Culture Track Wave 2: The Questions We Are Most Excited About

The Culture + Community in a Time of Transformation study is in the field, and we’ve already received tens of thousands of responses to the survey. In Wave 2 of the study we are aiming to keep the cultural sector engaged with its audiences, to better serve them during the pandemic and beyond, and provide the field with actionable insights towards becoming more equitable spaces. This study is fielded in collaboration between LaPlaca Cohen, Slover Linett, and Yancey Consulting, and we’ve reached out to some of our team members for their opinions on Wave 2 questions, and what they are most looking forward to hearing the results from. Here are some of their initial reactions: 

Digital Offerings and Preferences: 

Over the past year, have you paid for any online arts or culture activities?
You shared that you have paid for an online activity from an arts or culture organization over the past year. What made the activity appealing enough for you to pay to participate?
You shared that all the online activities from arts or culture organization you’ve done over the past year have been free. We’re curious to learn what, if anything, would make an online activity appealing enough for you to pay for access?

“Is there revenue in digital content for cultural organizations or do audiences expect only free content? What makes someone pay for content? This will influence content strategy for years to come. If audiences show an interest in paying for cultural content, there is a huge incentive for organizations to build digital platforms or apps to deliver high-quality digital content. If not, organizations will want to invest in more informal social content that keeps audiences engaged and encourage on-site visitation.”

When you are able to engage in (or engage in more) in-person arts or culture activities, how do you expect you’ll split your time between online and in-person experiences? 
“As we return to the new normal, how will the online cultural experience evolve? Do certain artistic disciplines or geographic regions want more in-person or online events than others? Breaking this question down based on demographics will also help inform online strategy as we look toward expanding access.”

Would you share more about why you prefer doing arts or culture activities online over in-person events?
“We’ve had the opportunity to present the findings from the Wave 1 survey to dozens of organizations nationally and digital is still on everyone’s mind. Organizations are eager to know if people are paying for digital activities, what might encourage them to pay, and how to people think their digital behaviors will change or stay the same once most of the population is vaccinated and ready to resume in-person experiences. This question will be asked of those who say they predict preferring online activities over in-person events, and I’m interested in knowing why they favor online activities. We’ve seen examples of how digital activities reduce barriers (no/lower fees, able to access at any time,  no need to travel, etc.) but I’ve also heard organizations wonder aloud if certain BIPOC community members feel safer participating in digital activities because of the physical risks they take on visiting a new place in-person. This question will help us understand why digital will remain appealing for certain community members in the future.” 

Social Justice: 

Based on what you’ve seen or heard, do you think systemic racism is present in each of the types of organizations below?
“I’m interested to see the results of this question across all the types of organizations we’ve listed. Oftentimes, we hear stories of racism and other forms of discrimination anecdotaly or through qualitative responses from people working within these organizations. Here, we’re asking respondents themselves, many of whom are visitors, members, and potential audiences, what their outside perception is of an industry. That is incredibly valuable for us to be able to have quantitative data to make the case that the arts need to be decolonized.” 

Which of the following social issues (if any) do you think arts or culture organizations should address?
“This is a new question on the Wave 2 version of the survey and I’m eager to understand what role people think arts organizations should play in society. Do people think it is arts organizations responsibility to address important national issues such as systemic racism and income inequality – both of which may require arts organizations to take a political stand? Do they think arts organizations have role to pay in public good and public education by helping address and raise awareness around the opioid and heroin epidemic and/or climate change? Or do people want arts organizations to remain neutral territories devoid of social issues focused primarily on beauty and history? I think this question will be very revealing and may push arts organizations in new, progressive directions.” 

Community Engagement and Help:

I’ve seen or heard a lot about arts or culture organizations in my area helping our community during the crisis in specific ways.
“In our Wave 1 survey (fielded in April & May of 2020 as the pandemic had just started to severely impact the U.S.) only a third (34%) of community members agreed with this statement. I’m curious to see if that number has increased over the past year and more people are seeing arts organizations help their community in tangible ways or if that number has largely stayed the same – which could indicate that either arts organizations aren’t doing enough to help their community or are helping their community in ways that aren’t connecting with the community and/or not meeting their communities needs, thus not registering on community members radar as something being done for their benefit.” 

How would you want arts or culture organizations to help your community during times like these?
“In our qualitative work, we have heard a lot about organizations who have been working hard to help the communities they are a part of in meeting both physical and emotional needs during the past year’s unrelenting crises. In people’s thinking about meeting community needs, arts and cultural organizations did not come up as often and consistently as other community-based organizations. This question can help illuminate some of the ways in which arts and culture organizations can become more relevant to and embedded in the communities they are a part of in. Combined with the lessons learned from our qualitative conversations, the answers to this question can help Arts organizations effectively utilize the connective and healing power of the Arts to effect change in ways that are meaningful to diverse communities of people.”   

Arts & Culture Audience Motivation: 

Thinking about the kinds of online arts or culture activities that you’ve done, how important are the following qualities?
You shared that you’ve done one or more of the participatory arts or culture activities in the previous question. Would you share some of the reasons that you’ve done those?
You shared that all the online activities from arts or culture organization you’ve done over the past year have been free. We’re curious to learn what, if anything, would make an online activity appealing enough for you to pay for access?
“The thing that interests me most about these questions and their answers is understanding the motivation behind the action–the psychography.”   

Would you share some of the reasons you’ve done those creative activities over the past year?
“This past year was a physical, emotional, financial, political, psychological rollercoaster… Many of us have been finding our own unique and creative ways to navigate and steer this rollercoaster in ways that are meaningful to us individually and collectively. The Arts has been our sometimes quiet, sometimes more assertive companion throughout it all. This question explores the specific motivations behind our creativity and to an extent, even the value we get out of these activities. This question will be helpful in shedding light on the nuanced role(s) the Arts plays in people’s lives overall and in times of crises.” 

People can be involved in culture, creativity and community in many different ways. Have you done any of the following types of participatory activities in the past few years (before or during the pandemic)? 
“This question is very interesting as it takes a broader perspective to what arts and culture participation means. I am curious to see whether seeing options related to “activism”, “decision making” and “research” expand the ways in which people think about what arts participation means overall and how it fits into their lives.”