A diverse audience is a much proclaimed goal for many cultural organisations, and rightly so. Public arts organisations need to be relevant to a broad population in order to be sustainable and funded long term. This means striving for an audience that is representative of the population.
The upcoming NZ census will tell us more about the ever-increasing diversity of the NZ population and with the update of the Audience Atlas by MHM and Creative NZ due in a few months, we will be able to compare cultural audiences with the population and understand the opportunities and challenges.
Here is a good perspective on how to look at such data and how to interpret (and not mis-interpret) it by Colleen Dilenschneider: Why Some Cultural Organizations Overestimate Success In Welcoming Diverse Visitors
There is so much we can learn from artists, it’s not just the STEM subjects that are relevant in the business world, as is often claimed. In our changing world creativity, dealing with emotions, managing ambiguity, creating something memorable are skills that will become more and more useful.
The team from Let’s Go shares some of their experiences with creative collaboration
Three interesting new reports by Culture24 (UK) focus on the role and impact of Museum Lates on the night-time economy:
And here is the Executive Summary.
“The reports reveal the scale of after-hours museum and gallery openings and events in the UK; why venues do, and don’t, open after hours; what kinds of events they offer; where the hot and cold spots are in the UK and much more about the role Lates have in the context of night-time economy issues. The research also tackles how Lates can make a contribution to diversifying the night-time economy and helping UK towns and cities provide a more balanced evening cultural offer.” (Culture24)
One of the big misunderstandings in the museum world is that free = accessible.
In her article “The Met’s Admission Price Will Not Hurt Accessibility – It May Help” Colleen Dilenschneider shares visitor data that shows how little/no correlation there actually is between admission fees and accessibility.
An artist inspired Guggenheim project shows the power of (staff) listening (to visitors). More about the project and the process is summarised in this Guggenheim blog post and a video.
Museums have the wonderful potential to be catalysts for empathy.
How can we more fully integrate these values in our museum practice and begin to make the shift happen toward a more human-centered mindset? – discusses Mike Murawski (Director of Education and Public Programs at Portland Art Museum) in his blog post:
Towards a More Human-Centered Museum: Part 2, Building a Culture of Empathy
A review of the museums in England, the Mendoza report, was just released. The report makes interesting reading. Some structural findings and recommendations are particular to England, but several of the findings the about the state and priorities for museums are relevant beyond England and provide interesting context e.g. when considering NZ museums.
Most interesting to me are these two points:
- The increasing evidence of the benefits of museums to society is acknowledged: community cohesion and place-making, formal and informal learning, health and well-being, the attractiveness of cities both for locals and visitors, and direct and indirect economic benefits. It is suggested that museums make more of this by measuring and reporting their impact more widely, ideally using a standard method. And while the Review is focused on national museums, it even includes suggestions for how local authorities, where funding pressures particularly high, can support and make the most of their museums.
- Museum attendance levels have risen consistently, driven by free admission, a lively sector and high activity level of museums. However, free admission and close proximity of museums does not automatically translate into diverse audiences. Despite rising attendance, audience diversity is still an issue with the ‘usual suspects’ attending and lower attendance by younger people, people with lower socio-economic backgrounds or ethnic minorities. Diversifying audiences is imperative.
Other interesting points:
- Data is important to understand audiences and museums invest more in audience research, but there is still a big potential for making more of data, e.g. through more consistency and the collation of data for deeper analysis.
- Digital offers major opportunities for engaging current and new audiences as well as for museum management, however medium and smaller museums are still lagging behind other cultural institutions.
- There are also number of workforce challenges laid out, in particular the need to diversify staff as a basis for diversifying audiences and developing leaders and leadership skills.
- The potential for more international collaboration and partnerships is also highlighted.
- Not surprisingly, financial self-sufficiency is the most pressing challenge for museums in today’s funding environment.