ACHF Arts Access
Arts organizations build relationships with members of, or organizations that serve, groups that have traditionally been underserved by the arts or by the applicant organization. Real or perceived barriers to participation are identified and addressed. More Minnesotans are able to participate in the arts.
1. This year we succeeded in reaching 615 audience members, which was a 78% capacity. Of those who responded to our surveys, 52% reside outside of the central metro (in a suburb of Minneapolis or St Paul, in Western Wisconsin, or were visiting from another state). 2. We keep very detailed records of each tour through data from the box office and also from surveys filled out by audience members. After the tour, we analyze the data and compare it with previous years to find trends and to find places to make improvements or changes to better serve the audiences and communities served by the tour. We also meet with the garage-hosts, both individually and at a post-tour dinner held at an Off-Leash Area board member's home, where we discuss in detail each hosts experience in gathering an audience, identifying the strengths of their activities, and defining ways to improve for future tours. 3. Our targeted group was audiences in the suburban communities of Minneapolis/St Paul because of their geographic/financial/cultural barriers to access national level performing arts events like ours. 4. We felt our activity was an ideal match, because of a demonstrated interest by this group in our activities, because of the word-of-mouth in these communities from previous tours, and on a practical level because many homes in the suburbs have large garages. 5. Our program is designed so that the tour Hosts are the principal persons who gather their community for the event. We meet individually with each host to discuss and devise a marketing plan to maximize community participation based on each Host's immediate neighborhood, and their own personalities. A new strategy we implemented this year was to develop Co-Hosts, whereby each regular host formally partners with a select few neighbors to share the responsibility of gathering an audience for their event. This worked very well. 2: 1. We overcame our targeted audience's barriers to participation, including geographic, economic, and perceptive barriers. We also created an opportunity for more Minnesotans to participate in the arts, especially those who would not normally participate in a performing arts experience such as ours. 2. We evaluated the extent to which we achieved our outcomes through: one-on-one interactions between cast and the audience after the shows in the intimate and informal setting of the post-performance gatherings; building personal relationships with the garage Hosts and their Co-Hosts; evaluating the detailed audience surveys; and reviewing box office statistics. We also receive a number of unsolicited social media posts, emails, letters, and coverage from the media. 3. The barriers are geographic, economic, and cultural. The barriers were identified initially through audience development and research, through organizational planning to develop a community-based program organic to Off-Leash Area, and were reaffirmed by having conducted the program for the past three years. They are real barriers. 4. Off-Leash Area's Artistic Directors, Board of Directors, the Host, the Administrative Assistant, and cast were involved in devising strategies to eliminate the barriers. 5. Examples: Marketing through social networking and giving Hosts pre-made marketing materials have been successful strategies. Having Pay-What-You-Can," or "Suggested Donation" entry fees allow more individuals to attend the performances. This year, developing the Co-Host partnerships not only helped reduce the individual Hosts' responsibility of gathering an audience, but also brought more people into the core relationship-building aspect of the program, and brought in more audience."
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