Wallace Excellence Awards
What we did
The arts generate a range of benefits for people and society. They include everything from bringing individuals pleasure and expanding their horizons to helping communities build stronger social bonds. Throughout the U.S., however, arts organizations face a changing and challenging landscape.
The Wallace Excellence Awards initiative was a multi-year effort, concluded in 2014, that sought to respond to this. It supported audience-building projects at 54 visual and performing arts organizations in six cities around the country. They tested a variety of ways to expand, diversify, and more deeply engage their audiences.
What we learned
Market research expert Bob Harlow produced case studies of the work of 10 of the 54 arts organizations. He found a kaleidoscope of projects. They ranged from staging child-friendly versions of operas (to try to cultivate a new generation of opera lovers) to working with community groups (to find ways to welcome all members of a changing, diverse neighborhood to a local arts school). Harlow found cross-cutting themes in the work. A key one: the need for arts organization to pinpoint the barriers keeping potential audience members away.