Ownership, pride, hope: What drives public support for museums?
A report has been published that looks at how emotions can drive public support for museums – and offers guidance and case studies for running successful advocacy and crowdfunding campaigns as well building longer-term and sustainable community engagement.
Pleasure, Connection and Purpose: How museums can leverage emotions to build greater public support, commissioned by the Art Fund and the Association of Independent Museums, is based on research undertaken last summer by behavioural research and insights consultancy M.E.L with seven museums and their communities.
The research identifies nine key emotional drivers that “are the building blocks of creating pleasure, connection, and purpose”:
The report examines how each emotional driver translates into public support – moving from the “pleasure” many people get when visiting a museum to “connection” and (the most difficult to achieve) a “feeling of purpose”.
Writing in a blog post, Lucy Bird, the Art Fund's policy manager, said ownership stands out as key when it comes to influencing policy.
“As we continue to navigate large swings from crisis to crisis, and policy to policy, it is useful to be reminded of the importance of creating and sustaining a feeling of community ownership, both in programmes and in collections,” she said.
“To support this, a strategic approach to government funding, which enables museums, galleries, and communities to have ownership over their future planning beyond the pandemic and cost-of-living crisis, could make all the difference.”
The report recommends organisations foster a long-term feeling of ownership through sustained dialogue and contemporary collecting with communities.
It also makes a number of recommendations for putting the research into practice, including a four-step approach to building emotionally resonant campaigns, and tips on how to foster emotional responses from audiences.
The seven museums that took part in the research were:
- Skylark, Dumbarton, Scotland
- St Mungo Museum of Religious Life & Art, Glasgow, Scotland
- Williamson Museum and Art Gallery, Birkenhead
- Creswell Crags, Worksop
- Newtown Textile Museum, Newtown, Wales
- Lowewood Museum, Greater London
- Cinema Museum, London
The participating museums were identified from a long-list of organisations that had been threatened with closure or cuts, had not yet opened, or had previously run crowdfunding campaigns.