The two-part article by Peter Linett aims to help arts leaders ask the right questions before embarking on a research project. It was recently published on the website of the National Arts Marketing Project, a unit of Americans for the Arts.
The article is titled "Thinking About Audience Research? Four Rules for the Perplexed." In it, Linett, a partner in Slover Linett Strategies and currently visiting associate at the Cultural Policy Center at the University of Chicago, writes that in order to get the most out of the time and resources they invest in research, arts managers should start by...
Asking what they want to be able to do, not what they want to know;
Think about an ongoing, holistic research plan, rather than an isolated research project;
Considering all their audiences, not just the ones who are already attending;
Weighing a mix of research methods in order to create a comprehensive picture.
Linett hopes the article will be useful to arts organizations and museums of all kinds. "Most people who commission research in a cultural nonprofit don't have much experience with it," he says. "So I tried to lay out some of the principles that will get them started on the right foot. It's not quite a how-to guide, but it's close. It's a how-to-think."
A printer-ready version of the full article is available in our Publications section, here (PDF).