The following outline indicates the kinds of information, input, and feedback that can be solicited through interviews, focus groups, and surveys. A researcher should select carefully and tailor the questions to meet specific needs.
Getting to Know a Market Segment
Values and beliefs (what this group believes about the arts)
- Impressions of cultural life in the community
- Beliefs about the importance of the arts
- Feelings about the arts and culture that are currently available
- Perceptions of cultural activities lacking in the community
Arts participation (how frequently and when this group engages in arts-related pursuits)
- Attendance in cultural events or institutions; what kind? how often?
- Obstacles to attending cultural events
- Impressions of particular events, organizations, or institutions
Leisure activity (what members of this group like to do in their leisure time; when it is that they have leisure time)
- Available leisure time
- Current ways of spending leisure time
- Most preferred leisure pursuits
- Feelings about the kinds of activities currently available for adults and for children
Media habits (where this group gets information)
- Sources used to obtain information about cultural and leisure activities
- Typical advance planning time to participate in cultural activities
Getting Feedback on Completed Programs and Events
- Inclination to attend (support) the program again
- Suggested improvements to make this program better serve interests or needs
- Opinion about fair price for the program
- Feeling about investment of time required to participate in the program
- Response to the marketing campaign message and image
- Recommendation about different or additional information that should be provided in promotion
- Opinion about convenience of the location and desirability
- Opinion about the date and time of the program
- Accessibility of registration/ticket purchase; recommendations for improvement
Getting feedback on ongoing activities (for example, membership)
- How members first became aware of the organization
- Benefits that convinced members to join
- Most positive experience(s) since joining
- Negative experience(s) with this organization
- Most important benefits of belonging
- Suggested other offerings
- Plans to renew membership; reasons for not renewing
Market Research at Work
An art center noticed a small but steady increase in participation from senior citizens in its art classes. The program coordinator convened two focus groups of participants to learn if this market segment could be expanded and what would help them design programs and promotion. The groups of eight and ten seniors were asked to respond to a series of questions:
- Why do you participate in the center’s programs?
- What do you get out of your participation in the center’s programs?
- When is the best time for you to participate?
- What else do you do with your leisure time?
- Where do you get information about leisure/educational/arts activities?
- What would you tell a friend about the arts center?
The focus groups revealed that, while a few seniors had studies art in college or practiced handcrafts as hobbies, the arts had not played a big part in their lives. Several noted that they thought they might feel uncomfortable at the art center. Many noted that they liked the exposure to “serious art” in contrast to arts and crafts programs sponsored by the senior center. The quality of instruction was commended frequently.
Most enjoyed the social contact provided by the classes but emphasized that doing their own creative work was the primary motivation for enrolling.
While the groups ranged from people on fixed incomes to those with significant discretionary funds, all reported careful spending habits and a concern for getting good value for their money.
Though there was no consensus, mornings were the most popular time for classes. The majority were reluctant to sign up for classes that stretch out over too many weeks because they could interfere with holidays or travel plans.
Participants mentioned the newspaper, senior events calendar, and church newsletters as their most frequently used information sources. Two radio stations were noted for their programming and news. Few were aware of cable television listings. Many noted that they frequently attended free arts festivals and other cultural events.
Based on these responses, the program coordinator set as an objective to increase senior participation by 20 percent over the next year. Specific efforts to meet that objective in the first year would be to:
- Reconfigure the classes to run for fewer weeks but with longer sessions;
- Increase morning offerings
- Design a promotional campaign around the message, “It’s not too late to start with the arts!”
- Give more emphasis in publicity and promotion to the quality of instruction and opportunity for serious art study
- Offer a program of studio and gift shop tours and short lectures on “what to look for in fine art and craft” to senior groups
Arts Extension Service Fundamentals of Local Arts Management