Delivered March 18, 2015, this webinar explores three of the nine effective practices for audience building detailed in The Wallace Foundation report, Road to Results: Effective Practices for Building Arts Audiences (Thinking through the Relationship, Aligning Strategy, Preparing for Success). Case studies explore the successes, challenges, and lessons learned from aligning the entire organization around audience building strategies. Presenters:
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; Christopher Taylor, president, The Clay Studio, Philadelphia; Anne Bergeron, co-author, Magnetic: The Art and Science of Engagement (2013, The AAM Press); principal, Anne Bergeron & Co. Consulting, Providence, RI.
>>Welcome to today’s event. I’m going to turn the floor over to Greg Stevens to take it away from here.
>>Thank you very much, Adam, and it’s my pleasure to be here representing the American Alliance of Museums. As Adams mentioned, my name is Greg Stevens. I’m the Assistant Director for Professional Development here at AAM. I’m very happy to have the support of the Wallace Foundation for this series of programs. And, of course, this series is based on the recent Wallace Report, The Road to Results by Bob Harlow, and we’ll be hearing a bit more from Bob in a few moments.
I’d also like to acknowledge that this program is brought to you by some of our professional networks including the Committee on Audience Research and Evaluation, the Education Committee, Leadership, and Management Network, and the PR Marketing Committee. These are four of our 22 professional networks here at AAM, and these colleagues are serving as our special guests on the program today and also as hosts for local webinar watch-and-talk events that we have set up in several cities around the country. So for those of you who are convened at one of these sites, welcome, we’re really glad to have you on board with us today.
I’m really pleased to have with us really wonderful colleagues who will be sharing various aspects of The Road to Results. We’ll hear from Bob Harlow to talk a little bit about the content of The Road to Results. And we’ll then hear from Anne Bergeron, who is a coauthor of Magnetic, The Art and Science of Engagement. And then we’ll hear from Magda Martinez from the Fleisher Art Memorial, and Chris Taylor from The Clay Studio, who will share their experiences in their audience-building initiatives.
We’re also going to hear, periodically throughout the program, from our special guests. Today’s guests include Randi Korn, who is the founding Director of Randi Korn & Associates, Betty Brewer, who is the President and CEO of Minnetrista in Muncie, Indiana, and my colleague Sara Jesse, the Associate VP of Education out in Los Angeles at LACMA. Thank you all for being here with us today.
Today’s program, of course, is an overview of The Road to Results study and report, and in today’s program, in particular, we’re going to be focusing on aligning the organization around strategy, about relationship building with your audiences and preparing for success. We’re going to dive a little bit into some of the connections between Road to Results and AAM publication Magnetic: The Art and Science of Engagement. As I mentioned, we’ll be hearing from Magda and Chris who will be providing case studies. We’ll have an opportunity later on in the program for all of our colleagues, our presenters and special guests to engage in conversation. And, of course, we’ll have time throughout the program to address any questions or comments that might be coming in from you, our audience, so I encourage you to actively participate in the Chat box.
Our overall goals for this series are, of course, to help you identify way that you can use research and data to support audience-building initiatives at your museum and explore ways that you can align both your internal stakeholders as well as your external stakeholders around audience-building efforts and then how you go about adapting to the changing museum environment and societal changes that really impact the work we do in our museums.
We wanted to start off our program just by putting out for you a series of questions, nothing for you to answer right now but just to get you thinking about this topic at hand, and perhaps ask yourself what steps would you need to take at your institution to align your organization’s focus around audience building. And who should be involved in that work? And how will you go about reaching out to audiences in holistic, meaningful and intentional ways? And what are the possible outcomes of this kind of work? And what are the barriers? Where might you need to cross over a hurdle to get to your goal?
And the big question that we wanted to start the program with is why engage in this kind of work anyway. And we hope through our presentations and our case studies and our conversation we’ll get at a little bit more why that it’s important for our institutions to engage in audience-building initiatives.
So with that said, I’m going to turn the stage and the microphone over to Bob Harlow, who’s going to share with us a little bit about The Road to Results report and in particular those aspects of the program that are about aligning the organization.
Bob, thank you so much for being with us again today.
>>Thank you. I’m just going to briefly do an outline of what we did. I know some of you heard it last week so I’m going to go over it very quickly, and then get right into the real topics that we want to talk about aligning the organization.
So I was asked by the Wallace Foundation to lead a team of researchers to conduct in-depth reviews of organizations they’ve been working with to identify what practices led to sustained audience gains. And what we did – what we wanted – really get evidence-based guidance about what works in building audiences so that we could get guidance around things we knew work, not just what we thought might work.
And Wallace had asked us to look at 54 organizations and received funding for a two-to-four-year period between 2007 and 2012. Now of those 54, some had great success and others didn’t. And our chief question was when we did our analysis was what were the differentiators that led to success? And we were able to do some detailed and disciplined analysis because, throughout the initiative, funding including budgets for research and evaluation, and that allowed us to really give guidance that’s really evidence based.
Within the 54 organizations, we looked in particular at those successes where audience growth was sustained even after their funding had stopped. And we focused on ten organizations chosen largely because they had cohesive strategies with strong results. Now as you can see here, it’s a variety of arts organizations, performing arts and visual arts. That’s what Wallace funds. And we had originally intended to look at these ten organizations separately, but once we did that we found common elements that seemed to enhance audience building no matter what kind of organization we were looking at. In fact, we identified nine practices that were associated with successful audience building across a diverse range of organizations. Now when we have nine practices, it’s not to say that these are the only nine, okay, and we don’t want to say that at all, or imply that. But we do know, though, that these nine are effective.
And one question that we had, though, as we started to see these common threads were, you know, these organizations are different, why is it that they would have things in common. And what we found is that they all had the same challenge, you know, engaging and building a following among people that were unfamiliar with the work that they presented. All the organizations wanted to do that.
And this is a process – they were trying to jumpstart a process that naturally takes years, right? Research suggests that you don’t become a museum visitor overnight. It takes years of going with family, maybe hearing about it from friends again and again. And (inaudible) one, two, three, and what we’re asking people to do is to develop new habits and awaken new sensibilities.
Now, so much of what we read in audience building, you know, it’s built around those (inaudible) tactics and activities, but it’s so much more than that. Success comes when organizations become focused on building relationships and commit themselves to making that happen. That’s not to say that tactics aren’t important, but one tactic isn’t going to do it. It’s more important to focus on long-term relationships than individual tactics.
These are the nine practices that we identified as effective in helping build audiences. And these are available in the publication that you have a link to. And we talked last time about the first four that are in blue there, the importance of identifying the right target audiences and getting to know them and what they’re for.
Today we’ll talk about the practices that are white. Speaking to the kind of relationships we want to build with audiences and then aligning the organization around relationship building objectives.
These were real game changes for organizations that drove success. We’ll also talk about some of the challenges that come with preparing for success.
The first thing I want to talk about is how organizations thought through the relationships that they wanted to have. But I apologize, something’s happened here with the animation and this screen here, but the most successful organizations were thoughtful about how they wanted audience relationships to play out. And this is so important. There were many organizations that Wallace worked with where they talk about just getting people in the door. But the most successful organizations said no, we want to do more than get people to walk in. They envisioned the kinds of interactions people would have once they got there and the relationships that developed with their organization.
And after they laid out that vision, they built out programs and marketing to make it happen. Now I know we all talk about relationships and relationship marketing, but this is different. This isn’t sending folks an email or a welcome. This is thinking about how you want them to interact with you and the role that you’re going to play in their lives. And then putting the programs and marketing into place that build that.
