Building Blocks for Equity – Defining Audience Segments

Defining Audience Segments Defining Audience Segments

In this building block, an organization will categorize its current audiences into segments, and identify audience members whose engagement has been low in the past. Organizations should consider the various reasons why they haven’t had meaningful engagement from certain communities in the past (e.g., programming that has not been culturally relevant, lack of relationship building with a particular community, or economic barriers). The more accurately your audience segments can be described, the more strategic and focused your programming and outreach can be in the future. 

Resources and Tools
  • Finding your Audience through Market Segmentation, from the National Arts Marketing Project, details the underlying rationale and market segmentation process for arts organizations. Included is a case study to illustrate the process and worksheets that organizations can use or adapt for their own needs.
  • Demographic Transformation and the Future of Museums takes a close look at the factors that influence segmentation when seeking to attract more culturally and racially diverse audiences. “But it is strikingly clear that it is up to each museum to develop a nuanced understanding of its community and the very important differences—generational, political, historical, geographic and cultural—that exist within any labeled category.” (p. 6). This document provides thorough coverage on these nuances of segmentation as well as case studies that illustrate some of the new and innovative ways that museums are identifying and attracting new audience segments to ensure their audiences better reflect the demographic makeup of their communities. Organizations might also find helpful the guidelines on how to use existing data and gather new data to support equity efforts as well as the list of resources.
  • The Incluseum, an initiative to encourage social inclusion in museums, highlights the work of the Whitney Museum of American Art to become more accessible to the Disabled community. This Incluseum post addresses the ways in which the museum overcame barriers to participation for these community members. Relationship-building strategies that involved all stakeholders were key to their success, which also led to programming and event changes that improved access, equity, and participation.
An extended view of this building block is available in PDF format. LEARN MORE