Artificial intelligence continues to make its way into the main stream and into multiple industry sectors. The arts are no exception. Over the past few years we have begun to see a wave of organizations use artificial intelligence as a method to both enhance the audience experience and generate new creative expression.
August tends to be summer's warmest month, and the news in the arts management and technology sector was just as hot. Cuseum released a report on AR’s visitor impact, early blockchain prototypes were found in the New York Times, and the Broad Museum shared details on their upcoming smart gallery labels. Plus, if your organization hasn’t thought about Pinterest in a while, you may want to. Read on to find out more!
As a part of the “Museum Data and What to Do with It” series, AMT Lab contributor Kate Lin takes a look at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh’s journey of adapting to technology trends, and how Big Data is changing the museum’s operations. This post focuses on the visitor experience and development at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. More on how data influences the Museum's marketing efforts can be found here.
Unique Audience Structure and Visitor Experience For Children’s Museums
George Brzezinski, the Director of Visitor Services at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, oversees all aspects of visitor services at the museum from admission, cafes, to rental events. Brzezinski brought his previous experience in the sports management field into the non-profit world 12 years ago. When asked about the most significant difference is in terms of visitor service at the Children’s Museum compared to other organizations, Brzezinski said, “the age of our visitors, obviously.”
Many visitors at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh are below the age of ten, which makes customer service especially important. To serve its audience’s needs, the museum is constantly working on enhancing visitor experience by finding ways to speed up the admission process. “When the most common visitors are young parents with small children, there’s not much room for patience at the admission desk. Data and technology changed every part of our operations, especially in terms of admissions and membership,” said Brzezinski.
Qualitative data collected through surveys and social media channels is informative in providing the museum with customer feedback. Parking fee collection is one great example of how the museum responded to customer feedback using technology. Instead of having people pay the parking fees at the admissions desk, visitors can now pay at the machines in the parking lot. This seemingly modest change has made the admissions process much quicker and more convenient for the museum members. Now members can pass through the desk quickly and start enjoying the museum without taking out their wallet and waiting for the payment to be processed. There’s also an app for people to download that remembers their car’s license plate number and credit card information, making the payment process as simple as hitting a button on their device on each visit.
Efforts and Challenges in Data Collection at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh
The unique composition of its audience also makes collecting data at the admissions desk a difficult task. As of now, the museum only collects zip codes from their patrons, unless they make a purchase at the museum. The target audience of the children’s museum are families with children. This audience group values efficiency and convenience more than others. If patrons purchase a membership, other data such as name, age, address and phone number can be collected. For regular visitors or non-members, it is almost impossible for the children’s museum to collect more data without sacrificing the quality of visitor experience.
However, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh has a department of learning and research that conducts audience surveys separately from the admissions process, attempting to make up for the information that is hard to collect at the front desk. The department utilizes special events such as birthday parties, reunions, and field trips, to gather feedback and shape profiles for different audience segments based on the results.
Data Integration: From Point-of-Sale E-Commerce Data to CRM Database
The implementation of Siriusware, an on-site ticketing and point-of-sale software, has significantly improved the data integration at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. Siriusware delivers essential features required at every point-of-sale from online shopping, e-gift cards to admissions. Prior to Siriusware, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh had TicketMaster Vista, which did not automatically integrate e-commerce data with the museum database. Whenever a customer bought a membership online, the museum staff would have to manually enter the data into their database. With Siriusware, all point-of-sale data is integrated in real-time. An additional add-on connects Siriursware to Raisers’ Edge, the primary donor database at Children’s Museum, and allows the membership data to flow into the donor database and vice versa.
However, there are still some limitations of the current system to fit all the needs for Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. Unlike some museums that outsource their café operations to a third-party provider, the Children’s Museum runs its own café service – the Big Red Room Café. Compared to other software packages that are designed for the food industries, Siriusware currently has limited functionality when it comes to managing food inventory.
Data Provides Insights for Development at Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh
Gina Evans, the Director of Development, oversees the museum’s development efforts to raise two million dollars to support their annual operational budget, plus another one million to support other special projects and campaigns. Evans leads a four-person team, covering areas including corporate giving, individual giving, grant writing and special events.
Donor data is stored in the Raiser’s Edge database. The team tracks and analyzes the data to support the museum’s fundraising efforts. The team pays attention to trends over time, looking at the type of giving and how people give from year to year. Raiser’s Edge helps the development team tremendously for its ability to target each specific donor group differently based on the reports that it generates.
Examining data from Siriusware and MailChimp also provides the museum additional insights to detect potential future donors. It allows the museum to track people who make donations online or at the front desk and members’ activities in the museum. Mailchimp makes it easier to track the changes of the open rates and for the museum to test the effectiveness of different targeting strategies to those potential donors.
Mobile Bidding App Streamlined Fundraising Events
The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh was one of the first cultural organizations to use GiveSmart, a mobile bidding app for its fundraising events. The app handles the guest registration and helps with the auction and bidding process. The customers can register on site or pre-register online in advance. It is a high functional tool to collect visitor data and streamline the event process by providing real-time data reports such as which items are more attractive to the audience or which ones are neglected. The real-time reports allow the museum to take immediate actions to further promote those neglected items on-site. The data collected by the app also provides the development team with valuable insights into the audience’s preferences and bidding habits when planning for future events.