Now to develop that vision, they actually started by looking at their own core values on the one hand, and then thinking about what experiences audiences were looking for on the other and finding that intersection (inaudible) point. Take, for example, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. This is an image from their Third Thursday Program designed for younger adults. Now the staff had set out to create a monthly event that would appeal to young adults ages 18 to 34. And they envisioned an after-work event where attendees interacted with each other and the collection. And I’m sure you’ve seen these before, right, these after-hours events for young adults. They were very concerned that an after-work social event might result in the art getting lost. You know, they’d seen it happen at other institutions when people come to socialize that they don’t engage with the collection. That’s not what they wanted.
As they developed their vision of how this was going to play out, they were constantly thinking about where they came from and where they wanted to go. The museum was founded by art patron Isabella Stewart Gardner at the beginning of the Twentieth Century, and one key component of the museum’s educational philosophy is that critical thinking about art doesn’t require knowledge of specific movements or artists. In fact, it can come about through thoughtful observation and discussion. When Gardner had left the museum to the city of Boston at the turning of the Twentieth Century, she had originally hoped it would be a place where curious, passionate art lovers could take part in lively, meaningful conversation just as they had in the art salons that she used to host.
Now, this educational philosophy where conversation can come from observation lives on today. And when (inaudible) designed their events for young people, they designed it thinking about with that in mind. It was really grounded in that and they have actually engaged visitors with the event’s collection providing that social experience that they were looking for, and they had a range of informal activities to help bring about that conversation that makes an event come alive and is so much a part of the philosophy. These gallery talks and games that encourage the visitors to explore (inaudible) in a collection. Other activities to get through the sheer observation with friends. They also had young volunteers that could engage them in conversation and help explore (inaudible).
In a way, the event was a sort of a contemporary take on those art-focused soirees that the museum’s founder used to host. And even though there was a bar on live music, the socials team did not (inaudible) upstage the art. Exit surveys revealed that more than 90% of after-hours attendees explored the galleries, and actually that was the activity that most said they enjoyed the most.
Now this vision for the after-hours social gathering where art takes center stage developed over time. Gardner’s staff developed a vision that found that sweet spot where core values intersect with what audiences were looking for. Everybody wins. Visitors were happy and Gardner didn’t change for a second who it was to cater to an audience. Instead, staff thought about how to live out the institution’s core values in a changing environment. One where young adults are looking for different kinds of experiences. And this actually, I should say, was a key in the success we saw across successful institutions. Successful institutions thought about how to live out their core values in the present day. Relationships visions like this are very self-serving because the organization is getting its mission served. It’s okay to be self-serving. In fact, there are people that say it should be self-serving because if you don’t have that self-interest, the broader staff, including curators, education, marketing and visitor services, they’re not going to stay invested. Not only that, it’s not going to play to your strengths. But, of course, it was more than self-interested. At the same time, it was very much (inaudible) to what young adults are looking for.
Similarly, thinking even more broadly about how an audience is going to enjoy an institution (inaudible) studio. And I won’t talk too much about that because we’ve got Chris Taylor on the phone, but I think just to briefly say, you know, as the Clay Studio, as we talked about last week, became more successful bringing young adults into its program, it began to consider not just how to provide memorable and enjoyable experiences, but how to build on that (inaudible) and staff began to position the organization of young adults as a social friendly place where people had unique experiences exploring the process of making ceramic art. In this way, the organization is really looking to carve out a unique place in the lives of this new audience. It’s doing more than just getting them through the door for events. It’s really figuring out the role that it’s going to play in their lives and also ensuring that the activities of the studio support those objectives. It’s not just a random array of programs that serve different objectives.
This is how organizations build momentum, and there are actually plenty of other examples in The Road to Results, so I won’t go through them here.
But another game changer that I do want to talk about is aligning the organization around the strategy. And this was another game changer. And the initiative that the successful institutions had really took hold when everybody was aligned around the effort. When staff understood it, its importance, and their role. I know we hear that all the time and it seems obvious, but the thing is, is it doesn’t happen. And the reason it doesn’t happen, especially with these funded organizations, not to criticize them, but they feel real pressure to produce results and get to the “real work.” But organizations won when they took time before plans were deployed to build consensus on why a specific audience was important to the institution and how the institution should engage the audience.
Now that actually does take time. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts. Some common tactics that were taken were retreats and workshops and other one-time events. And the things that people learned there or took away from there were reinforced continually at regular staff meetings.
But change is really, really difficult. Going after a new audience can make some staff people understandably very nervous. You know, do I have what it takes? Is this right for the institution?
It also requires some skills. So taking the time to align the organization provided a real payoff that helped with these challenges. It not only created a clear sense of purpose and helped internalize the vision so people got motivated to achieve it, but – and this is so important – it also created an environment of openness to address staff concerns. Look, people are going to have their doubts if you want to make a big change. If you have this environment where people can address the concerns en route to understand it, they can come on board. They can become assets instead of liabilities.
I (inaudible) Fleisher is a poster child for this. (Inaudible) and Magda is going to talk about that, so I won’t say much except just stating really were so deliberate when they designed their initiative to engage newly-arrived people from the surrounding neighborhood. They made sure that everyone in the organization understood the vision and how it would be achieved. And they took the time out – and this took years, you know, to make sure people had the skills, the capabilities needed to realize that vision including cultural competence training, workshops on community engagement and resources.
But, boy, the payoff was huge. That initiative still lives on today at Fleisher.
The last thing I’d like to talk about is preparing for success. And this, you know, it sounds kind of funny that this would be a problem, but it’s one of those things that, you know, be careful what you wish for because new audiences mean new challenges and new responsibilities. And you’ve got to take those on. The Clay Studio in Philadelphia, for example, they, as we talked about last week, tripled their enrollment in classes over the space of four years. Suddenly staff had to figure out how to serve the new audience members and ensure they had a positive experience.
Well, they had to figure out marketing, you know, what would keep them coming back. They implemented a database to track and communicate with these new visitors. Not only, if that’s not enough, if the workload isn’t enough, you know, newcomers have different needs. You have to market to them in a different language, and it takes time to figure that out. For example, early marketing material for newcomers had inadvertent references, insider terms that just confused people who were new to the organization. It takes time to figure that out. Not just work, but it’s really thinking, and I don’t know how they did it, finding the time to actually reflect on all of this.
Successful organizations, though, they anticipated how new audiences interact with the organization and were proactive in ensuring their visits were positive. A really good example, actually, is the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco. Now, this is a medium-sized, non-collecting institution that presents exhibits on Jewish history, culture, art, and ideas. And the museum set up to bring families in in large numbers, and they hadn’t done it before, and this could really be potentially disruptive, especially if you’ve got more young people in the past, and most of your exhibits are, you know, you’re non-collecting, you’re dealing with mostly exhibits.
Staff is really smart though. They recognized that accommodating new visitors is a give-and-take and involves making some adjustments on the one hand, (inaudible) to families where they can do it, but also managing family expectations and communicating to families what’s expected of them. But doing that in a way so they still feel welcome, not restricted. So they do like positive signs, so they’ll have signs that say, (inaudible) eat here, this is a great place to eat. Why don’t you sit on the floor here? As opposed to saying what’s prohibited and doing things that run the risk of alienating families or playing into perceptions that it’s too difficult to visit the museum for them.
On crowded days with long lines, they’re always thinking, how are we going to manage this? And staff go outside, and they use the opportunity. They move families outside. And they share a list of activities scheduled for the day. And also, in the process, give rules about (inaudible) strollers. It really is a give-and-take, and they really see it as prepping both visitors and themselves. And it’s been a huge success. It’s really worked out for them.
For them, a critical question that guided them is how do we better prepare our visitors and how do we prepare our staff so that visitors have a positive experience.
