How to engage

Many of the features that define Heydays as a group also provide barriers which may act to reduce cultural engagement, and as a result will prove challenging audiences to reach and harder still to retain

However, as many used to enjoy attending and taking part in cultural activities, and many still exhibit an interest, through for example, their reading and music listening choices, there could be scope to engage some with specially tailored and organised activities.

There will be resource implications to developing these audiences and the results might be better measured by the quality, depth and value that those experiences may bring, rather than purely in terms of numbers.

Programme choice

The minority who presently do attend the arts have clear preferences for popular and mainstream styles, with musicals, live music, pantomime, drama and carnival being the most likely to appeal. Content and subject matter which affords the opportunity to reminisce or re-visit days gone by, or to link the past to the present might appeal, and there should certainly be opportunities for museums and heritage sites to cater for this need.

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The arts and cultural sector have huge potential to enrich the lives of many within this often excluded or marginalised segment

Partnerships

The arts and cultural sector have huge potential to enrich the lives of many within this often excluded or marginalised segment. Various stakeholders such as local authorities, housing associations, care home providers, health authorities and trusts, voluntary organisations and charities working with the elderly or disabled have an interest in supporting positive interventions and funding available to support such initiatives.

Place: Environment

The opportunity arts and cultural events provide for social interaction is perhaps one of the most important motivations or attraction for many who lead relatively isolated or confined lives. Provision of welcoming spaces conducive to activities for Heydays’ needs will be an important feature, whether they happen in conventional venues, or the activity is taken to the home-base, (which increasingly it may have to be).

Place: Access & distance

Accessing arts events in conventional venues and spaces can prove challenging for many in this group. Deteriorating mobility, low car ownership, peripheral locations and relatively poor access to provision are barriers. It might be necessary to provide transport to and from events in access friendly venues, or take events to the audience, for example in care homes, day centres, social clubs or other community locations. It may also be important that events are assisted by captioning, signing, audio-description for those with impairments and disabilities.

Pricing

Discount pricing is likely to be effective as part of the broader tailored marketing mix for Heydays whose income levels are low enough to make price an important factor in the decision whether to engage or not.

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Promotion

Digital communications are unlikely to reach this audience or chime with them. Traditional media channels, such as local newspapers, local radio and television will work better, and for direct communication, post will be the most effective.

However, Heydays are much more reliant on, and require reassurance and recommendations. This makes word of mouth an important tool. Talking directly to them, or getting people who they know and trust to talk to them will be an effective strategy. Cultivating networks or ambassadors in and around their community may be the best approach to achieving this.

Participation

Organising opportunities to engage Heydays in activities that they are able to take part in at home or in the places and spaces where they gather is likely to be a relatively effective strategy to increase participation. These might be tailored around existing interests, such as craft, or themes that are relevant to them like local history, gardening, music, reading and reminiscence activities.

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Giving & volunteering

Limited financial means dictate that Heydays are not likely to provide a rich source of donations to the arts and cultural sector. The most successful strategies will be targeted at encouraging infrequent low level or one off giving within modest targets.

Relationship building

Providing accessible spaces and valued opportunities to socialise with like-minded peers, based around cultural activities, may be one of the best ways to build relationships with Heydays, either by enabling travel to venues or by taking such opportunities to their home or community.

Increasing reach & diversity

Heydays provide a rich, if challenging target market for increasing reach and diversity amongst a range of people who are often marginalised or excluded because of a wide range of factors, including age, income, education level, social status, disability and proximity to the cultural offer. Successfully engaging them will not be difficult but could potentially be costly. However, doing so through appropriate programmes and partnerships is likely to be hugely rewarding for both the audiences and the organisations serving them.