Here are the most visited, shared, and referenced articles from IMPACTS Experience in 2021.
As we all get ready to put 2021 behind us and bring new hopes and plans into 2022, our team at IMPACTS Experience has stopped to take stock of the articles cultural executives found most valuable this year.
Cultural executives are closing out the second year of the global coronavirus pandemic with news of a rapidly spreading new variant. Though this may seem discouraging (and we’re tracking its potential impact on visitation in 2022 as I type), it may be helpful to remember that we’ve already seen big shifts in how cultural organizations adapt. 2021 was a unique year with new challenges facing the cultural sector, as entities aimed to recover as much as possible from 2020. On this website, we published research on shifting sentiments surrounding cultural organizations, as well as plenty of timely updates regarding mask requirement expectations and even a check-in on vaccination requirements and what people say will make them feel safe.
Here is a countdown of the top ten most viewed, shared, and referenced articles on this website in 2021.
The pandemic has impacted nearly every facet of cultural entity operations and attendance engagement. In this article, we reported out on how the pandemic impacted the visitation decision-making process in terms of planning and ticket redemption timeframes. In a nutshell, the pandemic shortened the length of the visitor planning process.
While this article was published in February of 2021, we’ve found that the decision-making timeline has generally remained shorter. This article may be particularly relevant as we consider the potential impacts of the Omicron variant and examine market potential for 2022.
As 2021 started, we shared the overall level of attendance that museums and performing arts organizations could reasonably expect this year informed by market potential modeling. Attendance to cultural entities in 2021 was projected to be notably higher than in 2020, but still below historic levels. This article is a related read that talks a bit about market potential modeling that informs how these analyses may be best used by cultural organizations.
We look forward to sharing outcomes, as well as 2022 projections early in the year. For now, we’re still seeing a great deal of change in the midst of scientists learning more about the Omicron variant and how the public is reacting.
Ticketing systems, lack of response, trip planning… Here’s where potential visitors got stuck in 2021. As a visit to a cultural entity usually requires some amount of planning and energy before the visit even begins, a goal of leaders of cultural institutions is to lessen the amount of energy required to motivate a visit.
Indeed, the biggest changes were informed by the pandemic and increased expectations surrounding digital fluency and online communication.
7) Median Income of Cultural Attendees By Ethnicity: Another Reason Not to Judge Visitors by Appearance (DATA)
To successfully engage lower-income households onsite, entities must first stop conflating ethnic diversity with household income diversity. Here’s data to finally nip this in the bud once and for all.
That sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But the misperception that cultural organization leaders can ascertain the success of affordable access initiatives with their eyeballs alone underscores that there may be some racism to confront as the industry expands its access programming. This article shows the numbers.
Understanding the perceptions and behaviors surrounding cultural entities has arguably never been as important as it is now. With fewer visitors, tighter wallets, and less revenue due to the pandemic, organizations may not have funds to fuel initiatives that aren’t likely to pay off from a revenue or mission standpoint. The best way to make sure that happens is to have good data informing strategies and plans. But it’s not just about having good data about the impact of the pandemic. It’s also time to right some wrongs that have long been fuzzing up success for cultural entities even before 2020.
Now more than ever, the long-term survival of the sector will depend upon accurate data and analysis. Let’s say farewell to historically misleading and skewed sector trendlines.
More people are engaging with both exhibit and performance-based organizations online than they were before or even at the height of the pandemic.
Increased expectations surrounding digital engagement have taken root. Simply put, how cultural entities engage with people may have fundamentally shifted during the pandemic as many worked hard to prove their relevance beyond their walls. And that’s good news for cultural entities! Hard work on the digital engagement front – combined with the circumstance of people spending more time at home with their devices – has resulted in more people engaging digitally with cultural organizations.
Here’s what your organization needs to know.
Membership renewal rates are down approximately 25% when compared to the pre-pandemic year 2019. While frustrating, this happening may not be altogether surprising: After all, the nation is still grappling with a global pandemic and the future of the virus remains uncertain.
When membership renewal numbers decline, we generally observe organizations throwing every strategy and tactic at getting the numbers back up – from steep discounts to adding additional months to existing memberships to increasing membership benefits to anything in between (…especially those discounts).
But are these tactics a good idea? These are good questions, and we’ve got data. Here’s what organizations need to know about the shifting behaviors and preferences of members and subscribers.
According to visitors, the primary role of museum frontline staff members during the pandemic is to help keep people safe – and there was room for improvement in early 2021 when the coronavirus was spreading rapidly. Unfortunately, this research may be especially relevant again as we consider the pathway and response to the current Omicron variant.
In 2021, we found that visitors expected frontline staff to speak up, act, and enforce mask mandates and social distancing requirements onsite – and were notably upset when they didn’t. The single most important role of staff members was to actively keep visitors safe.
What’s on view remained important, folks. But during times of high pandemic risk (at least in 2021), safety takes the cake.
2) Ongoing updates regarding perceptions surrounding safety protocols and what makes guests feel safe.
Throughout the year, IMPACTS Experience published research regarding the current perceptions surrounding different safety protocols. As you’ll recall, these changed a bit throughout 2021. We saw the desire for mask mandates decrease among some audiences but remain strong and stable among people with children in the household due to the vaccine’s inaccessibility to youngsters. We watched how perceptions changed when the Delta variant emerged in the US. We even saw the consideration of proof of vaccination requirements this year and monitored the strength of this conviction.
Many of these timely articles were within the top ten most popular this year as leaders checked in on public perceptions. For the sake of clarity, we’ve combined these articles and placed them in the #2 position (where this particular article on mask perceptions resides.) Combined, these articles were the most popular and frequently visited on the site, and we are glad that we were able to help entities keep tabs on public perceptions.
This was the most popular single article on KYOB this year, written by my talented colleague and former Managing Director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Jim Hekkers.
Because of the fluidity of the situation surrounding the pandemic, we are frequently asked to focus on short-term trends (e.g. “How important are mandatory mask requirements at this point in time?”). But what about the longer term?
This article shares three broader market trends for cultural organizations to embrace to help adjust to the “new normal.” Taken together, these trends are changing the way people connect, how they work, where they live, and how we as cultural organizations need to think about strategies for the future.
Just like in 2020, it’s noteworthy to us that of all the data coming in, cultural executives and staff members were most interested in how to keep their visitors safe. In 2020, you wanted your visitors to feel confident and secure. Our experience is that entities generally took safety very seriously both this year and last.
This year saw some sector recovery, expanded vaccinations, and new variants. (Never a dull moment, eh?) We also saw more room for strategic direction and evolution this year as we all adjusted to the second trip around the sun with the pandemic. In 2021, we began to see where some chips may fall and which trends may be with us long into the future, regardless of the direction of the virus.
I end this annual round-up each year by thanking you all for being here. I thank you for reading, sharing, citing, referencing, watching, and discussing Know Your Own Bone and the research shared by IMPACTS Experience.
But just like last year, I especially want to thank you for counting on us. We are grateful to think that we may have been helpful to you and your organizations in 2021.
We believe that you and your work make the world better. We’re glad that we may support that important work. And we have a great deal of new data, analysis, and research updates coming your way in 2022. So, here’s to a brand new year! Here’s to working together to educate, inspire, and make the world a more meaningful and connected place.
Thank you for your hard work this year.
IMPACTS Experience provides data for the world’s leading organizations through workshops, keynote presentations, webinars, and data services such as pricing recommendations, market potential analyses, concept testing, and Awareness, Attitude, and Usage studies. Learn more.
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