Another thing that comes up, and it actually comes up in the most successful institutions, and it’s something that we do need to talk about, are tensions between serving new audiences and the traditional base. I think sometimes we feel that makes it sound (inaudible) to talk about it and so we don’t want to, but we have to acknowledge it and face it. You know, there can be even uncomfortable interactions between even audience members, you know. Certainly, staff may bring up resistances. You k now, they may question the purpose of going after a certain audience, particularly if the organization has worked through the kind of alignment exercise I mentioned earlier. This was a source of tension in even the most successful organizations, and although it’s never easy to resolve, staff found that addressing the concerns directly in an environment of respect for everybody moved them forward.
There’s also a concern, though, that long-time visitors, who we love and who we want to keep coming, might have a different, even unwelcoming reaction to newcomers. You know, newcomers experience the organization in a different way. They may be off-putting. They take selfies, you know, what are we going to do about that? Honestly, it’s surprising just how much these kinds of tensions come up, but they do. Or at least the concern is that they will come up. And it sounds elitist and that makes it hard to talk about, but you need to if you’re going to avoid them.
We’ll hear from the Pacific Northwest Ballet next week, and they were just so ingenious. They did the impossible. They managed to get thousands of teens and young adults to come to the ballet. If you go to the ballet, you know exactly how impossible that is, but they did it. And it was from, you know, once that started to happen and the audience started to turn, some of the people that had been going for years were wondering how is it, and who are they, and why are they here? And the Pacific Northwest Ballet decided to diffuse those tensions before they even started by placing this announcement into every single program for every single event welcoming the thousands of teens who come and encouraging the people that are sitting next to them to start a conversation. I know it’s really an eye test there, but what that little blurb does is it explains why the teens are so important, who they are, and that Pacific Northwest Ballet loves them communicating that goal to their traditional audience and, of course, to the teens that they are so happy to see and that they have been welcoming in the past few years.
I think with that I’d like to turn it over back to Greg. Thank you.
>>Thank you very much, Bob, and I’m really glad you ended on this note from the Pacific Northwest Ballet and their teen outreach efforts. It reminds me of what you started off talking about, and that is how we go about creating museum goers early on in the museum visitor life cycle, if you will, getting them as children and young adults, adulthood, and families.
Randi, Randi Korn, I’m wondering if you have any thoughts from your audience research and evaluation work about that particular idea of growing audiences over time?
>>Right. So I really enjoyed the presentation, and Greg, if you wouldn’t mind showing people the Cycle of Intentional Practice? I really thought about, when Bob was talking, about this cycle as being relevant. So inside the center of that cycle is the word “impact.” And you could really put anything in the center. You could put the mission of the museum, which is what you do. A museum has a mission, describes what they do. Impact is the result of what you do. You can put something like “build relationships with audiences,” and that would be your focus, and have that be your focus for everything that you do. And as you plan your work, you talk about what you want to achieve in terms of building relationships. Then you align, which is pretty much the focus of Bob’s presentation about aligning the organization with the aspirations to build relationships (inaudible). You can conduct a study, and you learn from that study, and you reflect on it to help you figure out what you can do better. I also thought that the Cycle of Intentional Practice fits in with preparing for success because it is a cycle, and all these organizations that are being featured in this series of webinars conducted studies, and they look at that data, and they reflect on that data, and it helps them figure out how they can do better. So in the case of preparing for success, you would be, obviously, reflecting on the materials you have, as Bob described, in figuring out what words might be the wrong words for the new audience that you’ve attracted.
So I just wanted to bring to people’s attention this Cycle of Intentional Practice as being a pretty good sort of diagram that’s very flexible and interchangeable in terms of what you put in the center to help you plan your work.
>>Great. Thank you very much, Randi.
>>And – hi, everyone. This is Sarah Jesse. I’m from EdCom and LACMA in Los Angeles. And Bob, I, too, enjoyed your presentation. I was curious as you were talking, though, the operating budgets of the ten organizations that were selected. Curious when we talk about aligning an organization to a strategic value, if it’s easier within smaller institutions that you found, or if it’s pretty much the same principles or if bigger institutions have a more difficult time doing that. I know from my personal experience, I’ve worked at VCMs with drastically different operating budgets, but I was curious from your research.
>>Yes. Well, definitely as you would expect, it’s much harder with larger institutions, of course, because they actually have the potential for silos. There are institutions where the marketing person is the executive director, you know what I mean? So. But that’s not to say that they can’t be done. There actually is an example in the Road to Results report. Steppenwolf Theater Company, which is a very large organization. It’s not a museum, it’s a theater, but from the Executive Director, they had this really abstract vision he wanted to get people around, and he knew – it took a lot of time, but he was able to do it. A lot of exercises. And it involved a lot of cross-departmental meetings, so making sure that marketing people were sitting with the artistic staff. Making sure that in every marketing there was an artistic person. It can be done, but you’re exactly right, it takes a lot more thinking through and planning how are we going to, not force, but how are we going to ensure and work into the fabric this kind of cross-communication. Because the potential for silo is constantly being fought against.
>>I think it’s the silos and it’s also just that there are so many priorities within a giant institution –
>>Too. It’s difficult for the messaging internally to be focused on the top five, or whatever, when it seems like each department has their own major goals.
>>Yeah. And that’s the other thing, too. We saw that happen when the visions didn’t come from the core values. When they came from the core values, the people were like oh, this is who we are and this is what we do. So it was very – it sort of played into what they did. Of course, that also assumes that everybody in the organization agrees with what those core values are. And that doesn’t always happen.
>>Bob, I’d like to ask a question. This is Randi again. And it has to do with the point you were making about the tension that might be created depending on who the audience is who maybe the stakeholders, the board members are, for example. And so I’m just kind of curious to ask a question about class. And I’m wondering if any of the museums in this report went after – wanted to build relationships with lower class folks.
>>Sure. I mean there’s one individual are institution, certainly, that did that, and that’s Fleisher Art Memorial. They wanted to build relationships with economically disadvantaged and (inaudible) in Southeast Philadelphia. Also Contemporary Jewish Museum. Part of their initiative was to bring in people that were lower income.
>>And were they successful at doing that?
>>Yes. Yes. Both have had success. Yeah.
>>Yeah, and it’s interesting because they, and again, I mean, Fleisher’s mission was about economic diversity, so it may be a little easier for them to do that. In terms of Contemporary Jewish Museum, it was something that the Executive Director, it was important to her, so it became important to everybody.
>>Uh huh. Right. Okay.
>>Great. Thank you very much, Randi and Sarah for adding to the conversation, and of course Bob, for framing this overall conversation so nicely.
I’m going to turn our attention now over to what we call the Magnetic Connection, and ask our colleague, Anne Bergeron, the coauthor of Magnetic: The Art and Science of Engagement, to share some of her thoughts about the parallels, the intersections, the overlaps between Magnetic and Road to Results.
Anne, thank you for being here today.
>>Well, thanks so much for having me, and I’m delighted to be with all of you this afternoon.
You know, when I read The Road to Results, I was struck by how closely connected its nine practices are with the practices of Magnetism, and how they are both so laser-focused on engagement, or enhancing the connections with an organization’s community. So I came across this great definition of community building in a Harvard Business Review blog post from this past fall. And I’m sharing it because I think it has relevance to our discussion.
So you can see that I’ve highlighted some key concepts that are worth noting. That of collective actions, alignment, common purpose, and accountability. I think you’ll hear more about these concepts from our other presenters and guests, but I wanted to start by demonstrating how this notion of community building connects the findings in both Road to Results and Magnetic.
