Sara Leonard

What’s the most common reason people who want to attend the arts don’t follow through?

Time. Or, more accurately, the lack of it. Not surprised? I figured.

Let’s be honest for a minute. How often do people say they can’t find the time for something when, in reality, it’s that they don’t make the time? According to the American Time Use Survey, 95% of Americans over 15 participate in leisure activities for an average of 5 hours a day. Nonetheless, the perception that they lack time keeps them from participating in a host of available activities, and the arts are no exception.

The arguably larger problem is that we arts marketers take this at face value. It makes sense, really. If the barrier that is keeping people away is their own lack of time, the problem isn’t ours, right? In short: it’s not us, it’s them. Their excuses become our excuses.

But, of course, it is our problem. And we compound it by focusing on our inability to control others’ time, rather than by treating the response as a clue to determining the challenges we need to address. To quote When Going Gets Tough, “The question becomes: How might arts organizations and presenters better tap into people’s personal values and preference sets, to curate activities on which more people choose to spend time.”

Either we’re asking people to give up leisure time to attend arts or to designate some leisure time to the arts, depending on whether they see the arts as a leisure activity. Regardless, the onus is on us to communicate why it is worth that time. How do we make our art and our organizations integral to the life of a person who, until now, has allowed their perception that they lack the time to come between them and a performance or exhibit they wanted to see?

  • By reading beneath the headlines. Crack the books and pound the pavement (yes, both!) to learn what motivates people like the ones you are trying to attract and build experiences designed to meet those needs. Use language that connects your art and organization to their interests and desires.
  •  Look for deep connections. You’re not just trying to get folks to go to any old performance or exhibit, you’re trying to get them to go to your performance or exhibit. What makes this the right fit and the right relationship to warrant reallocation of time? Remember, of course, that not all prospective audiences are going to be the right fit for your organization, and that’s okay. (More on that over here.)
  • Keep your ears open. Chances are that at least some of the people saying that time is the barrier keeping them away are impacted by others as well. Some may be practical and even related to time, like difficulty getting to a location that might be far from home, but it’s likely that some are perceptual, too. These are the more deeply rooted things that keep people away from the arts: the sense that they don’t belong, it’s not for them, or that the risk is too great.

 Sure, we all seem to run out of time to do the things we’d like to do, but as arts organizations, we cannot resign ourselves to the belief that a prospective audience that says they lack time is completely out of reach. How people choose to spend their time is a reflection of their identities, their priorities, and their values. Our challenge is to make attendance at our arts events a logical, and even critical, expression of those identities.

Check out the third and final post here, highlighting the findings of the National Endowment for the Arts’ new report When Going Gets Tough, which focuses on the ways arts audiences and would-be audiences conceive of themselves and their values.

Watch Photo Courtesy of Flickr User Peter Miller
Dancer Photo Courtesy of Flickr User Rajesh Karkera



The report says that time is a barrier. We can't do much about other people's time commitments, but we could create events that have shorter lengths and shorter time frames. For example, people could stop at the Seattle Art Museum for a 'shot' of art just after they've had their shot of espresso across the street at Starbucks on 2nd Avenue.

Or we could sell the first and second halfs of a concert as separate tickets. Or you can buy both halves if you wish.

Hi Jerry,

My apologies for the delay in responding to your comment. Yes, while I do think that time is sometimes over-cited to cover up more deeply held barriers, and I do think that we arts organizations can make this barrier into an excuse, you're exactly right that we need to be innovating based on what we're hearing. I like your ideas; especially the "shot" of art!

Grosir Amazon Plus
Toko Online Grosiramazonplus.com menawarkan macam-macam alami berkualitas dengan maksud untuk membantu meningkatkan mutu kesehatan tubuh Anda. Website GrosirAmazonPlus adalah online shop yang menjual produk obat herbal bermutu dan berkualitas yang terbaik di Indonesia.

ada mobil2

I see that no one else had the time to respond to this.

Touche! In all seriousness, though, my apologies for the delay in getting back to you.

Interesting and thoughtful response to the NEA research. I always say that people make time for (i.e. prioritize) what they value, and in that sense, align with this post. I also think that it's useful information to know that people cite a lack of time rather than flat out disinterest in the arts as a reason for lack of participation. Our job as arts marketers is keep our art relevant, and to the NEA's point (and Jerry's point), that could involve different formats. In all, I completely agree that we can't make excuses or put the blame for declining attendance on others, and knowing that people still express an inclination to consume art gives me hope that with savvy marketing and relevant programming we can change the trends in participation.

