Film Festivals, like arts organizations across the country, are experimenting with new ways to fulfill their missions and keep—if not expand—their audiences, at a time when consumers have more choices than ever before. The Wallace Foundation recently partnered with the American Alliance of Museums and six other nonprofit arts service organizations to share the principles for reaching and retaining new audiences in The Road to Results: Effective Practices for Building Arts Audiences, by Bob Harlow. Following are some excerpts from the report, courtesy of our AAM colleagues:
Recognizing When Change Is Needed.
Organizations saw a pattern of audience behavior 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 center, capturing and sustaining the attention of the entire organization over the years needed to build a following.
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.
Thinking Through 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 fulfill that vision.
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.
Check out the full report: The Road to Results: Effective Practices for Building Arts Audiences.
Have a success story? We’d love to share it with the wider festival audience.
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