Like My 5th Birthday Party…
A: “This is exactly like my 5th birthday party. We invited a whole bunch of people, everyone said they were coming and then no one showed up.”
M: “That happened to me too! A lot. It’s totally like high school every time we do this. We invite all our friends but then they bail last minute. Only this time, we invite the whole world and no one comes.”
Usually, that’s about 45 minutes before a program begins and we’re just nervously freaking out. But at about 10-to to about 10-after, we’re flooded with people and raring to go.
…When No One Comes to the Party
Maybe it’s the time of year (not really, we didn’t have any problems last year) or the weather (ya, let’s blame it on the weather) because we have our regular discussion but then our fears become reality.
We have a couple of programs recently – and when I say program, I mean public education, interpretive (information + entertainment = interpretation) programs – that weren’t so greatly attended. Now, I’m really good at my job. If you didn’t know, my job is to make learning fun. It’s to make learning so fun that you don’t know that you’re learning.
Sneaky clown, I am.
So, if our programs are super quality and lots of fun then it sucks when people don’t come to the party (program). And I get that people have family stuff, and TV watching and work and knitting to catch up on and hair to wash, but come on!
I guess this post is just my little rant of wishing, whole-heartedly, that more people would engage in some sort of educational experience more often. I think a lot of people don’t realize that museums (and other places) can provide the sort of cool, chill atmosphere that many are looking for while at the same time giving your brain a tiny bit of stimulation. So it’s a poopy feeling when no one comes to the party.
The other part, which I shall now rant about, that sucks, which has nothing to do with the public attending/not attending these programs, is the amount of work that goes into one. I’m not really complaining about the amount work that goes into one single program. It’s the fact that people – you, the public – are missing out on the product of some really hard work (not just me – lots of museums, parks, etc…). It’s the fact that I am so excited to share some really neat stories with people – the whole point of the program – and only a fraction of the intended audience shows up. I love those folks who do come. And while in parks, there were those kids and families who came to EVERY. SINGLE. PROGRAM. But it’s the fact that those who don’t show up, don’t know what they’re missing and don’t know just how cool the stuff is AND how that cool stuff is going to make them feel about their own lives.
I know there’s a lot of work to be done in the marketing department at all heritage institutions but many are doing good work and reaching their audiences through social media, other online presences, radio, TV, print, etc… I think the problem lies in follow through for the public. So many times, people come up to us after a program and say;
“OH. MY. GOODNESS. That was a wonderful program. Thank you so much for having us and sharing with us.”
and then continue…
“YOU SHOULD DO THIS NEXT TIME.”
and in my brain, I say;
“We did that last time. You missed it.” or “We’ve done that in the past and no one attended.”
But can I blame the public for the lack of follow through? It’s probably a combination of image, program type, cost, marketing, and follow through. At the end of the day, it’s the public who has to get in their cars and walk through the door.
I guess it’s up to us programmers, marketers and institutions to get people to do that.
But give us a hand and next time you hear about a neat museum program, come! It’ll be fun. And then I can stop harassing you.