Thanks for your comment, Aubrey! You're totally right about the time vs. disinterest thing. Here's something good to know about this survey data. For the first time, those who did not attend the arts were asked if there was a specific performance or exhibit they wanted to attend in the prior year, but did not actually go to. If they said yes to that, THEN they were asked about other possible barriers, including time. So, this report is very exciting (I think) in that it separates out those who are completely disinterested from those who expressed an interest but didn't follow through. Check out the full report to see the numbers.

The first thing is to listen to the meaning of the article and the purpose of which here is very attractive thanks admin

Nice and effective blog post. The content is too short but effective. Perth Marketing

Can I just say what a relief to discover an individual who actually understands what they are talking about over the internet. You certainly understand how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More and more people need to read this and understand this side of your story. It's surprising you're not more popular given that you certainly have the gift.

articles of interest and could be an example, and a lot of useful knowledge for myself but it's hard to follow as it makslum my layman.

I think I have never seen such blogs ever before that has complete things with all details which I want. So kindly update this ever for us.
pengalaman bercuti

Great tips and very easy to understand. This will definitely be very useful for me when I get a chance to start my blog
teknik forex sebenar

I have a mission that I’m just now working on, and I have been at the look out for such information.
jobdirumah review

Whole content of this blog is informative for us but the most impressive thing which attracted me to like this page is the picture of a gorgeous lady dancing there.Along with click there few details are also given which we can read to understand the basic theme which is discussed here in such a beautiful way.

Really appreciate this wonderful post that you have provided for us.Great site and a great topic as well i really get amazed to read this. Its really good.

can you be the one who can give you iTunes codes online from the website. I had been knowing this from my friend who knows that you can get gift cards online.

provide enlightenment and useful knowledge for the visitors always continue to make the article a reference we all

of the many this blogs I visit this blog recently that I think is interesting and good at reading and sharing the article

listen to every article published give a new experience for me thanks

sharing a new experience for us all by providing articles of interest thanks admin

listen to the articles posted here is very interesting and gives the most experience for me thanks a visit back

You certainly understand how to bring a problem to light and make it important. awning

This is my first time i visit here and I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially it's discussion, thank you. games download

It is a great website.. The Design looks very good.. Keep working like that!.
Commercial plumber

Thank you very much for this great post.
Annual Reports

It is imperative that we read blog post very carefully. I am already done it and find that this post is really amazing.
kalyan fast result

a new experience for me to come here and always successful then admin

realy we can no longer deny each blog provide useful good news and useful for all who visit. visit back LOL

Her much information visit here to add insight to me then give useful for everyone. a visit back

This post is probably where I got the most useful information for my research.

Our full-service center is dedicated to helping you maintain your investment and is ready to take care of all your rug needs. We specialize in all aspects of fine rugs; from appraisals and customization to restoration and quality rug hand washing. At Blue Paisley Fine Rugswe offer various in-home services including home consultations and approvals which allow you to experience the rug of your choice inside your home to ensure it is a perfect fit with your existing décor. Similarly, we work with interior designers and production companies; we even offer a specialty rug rental service catering to production and commercial sets. Blue Paisley Fine Rugs

many places to add useful knowledge for me, such as a visit to this website thank you admin..

Blue Paisley Fine Rugs is Toronto’s newest premier provider of luxurious high quality rugs offering the widest selection in size, colour and services. We believe that every fine rug tells a story and manifests a tradition; it is an investment for generations to come and selecting one should be a tailored fulfilling experience. Our family works closely with our clients and suppliers to ensure that every selection leads to satisfaction for decades. Toronto Rug Cleaning

write not so simple posts that artistically. Continue the nice writing

high quality rugs offering the widest selection in size, colour and services. We believe that every fine rug tells a story and manifest
diet pills for teens

the internet would be a far better place..

Hello, i see that your page has low rank in google, your articles are interesting,but don’t have a lot of social shares.

Please let me know if you’re looking for a article writer for your site.
voyage au cambodge

Your article is really great. I like the way you wrote this information.

I’m going to watch out for brussels. I’ll appreciate if you continue this in future.Lots of people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

It is quite beneficial, although think about the facts when it reaches this target.

Excellent article. Very interesting to read. I really love to read such a nice article. Thanks! keep rocking.
building services london - construction company

Excellent website you have here, so much cool information!..
Saul Mishkin

I have added to my favorites. Thank You.
CCTV Dubai

I have added to my favorites. Thank You.

Only aspire to mention ones content can be as incredible.

it's really nice and meanful. it's really cool blog. Linking is very useful thing.you have really helped lots of people who visit blog and provide them usefull
buy instagram followers bitcoin

Hope you continue to share more of your ideas.I will definitely love to read.
Warner Brothers

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

More information about formatting options

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.