How do you prioritize your patrons?

ICYMI, earlier this year, Julie Schwietert Collazo wrote a remarkable piece for Hyperalleric that both exposed some flaws in the way (some in) our sector approach audience attraction, engagement, and experience, as well as some excellent opportunities to reframe those approaches.

As always, it’s worth a full read, and to entice you to do just that, here’s a quick take on her article, The Challenge of Making U.S. Museums Multilingual.

We’re experiencing a disconnect between what we do and why we do it

While there are certainly some exceptions, many arts and cultural organizations currently prioritize their language choices, programs, and related marketing appeals based on the preferences of their current patrons.

In many ways, it’s logical. It’s the data that they have, the audiences with whom they’ve established solid relationships, and where they’re most comfortable communicating and programming.

And yet, every arts organization I have encountered in my career is looking to attract and retain new and diverse audiences (however that may be defined).

It’s no longer time for business as usual

We learned a great deal from our Creating Connection research about the critical importance of rethinking the way in which we engage stakeholders in our communities, including those for whom English is not a first or primary language.  

Collazo gets to the heart of that same conversation in her piece, which focuses on the issue of making museums and exhibition spaces multilingual. Admittedly, it’s complicated. And an organization's capacity or need to make their offerings multilingual will vary according to each community.

But if this question applies to you, we encourage you to read on for ideas—both big and small—about how we can start to shift our thinking and our practices to create welcoming, multilingual, and inclusive environments for both current and prospective audiences. 

Welcome by Prayinto CC BY 2.0