Friday, March 16, 2012

Weekend Reading: 2012 Trends and Young Adult Programs

Two great museumy reports to brighten your weekend:
  • TrendsWatch 2012. The folks at the AAM Center for the Future of Museums have been experimenting with sharing ideas in several ways over the past couple of years--through their blog, their weekly newsletter, and a series of research reports. This TrendsWatch report, which I hope they intend to make an annual affair, is the most effective piece I think they've put out. It's tight, clear writing on seven big ideas on their radar: crowdsourcing, shifting non-profit tax status, pop up museums, online fundraising, creative aging, augmented reality, and education reform. Each article includes museum examples along with a broader look at the trend. The content is pretty US-specific (especially regarding tax status and education) but the blend of issues makes it more broadly relevant than other reports that focus solely on demographics or technology. Such a diverse group of topics in one report got my mind moving laterally and imagining other trends I might want to follow.
  • Creativity, Community, and a Dash of the Unexpected: Adventures in Engaging Young Adult Audiences. I have a personal connection to this report, which was produced by the Denver Art Museum after a multi-year project developing meaningful connections with young adults. Three years ago today I was in Denver working with this terrific group of educators, technologists, and marketing folks to help them imagine new community-driven approaches to programming. It's amazing to see how far they've gone and how thoughtfully they've engaged in this work. While I'm clearly biased based on my involvement, I think this report is a bit deeper than some others I've been seeing lately that mostly focus on the branding/marketing side of working with younger audiences. It mostly focuses on program design, not marketing or evaluation, and some of the program design insights and framings are really valuable. I found myself frequently thinking: we should do that at our museum. The report starts with the statement: "We originally thought of this audience as an age group but later realized that style, not age, was a better way to categorize the target audience." Amen. Enjoy this quick read on rethinking engagement with new audiences.
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