Better understand audiences to come out of COVID-19 Stronger

1 Dec 2020
Rosanna Herries

One of the many outcomes of the global Covid-19 pandemic has been an urgent need across industry sectors to change the way they interact with and engage their audiences. The art industry has been no exception. Across the board, institutions and galleries have had to pivot to digital content, creating programming to reach audiences in a locked-down, socially distanced world.  

One thing has become abundantly clear; virtual and in-person programmes are not an either-or proposition. While the former has allowed artists, and the organisations that present their work to the world, to continue cultural conversation and programming that engages a wide public, there has been a real craving for live art and performance. Innovations in in-person programming have flourished as a result, in Hong Kong Sinclair has recently launched two cultural programmes that have been designed to appeal to audiences during this time. The Grounds a purpose built for the COVID-19 era, and the Hong Kong Observation Wheel’s new AR App experience is elevating one of the city’s most loved attractions and giving the local community something new to enjoy whilst international travel isn’t possibleMore than ever, now is the moment to leverage the learnings that have emerged from the crisis, often from unexpected places, and innovate the way organisations reach and connect with audiences.  

So what are some of the things cultural organisations should be focusing on when thinking about audience engagement and programming for 2021?  

Big Data: Learn from consumer industries  

Effectively modifying or transforming experiences to appeal to new audience segments and build the next generation of visitors requires compelling messaging and the specific targeting of behavioural segments. One of the key things separating cultural organisations from leaders across other consumer business models is that other industries tend to know their audiences to a very high level of understanding – art organisations need to adopt these tactics to retain existing audiences and find new, loyal audiences.  

Invest in understanding what motivates decisions  

The factors driving the reasons why people attend exhibitions and cultural happenings are varied and sometimes surprising, crucially they have also changed as a result of 2020. Experiencing art is just one facet of the conversation that encompasses anything from a desire to spend quality time with family and friends, a wish to be identified as cultured, an interest in understanding ones cultural background, family traditions, to giving back and acting as a role model… the list goes on. Arts organisations need to be asking “what is unique about our ‘product’” and, to use the term first coined in 2016 by Clay Christensen, Taddy Hall, Karen Dillon and David S. Duncan in the Harvard Business Review, “what is the job to be done” by what we are offering? If we really understand the motivations behind the decision making of existing and new audiences we can redesign strategy and communications that speaks to people individually and improves long-term performance.  

The power of community and collaboration  

One of the positives to come out of the Covid-19 pandemic has been numerous shows of unity; communities and industries have come together to support each other. Close to home, ART Power HK is a leading example of how effective the strength of community collaboration can be. Over the past nine months155 arts organisations from across the Hong Kong arts ecosystem have partnered into a community driven campaign dedicated to supporting and amplifying the numerous arts and cultural activations taking place across the city. The power of shared infrastructures has been important as the art industry weathers the economic, social and political turmoil the world has witnessed, and as we look to the future of the artworld how could the sharing of arguably the most valuable resources currently protected in the artworld as we know it, including information, resources, technologies and revenues, strengthen the whole industry as well as individual organisations – whether they be commercial or institutional? 

To speak to Sinclair about how we can help your brand connect with your audience in new ways, reach out to us here. 

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