New Study Says Digital Engagement at Art Museums is Growing


Digital engagement rocketed in arts and cultural organizations in recent years, according to a report put out today by Southern Methodist University’s National Center For Arts Research (NCAR). The research group surveyed 4,946 programs across the country, over the period of 2010 to 2013. In particular, art museums, opera companies, and orchestras experienced the greatest growth in this virtual participation during the study period. Art museums engaged only 28 percent of their communities online in 2010, but by 2013, that number reached 53 percent.

The report also suggests that revenue from subscriptions and membership is not negligible, covering, on average, 8 percent of an organization’s expenses. This ranged significantly, however, across sectors. In 2013, tickets covered 15 percent of expenses in theatre, and only 6 percent in art museums.

Perhaps most interesting is the noted inverse relationship found between the increase in programming and drop in participating visitors. The 11 percent decrease in this index from 2010 to 2013 suggests that programming outpaced visitor growth.

“By comparing the results of sector practices, an organization can determine if its strategies are in line with those that are most effective in the industry, or if planning needs to be shifted accordingly,” said Dr. Zannie Voss, director of NCAR and chair and professor of arts management and arts entrepreneurship in SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts and Cox School of Business.

See more of the report here.

— Noelle Bodick (@nbodick)

(Photo: Screenshot via NCAR)