24th January 2019 Carol Jones

Family Audiences – making a difference. Blog: Clair Donnelly

By: Clair Donnelly

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Clair Donnelly takes us through top resources that make a difference when working with families 

As we move further into the New Year, many of us will be planning ahead to decipher how we can become even more inclusive, engaging and welcoming to our audiences. For many organisations, families will be at the heart of that work; they are the audiences of the future as well as the audiences of now, however, they are the audience whose planning needs and access to prior information is greatest. With multiple varying factors to consider, the family audience can often be the most difficult audience to please but arguably the most rewarding when we get it right.

Families are not just good for our audience development goals; they’re good for business and can contribute to our organisation financially. But if families are going to part with their hard-earned cash, how can we ensure value for all family members? It’s a key theme at this year’s Family Arts Conference, which will explore the value of arts, culture and creativity for families.

Our conference will consider what value means in today’s family arts sector in terms of the benefits engagement with arts and culture can bring and how we can communicate and capitalise on that value through our evaluation, fundraising, income generation or data gathering.

A not to be missed session with Baker Richards consultancy service will talk us through how to create commercial value in your family offer, and lead on from their excellent existing resource on Pricing your Family Events.

And what about older family members? Research has shown that older adults are more likely to be visiting as part of a larger family group than they are to attend alone.  We also know that older generations may be more likely to experience barriers to engagement than younger family members. The Age-Friendly Standards provide specific guidance on welcoming older audiences and can help your organisation become more inclusive for older generations who may have access or additional needs.

At this year’s conference, we’ll explore the value of intergenerational experiences that bring older and younger audiences together with a key note presentation from Dr. Zoe Wyrko, the brains behind the channel 4 documentary Old People’s Home for Four Year Olds.

Once you have your family offer in place, how can you ensure that you’re doing the very best you can do for your family audience? Evaluation, however small-scale, can provide you with insights about the effectiveness of your activities and help you to plan events in the future. The Family Arts Evaluation and Audience Research Toolkit built by evaluators Catherine Rose’s Office, has been designed to support evaluation of your family events. At next month’s Conference, the Big Lottery Fund will run a workshop on the implications of carrying out evaluation in the context of family audiences, along with recent examples and online tools to aid your evaluation processes.

If it’s data you’re after, there are lots of tools that can help you drill down into the dos and don’ts of family audiences. All arts and cultural organisers are entitled to use the free Audience Finder survey tool, which can help you collect data on your family audiences. Once complete, you can profile your audiences using Audience Spectrum to show you which types of families are attending your events. You can then compare this with data for your region to find out who your potential new audiences could be. Make sure you select ‘families’ when requesting your survey, so that it can be personalised to include a range of specially selected Family Participation questions.

So what’s next for the future of family arts? Digital engagement is of course on the rise, but so is outdoor art and culture, which is valued for its interaction with diverse community groups. Last year’s Outdoor Arts Audience Report found that outdoor cultural events tend to be representative of the demographic in their area. They can be a great way to have fun as a family and are successfully attracting similar proportions of first-time and repeat visitors. It’s a topic we’ll be exploring further at the Conference, joined by Outdoor Arts UK and other experts in the field.

 

The Family Arts Conference takes place 12thFebruary at the Everyman Theatre, Liverpool.Tickets are available for £175+VAT. The full programme and booking can be found here.

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