Slover Linett's e-newsletter about audiences and culture—from the arts to informal science learning.


Why we're so busy

In past recessions, research was the first budget item to get the axe, especially at nonprofits. After all, asking audiences questions doesn’t bring in money, at least not immediately. But it does cost money — immediately. So during previous economic downturns, it was a luxury that nonprofits and educational institutions felt they had to live without.

This time around, things are different. Spending on research, evaluation, and assessment doesn’t appear to be down. On the contrary, consultancies like ours that serve arts organizations, museums, and educational institutions are busier than ever.

We’d like to think that’s because of our brilliant work and our clients’ good taste. But it’s not just us; colleagues around the field tell us similar stories. The status of audience research in the cultural and educational sectors seems to have shifted.

Why? Maybe because broad changes in society have forced those organizations to renegotiate their relationships with their publics. Where they could once take those relationships for granted, now they have to actively create and nurture them. And that takes understanding — the kind of insight that research brings.

Sure, some organizations have been led down the research and assessment path by far-sighted funders, such as the Wallace Foundation in the arts and the Teagle Foundation in higher ed. But others have had their own light-bulb moments about the value of listening to their communities during a time of challenge and change.

Of course we’re happy about this, and the culture and education fields should be proud of themselves for making it a priority. But it can be bittersweet: some of our clients are laying off staff, cutting pay, and reducing programs even while they continue to invest in their audiences through research.

So we’re trying even harder these days to make that research pay, in the form of new opportunities, fresh perspectives, and concrete action steps.

Don’t be a stranger

Speaking of relationships, you’re an important part of the growing Slover Linett community. Please make your voice heard by commenting on a blog post, sharing this newsletter with a colleague, and — most importantly — typing in a quick answer to this month’s CultureQ question, which is about social media. (And check out your responses to last month’s question here.)

Or just drop us a line. We’re busy, but never too busy to hear from you.

— Your friends at Slover Linett

What's New?
June 14, 2010

Research Fellow Michael Di Giovine Presents Heritage Management Framework at UNESCO Conference

Di Giovine, an anthropologist completing his doctorate at the University of Chicago and currently conducting research in Italy, spoke at an international conference on heritage and tourism in Quebec City, Canada earlier this month. His influential book on the “heritage-scape” had just been praised by the conference’s keynote speaker, so Di Giovine’s sessions were packed. More »
June 12, 2010

Cleveland Museum of Art Turns to Slover Linett for Integrated Exhibition Research

The museum, one of the largest art institutions in the country, has engaged us to help develop a new audience research approach that combines exhibition evaluation and market research. The integrated process will be developed in conjunction with an upcoming exhibition of pre-Incan art, which will serve as a “pilot project” for the new approach. More »
June 11, 2010

Inside the Beltway, A New Donor Study

We’re proud to begin a relationship with George Washington University in Washington, DC. We’ll be working with the development department at the university’s medical center to discover ways of strengthening the institution’s relationships with individual supporters. More »

June 11, 2010

Strategy for winning young audiences: pipeline vs. parallel?

I was in Seattle last week for meetings with a few of our arts clients and attended a terrific brainstorming session about developing teen and young-adult audiences. I came in — and left — with a big question about the limits of marketing to meet the challenge. More »
May 30, 2010

Science museums and environmental action: Learning only goes so far

Zoos, aquariums, and science museums are no longer content to describe the world; they’re trying to improve the world by changing visitors’ attitudes and behaviors. But many are operating under the mistaken assumption that the way to do it is to present the facts. More »
May 17, 2010

Mulling over the future of classical music

What’s going on in the classical music field — and what shape it could take in the future — is a common topic around Slover Linett. But a recent visit from classical music guru Greg Sandow inspired lots more talk than usual, and we’re eager to keep those discussions going (see invitation at end of post). More »

Slover Linett is a research & assessment firm for the cultural sector, broadly defined. From art museums to dance companies to zoos, we help institutions become more successful by understanding their audiences. We do it through rigorous research and evaluation...More »

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