It took the museum more time to set up the mobile app, it has made it much easier to manage the auction data and financials for the fundraising events. Other Pittsburgh non-profit organizations, such as Society of Contemporary Craft, have just begun to use this app after consulting with the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.
Challenges to Utilize Data For Development Efforts At the Children’s Museum
Budget is always a concern in terms of acquiring other technologies or talents in helping the museum to interpret data. Aside from looking into possibilities to purchase more advanced software packages, the staff is continuously looking into maximizing the functionalities of their current resources. The development team is also looking to take more advantage of the crystal reports function, a reporting tool within Raiser’s Edge database that takes the reporting to a much more detailed level.
According to Evans, the average members of the Children’s Museum remain for about four years and leave when their children are about eight years old, moving on to other organizations such as the Science Centers or the zoo. Those members might return to the museum when they have new children or even grandchildren. One of the things that the museum is trying to achieve is to establish the donor profile over his or her life time to establish patterns of behaviors and better understand its donors. “Currently we don’t have those data profile because our museum has only been around for 36 years, which is only a generation long,” said Evans.
Like many other non-profit organizations, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh is challenged by not always having the ability to collect the data it needs or the capacity to digest and analyze the data it has. However, the museum has continued to demonstrate growth and a strong dedication to providing high quality content and service for its visitors. With standardizing data analysis being one focus for the upcoming 3-year strategic plan process, we will certainly look forward to the progress that the museum can achieve.
Banner Image "Lion Dance by Josh Gates" provided by Children's Museum of Pittsburgh
AMT Lab contributor Kate Lin takes a look at Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh’s continuous journey of adapting to technology trends, and how Big Data is changing the museum’s operations.
We are conducting the 3rd National Ticketing Software Survey during the month of February. If you are interested in sharing your experience and your opinions about your software, please let us know. All those participating in the survey will receive a full copy of the report which will provide a national view as well as cluster analyses by discipline, budget size, and geographic region. The data will be useful for both organizations and vendors. Organizations will gain a better understanding of their own practices as compared to their peers and, more importantly, be able to use the findings as evidence for future technology funding campaigns. Vendors will have explicit evidence as to the needs and wants for future software design.
In 2000 the Washington DC based Smithsonian American Museum of Art announced the creation of the New Media/New Century Award. The New Media/New Century Award became one of first projects to support new art created for the Web. The museum accepted proposals for original Web-based projects that explored the subject of American landscape, and how the new medium of Web art affected the American landscape as a subject.
Though the project is over 10 years old, it demonstrates the early and exceptional sensibility of the Smithsonian’s curators. They understood the growing relevance new media art and especially Web-art, and its impact not only on people’s everyday perceptions, but also on the art scene as a whole.
When talking about new media art, there is no single definition. According to a 2001 research study by the Rockefeller Foundation, media artworks can be defined according to nine common elements: fluidity, intangibility, liveness, variability, replicability, connectivity, interactivity, computability, and chance. New media art is a very general and broad category and includes many subcategories. Among these, net art, digital art and plurimedia art are the most common within the visual art field. Nevertheless, the meaning of new media is constantly evolving.
A discussion of some of the pieces featured at MoMA's exhibition "Talk to Me", and its implications of the intersection of art and technology.
After two years writing for Technology in the Arts, I am leaving the Center for Arts Management and Technology. The unfortunate part about being a graduate student is that you will have to leave a place you love after a certain number of years, and my number is up! Special thanks to David and the rest of the CAMT staff for making the last two years amazing, educational, and memorable. I am very excited about my new position with the data-driven arts and entertainment consulting firm TRG Arts. I have been hired as the Strategic Communications Specialist, which means I will serve as a writer and editor for the firm’s consulting projects, Data Lab research and analytics projects, and a contributor to TRG’s knowledge center online.
Before I leave Technology in the Arts, I wanted to share some of the secrets I learned during the last few months of looking for arts jobs, mainly at non-profit organizations. Because nonprofits usually begin their fiscal year in July, new positions at these organizations are often posted in the summer. That means now is the prime time for you to find your new dream job in the arts.
Here are my favorite tech tools to help you find that job:
Arts jobs often need to be filled quickly, which also means the time you have to apply is limited. We’ve all had the experience of finding a great—no, perfect—job and finding out that the “apply by” date has passed or being informed after you’ve submitted your resume that the company had already extended an offer to someone.
Changedetection.com comes in handy when you know that there is a company (or companies) you’d love to work for. Obviously you aren’t going to check in on the employment page of their website every day. Better that you just be notified when they post a job, right? Well, through the magic of technology, you can find out when that employment page changes. Changedetection checks the page every day, week or month (you specify which) and sends you an email when there has been a change.
