Redefining the Meaning of Culture

The 2017 Culture Track Study produced by the cultural marketing agency LaPlaca Cohen, has just been released, and some of the findings about art museum attendance are really surprising. This article from Artsy does a terrific job of breaking down a few of the biggest takeaways. The most significant one, which also headlines the article, is that 37% of art museum visitors don’t view museums as a cultural experience!

Whoa! Does this mean culture is vanishing or somehow slipping through our fingers? Absolutely not, but rather, the definition seems to be changing, and for museums (along with other arts and cultural organizations) the implication is that they must also evolve their branding and marketing tactics to reflect this. Another significant learning from the survey is that 81% of audiences are motivated to attend a cultural activity because they want to have fun.

I would imagine many a museum curator would cringe at that statistic since the traditional raison d’etre of museums is a scholarly understanding of art itself. If there is fun involved, that’s good, but not necessarily the main goal.

The article goes on to highlight some of the barriers associated with attending cultural activities. According to Maggie Hartnick of LaPlaca Cohen, the designation “not for someone like me,” is the top barrier cited by respondents, followed closely by “I didn’t think of it.”

Marry together “not for me” and “fun” and like it or not, that seems to be a clear recipe for arts marketers if there ever was one. I hope you’ll read this excellent article, as there’s a big surprise at the end about what parents think about the use of technology in an art museum.

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