As museums have slowly been reopening, their strategies are evolving to smaller and more local. While some institutions are going ahead with planning blockbuster shows, others are pivoting to more modular programming: smaller, nimbler shows devised to directly engage the communities in their immediate surroundings.
The local audience is really the central audience, says Max Hollein, director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art about Museums Without Tourists, it’s an audience that has grown up with the institution and comes to you again and again. They have a much closer connection, because they enjoy and notice constant changes within the institution.
The experience of no (physical) audience during lockdown made even more obvious how central audiences are for our cultural organisations. Now is the time to really develop our audience centricity.
I have reflected on what I learned from my different experiences as a consultant, working at Tate and, before that, working in branded consumer goods, as well as from engaging with human-centred design more recently.
Bring everyone to the same level of understanding;
Incorporate data into all planning processes (not just marketing);
Develop measurable objectives and metrics for success;
Continuously gather market data and update plans accordingly;
Take advantage of the predictive power of data;
Look at market research as an investment rather than a cost; and
Are actively shifting the organization’s culture
For me no7 is bringing it all together – a culture change. This is about attitudes to data, but I think behind this needs to be a positive attitude and approach to people – eventually it is not about data, but about our visitors, audience, customers, whatever we choose to call them, and about understanding them and showing empathy.
BTW, I realise I didn’t post Colleen’s third blog, here it is if you want to complete the series and hear about common cognitive biases to data: Accepting Data Can Be Hard
Cultural organisations as “places for people like me”
Younger audiences are more likely to think that cultural organisations are not ‘for people like for them’, says Colleen Dilenschneider in this KYOB post.
“There’s a lot to the ‘negative attitude affinities’ conversation. It’s wrapped up in diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as age, physical ability, interest, income, being a parent or not, and self-identity. And because people are many things, there is no single magic bullet,” she argues.
The solution (and challenge) – an organisational culture that is consistently welcoming and to people of various different backgrounds and needs.