If you are going to attract new audiences to your programs, you will need to understand why they aren\’t participating already. Surveys and focus groups can help you identify the current barriers. Your job will be to find creative solutions to break down those barriers. Some may be out of your control, but others may simply require small changes to your programs, or most likely to your marketing, advertising, and public relations campaigns.
This category of barrier is one you can address through marketing, advertising, and public relations. You may need to try something fun, clever, and spirited to overcome some of these perceptions:
- â€œNot my cup of teaâ€: the style or genre of art does not appeal to me.
- â€œI just don\’t get itâ€: I can\’t understand or get the meaning or message of the work.
- â€œI don\’t want to look stupidâ€: I would feel uncomfortableâ€”what if someone asked me about the work?
- â€œToo blue blood for meâ€: I think the art and/or the organization are too elite for me.
These may be barriers you can do very little about. They are largely out of your control, but you may be able be able to design specific events to overcome some of these barriers, like having a program after work for busy single executives.
- â€œI\’m too busyâ€: I find it difficult to make time.
- â€œI\’d rather beâ€¦.â€: I would rather spend my leisure time in other ways.
- â€œI\’m not going by myselfâ€: I cannot find anyone to go with me.
- â€œI don\’t want to be teasedâ€: My friends would not understand my interest in art.
Some of these barriers are beyond your control; others you may be able to address. Be strategic in how you allocate your time and energy.
- â€œI don\’t have anyone to babysitâ€: I have childcare problems.
- â€œMy wheelchair doesn\’t fit your bathroom doorâ€: Your space is not accessible (fix it!).
- â€œI really don\’t know what they doâ€: I don\’t know you exist or I haven\’t bothered to learn about you and your programs.
- â€œThey\’re never open when I have timeâ€: Your hours of operation are inconvenient.
- â€œI\’m not going to that part of townâ€: Your location is not safe.
- â€œIt sounds expensiveâ€: I think it costs too much or It really does cost too much for me.
Some people have not enjoyed their prior experience with particular kinds of arts or types of arts organizations. It may be very hard to convince them to try it again.
Adapted from A New Framework for Building Participation in the Arts