So as Greg mentioned, and some of you in the audience know, my co-author, Beth Tuttle, and I wrote a book called Magnetic: The Art and Science of Engagement, which was published by AAM Press in 2013. And it was based on our three years of research examining high performing museums. We began with a blind study and quantitative analysis of hundreds of U.S. museums. And that led us to qualitative evaluation of a handful of organizations through in-depth case studies that are profiled in the book. So from all this work, we ended up defining magnetic museums as you can see here. They are high-performance organizations that focus on serving, engaging and empowering people. So that’s the key takeaway of Magnetic, people engagement. And this, in turn, leads to impact. Engagement is achieved through collaborative vision settings, broad-based relationship building, and creating meaningful experiences with and for a diverse range of stakeholders.
So we fully agree with Bob that organizational transformation begins with awareness that change is either needed or desired. And this was certainly the case for the museums that we profiled in the book. You know, for some it was due to necessity. You know, they were in dire financial circumstances. For others, it was because they had just grown stale and out of touch. And for another, it was because a program unexpectedly revealed an opportunity for greater impact.
So now this insight comes a little bit later in Road to Results, but magnetic organizations begin their journey of transformation by framing a co-created vision that’s both inspiring and motivational. And they do this in ways that we just heard about from Randi. They’re holistic and intention. If I understand the concept correctly, holistic means ensuring that everyone is aligned with the overall organizational vision and intentional in identifying and working toward a clearly defined set of objectives.
So this process is encapsulated in the First Magnetic Practice of Building Core Alignment, which radiates outward to involve the many stakeholders who comprise an organization’s community and who are responsible for realizing its vision. Shared vision results when many voices and perspectives come together to shape the future.
And then magnetic organizations align everything that they do with this vision. Programs, initiatives, strategies, communications. It becomes the primary lens through which they make decisions about serving their communities, both old and new.
And then there are three magnetic practices that I put under the category of building communities. Embracing 360 engagement, widening the circle, and becoming essential. So I’m going to quickly unpack those so you understand the terms.
Magnetic organizations embrace 360 engagement by prioritizing building relationships with their internal and external constituencies. In other words, they invest in their people, and they ensure that they are able to find meaningful roles for everyone within the organization, whether as trustee or staff member, donor, volunteer, audience member, it doesn’t matter. Meaningful engagement is paramount to building connections because it paves the way for participation, which later paves the way for investment.
Widening the circle, which is the fourth magnetic practice, is an active invitation, asking others to participate in this vital work with you. And not just the usual suspects. It means being open and inclusive and actively building bridges with your community. And this is where I was so taken by the examples in Road to Results and why they’re so powerful. And I was particularly drawn to the concept that Steppenwolf Theater had about the public square because it gives a physical form to this notion of invitation and creating opportunities for intimate connections between art makers and art appreciators.
And then the fifth magnetic practice, Becoming Essential, which is, I have to say, perhaps my favorite highlights the importance of being in tune with your community. So in the book, we quote public innovator Richard Harwood of the Harwood Institute about turning outward, literally and physically, to face your community. And then listening, being responsive to its needs, and relevant to those you serve.
So like the arts organizations that are profiled in Road to Results, magnetic organizations embrace audience building as central to their mission and essential to realizing their vision of the future.
So I think that’s actually a perfect segue to hear from Magda and Chris about the ways that they approach expanding their communities.
>>Great. Thank you very much. I appreciate you creating those connections between Magnetic and the Road to Results.
Betty Brewer, the Director of Minnetrista, I’m wondering if you might want to comment a little bit because I know that you’ve done some organizational alignment and revisiting your mission and values at Minnetrista.
>>We have, Greg. I love hearing all of these stories and how all of these organizations are approaching their audiences and their communities. We did not go through the Wallace program – we weren’t aware of it at the time – but we have gone through a similar process with a lot of overlap, but it’s between how Road to Results has come together and invests work that they’ve done with Magnetic.
We actually started with the idea that we wanted to revisit our interpretive processes. Not just programs we do, but how we do them, why we do them. Sort of creating a new interpretive plan or framework. And backed ourselves up into audience research, which really led our way through this whole process because we knew we wanted to increase audience, but we weren’t sure what that meant. So by doing the audience research, and at last week’s webinar, I mentioned that we had used John Fox definitions of motivations. We identified our audience through motivations. So all of this came together as we had just created a new strategic plan and we were aligning all of this through the strategic plans with our mission statement. And just went through this whole process of the audience research, identifying and defining our core audiences, and that’s where we were going to focus our efforts on increase. This led to the creation of our new interpretive framework, which then also led to the creation of a new brand promise, which we actually spent a year testing before we unrolled it publicly.
So it’s been an interesting and an exciting process for us, and sort of taken the same circle that Anne’s talking about. And we’re working on that final external pieces of continuing to widen the circle, inviting people in, to become essential to our community.
>>You know, Betty, this is Bob. And it’s interesting that you go to the Fox motivations because we talk, and all the institutions that Wallace works with, and many institutions go after a certain demographic group. But they really found success when they okay, what are the motivations for these demographic groups? So, it’s so – I mean the demographics alone don’t do it. It’s thinking about the demographics and what kind of experiences they’re looking for. For us anyway. So it really is interesting that you found that that was key, too. We often talk about –
>>Yeah. No, we agree completely with that. And it still took awhile because you still have a few groups that are this, and a few groups that are that, so you have to find those really core groups that you can really key in on without spreading yourself so thin. As you were saying, sometimes you have to be careful when you do this because are we prepared to actually implement –
>>This type of work. So yes, of course, there was additional training that we conducted, and a whole round of training associated with our brand promise that included our board and our staff and our volunteers. But it’s been exciting for us.
>>Yeah. And a bit key, too, it’s interesting, you end up – you have to sort of choose your groups. You end up saying, well, if I satisfy this group, that means that I can’t satisfy that group. And it’s like that’s right, you know. Like you – I really want to really play to just one motivation. And I want to have strength and that long-term relationship. You do that, and you recognize that you’re making a strategic choice.
>>That’s exactly right. One of the strategic choices that we made was the fact that when we got all of our survey data back, one of the largest groups we had as far as motivation was concerned is what (inaudible) calls the Recharger.
>>And those are folks coming to us to relax, to renew. We’re a large campus with many garden spaces and those types of things, so those spaces are free. So are we going to invest in that group that is so large for us knowing that there may not be at least an immediate monetary return or financial return, and for us, that’s very important to recognize that and that’s part of the relationship building that we’ve been talking about.
>>Wow. That’s great.
>>And Betty, I want to – before we move on to our next session, I want to address a question that came in directed to you. Can you give us the before and after brand promise from Minnetrista?
>>There really wasn’t a brand promise to speak of beforehand. One of the things that we dealt with was the fact that we are so diverse in our offerings. For those of us who don’t know or those out there who don’t know us, we’re the home of the Ball Jar. So we have a 40-acre campus that is the legacy site of the five Ball brothers of Ball Canning Jar fame. They did much for Muncie. And we didn’t really capitalize on that, we focused on our regional history, we focused on our beautiful gardens, but we didn’t key in on the legacy of the family. And we have historic homes that belong to them that they built and lived in, so that’s where we shifted our direction. So we now capitalize on the fact that we are the home of the Ball Jar. As Jim Collins would say in Good to Great, no one else in the world can be that. So we found our unique spot. And so our goal is bringing our community together to preserve and grow our community. And those are intentional words for us, preserve and grow. Through very vibrant audience-focused experiences, we’ve become very audience-centric as part of our training process with our board, staff, and volunteers, and that’s just an ongoing process.
>>Great. Thank you so much, Betty. And thank you, Bob. And of course, Anne, thank you for your presentation.
I think I’d like to go ahead and move us on to our next section and we’ll learn a little bit more about audience building from the Fleisher Art Memorial and in particular Magda Martinez, who is the Director of Programs at the Fleisher. Magda, thank you for being with us again today.
