|Organisation||Arts About Manchester|
|Programme strand||New Approaches to Presentation|
|New Audiences grant||£69,900|
In 2001 and 2002, Arts About Manchester used its experience in attracting families to arts events in a new partnership with a rural tourism consortium, Lancashire’s Hill Country. The project aimed to draw a new family audience to a range of events provided by consortium members, and test whether the Family Friendly approach developed in Manchester still reaped benefits outside the city.
about lead organisation
Arts About Manchester (AAM) is the strategic audience development agency for Greater Manchester. Serving a regular user base of 45 arts venues and companies, AAM provides knowledge-based services to support local collaborations aimed at increasing and developing audiences for the arts. AAM has a national reputation, particularly for its work in developing culturally diverse and family audiences.
The starting point for this project was the Family Friendly Initiative, managed by AAM as part of an earlier Arts Council England-funded programme. Family Friendly had been running successfully in Manchester for 7 years. This was an opportunity to test it in a new, rural environment. AAM worked in partnership with Lancashire’s Hill Country (LHC), the tourism consortium for East Lancashire, managed by East Lancashire Partnership.
aims of the project
- To test the application of the Family Friendly scheme in a new environment
- To test the potential of cross-promoting schemes in extending opportunities for families to attend arts events
- To define and develop Family Friendly product for LHC, and to allow LHC to absorb Family Friendly practice within their own objectives
- To develop local and other audiences for family activities
- To develop a sustainable partnership
about the project
The project took place over a period of fifteen months, between Summer 2001 and November 2002. It delivered a range of activity including: market research, training and sharing of expertise, development and promotion of Family Friendly product and evaluation. The project began with benchmarking and data collection. Recruitment postcards distributed at family events were used to build a database for future promotional activity and provide potential participants for research. A series of focus groups were also held in November 2001, exploring families’ needs and arts attendance habits. A steering group was established with 12 members drawn from the LHC network. This steering group met three times, and provided a key channel for the passing on of Family Friendly expertise to steering group members, and to their contacts. More formal training was provided for other participating organisations, through an introductory seminar, using case studies to illustrate the practical implementation of the Family Friendly approach. Working with participating organisations to develop their product for families in terms of programme content, facilities and added value was a vital part of the project activity. This progressed in several ways: through dissemination of good practice through steering group meetings; circulation of Family Friendly guiding principles, sharing of good practice at two seminars, compiling Family Friendly events in promotional brochures and auditing organisations to document their developing Family Friendly status. Three editions of the brochure were produced, featuring a range of specially edited and presented activities and events. This was mailed to the database and distributed through the AAM Family Friendly targeted run. Promotion was also carried out though limited advertising and via the Family Friendly web site. As the project drew to a close, a telephone survey was carried out with 206 families, drawn from the database. The survey was designed to measure the project’s progress, asking families about their attendance behaviour, and their satisfaction ratings. The database included 1896 families by the end of the project. This resource was supplied to LHC for future Family Friendly work. A final training seminar completed the project, offering participating organisations a chance to share their experiences and examine the findings of the telephone research. Delegates discussed future activity, and agreed a series of action points.
about the audience
Research was carried out with a sample recruited from the database of 1896 families group which revealed the same needs and characteristics shared by families researched in AAM’s work in Manchester. Further telephone research at the end of the project gave a clear picture of the characteristics of this project’s audiences. Almost half the families interviewed had two children. 27% had one child, and 31% had three or more. The age range was evenly spread between birth and 16+. Around 65% of the interviewees had attended a range of Family Friendly events. 42% said these experiences were new for them. 87% thought that overall, their visits had been a good experience, though there was more criticism about catering provision, and the lack of hands-on activity. All respondents had been mailed a Family Friendly brochure during the course of the project, yet only 75% remembered receiving it. Of these 75%, 62% said that it had helped them choose the right outing. The Family Friendly web site was less successful: only 10% of the sample had used it. 95% of respondents said they would attend more Family Friendly events in the future.
outcomes and lessons learned
Although this project evolved in a different way to its Manchester-based predecessor, many of the guiding forces were the same. The principles defined by AAM and passed on to LHC were reinforced by research at the beginning of the project, and helped participating organisations develop a new way of working with families. The recommendations of the research provided a checklist for ensuring Family Friendly good practice, and fell into five areas: Content and Programming