How Cultural Organizations Can Reach Out to Younger More Diverse Populations Using the Kingston Chamber Music Festival Model
Historically, the Kingston Chamber Music Festival has served two distinct audiences: younger school children through its schools outreach program and middle age to older adults who have patronized the summer festival since its inception. This latter community is dwindling as age takes its toll. The KCMF Board recognizes an immediate need to safeguard the long-range stability of this celebrated organization by intentionally diversifying its audience base.
Thanks to generous support from the Launders Trust, the KCMF Board of Directors is able to address a key element of the current KCMF strategic plan: to attract and serve younger audience members in their thirties and forties who can help define, lead, and support the Kingston Chamber Music Festival over the coming decades.
As a Board, we are pursuing the following strategies to build a younger audience base:
1. Implementation of focus groups comprised of younger local concertgoers to determine present barriers to KCMF attendance and preferences among the 30-40-somethings for programming;
2. Exploration of opportunities for collaborative programming between the local Contemporary Theatre Company, the Pumphouse Music Works, the Jamestown Arts Center, the South County Art Association, and similar organizations;
3. Booking at least one or two Launders-sponsored, KCMF events in new venues with KCMF-endorsed crossover artists and programming, if findings so indicate;
4. Improvement of the KCMF digital toolkit to enhance social media and web interface for the purpose of strengthening sales, audience outreach and follow-up; and
5. Recruitment of talented younger individuals to the KCMF Board of Directors.
The focus of this targeted Launders funding opportunity is welcome. For the long-term health of the organization, we need to diversify our audience base. A small KCMF sub-committee, including our President and our Managing Director, who is a member of the thirty-something community is presently engaging in deep conversations with contemporary peers to ascertain barriers they perceive in KCMF concert attendance and what would have to change to attract their attendance/participation in the future. Focus group sessions around this topic will be convened in late November, either at the Contemporary Theatre or the Pumphouse Music works.
Additionally, we have booked concert space at the Pumphouse Musicworks for a crossover concert with KCMF artists in late February 2019. Natalie Zhu , Artistic
Director of the KCMF is in the process of confirming musicians for this performance, one who has an international reputation for his crossover endeavors. We anticipate that further programming for this audience will be in response to our findings from the focus groups and questionnaires.
We thank the Launders Trust Board of Directors for its investment in the Kingston Chamber Music Festival, and we look forward to keeping you all updated on our progress.