Over the last few years, we’ve been hearing the “need to get younger” mantra with increased frequency from decision-makers at many top sports properties. While an aging fan base is the new reality for them, it is everyday life for most arts organizations. Therefore, it is worth sharing a couple of successful (in my opinion) arts campaigns aimed at reaching and attracting younger and perhaps brand new audiences. Let’s learn from our arts brethren!

As the saying goes, “If the mountain won’t come to Muhammed, then Muhammed must go to the mountain.” This is exactly what the Philadelphia Museum of Art did this fall with their Inside Out initiative. The museum placed replicas of paintings currently on exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art among consumers – on buildings, near town squares and anywhere in areas bustling with pedestrians. Residents living in any of the areas adorned by the art were invited to a complementary visit to the museum. There is a schedule that matches zip codes with specific visit dates.

The Kimmel Center’s Open House revealed a similar concept (disclosure: the Kimmel Center is a past Turnkey Intelligence client). It opened the doors of all of its venues to visitors, and invited its leading resident companies to perform free shows in the enormous lobby of the Kimmel Center called Commonwealth Plaza. This idea is not new – the Philadelphia Orchestra, Opera Philadelphia, and many other organizations nationwide perform free shows to reach new consumers. However, the Kimmel Center took the concept further by allowing patrons to experience each venue in a casual setting. Philadelphians could go onstage for photos (and yes – selfies!), take behind-the-scenes tours, and participate in discussions with artists and journalists covering the arts. While there, they could also buy tickets to 100+ shows without having to pay the dreaded ticket handling service fees.

In my opinion these promotions tackled three key challenges arts organizations face:

  • Human nature is suspicious of the unknown and art performances and exhibits could be intimidating to the novice. First and foremost, the promotions made art approachable and relatable to those with little prior exposure to the arts.
  • The organizations also targeted and reached desirable consumer segments. The neighborhoods Inside Out targeted in the city are known for their nightlife and bohemian feel – or, if you wish, an abundance of Millennials. Those targeted outside of the city were some of the wealthiest suburbs of Philadelphia, or well-educated families.
  • Inertia and lack of urgency is one of the biggest enemies for visual arts organizations (“I can go next month”) and perhaps many performing arts entities (“The Orchestra plays all the time”). The specific date for taking advantage of the offers motivated consumers to act or miss on the incentive.

Are you an arts organization with a plan for appealing to new audiences? Tell us about it!

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