Approach and progress

Following an idea of curator Gudrun Sommer, we started contacting youth centres in Graz to inform them about our documentary film program for children and teenagers. The idea was met with great interest. We are very delighted about the fact that in this way we can reach young people outside the school context and draw their attention to the programs offered by the steirischer herbst.

In this matter, an article in the Kunstzeitung June 2012 by Uta Baier, concerning art education for seniors, inspired us to get in touch with senior centres and to present them our education program as well, as it is not exclusively dedicated for a young audience. We are convinced that education should not be restricted to students and young people only.

Markus Boxler, education / workshops

Status quo and perspective

Diversifying our audience: Reaching out to new and different groups of people that would enjoy our festival and building relationships that would result in them becoming a regular part of our audience.

The goal to interest an audience apart from the solid middle-class of educated cosmopolitan people for contemporary and experimental art seems to require particularly time, patience and endurance.

Up to now, the emphases of imparting work at steirischer herbst pointed to programs for adults. The importance of getting in touch with the wide range of artistic points of view starting from an early age is an incontrovertible fact, which is why we (the department of education at steirischer herbst) concentrated – and of course still are and will be concentrating – on young students. It’s comparatively easy to get a hold on groups of students through their teachers, which is another reason for offering special programs for this specific audience. Admittedly, we are aware that by using this strategy, we are reaching primarily students from secondary academic schools, which would bring us back to the matter at hand.

However, we were positively surprised that  - with an offer of practical theatrical workshops combined with a visit of a theatre production – we got hold of a group of trainees of a sponsor‘s company in 2010.  Apparently a successful effort, since the same company booked the workshop for their trainees again in 2011. Therefore we expanded our offer to all sponsors of steirischer herbst. In this manner we were able to reach young professionals of another sponsors’ company and other interested parties. We’re well aware of the fact that we are not talking about masses of visitors – we do see it as a first step into diversifying our audience though: Obviously there is a need for unconventional concepts to achieve this objective.

In order to make this a more solution oriented blog post, we present you with a random list of dos and don’ts we thought about in terms of diversifying our audience – points we’d like to discuss in more detail in following posts.

  • Do find out if potential audience would enjoy our festival.
  • Do create programming that is enticing for our potential audience. Don’t expect them to come to us.  We may have to come to them.
  • Don’t expect them to understand the shown art right away.  Don’t expect them not to understand the shown art right away.
  • Do educate about the shown art.
  • Don’t create one-time programming and expect this will do the trick.
  • Do follow up with your new audience and start a conversation with them.
  • Do continue to build relationships through more programs of interest.
  • Do set up a task force or committee to help outreach to your potential audience.
  • Do diversify your own life by building relationships with people of various backgrounds, attending new and different events, etc.
  • Do find opportunities to collaborate with a variety of organizations and groups.
  • Do personally invite people that may be interested in helping you build relationships with their communities.
  • Do keep the conversation going.

However, the question remains: How? What else can we do?