Please forgive the slight sketchiness of this think out loud post. I will dive into these thoughts in the future and attempt to find more solid proof. Right now, please do view this post as my personal thoughts.
April 7, 2010, I wrote a blog post: Reach out to parents for younger audiences, just a thought…
In a nutshell, I was suggesting that it would be a good idea to build relationships with parents in order to build younger audiences, which to me seems to be a solution that gets to the core of the problem. Let me explain.
I continue to see articles and blog posts about the greying of arts audiences. Everyone blames the school systems who are no longer providing arts education (yet if the parents were clamoring for arts education, the picture would be different). Or, they blame the artists and arts organizations for not offering art in formats that the younger generations will relate to.
Here’s the thought that continues to pop up in my head though, the generations learn from other generations, especially if that generation is their parents.
GenX has mid to younger Baby Boomer parents. The times were a-changing when these parents were growing up. Classical music and other classical art forms were not the mainstream for this group, and so the likelihood of passing the love of the classical arts was not very likely. The school systems during GenX’s time were cutting back on arts education. However, there is a group of the GenX generation that are very involved in the arts today. How did this happen?
Some of GenX’s parents did pass on the love of the arts in one way or another. They either directly influenced or allowed and encouraged their kids to discover the arts on their own.
Hmmm….looking at this statement, it seems like this continues to happen. No matter what kids say during their teenage years, parents do influence their kids one way or another.
The kids of the GenX generation are now the children we are attempting to reach. The problem here is that the classical arts did not connect with the GenX generation except at a very small level (through the smaller percentage of parents that influenced their GenX child). Add to the fact that the classical arts continue to ignore connecting with the GenX generation. No wonder they are not able to reach their children. GenX is a generation that is shaping their families more privately than any other generation. Learning how to connect with this generation becomes important.
The breakdown, when you look at the bigger picture, seems to have happened with the ignoring of the GenX generation. They are truly the lost generation, the lost piece of this puzzle. If you want younger audiences, start relating to GenX who are the parents of the children you are wanting to reach and the influencers of the older Millennials (GenX is like their big brothers and sisters). Plus, GenX is young enough (wink) to qualify as a younger audience themselves, and they have the buying power at this point in time.
If you still don’t believe me, think about all those commercials for back to school products. What music was selected for these commercials? 80’s music, the anthems of the GenX generation. We can learn from the mainstream industries and learn how to connect with GenX again.
I will write more later on how to woo the GenX generation. I welcome your thoughts.
Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,
Audience Development Specialists
“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
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