By: Jen Benoit-Bryan, PhD

October 05, 2020

Last week we co-hosted a webinar with the Morton Arboretum that focused on the unique thoughts, behaviors, attitudes, and needs of botanical garden attenders compared to the nationally representative sample of respondents to the Culture and Community in a Time of Crisis survey research. Some of the specific topics included in the research are experiences with COVID-19, values and philanthropic behavior around arts and culture, what people need more of in their lives at this time, what they miss about in-person cultural experiences, how they’re engaging with culture online, and how they want these organizations to change in the future. The need and demand for this type of insight was made abundantly clear by the overwhelming interest from organizations willing to participate in the survey—more than 650 arts and culture organizations in the United States provided their audiences lists to include in the survey resulting in a sample size of more than 120,000. Eighteen arboreta or botanical gardens participated in the research with a total sample size of more than 8,000 respondents.

A few of the ways that botanical garden visitors are unique include:

  • Even higher desire for human connection in their lives & the hope that arts & culture organizations can help support social connection
  • More likely to miss learning something new through in-person arts and culture and greater value derived from online classes or workshops
  • Higher awareness and use of a wide range of arts and culture digital offerings
  • Greater desire for arts & culture organizations to change in the future to provide more support for local artists, to treat employees fairly and equitably, and to include more diverse voices and faces

The discussion my colleague, Madeline Smith, and Alicia LaVire, Vice President of Marketing and Communications from the Morton Arboretum had with webinar participants from gardens, parks, arboreta, and other organizations across the country was insightful with questions and share outs from the field about what may have changed since this data was collected and how gardens have seen physical attendance and online engagement shift relative to expectations over the past few months.

To learn more, please feel free to view the recording of the webinar session here, and we welcome your thoughts!

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