Many arts nonprofits are paying close attention to place as a vehicle to attract and engage new participants. Some are bringing arts to unusual spaces to make it happen. This activity is the impetus behind research released today through AEA Consulting.
Place has the ability to pull us toward — or away from — the arts. While it can powerfully influence whether we enter into an arts experience, place is largely underexamined among nonprofits challenged to address declining attendance. By more fully understanding the dynamics between space and arts engagement, and by rethinking the role of place, arts organizations can open up new opportunities for themselves and for the people they want to engage.
Our goal in The James Irvine Foundation Arts program is to promote engagement in the arts for everyone in the state. Part of our investments therefore focus on where engagement happens. We encourage responsive, innovative use of place to fuel experiences that take place outside of the walls of usual spaces, so the arts can live where communities live.
We invited AEA Consulting to study the relationships between arts programming, new audiences and unusual spaces. The firm’s findings, reported in Why “Where”? Because “Who,” provide context, insights and examples. They also present a set of practical recommendations, including a framework for applying these lessons. Read the full report and view the companion infographic for a simple, shareable synopsis.
This release completes our Arts Engagement Focus series — a triptych of research studies uncovering valuable information that can help arts leaders better address key questions related to our Arts program strategy. The series began with Getting In On the Act: How Arts Groups Are Creating Opportunities for Active Participation, a report authored by WolfBrown in 2011. It also includes Making Meaningful Connections: Characteristics of Arts Groups that Engage New and Diverse Participants, a report completed by Helicon Collaborative earlier this year.
Together, these studies offer a timely and substantive view of arts engagement across the sector — we hope they will inspire new thinking and enrich discussion in our field. We encourage you to express your perspective and share your experience along the way.