Sometimes you just need to take the day off and I was more than happy to stay in bed and attend the 2015 Smith Leadership Symposium April 20 at MOPA online. This was an all day event and although I missed the networking and the lunch and after session cocktails, I think I picked up some valuable insights.The main theme of this symposium was exploring the new audience and how the museum world could address their interests and needs.
This new young millennial Patron is curious, engaged, open minded, looking for new experiences, plugged in because of tech, social, attracted by cool, brand obsessed, looking for meaning, and discerning. They are active, not passive. But they are restless and less loyal. We need to meet them where they live and understand how they feel.
We need to understand the role and value of culture in their lives. They want entertainment and enlightenment; they want to be with friends. They also want enjoyment, enrichment, challenges, aha moments, uses of all senses, and an enlarged world. They want to be uplifted with unique and profound experiences. They use culture to escape stress. They even want to support their community. But they may not want to donate in the tradition way. If we can present the arts as an opportunity to participate instead of a demand for funds, we can create a new paradigm.
They attend events if the cost is right, the subject interests them and if it allows for social interaction. The don’t go if those things are not present and if it is inconvenient to get there. Facebook, Utube and Twitter are still the media of choice. Smart phones and tablets are the devices of choice. Taking and sharing photos, looking at websites and apps, checking in and commenting on shows are all activities on the rise. They don’t join or subscribe much, but when they do, they have to love the institute, it has to offer discounts and the price has to be right.
Donations are up for those organizations that make a community impact. The new audiences see corporate sponsors as just a way for those to get a marketing benefit but they still admire them for supporting the arts.
Audience behaviors and expectations are ever changing for all age groups. Leisure time is expanding and new tech continues to alter the way we interface with the world. How do we embrace this change that is inevitable? So how do we COPE? My plan is to continue to Collaborate; to make sure that our Online audience development continues by constantly introducing innovative social media experiments; make sure that we include ways for the audience to Participate and have meaningful Experiences at our events and other interactions.