>>Thank you for having me. Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Magda Martinez, and I am the Director of Programs here at the Fleisher Art Memorial in Philadelphia. And I just wanted to talk about this idea of aligning the organization. And I think the alignment begins as soon as you start having conversations around who it is that you’d like to engage with or invite to your institution. And for us, it began with looking at our mission. And we – our mission is to provide access to the arts for everyone, regardless of economic means, backgrounds, or artistic experience. Our founder, Samuel Fleisher, really believed in this idea of access to the arts across a lifetime. And that he did want economic diversity, cultural diversity, at his institution. And that underlying all of this was that art could become a way to create social interactions with people where all of the other issues of class level of education would become secondary because people would actually come together around art first and then have conversations about their outside lives. And so for us, the decision to begin this work was really about looking at our audiences and programming and look at that balance and see if we were actually still creating access for everyone.
And what you’re looking at now is the top line research findings that we had. We worked with Slover Linett in Chicago for about a year. And what we got back, this represents both demographic and psychographic information about the people who were at Fleisher and those people in the communities around us that we wanted to know more about and that we wanted to engage with.
The interesting part in hindsight is that I realize the research was actually the beginning of the engagement. So having focus groups. Creating the research instruments. Doing ethnographic studies. All of those interactions actually left impressions with the people we had those interactions with. So there were people who were part of our focus groups who never heard of Fleisher but who enjoyed being part of the focus group so much that they started coming to Fleisher.
And all of that research also began to create alignment within the organization. And our current constituents who were part of the surveys. The staff and board, and our partners throughout the city because we were having discussions about our priorities, our goals, our strategic vision for the institution and therefore why this work was important.
And from the research, what I call our mantra emerged. And there were three major themes that emerged from the research that really guided the approach we then took to engagement and ultimately, which I’ll talk about next week, how we created programming. And how we actually looked at our present programming as well.
So the first major theme that emerged was Come to Us. And that was really about come to our communities and the places where we feel comfortable. And this is from the communities’ perspective.
The second theme that emerged was Show Us. Show us what you do. So Fleisher is in a position of having a name that actually doesn’t describe who we are, right. We are a community arts school. We also have an exhibition series. But the name Fleisher Art Memorial doesn’t actually help people understand that.
And they wanted to know not just Show Us Who You Are as an institution and the work that you do, but show us who you are as people. And that was really important. The communities were saying we want to establish a relationship with you – or, if you want us to establish a relationship with you, we need to know who you are as people. Not just about the classes that you offer.
And the last one, which became really important for us, was this idea of Welcome Us. So, again, if the community members decided, if we decide to come to you, be ready to help us feel welcome. Be ready to help us understand we are significant to your institution and we have a role to play in your institution. It really – these three themes really guided our community engagement programming, our staff training, it continues to guide how we think about programming actually for everyone. And, again, was really crucial in aligning the organization. And it also begins an internal shift, or what I call a cultural shift, at the institution.
And so I think it’s important to understand that what we are being asked to do by the community is establish relationships, not just have transactions with them. And that becomes really important in this work over time, that you are building relationships, which are obviously built on transactions, but the transaction is not the end goal itself.
And then we did a little research, and this was really important for us as well. We looked around, and while many cultural organizations talked about engagement or community engagement at that time, we couldn’t find an arts-based definition for community engagement. We found lots of them in the business world. We found them with social service agencies. And we decided that we really needed to define community engagement for Fleisher as an arts-based institution. And that also helped create a vision for everyone. It was almost like saying, okay, we all want to make sure we’re speaking the same language and that this work means the same thing to us. And this became part of the philosophy of community engagement for Fleisher. And it reads, arts-based community engagement is a process of working collaboratively with groups of people affiliated by interests in art, culture, and creativity, and a collective desire to make our communities better places for all by developing, sharing and promoting creative resources.
And that becomes important because when you are talking to people about their significance for the role they play in your institution, we don’t often use this word, but there are issues of power that arise. Who gets to decide what? And so this definition actually gave us a way to say when we’re making decisions, this is what we’re making decisions about, how we’re promoting and sharing and developing creative resources within communities that we feel we have – that we play a role in, and also to have those communities influence us. And that’s important. In a real partnership and with real engagement, all parties are altered by that interaction. And I think sometimes we don’t think that through, and that’s when resistance can come up. So it’s the reality of putting it all to work.
There were three major areas that we felt would help us actually do this work before we started doing it, and that was building our capacity, which meant staff training, really thinking about language support and translation, and what we have the capacity to do in that area. And how we could develop technology to support our goals. The interesting part was when I was doing some research about this, I found that newly-arrived people used their cell phones actually at a 50% higher rate than their American counterparts, people born in this country. And we often think of people not having access to technology, but the cell phone was actually a really important way that people were communicating back home and with each other here. It was almost as if they had skipped the stage of computers and email.
So how did we begin? We really looked at that Welcome Us theme that I mentioned before, and realized we had to start there because Welcome Us really was about something internal. About how this institution was going to prepare itself. And so all staff participated in the following activities that I’m going to mention, which were culture competency training. And I wanted to talk about that for a second because what we all agreed on is our internal culture is comprised of people. And each of those people have their own perspective and ideas about the world. And before we welcomed people who maybe might be new to us, who had (inaudible) backgrounds that might be different from ours, who had cultural references that might be different from ours, that we needed to examine our own. And that institutions often look to change other people’s behavior in order to engage them. And we wanted to actually look at our own behaviors and what perceptual barriers we might be creating without knowing it.
And so the first step was for the entire staff, from visitor services, part-time employees, to department managers, executive director, and the board was invited, all attended these cultural competency trainings that we hired an outside firm to do. That really helped us think through how to accommodate and welcome diverse cultures and diverse perspectives. And the training was really intended to raise consciousness of how culture impacts perceptions and communication styles as well as to help us import skills to understand and communicate with people from a range of backgrounds.
And aside from those instrumental purposes, much of the value laid in providing a forum for staff conversations about the community engagement work and the role that all staff would play in bringing it to fruition, which was really important in helping all the staff take those steps toward becoming more invested in the work.
We also had these brown bag lunches that were open to staff and the board. And those brown bag lunches really allowed us to present the findings of the research, so everyone on staff actually had access to all the research and the findings. We would talk about the community art strategies that were emerging and possible programming for new audiences. Collaborations. There were also some trainings around diversity. We also used some of those brown bag lunches to really review our printed materials and social media. And really thinking about how and what we could change and where we could grow.
And I think what’s really important about this process for Fleisher is that we were learning to learn as an institution. And that is incredibly valuable for any of your constituents of the organization itself is learning how to learn about the people it serves.
And lastly, and then we also had these community engagement workshops which were more about mapping of neighborhoods, working with newly-arrived people, and visitor services training.
One of the last things we did that was really significant for people was we had site visits to community partners’ institutions. Because although staff in some departments had longstanding relationships with several community organizations, many people who work in the building had never visited Fleisher’s community programs that were offsite or had contact with the partner organizations. So everyone, again, from facilities to staff, were asked to take part in at least three field visits to different community organizations because we wanted people to have first-hand experiences of the communities with which we wanted to expand our relationships. And the photographs you’ll see now were our visits to the Cambodian community and their Buddhist temple. And these are some photographs of the temple. And we actually visited some neighborhood stores so people could meet those store owners, see the food, and just see these neighborhoods to begin to understand literally where people were coming from.
We also worked with a church that had a predominantly Latino group that went there to worship, as well as visiting local parks and talking with neighborhood groups.
