How to engage

Up Our Street are infrequent attenders that make up a significant proportion of the English population

Up Our Street are infrequent attenders that make up a significant proportion of the English population, and some will be open to encouragement to engage a little more often with popular or mainstream arts and cultural events.

This group have difficulty with too much choice and so are swayed by other people’s opinions. The goal should be to introduce something with which they’re reasonably familiar and comfortable. Any introduction of risk, to which they’re naturally averse, should come much further down the development line.

Heritage sites potentially have an advantage in seeking to develop audiences from this segment, as they’re already averagely disposed to do so. This group like taking days out (often with grandchildren for a treat), and many are interested in history and wildlife – all of which might be brought together in suitably packaged offers. Many museums will also be able to cater to this group by offering similar features.

For some in this segment, health issues could present barriers to attending, which organisations should be mindful of and address through thoughtful access planning. Incomes are not high and cultural activities, which provide some of this segment’s potential ‘treat’ opportunities, will need to be priced appropriately or have added value experiences to make them more attractive over competing leisure offers.

Programme

Most cultural attendance from Up Our Street happens at popular and mainstream events. Those opportunities likely to appeal will be easily accessible outdoor festivals, especially music and specifically rock and pop (although wider musical offerings may also appeal).

A slightly older lifestage means that people are less likely to be looking for content to interest younger children – enjoyment is a key criterion – unless they are grandparents looking to find activities they can share with their grandchildren.

Museums may have an advantage and be able to exploit people’s interest in history and in their local communities to package opportunities which may chime with these cost conscious households.

Heritage sites might equally appeal to many with the same needs, and perhaps provide ideal days out to share with grandchildren. If there are opportunities to get close to nature and wildlife nearby then so much the better.

Classical and contemporary events, with which many are not familiar, are much less likely to be taken up by this risk averse segment, unless the risk can be highly mitigated, perhaps by pricing strategies like “pay what you want” or “money back” guarantees, or are part of taster events at free outdoor festivals.

Partnerships

Although people might not necessarily be highly active within their communities, they do tend to live out much of their lives within them and have an interest in what’s going on locally. Community services like media (papers, radio channels), shops, clubs, church groups and healthcare providers will form regular touch points for Up Our Street that might make them effective partners for reaching these mutually shared households.

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Place: Environment

Enjoying a drink with friends is a commonplace pastime, and perhaps making sure events have facilities to do so in comfortable surroundings might potentially be important. As culture forms something of a treat, a developed retail offer could present an opportunity to enhance the sense of “treat” with access to food, shopping and all the trimmings.

Place: Access & distance

Car ownership is low, so easily accessed community events are key. Beyond that, cheap, effective, reliable transport links are important and programming needs to factor in any limitations that transport services might dictate, e.g. last bus times.

Pricing

Providing opportunities for Up Our Street to gain access to inexpensive tickets and being sure to foreground value for money in the offer are key. Emphasising the experiential benefits that mark cultural activities out as a better alternative to competing leisure activities, and enhancing the treat factor may work well.

There will also be opportunities to boost ancillary spend for this group around catering and retail products. People are apt to buy works of art and craft, so associated products, if keenly priced, are likely to prove popular and add to the overall experience.

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Promotion

Word of mouth is perhaps the most important channel in influencing engagement. They rely heavily on recommendation and reassurance from people they know and trust. This is an opportunity that might well be used to good advantage through arts ambassador type schemes. Existing audiences from Up Our Street who are recruited to encourage and incentivise their friends and neighbours to attend could be an effective strategy.

Newspapers are a widely read and an important source of information – especially local papers. Television and SMS messaging are also popular channels for receiving information, and they respond comparatively well to postal communications.

Generally late adopters of technology, engagement with cultural organisations’ websites is low and shouldn’t be used as the only or principal channel. Those who do use such websites are doing so primarily to gather information, rather than buying tickets or engaging online, and the same is true of the smaller numbers who use social networks.

Participation

Participatory activities, such as embroidery, knitting, crochet, wood turning, carving and furniture making, or those that provide a chance to use and develop craft and handiwork skills may be well received. These might also form opportunities to socialise and share that all important drink with friends and similar like-minded people.

Poetry writing while a relatively minority activity that is comparatively popular with this segment, could be an important activity for organisations planning activities with some in this group.

Most of the participatory activities that tend to be popular are those that can be practised in and around the home, and for reasons of physical and financial access, have to be.

Community ties

Relationship building

Effective strategies for building relationships might best be focused upon developing community ties. Those people from Up Our Street who do volunteer tend to do so through organising or running community events, offering opportunities for co-creation or co-production with local communities. Arts ambassador type schemes, as a means of reaching and developing new audiences for this type of work, might flourish within this context.

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Giving & volunteering

Membership, friends or loyalty schemes, as a means to incentivising increased attending may not be effective. People from this group are unlikely to become frequent enough attenders fast enough to realise any of the financial benefits inherent in such schemes.

Seeking donations is also unlikely to be fruitful for arts organisations, but heritage sited may have more success, with targeted campaigns designed to encourage infrequent, low level giving when visiting.

Increasing reach & diversity

Up Our Street have a lower propensity to engage. A focus therefore on increasing the frequency of visits made, or the number of those engaging will, by default, broaden reach into newer audience areas, particularly amongst older, less well off, sometimes socially disadvantaged people in this group. Challenges to overcome, include physical, economic and psychological barriers as people in this group are not affluent, highly engaged or see themselves as arty.