Approach to Data Collection for Performing Arts Organizations
In-venue surveying has been found to yield the best possible results in terms of representativeness of the audience. Ideally, surveys are pre-set on every Nth seat (depending on the size of the house). Patrons take the survey home, complete it, and mail it back using a postage-paid reply envelope. This methodology stands the best chance of capturing the full audience, not just ticket buyers (i.e., decision-makers) or subscribers, although they will be more likely to complete the survey. Previous research indicates that decision-makers differ in important ways from the people who accompany them to arts programs. For example, decision-makers tend to have more contextual information about the program, and tend to report higher impacts. The downside of in-venue surveying relates to cost and staffing. Survey packets must be printed in advance, and must be distributed at performances or on site at the museum or gallery. Since completed surveys are returned by mail, it is not necessary to collect surveys at the venue. However, this approach also requires manual data entry.
Approach to Data Collection for Museums and Galleries
At museums and galleries, an intercept methodology is required. We suggest the following two methodologies:
- A modified intercept methodology by which visitors to certain galleries are intercepted by gallery attendants, asked for their email address, and emailed a link to an online survey about their experience. If visitors are intercepted randomly (e.g., the third person to cross an imaginary line in the floor is an eligible respondent), the bias from self-selection can be reduced. Generally, we have seen response rates in the range of 30% to 50% on emails to visitors who are pre-recruited through this intercept method. Also, it is minimally invasive in terms of disrupting the visitor experience, as the entire exchange takes only a minute or less.
- Distribute paper survey packets by randomly intercepting visitors as they leave the exhibition. You may offer visitors a choice of completing the survey on-site before leaving, or taking home the mail-back form.
Check out the Free Downloads section for more information about this type of data collection.
Next method: Online surveying