And the last thing we really did was to reflect on our programming. And what that did was it set the whole staff and board on a path of evaluation. We looked at our programming, printed materials, signage, staffing, all of it. And what began to emerge, and what we began to realize, was that many of the lessons that we were learning through our Wallace-funded research, that really was focused on very specific ethnic and demographic communities was allowing us to serve all of our constituents more thoughtfully and deepen their experiences. And that’s an important – for us – was an important piece of information to have because this is also about sustainability and resources. And if what you learn can also apply to other groups, you can have that conversation in a different way. It’s not the either/or proposition that people often make, which I think is a false dichotomy. Because once you’re examining gaps in programming and service in one area, you become aware of gaps in other areas. So, for example, a small example is our course listing used to look like a college catalog. And we got a lot of feedback from these communities saying that’s intimidating if you actually haven’t gone to college you don’t understand how to use this course listing. And if your English is limited, there’s no way you can get through these really long descriptions. And now that course catalog is something we call Freehand, which is a one-page foldout. Which is really a chart that lists just a title of classes, what night it’s happening and what time. And we also have listed staff that speak more than one language, whether they are part of the program staff or not, and their extension, what time they are at work so that people can call in and have language help if they need it.
And the other thing that we learned was we learned not just about our role as an arts provider, but as a member of a larger community. And that became really apparent the more we did this work, which, again, is to the point of becoming a learning institution, and institution that thinks about what it’s doing with intent. And so I know people really want to know how that turned programming, which I’ll be talking about next week when we come back for the third and final webinar. So I just want to say thank you, and if there are any questions, I’m happy to answer them.
>>Magda, thank you so much. This is Greg. The work you’re doing at Fleisher really is inspiring and prompted quite a bit of conversation in the Chat box. A number of great ideas and questions coming in. I’m wondering if any of our presenters or special guests have something that they’d like to comment on or address in particular.
>>Yeah, this is Randi. I do. I first want to commend Magda on a couple of things. I really love that you defined the term “community engagement.” You know, we all use the word “engagement” so much, and every time someone uses it, I look around and I say, okay, who’s getting married because I just feel like it’s overused. And I don’t really know, often, what people mean by that word when they use it. So I think it’s really great that you defined it, and I just want to urge people listening to this webinar to really look at the language they use to describe the work, and also the words they use to describe their aspirations, and really unpack those words and figure out what they mean to your organization.
I love the give and take because that’s really what’s going to need to happen for cultural organizations to attract and hold onto these new audiences that they want to build relationships with. It’s not just about people coming to you, but it’s about you going to them and figuring out how you can work together to sustain your organization as well as the relationship you have with people.
And the deepening experience, that is the next step after building audiences, so it was really nice to hear you say that because once you start building relationships, what then? Or then what? What will happen? And so thinking about how you’re going to deepen those relationships is really important. And the amount of reflection, which, to me, without reflection, an organization is actually not going to learn, so the reflection and learning that you did as an organization is really, really commendable.
>>Anne, I wonder if you have anything that you want to share here based on what Magda had to say about what’s going on at Fleisher?
>>Well, I was just, you know, enthralled by the storytelling and what resulted from the intentionality about reaching out to particular communities. And the fact that what you learn from working with one community actually had parallels with working with others.
And the other thing I wanted to say was, and there was a lot of conversation in the Chat box about, is, you know, looking at your community and becoming essential to its needs really something that your organization can do? And I would just use the example of the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, which, like every other art museum, before they got engaged in this effort of transformation was kind of seen as the elitist, only for the certain set of the population, you know, gorgeous asset on the hill that was not really for everyone. And one of the ways that they built bridges was through institutional partnerships. They partnered with the local food bank. They partnered with the library. They partnered with the academic institutions in town. They partnered with the Performing Arts Center. And they didn’t try to do it all on their own. They found these ways – Bob mentioned it before – it’s like these points of intersection between their mission and the vision that they had for themselves about being very community focused and very – to become an essential asset of the community, and where they could make those kinds of connections. So I would just encourage you, especially those of you who are at larger institutions, to use your peers as ways of making those connections without taking you so far afield from what your core institutional activities and values are.
>>That’s a great point. And it makes me think of a project, the acronym is PISEC, the Philadelphia Informal Science Education Consortium, which is a group of science-oriented museums in Philadelphia that have had a 25-year collaboration going where they, too, wanted to build relationships with new audiences, and the way that they did it was by partnering with organizations to build that bridge of trust over to communities. So they would partner with organizations that already served those communities that a particular museum was interested in reaching out to, and so the organization served as the bridge of trust. And it’s 25 years and still going, and the reason why it has continued to receive funding is because the funders recognize how long it takes to actually build and sustain relationships. And that the 25 years of funding, and the change that we’ve seen in those organizations, is sort of an indication that it really does take a generation to make those kinds of changes. And there is a website. I sent it to Greg the other day, and maybe he’ll put it up, but I’m also seeing that he wants me to move on –
>>Yeah, Magda, I did actually just post the website –
>>I see it, yeah.
>>To the Chat box.
>>And it’s a really exciting, ongoing bit of work, and I encourage all of you in the audience to take a look at it.
>>There are a few questions that have been coming in, and we’ll get to them a little bit closer to the end of our program, but while we’ve got some momentum and excitement going around the work at Fleisher, I want to go down the street, or across town, if you will, to our colleague Chris Taylor at the Clay Studio. Chris, thanks for being with us again and sharing the exciting work that you’re doing at your institution.
>>All right. Thank you so much. And thank you to Adam and Bob and all those colleagues who have come before me and everyone who is sticking it out here through the last half hour.
I wanted to sort of touch today, just give you a brief recap of the Clay Studio, who we are, and then move into some of the ways that our program changes shape with some of the data and some of the results that we’ve had. I’m not on the panel by the webinar of the 25th, so I think I get to sort of drop a little hint into some of the other steps and tell you our final part of our story. Last week when I talked I mentioned that I have some exciting news. An email came in in the middle of the webinar, and I’m excited to be able to share some of that news with you today. Briefly, we received a Wallace grant 2008 through ten. It was very much focused on market research to expand our audience to the young professionals in the 25 to 45-year-old age range. And really about the marketing message, how do we speak to that group.
Jump ahead right to there. Briefly, the history of the Clay Studio, I mentioned last week, founded in 1974 by five artists, four of which are pictured here. They were really coming together to share space and equipment, as many craft organizations will do. But by 1979 started to really expand and form a nonprofit and work with the community in new ways. In a way, we’ve been thinking about expanding our audience from the beginning. Today we serve our constituents through a highly competitive residency program, classes, and workshops, which is a lot of the focus of my discussion today. We have a studio rental program. An award-winning Clay Mobile outreach program. A shop that highlights artists from all over the country. And galleries and lectures in our exhibition space here in Old City.
This is our building. I think it’s important before I go too far too kind of understand the four floors here in both these two buildings. The first floor has our shop and gallery. The second floor is a studio rental space, known as our Associate Program. The third floor is our school where we hold a lot of our workshops and school. And then the top floor is our artist residency program. Twelve artists who are invited – juried in, highly competitive – to stay for up to five years. So in an interesting way, we’re a little segregated by floors, but it’s activities, and you’ll see as I move forward it helps to understand where the entryway is on the street level and where the school and workshops are.
These were some of our issues around 2007, and the reason we initiated some of our market research. I think it was important, and it’s been mentioned a few times here, that we are not just expanding our audience for a one-time event or as a small part of our mission. It really is institutionally changing, understanding that our audience is aging and we really needed long-term sustainability of the institution, so this research and these projects were very much about an organizational shift.