If there is a specific geographic location you know you’d like to work in, changedetection can help too. For example, I was looking for jobs in Portland at the beginning of my search. I looked on the arts council website and there wasn’t a job board, but I wasn’t going to let a silly little thing like that stop me! What the arts council site DID have was a listing of all the arts orgs in Portland. I put a changedetection on the employment page of each organization I was interested in and got on with my search.
The downside of tracking all these pages is that you might have to sort through some jobs that aren’t for you. For example, I looked mainly at full-time marketing jobs, but I was notified for ANY job at those companies, including development and box office jobs, and in some cases, internships. However, you can take this as an opportunity to build networks. If you see a great job in finance, maybe you have a friend who looking who also happens to be a finance whiz. Forward the job to her and not only have you strengthened your friendship, but also she may want to return the favor if she comes across a job that fits you.
I would recommend setting these up relatively early in your job search and keep adding as you find companies that are of interest to you. This way, you will also see which jobs come up and how frequently as well as important information like salary ranges and organizational structure information. (For example, will you be working for someone who is a new hire herself/himself? Is there a new Executive Director at the org?)
The interface for monitoring a page on ChangeDetection.com
LinkedIn has attempted to tout itself as a job-finding service. However, at the early-career/emerging leader level, I find that is less helpful for finding jobs and more helpful for simply networking. There’s not that many headhunters out there for arts jobs, except in the executive level and maybe for IT people.
Anyway, how many times have we heard that the arts world is a small world? I use LinkedIn to see if there’s anyone I know who may know someone at the company I am applying to. If your relationship is good with that person, ask them to put in a good word for you.
Sometimes LinkedIn groups will have job postings; I haven’t found this to be true for most of the arts admin/management groups though. Please comment below if you know of a good group for this.
For non-profit organizations, it’s essential to check out the company on GuideStar. GuideStar is a free service that gathers and publicizes information about nonprofit organizations. Much of the information is geared toward donors and foundations, but there is a lot of useful information on it for the job seeker.
Once you register (free), you have access to almost any arts organization’s 990 tax forms, which means you can see what the organization’s budget size is and how they are doing financially. Note that for many organizations, the most recent year might be 2008 or 2009, so the information could be slightly dated or influenced by the recession—which is still important to know. The 990 serves not only as a way to see if the org has a record of keeping a balanced budget, but also as a historical snapshot of the organization, in terms of grants received, senior staff turnover, and capital campaigns and similar projects, among other things.
GuideStar is also extremely helpful to estimate salaries, especially if you are applying to a director-level position. The IRS requires non-profits to list the salaries of their five highest-paid employees. This is pretty valuable information, as the size of most non-profit arts organizations means that you aren’t likely to find very accurate information on that exact job at that exact organization.
Arts Jobs Sites
One of my friends posted a status update recently “wondering if CareerBuilder is really a builder”. I replied that all it had “built” for me was piles of emails in my spam folder. Personally, I’ve had a lot more luck overall with industry-specific sites, some of which can be used in conjunction with changedetection, as discussed above. (Bonus: The industry-specific sites manage to present you with jobs without asking if you want information from University of Phoenix every other time you go to look at a job. Just saying.) Here are my favorites:
- Playbill Job Listings (mostly theatre)
- Theatre Communications Group's Arts Search (need a log-in and password for this one)
- Association of Performing Arts Presenters Job Bank
- Opera America Job Listings (also available as an RSS Feed)
- Dance USA Jobs in the Arts
- Association of Children’s Museums
- American Association of Museums' jobHQ
- Chronicle of Higher Education (mostly faculty positions at colleges and universities)
- Also, Createquity will occasionally post interesting opportunities, so that is worth adding to your RSS feed if you haven’t already.
State and local arts councils may have a good job posting site, depending on where you’re looking to find a job. For example:
- Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance
- Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington (Washington D.C., not Washington state)
- New York Foundation for the Arts
Lastly, if you have an interest in development or program management, heads up! There are a few sites/ email alerts that I’ve found especially useful:
Philanthropy News Digest (A service of Foundationcenter.org)
PND has created a job alert system that will email you a daily summary of recent jobs in your area of interest. I cast my net wide by checking a lot of states and position types (communications, development, program management, etc) when I signed up for the alerts. I now get about 15 job postings a day. The fields of the organizations are quite diverse too. A recent email contained jobs from Napa Valley Opera House, University of Chicago, the Rainforest Alliance, and Vera Institute of Justice.
Chronicle of Philanthropy posts mostly development jobs, which, like PND, you can sort by location, position type, and the field of the organization (education, health, museum, etc).
It’s also worth mentioning that DotOrgJobs is good for fundraising jobs and other nonprofit jobs; however, I have not seen a lot of arts-specific jobs from them. You can subscribe via email or RSS feed.
On organizing email alerts:
You might be saying to yourself, “That’s a lot of email alerts to deal with.” I use gmail and have set a rule to have these emails automatically labeled “job search” and archived so that they don’t clutter up my inbox. Then I set an alert on Google Calendar reminding me to go through them once a week, so that I actually read them! This can also easily be done with Outlook.
Do you know of any other good sources for arts jobs? If so, please post them below! Happy hunting!