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  1. Really interesting article to me. The statistic that kind of stood out was, “the majority of institutions have still seen only a partial return of their visitors—an average of 71 percent”. I wonder what the reason for this is – have there been any studies of it?

  2. The audience challenges noted herein are attendance challenges. Having been in the museum field since 1971 I can only speak to those institutions rather than other cultural organizations. For museums the relentless emphasis on attracting more people is a conundrum entirely of their own making. It can be blamed on one individual, Thomas Hoving when he was director of New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1967 to 1977. During that time he almost singlehandedly caused museums to be seen as attractions, no different than movie houses, theaters, sports stadia, amusement parks, or, performing arts centers. In this respect he was heir to P.T. Barnum and his museum at Broadway and Ann Street in NYC in the mid-19th century. Once museum attendance became the way success was measured, that calculus has driven every such place crazy trying to prove its worth at the gate. It is easy to apply in the US since the vast majority of museums are privately owned and operated as non-profit tax-exempt charities under the jurisdiction of boards of trustees. These are volunteers purportedly interested in supporting worthy community altruistic endeavors. The vast majority are drawn from the business sector and thus numbers cause reasoning. It is easy to decide successes of failures by how many people visit.

  3. “We realized that the conversion to the mainstage…was not necessarily the metric of success, that engaging with them in the form that they wanted to experience the art was okay, and that it still expanded the art. It still expanded the audience.”

    I love this sentiment. I think it could be extended to social media, for leaders who expect a certain level of ROI for digital engagement.

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