A lot of our market research was telling us very interesting things. We knew that we had a strong tradition of young professionals coming through our First Friday program. And many of them were coming in groups. I believe it was 67% were coming with someone versus 33% coming alone. We’ve known that we were a certain social experience all along. And with our data, we understood that many of those who were coming for the first time were the ones in our target age group of 25 to 45, and many of them were coming, as the term came up, samplers, or skipping stones, who participated in a lot of arts organizations maybe once or twice, but not necessarily making deep commitments to institutions. And we really started to have to understand how our programming was going to react to that new consumption trend. We really had to, along the way, challenge some of our assumptions, remembering that we have many people in our program, and our teachers, and our school, who were Master’s level ceramics students who may have spent seven years in the school trying to put a lot of this education into a ten-week program and then trying to really wrap our head around doing this on one day or one night activities was even more challenging. And also understanding that our target age group wanted to enjoy the making versus the looking or the passive seeing of objects. We did initially believe that we would bring people in through the gallery, through our art objects and exhibitions and lectures, but research was really telling us that the group was interested in hands on. And you can kind of see the difference in these two photos. The objects are quite beautiful, but really starting to think through our visual branding to go more toward the social and more fun activity.
It was interesting, data was telling us to move away from those ten-week classes and focus more on what this community wanted, or maybe more accurately what they didn’t want. They didn’t want high commitment or overly serious or expensive programs. So our response really went with one-time social workshops, and weekend events. Instead of this ten-week model, we shrunk down to five-week models. Our advertising really started shifting and a little less serious language, and we started running specials, and doing Groupon and Amazon programs, etc. So it really – the data started to tell us things.
I know we’ve seen a lot of charts and graphs, but I think this Path to the Mission I think is really about number five thinking through that relationship. We, really, I think needed to think about that path where people might be curious, and if our response to hi, I’m curious, I’d like to take a class, is trying a ten-week class for $300.00, is really shocking, and we really had to think about working their way from that curiosity and indulge their sampling, and try and encourage them to be sustaining their involvement, really, I think, is what leads us to commitment. Along the way, certainly, aligning the organization and thinking through our relationship, we had to invite them along the way and provide sampling opportunities.
We followed up with our communications. The interesting part with ceramics is you can make a piece, but then we have to process and fire it. Then there’s the opportunity to return the artwork to someone, so there was another communication point to let people know that there were other things that were happening. And all along we wanted to really provide positive experiences and customer service as a high core value.
As I showed you the photo before, many people were coming in for First Fridays, for our gallery and shop on that first floor. And here is a photo of our third floor, and we just simply had to invite people upstairs during a First Friday event, and I think this might have been an ornament-making workshop, which really could take five minutes. You sit down and use a cookie cutter, and cut out a candy cane. And we would show people how to decorate. And then two weeks later they would receive something in the mail with their creation already complete. So we go from ten-week classes all the way down to ten-minute classes if you kind of came in and did one of those workshops.
I think what was important for us was this idea of multiple entry points. Steps one through four, at least in our organization, and that means the market research, was a long time holding focus groups, making phone calls, doing surveying. I feel really for us those final five steps almost – I don’t want to say they were rapid, but they seemed to be at least more simultaneous, sort of jumping from thinking through a relationship has to align yourself and then multiple ways in, it’s about how you’re building your learning, so to us there was a lot of overlap in those steps.
I was really interested in how the staff voices started to come into this process. I think that’s somewhere in aligning your organization. Many of our staff, including myself, are in that 25 to 45 range, so it was really allowing their creativity to come on board. We took our product to the streets, and street festivals and the staff really drove this thing called the Wheel Battles. In the upper left corner here it’s actually me and my Vice President trying to throw the fastest – who can throw the highest cylinder in five minutes. We had a carnival barker, one of our staff on a megaphone really hollering out to people, and this gathered quite the crowd. And my Vice President is actually blindfolded in this photo, and she beat me. But it was a lot of fun and interesting community engagement, or at least engaging enough to stop and look.
We had a gorilla mug assault, the upper right-hand corner, where we commissioned artists and then took mugs out into the streets and gave them away as long as you exchanged a paper cup for your hand-made object.
Clay animation on the bottom corner. We took the staff wanted – and our young supporters group – wanted to take a clay animation from our school and our outreach program to a local bar. And we weren’t sure how it was going to work. And, man, the people turned out, wanted to make these videos, and projected them at this bar, and it was a lot of fun. So really encouraging your staff to kind of take on, at least, like I said, a lot of the staff were in that age group, and the young supporters group was really allowed to get very creative. We actually proposed a 40-hour opening during our fortieth anniversary. And it was a real opportunity to add partnerships, hands-on activities, war veterans, and animation film festivals. It also opened up some funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. So all of these things are very much about aligning, and I think, you can kind of see here, this is a far cry from only having a ten-week class option as an institution.
So some of the results that we saw. As I mentioned, additional funding comes in from thinking a little crazy, 40-hour openings. Bob mentioned we had a significant increase in our participants from – I think it’s about four-fold now as we look back to 2008, fourfold increase. We’ve more than doubled our income from just about $150,000.00 to over $380,000.00 projected for this fiscal year. Our young supporters program, which was a little slow to start, and actually there were lots of times where we thought about giving up on it or there were some staff members who felt like we were beating our head against a wall. We’ve since added four new members to our full board who have come out of that young supporters program, and this year we’ll be adding a fifth board member. And we had an opening on staff, and one of our young supporters was a very highly energetic and excited art teacher, and we actually hired a staff member out of this group. So the perseverance of our young supporters program really has started to pay off. Visibility has increased. We – I was looking at some of the older reports, and we were just under 5,000 Facebook Likes, and we are, last time I checked, around 12,300. The staff is really diving in and participating in the programming and the social component to our annual schedule has really just really engaged them as well and see the impact.
For the moment here I’ll throw just a few numbers at you. I think these are just important to kind of learn how to track, and we’re working more on tracking of these participants. But since we were tracking in 2010, we had 61 people from our workshops accounting for 76 registrations. Now, these are brand new people. Not only 61, but we found 61 people came back again. And they have 76 registrations, so there were at least some multiples in there. Twenty-one of those took another workshop. Twenty-three took a five-week class. Thirty-two took a ten-week class. And 37 became new members of the organization. And we did the math and figured that’s at least $17,000.00 of new income from those folks who came in an re-engaged in a variety of ways. Now also to mention a staff member and five board members are really an important part of our success.
So the last bit here, capitalizing on this, I think we were very good at moving this around the facility. We really saw the success on our third floor, and we realized that people wanted low cost, low commitment, social, and we thought we could focus on some of the finished product under the title of handcrafted. We worked with our young supporter program and have produced the crafted table, which is a photo here on the right of having family-style dinner on our finished pieces. A whiskey tasting. The photo on the left is actually one of our new board members and the Chair of the young supporters committee whiskey tasting.
I think it’s also timely with this artisanal movement that’s happening in craft beer and farm-to-table restaurants. So I think all of this is really culminating in a great new way outside of our hands-on workshops.
So this was our big news that we received last week was a foundation here in Philadelphia has seen our success from hands-on workshops, and sort of early success in these handcrafted workshops, and we received a three-year grant for $175,000.00 to really capitalize and push into new communities. And our sort of sales pitch there was that we have some overflow opportunities, repeat visiting opportunities, for those who are in our workshops.
So, just in conclusion, some of the lessons that we’ve learned were certainly listen to your data. We were – and flexible as well in hearing that data, so that our ten-week paradigm wasn’t the only way in. A lot of the barriers that we had were really our own barriers that we wanted to break down that ten-week class and be open to change. I think that being patient, our young supporters program was difficult to get up and going, but it really has paid off huge dividends over the year. And here we had looked for new opportunities around the organization. Had handcrafted sort of waiting to take off on our first floor, but we really knew low cost, low commitment, social were key drivers, and that success is – hopefully, we’ll be able to talk in three years when we launch and execute some of that programming.
