FROM TC: I normally don't send out two editions of You've Cott Mail in one day, but since I didn't send anything yesterday, I hope you won't mind receiving this bonus edition today. 


At a presentation this morning in New York City, Arthur Cohen of LaPlaca Cohen and Steve Wolff of AMS Planning & Research shared the latest results from Culture Track, an ongoing survey of behaviors, motivators, and barriers to cultural participation across the United States, which has been fielded five times since 2001.  There is a lot of useful information in the study. 


Some highlights from Culture Track 2011 include:


         Cultural participation clusters into eight distinct segments: "Young Cultural Omnivores", "Seasoned Cultural Omnivores.", "Museum Mavens", "Devoted Theater-Goers", "Family-Centric", those interested in "Rural History", "Infrequent Attendees" and "Non-Attendees".  Each segment has distinct participation patterns.

         What impact has the economic downturn had on arts attendance?  In 2009, respondents did not think the economy would have a significant impact on their cultural participation in the next six months.  Just 7% of respondents expected they would decrease their performing arts attendance, and only 6% expected they would decrease their visual arts participation.  In 2011, these mild expectations proved premature.  51% of performing arts attendees and 52% of visual arts attendees say they have decreased their attendance because of the economy.

         There are signs of hope:  Though many respondents continue to trim expenses (78%) and reprioritize (47%) during a prolonged period of economic uncertainty, fewer are cutting back than in 2009.  This suggests that household budget concerns are stabilizing and that people have grown accustomed to the current economic climate.

         Significantly fewer respondents see culture as "less relevant" to their lives in 2011 versus 2009.  In 2011, only 12% of respondents cut back on culture, feeling that it was less relevant to their lives, compared to 28% in 2009.

         Cultural consumers are still participating, but they are just participating less frequently.  The ranks of the most frequent attendees -- those who attend 3+ cultural events a month -- have declined by almost one-third: 22% in 2011 versus 31% in 2007.

         Consistently, 3 of the top influencers for participation reflect the importance of social or personal factors.  While friends' recommendations (24%) are less influential than economic concerns, they are still almost five times as important as critics' recommendations (5%).

         Audiences value corporate sponsorships more: Almost 40% of all respondents reported they were likely to purchase goods or services from corporations that support the arts, up from 31% in 2007.  Respondents are also growing much more receptive to messaging from cultural sponsors: 53% in 2011 versus 32% in 2007.  Frequent attendees -- who tend to be more educated, with higher incomes -- are the most supportive of corporate sponsorship:  61% of frequent attendees say they are more likely to make purchases from corporations that support the arts. 

         On the whole, advance planning for arts attendance is on the rise: Both visual and performing arts audiences have become significantly less spontaneous and are planning their attendance much farther in advance.  Only 5% of 2011 respondents visit a museum or exhibition on the same day they make the decision to attend, compared to 17% in 2007.  Just 3% of respondents attend a performing arts event on the same day of their decision, down from 9% in 2007.

         Social media influence is definitely being felt: Four out of ten of respondents sometimes, often, or frequently act on recommendations for cultural events received through social media.  The most frequent cultural attendees regularly utilize Facebook (75%), YouTube (70%), and blogs (51%) on at least a weekly, if not daily basis.

         Although younger audiences are heavier users of social media, certain platforms, such as Facebook, are widely used across all generations -- 54% of arts attendees ages 45-64 and 43% of attendees 65 or older are on Facebook.

         Audiences are using technology to tap into culture on their home computers, their mobile phones, and their tablet computers. 20% of respondents with mobile phones use them to access the websites or the social media applications of cultural organizations.  11% of respondents use their mobile phones to access content through quick response (QR) codes.


Click here to read the full 2011 Culture Track report


Click here to read the 2011 Culture Track research


Click here to read the full 2007 Culture Track report


Click here to follow the Twitter discussion about today's presentation and the report itself.

Please consider the environment before printing out this email.  Thanks.
YOU'VE COTT MAIL is a free service for professionals in the arts.  Emails are sent most weekdays. 
If you are not already on the distribution list and would like to sign up, please click here:

Join Our Mailing List      Follow me on Twitter     
Click here to view an archive of recent past editions of "You've Cott Mail."