Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art

How research was used to inform the re-brand of the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art.

Outline brief and objectives
The Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, formerly the Chinese Arts Centre (CAC), approached The Audience Agency in early 2013 with a brief to help them gather evidence to inform their upcoming re-brand. Specifically, the gallery wanted to test perceptions, assumptions and understandings of the Chinese Arts Centre brand amongst current audiences and the wider gallery-going public in Manchester who do not currently engage with the space.

Programme of work
The first stage of this work involved collecting quantitative baseline data on audiences through an onsite and online survey. This survey allowed us to understand the profile of current visitors; their awareness of the CAC offer, visit frequency and motivations, brand perceptions and attendance at other art galleries and festivals.

In order to explore brand perceptions in more depth we collected qualitative data via two audience focus groups. One session consulted with adults who attend CAC regularly. A second focus group was used to gather the views of potential new audiences defined as adults who visit contemporary art galleries regularly but who do not currently visit CAC. The focus groups were facilitated by two researchers from The Audience Agency.

We used a combination of brand mapping, ideas testing and competitor mapping exercises, alongside facilitated discussion, to develop a rich picture of brand perceptions (and misconceptions) and barriers to engagement.

Outputs
Online and on-site audience survey; two audience focus groups (visitors and non-visitors); full reporting and analysis; facilitated session with staff to discuss the outcomes with gallery staff.

Outcomes

  • The research allowed CAC to pinpoint the brand attributes that current audiences most value. This insight was used to ensure that these characteristics could be preserved through the re-brand process.
  • The consultation also uncovered some misconceptions amongst non-visitors to be addressed through the re-brand process and support the gallery to develop new audiences in future.
  • The research included direct consultation on the name ‘Chinese Arts Centre’ that has been used to inform the change to ‘Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art’.
  • The research also found some barriers linked to the physical appearance of the CAC building. This insight has been used to inform changes to the window displays, signage and reception area that took place as part of the re-brand. This research highlights the real impact that the way arts organisations look from the outside, the building, external signage as well as the particular location of an organisation within a city, can have on engagement with new audiences.