Director of Data Strategy Leo Sharrock gave a key note presentation at this year's Family Arts Conference.

Fantastic Family Audiences and Where (and how) to Find Them

Leo Sharrock – Director of Data Strategy

Leo’s presentation analysed family audiences for all events coded ‘Children’ and ‘Family’ in 2015 and 2016 within the national Audience Finder database: over 32,000 events in total, 460,000 bookers and 2.5 million tickets.

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Four Audience Spectrum groups (those that make up the largest segments of audiences to arts and cultural events, generally) feature in significantly greater proportions as bookers for children and family events - they make up 65% of audiences generally, but 75% of all children and family audiences.

These four groups are Metroculturals (which comprise 5% of UK households, but 14% of children and family bookers); Commuterland Culturebuffs (11% UK households, 20% children and family bookers); Dormitory Dependables (15% UK households, 24% children and family bookers); Trips & Treats (16% households, 16% children and family bookers).

From those groups that are typically harder to reach through arts and cultural activities, there appears to be significant potential to engage the group Facebook Families through children and family events. Facebook Families make up 12% of the population, but only 4% of audiences for arts events generally. However, they are unique among the typically less well engaged groups, in that they attend children and family events in greater proportions than they do other arts events generally.

People from each of the ten Audience Spectrum groups, even some of those from the typically harder to reach groups and/or more financially hard pressed, are open to attending events across a range of prices, with considerable variation in ticket yield across genres and artforms.

These findings align with previous research about family audiences conducted by The Audience Agency, which identifies significant differences in price elasticity and other behaviour depending on whether or not families perceived activities as either a quick, filler ‘trip’ or a carefully planned ‘treat’. Audiences are prepared to invest significantly more for events which are a treat, (for example, as part of a birthday or Christmas celebration), compared to those ‘trips’ (like more local Saturday morning activities and half-term fillers, maternity leave activities, etc) where there are much greater expectations around low prices and free events.

Similarly, the research also identifies that group sizes for children and family events are larger than for arts events generally - but not that much larger. All these factors reinforce the continuing need to think flexibly about how arts organisations address the needs of the family unit, and how we serve and communicate with families. Booking lead times also tend to be shorter for children and family events, this is again likely reflective of previous The Audience Agency research, which shows that people booking trips absolutely need to be able to book later and ideally very flexibly indeed. It is in the nature of such trips that families need to know that the option is there, at regular times, and that that they have the flexibility to be able to chime in with it as and when needed.