Arts organizations across the nation are brainstorming new ways to reach patrons given the ever changing regulations put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. With an overwhelming amount of temporary closures, arts organizations have pivoted to providing digital content for their patrons to stay engaged with the arts while at home. By expanding online and building out a digital offering, arts content is becoming increasingly accessible to a broader audience. We know that in a live environment, not all people who want to engage with the arts are able to access it. Whether it’s due to location, cost, previous perception, accessibility for those needing additional support, or lack of exposure or education of the arts, moving content online opens up the audience to those previously excluded. By providing a new platform to enjoy this experience, live entertainment can extend its reach on a national scale and not just a regional one. Now, arts organizations are looking to new methods to reach these audiences, of all ages.
For many patrons, accessing the arts online is a new concept and may require guidance for the best user experience. The average arts patron is 49 years old, which is ~30% older than the median age of the US population. In the past, older audiences have relied more heavily on traditional marketing efforts such as newspaper ads, free standing inserts (ie. flyer in the local paper), mailers, email, newsletters, tv and outdoor. Today, over 51% of older Americans now have some sort of technology handy and thus the generation gap between tech-savvy and technophobics is narrowing. With that in mind, your audience may need some additional technical support to make sure they can enjoy your content. Here are 3 ideas to get you started on how to engage this older audience and bring them a new digital arts experience.
- Utilize traditional marketing efforts to inform your audience
- Send a direct mailer or email with a “how to guide” to access digital content
- Create a website, microsite or QR code with easy step by step instruction for easy access
- Include “email for more information” to offer one-on-one support
- Leverage your existing audience who may be more digitally savvy
- Promote co-viewing virtual events (can provide a sense of community/togetherness). This could include watching with your family and friends or even just getting help from your loved ones.
- Partner with communities in your organization to host digital viewing parties, especially retirement or activity clubs.
- Show your patrons that online content can still be a great experience, similar to in-person events
- Provide pull quotes or reviews from happy patrons
- Share guides or examples on how to transform your home to an amazing theatre experience (props, lighting, snacks/meal recipes, etc)
- Add in special effects into the streaming content such as dimming the lights during the start and intermission of the show, add in crowd noises such as cheering and clapping at the end of the performance, or other experiences that make people feel like they are at the theatre
- Set up social forums so your audience can share and discuss a topic, performance, or events
These are just a few ideas of how to guide your more traditional audiences to engage with your organization virtually. To customize this experience even more, you can try surveying long-time subscribers or audiences of a certain demographic to learn exactly what kind of experiences virtual events! Bringing more of your organization’s audience online, allows for more opportunity and flexibility to speak to these patrons on short timelines and lower costs. We hope these tips help you bring your audience closer to you once again.