. We maintained a clear path for our audience and how we wanted to conduct the project with Wallace but we initially people — we kept hearing we want to come in and play and get dirty and roll up our sleeves and we had to be flexible and start to understand ourselves as a place of making. In our building, the school is on the third floor. People will come in there first time and go to the gallery and shop and may not know. We added televisions behind our checkout counter. We changed our website to say action words like see and learn. I think some of the early challenges were least the things we needed to understand were the 10 week classes were barriers to involvement. Coming into a place and saying I did this in high school and that like to try it again and we said 10 weeks and $300 was a real barrier. User may be master level ceramic artists who just spent seven years in school learning had to do this so 10 weeks was shrinking this down. Getting around the one night class and thinking about social versus education, it was an interesting shift that took time. Our young supporters program was very slow to start. A few people got together then it went down. We had an event that was successful. Even to the point when I came on I said we have got to get this group going and there was a lot of hesitation that we try to before and wasn’t working. We had a big grant and it wasn’t working. An important lesson is having patients to expand with new audience.
>> One last thing before I wrap up, as we start to think about aligning our organization, there was a lot of work to do, you can see a lot of artwork and adding all these workshops and starting to get going and adding thousands of pieces of artwork to our process, from the firing to the shipping to the ship outs. It has been an interesting shift in our organizational thinking. It’s important to look at data and understand data and how it is aligning with your goals in certainly I would say patience because a lot of things weren’t able to happen as fast as you would like. With that I would turn it back over in the interest of time.
>> Thanks Chris, I appreciate it. There’s a couple of interesting questions and comments in the chat box regarding diversity of audiences and not just from an urban centric point of view. Any of our colleagues in the audience or our special guests who feel like they want to tackle what it might mean for a museum to address diversity with geographic isolation or education disparity or income disparity, I welcome you to weigh end. In the meantime, I think Sarah Lee had something to offer in terms of addressing multiple audiences.
>> There was a question how to think about serving two different audiences and the question was locals and tourists. I’m not going to address those two specific audiences but I want to offer a bit of perspective on how to think about balancing the needs of two different audiences. Part of that, if you do audience research, that doesn’t commit you to necessarily acting on everything that emerges that if you do audience research among the multiple audiences you were trying to serve, that is very likely to surface, some areas where there are overlapping opportunities. Opportunities to make the experience better for both of all of the audiences you’re trying to serve but their needs to be an interplay between the process of conducting audience research and the process of interpreting those results and filtering them through the lens of your organizational mission to figure out exactly how you act on that. Asking the questions of both audiences is a great starting point to think about how to ultimately serve both of them well.
>> I went to pick up on that point a little bit. Some of the resistance sometimes we face with audience research is there are people that think they will ask us to change I would do things or maybe change our programming. We found the opposite was true. People want the full on artistic experience and when we give them that, that is when they create the experience it keep coming back. Using the term to dumb it down for night, but if you want a long-term relationship, it’s about providing the full artistic experience. We found audience research help strengthen their participation.
>> Bob, we certainly found when I was at — which allows me to answer two questions, one is do you dumb it down in order to broaden your audience? I think what we found when we became clear about what our unique role was — not otherwise available in the area. We decided whoever came to that — we didn’t choose more accessible work, we curated those events in the way we would curate an event for our regular audiences. We also know because we were on the National Mall, we had a very significant tourist audience and the local audience. With the Hirshhorn at the time it was falling down a little bit, they were thinking about the tourist audience and not thinking about the local audience. The local audience wanted more opportunity toward deeper engagement and more dealing of community relationships around the Hirschhorn. That caused us to think about how did we become a great local museum. We knew had to be a great National Museum, we didn’t know how to be a good local museum. That was the difference for us, to target our local audiences, invite them in, create these experiences that allowed them to see others in their community and we found others enjoyed those experiences as well even if it was just a one-time stop for them.
>> Thanks very much, Beth. I wonder if Tim or Sarah Jesse anything you want to add to this conversation?
>> I guess I’m thinking out loud a little bit and I’m reading some of the comments in the chat box. It is kind of actually a question more, and I don’t know if we have time to address it, but I’m wondering more about the difference between demographics and — questions about age and tourists versus local, how much of that matters and how much of it is more about people’s inclinations — if they are African American or Asian or Hispanic.
>> I think that is a hugely important points. I think it’s important to talk about both demographics and — but you are right often thinking in — terms and understanding that content of what makes a meaningful connection for someone is probably even more important for understanding how to successfully engage them.
>> If I could jump in, I agree with everyone and it goes to another question I saw in the chat which is how did we keep our present constituents when we were going after new constituents. It doesn’t mean their groups we chose were represented at Fleisher and I think this goes to — those people who were here who may have represented certain ethnic groups shared a — profile with the people already here. The communities we were looking at really represented people who felt differently perhaps it would not been in the United States and didn’t share the same educational experiences as those people who were already here. I think it also speaks to sustainability. I try not to think about this as an either or proposition. Either I’m serving those people or those people is not sustainable. I think what we have found is our research has made us overall a more welcoming institution to everyone. Many of the lessons we have learned through some very focused research actually applied, we could apply to everyone at Fleisher, in terms of our work, in terms of our publication. We went from a course listing that looked like a college catalog to a one sheet foldout. What we heard from people at Fleisher is this is great and so much easier to read. We did it because we were trying to handle issues of language. I think broadening the way we think about the were can help us see how it applies differently.
>> Thanks, Sarah Lee. — thanks, Magda. Bob, I think you had something you wanted to add.
>> The question being — advice for baby steps and understanding and audience and if you don’t have the support of a large funder. The reason why Wallace funds organizations — what drives them is to create meaning for others. In that spirit the next few months we will be publishing a book called taking out the guesswork. A guidebook to audience research and getting started. Is for organizations that want to get started in how to learn about an audience and includes a lot of low-cost and effective ways to do it.
>> Thank you very much, Bob. I think your reference to the Wallace Foundation is an excellent segue to the end of our program and into next week’s program which is part two of the Road to Results series in which we will talk about Aligning the Organization around your audience building strategies and that will be followed up on March 25 by the third and last part of the series, Road to Results, Engaging the Audience. I hope all of you will be joining us for that series. When you registered for today’s program you are automatically registered for all three so you should be getting information about all of those programs. I want to take a moment and thank all of our colleagues for joining us today. Thank you for sharing their time and expertise and their responses with us. I would also like to thank once again our Professional Networks for being part of this program series and for hosting local webinar watch and talk events. Lastly, to thank our colleagues at the Wallace Foundation for making this program happen. We are very grateful for their participation and leadership in helping all of us in the arts and cultural field to know more about and build our audiences. With that said, my name is Greg Stevens, assistant director for professional development and on behalf of all of us thank you for joining us. We will see you next time.