Diversity, making culture “fun” among challenges of Denver arts scene revealed by new survey


Latinos and African-Americans in Denver are less likely to attend arts and cultural events, are feeling less represented in the cultural scene, and are more likely to face obstacles such as concerns about parking, a lack of information and feelings of exclusion at cultural events than whites.

Those are among the most significant findings of a phone survey conducted by Corona Insights on behalf of the city of Denver for its Imagine 2020 cultural plan, which launched in 2014 and reached its halfway mark this year.

The report, which city officials and pollsters shared at a meeting at the McNichols Building in Civic Center park on Tuesday, also compared results of a 2013 survey with the latest findings. The new survey included 800 respondents chosen to represent current population demographics for the city.

“I am unsurprised by the results, but we already know that we have some work to do — which is why I wanted to become a commissioner, and what Imagine 2020 is for,” Suzi Q. Smith, a poet and recently installed member of the Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs, said after the event. “There are some areas, particularly around diversity and inclusion, that I’m really interested in having the city engaged with. We’re a much more diverse city than I think all of our institutions show.”

While some findings in the survey were positive — including reports of increased attendance at concerts, galleries, museums and festivals, as well as increases in “personal art creation” — the report saw declines in respondents who attended a theater, dance, opera or symphony performance compared with 2013’s results.

The percentage of respondents who rated the amount of Denver’s culturally diverse programming as “good or excellent” also declined, from 68 percent in 2013 to 54 percent in 2017. The study noted declines in the number of people who were confident about experiencing arts and culture in their neighborhood, and in the city at large, as well as having the proper information to find such offerings in the first place.

“We still have more work to do,” Mayor Michael Hancock, who spoke to the 170 arts administrators and cultural workers in attendance, said at the close of the meeting.

The results are crucial, Hancock said, because arts and culture represent the city’s greatest marketing tool — whether they’re involved in selling Denver as a destination for nonstop flights or pitching the city for foreign business investments.

“You’re the reasons we’re able to do these things around the world,” Hancock said.

The event began with the results of Culture Track, a national study conducted by New York-based agency LaPlaca Cohen, which underlined the need for cultural organizers to “rethink their programs and outreach as demands of audiences of all ages shift.”

“Take your digital teams and really focus on this,” said Maggie Hartnick, managing director of LaPlaca Cohen. “Think differently about how you’re attracting new, different and younger audiences.”

The study noted major shifts in loyalty to arts and culture brands, as well as the way audiences support cultural institutions, in light of …read more

Source:: The Denver Post – News

      

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