Over the summer, we teamed up with two VCU graduates to research the ICA’s followers to develop audience profiles and understand their motivations. Collaboratively managed by Joseph Baumgardner (BS Marketing ’16) and Christian Marchant (BS Creative Advertising ’15), the project began with a survey developed to identify those most likely to support and engage with the ICA.  The survey was distributed via social media and e-mail to individuals who follow the ICA’s Facebook page and have subscribed to our e-newsletter. Questions ranged from general demographics to the number of museum visits per year and rankings for a list of leisure activities.

The results identified 4 key audiences: the VCU artistic family, campus connoisseurs, Richmond art and cultural supporters, and Richmond art connoisseurs.  While all of them share a common love of art, fun, and challenging ideas, the groups differ in their level of cultural engagement and social activity.  Following are descriptions of each profile:

VCU Artistic Family (visits art museums 3-10 times per year):  

Comprises a campus crowd that shows an interest in art, but is equally interested in other social events and outdoor activities such as street festivals, theater events, and hiking. When they visit an art museum, they expect to be inspired and gain fresh perspectives on life. This crowd appreciates that the ICA will “provide an art space/venue closer to VCU than the VMFA,” and recommendations for future engagement with this audience include university collaborations and campus outreach.

Richmond Art and Cultural Supporters (visit art museums 3-10 times per year):

Made up of local denizens who enjoy a variety of social and leisure past times, from visiting the city’s beloved and scenic Maymont park, to attending local baseball games, to curling up with a good book at home. Although they share an appreciation for the arts, especially when the artwork and exhibitions relate to real events taking place in the world, a trip to the museum may not come first in their list of weekend activities.  The ICA’s involvement with city events in conjunction with strategic promotions will strengthen efforts to “make more contemporary art easily accessible to locals,” a desire directly expressed by this audience.

Campus Connoisseurs (visit art museums 11+ times per year)

Features VCU students, faculty, and alumni who make art a priority in their lives, attending museums and galleries whenever possible. They prefer challenging art exhibitions and share an intense desire to educate themselves about the art world, actively participating in artist talks and lectures. One hope of this crowd is that the ICA will provide “opportunities to view art and hear lectures by artists in an exciting, inviting space,” so alerting them to special programs and educational opportunities via campus news will help bring ICA programming to their attention.

Richmond Art Connoisseurs (visit art museums 11+ times per year):

Composed of active artists, performers, and art enthusiasts who are extremely involved in the art world at large and go out of their way to see new exhibitions and participate in arts events. They are looking for experiences to inform and inspire their own work as well as offer professional and networking opportunities. As this crowd expresses excitement about the ICA’s potential to “bring more art and opportunity to Richmond, further connecting [it] with the global art world,” participating in the national and global dialogue about art both online and in the press will foster efforts to stay connected with this culture-savvy crowd.

These findings will inform how the ICA approaches its marketing and communications efforts going forward. We are grateful to the many participants for their thoughtful and prompt feedback. Please expect additional surveys in the near future.