So with that, I’ll turn this back over to Greg and some other questions.
>>Great. Thank you so much, Chris. I’m really just so inspired about the work you’re doing at the Clay Studio, and Anne Bergeron and I were just talking about how we both would like to have our invitation to your handcrafted event, so we’ll look forward to getting those in the mail I hope.
>>But I think it’s just such a brilliant idea, and it seems to be such an easy – I’m sure it takes some heavy lifting and rolling up your sleeves, but a no brainer for you in terms of getting people engaged.
>>And some really great conversations going on and hoping that we extend these conversations onto Anne’s new online community museum junction.
>>I wanted to tackle a couple of questions that came in earlier. And one came in from Wren in Seattle, who wants to know – and this is really for anybody who feels like they want to respond. What evidence is there that speaks to audiences wanting an invitation to participate? In what capacity and do you find the same results regardless of ethnic, gender, or economic demographic?
>>Greg, just because –
>>Yeah, yeah, Bob, please go ahead.
>>Yeah. I mean, you know, it’s interesting because I actually was thinking of this as both Chris and Magda were talking. One of those things that all the organizations had no matter what group they were going after was people really do need to feel like they are welcome. And it’s surprising, all of the organizations that Wallace worked with, they insist that they do market research. Many of them were surprised to hear that people didn’t feel welcome because I mean, (inaudible) audiences were welcome. Everyone is welcome. But people, if the invitation isn’t extended, if they’re not made to feel welcome once they get there, then they don’t – then they won’t come, and they won’t come back. And organizations like Fleisher, and (inaudible) and this is a huge thing, staff at the Clay Studio, all the front-facing people, make sure people feel welcome and entitled. That’s another word we hear a lot. You want them to feel entitled as our traditional audience.
>>Well we’ve done a lot of research with non-visitors, and I want to just echo what Bob said. And in addition, the thing that we hear is no one ever invited me. I never got an invitation. I think what they mean is something in the mail. And so many of us don’t feel we need to receive a formal invitation like that, but many others who perceive the museum as unwelcoming to them may feel they need a written invitation. So it’s just sort of an interesting sort of cultural gap that I think people feel like they need to be formally invited. And in fact, we’ve even heard people say, well, what do you wear to a museum? Is it okay to wear jeans and sneakers? So there’s just a whole lot of unknown among people who have never been.
I should say, too, I work with a lot of nonprofits, and that actually goes to the donors as well. There are actually donors that don’t know that arts or institutions or other kinds of museums need money. They think they’re living high on the hog. They really do. And they’re actually surprised sometimes to hear that, that they are actually in a position where actually the money would really be useful and used well. They don’t get the invitation.
>>Well and there was also some interesting conversation going on a bit ago, and Anne, I think you might have responded a bit, but Kelley wanted to know if the community’s idea of essential is not the same as the institution’s, what if it’s not what the institution had imagined. And Magda, I think that you went into your Wallace work shifting gears once you realized you were heading down the wrong path with your audiences.
>>Yes. So I think what’s really interesting is that that question comes up, and I think you have to answer it within the parameters of the work that your institution does. So does it fit in with its mission no matter what comes back? So we started out, and what we proposed to Wallace was a pretty standard, or what I think of as standard activities that people will propose, you know, after school activities, culturally focused fairs, that kind of thing. In the interim, between the time we sent the proposal and actually got the money, we had more conversations and realized that we just hadn’t asked anyone a question. We hadn’t asked the communities we were interested in engaging with actually anything about art. Not just about Fleisher. So some of the ethnographic studies we did were really stopping people on the street. The research firm did this. And asking them what art meant to them in their life. And they got really interesting responses. And part of that response helped shape the way we look at the work, which was we do think of some communities as bereft of their own artistic practices. Well, they have their own artistic, historic, cultural practices. And part of the issue can be that they don’t see them reflected at your institution or they don’t see the institution making room for those practices.
And the other thing we found out was that the communities we were interested in engaging with were really very interested in art making for two particular sectors, which were the young people in their community and the elders. For the young people because they actually did believe art was important in terms of being a well-rounded person. And for their elders, because they felt like the cultural ties to a country where that person was born was important and important to their aging population. So I think you take that information, and as Chris was saying, you really have to look at your data, respect your data, and then really think about who you are as an institution and what you can address and what you can’t address. Fleisher is also part of something called the Southeast Philadelphia Collaborative, which goes to Randi’s point when she was talking about PISEC, which is a – for us, it’s a consortium, we’re a founding member. It’s a consortium of social service agencies in the communities that we’re interested in engaging with, and we started that 15 years ago when we had no idea we were going to be part of this engagement, but what we can do is, if there are issues that people have, we can refer them. We’re not trying to be all things to everyone. We understand we’re an arts-based organization.
>>Yeah. I’m glad you said that. This is Sarah again from EDCOM and LACMA. I am glad you brought that up, Kelly, because I think when you do assess a community’s needs you can get into mission drift a little bit. And right now, LACMA is researching working with veterans because we strongly believe that the arts and what we have to offer as an encyclopedic art museum could be beneficial for veterans in a way that other social service agencies working with veterans can’t fulfill. So we see it as a gap that we authentically, sincerely can fill and it’s not just that we’re responding to needs without assessing that we are actually the right people to fulfill that need versus any of the other organizations in our cities, that we’re all working together with essentially.
>>This is Betty. I’d like to echo that as well. None of us can be all things to all people even though many of us try. So it’s finding – I know in Muncie we actually several years ago the community came together to form the Muncie Action Plan, which has had a major impact on the city and the surrounding county. What we’ve done with that is taken the 47 initiatives and seeing where do we fit, where do we align, and how can we – sometimes I think it’s rethinking our own resources and areas of expertise and how we can utilize them to benefit various community needs. And be thinking differently than we have in the past.
>>Right. And Bob kind of talked about it at the very beginning. He said play to your strengths. And so when an organization plays to its strengths, there’s a better chance that it can achieve the results that it is looking to achieve. So it’s really trying to kind of balance your audience needs within a certain context so you can continue to play to your strengths and pursue excellence along the way.
>>And this is Anne. I just wanted to jump in and call your attention to one of the case studies in Magnetic, which is the Greensboro Science Center. When the new director took over after someone had been on staff for, I think it was something like 30 years or so, and it had become kind of stale, he found a city that was still reeling from the two prior recessions. They had lost a huge part of their manufacturing base, and their corporate base, and what he heard over and over again as he reached out into the community was how important economic development was to jumpstart the city. So collectively the staff decided that the Science Center was going to be an economic generator. And so a lot of what they chose to do was about audience development and community building to bring people into the area so that they weren’t just visiting the Science Center and the Zoo, but they were partaking of what else the city had to offer. And, you know, within three years, they became the number two cultural destination in the region.
>>Great. Thank you so much, Anne, and really, thank you to all of our colleagues for participating in today’s program. I know that this has really sparked some lively conversation amongst our audience members, our fellow colleagues out in the field. And I really do encourage you all to continue the conversation on Museum Junction, but for now I would like to say a formal thank you to my colleague Bob Harlow, to Anne Bergeron, and of course to Magda and Chris for sharing your wonderful stories from your institutions. And to our colleagues Betty Brewer, Sarah Jesse and Randi Korn for sharing your expertise, not only from your own practice, your own institutions but on behalf of your professional network. So thank you all for being here.
And for those of you who will be joining us for next week’s program, I hope that you will take advantage of the recording links from the part one and this recording link that you’ll be getting later on this week as a refresher to that program, which will be all about reaching your audience.
On behalf of the American Alliance of Museums, this is Greg Stevens, and I’d like to thank you for joining us today. Have a terrific afternoon.