Data Mining for Arts & Cultural Organizations – The Opportunity

Problem Definition – I’d like to…

This is the first article in a Series on Market Research and Data Mining for Arts and Cultural Organizations. A local art center is interested in how better to serve its members and visitors by providing exhibits and activities that are popular while increasing visitor traffic and memberships. The art center was founded over ten years ago and has grown steadily each year. Currently visitors and members can participate in a variety of offerings including: general visits, lectures, classes, artist demonstrations, family programs, social events and special exhibits,

The marketing manager is interested in learning more about the special exhibits side of the organization’s offerings in order to grow this segment. The manager is specifically interested in what other activities/offerings visitors participate in and how the center can maximize its limited marketing resources.

Data – I need data…

The marketing manager has a good idea of what other activities those who attend special exhibits also participate in but she thinks that she needs more than just her hunches. She is planning on launching some new marketing initiatives and wants them to be effective as possible.

The marketing manager has decided to conduct a short survey of members and visitors to get a better feel of the types of activities they have participated in the past. The center has developed a good email list of current and past members as well as from people who have provided their email address through signup sheets for various activities.

The marketing manager decided to send an email to those on their email database asking them to help by completing the survey. Participants in the survey were directed to a web page to complete the survey. Members who login to the center’s website are also made aware of and asked to participate in the survey.

It was decided that the survey would be kept very short and limited personal information would be collected. The invitation was sent to over 12,000 email addresses that the center had collected over the years.

Here is the survey that was designed.

Please Complete Each Question

1. What is your age?
・ 16 – 24
・ 25 – 45
・ 46 +

2. Gender
・ Male
・ Female

3. Member
・ Yes
・ No

Which of the following activities have you or your family participated in, in the last 2 years. Please answer all questions.

4. General visits to the Arts Center – Yes     No

5. Special Exhibits – Yes     No

6. Lectures – Yes     No

7. Classes – Yes     No

8. Family Programs – Yes     No

9. Social Activities – Yes     No

10. Artist Demonstrations – Yes     No

11. Would you be interested in finding out more about the Art Center’s Special Exhibits?
Yes – Please enter your email address _______________
No __

Thank you for your participation in this survey and helping the Art Center!

After a period of three weeks the center was very pleased that they had collected over 3000 completed surveys. It was nice to know that the center had such loyal and engaged members and visitors.

Next Step – Do I have enough data and getting the data ready to use…

In the next article we will take a look some techniques to make sure we have enough data to do a traditional market research analysis and take it to the next level of data mining. We will also explore some of the ways to conduct a survey and collect the data.

Data Mining For Arts & Cultural Organizations – How Much Data Do I Need?


Neil McKenzie is the author of The Artist’s Business and Marketing ToolBox – How to Start, Run and Market a Successful Arts or Creative Business available in softcover from Barnes & Noble and Amazon and as an eBook from iTunes, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.   He developed and taught the course “Artrepreneurship” at the Center for Innovation at Metropolitan State University of Denver, and was also a visiting professor at University College at the University of Denver where he developed and taught “Marketing the Arts”.

Neil has over 30 years’ experience as a management consultant and marketing research executive, working with some of the world’s top brands. Neil is a frequent lecturer to artists and arts organizations, was a guest columnist for Colorado Biz Magazine, re:sculpt for the International Sculpture Center, and the author of several articles for Americans for the Arts, a national arts organization. Follow Neil on Twitter: @neilmckenzphoto