The Blue Moon
KAC HomePublicationsJuly / August 2003

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The Blue Moon is published bi-monthly by the Kentucky Arts Council. Please send comments, questions and information to The Blue Moon, Kentucky Arts Council, Old Capitol Annex, 300 West Broadway, Frankfort, KY 40601-1980 or call 502/564-3757V/TDD Toll Free: 1-888-833-2787

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Kentucky START Update
Determining a Target Group for Increasing Participation

One of the first steps leading to increasing participation in an organization's activities and events is research and planning. In order to effectively develop and implement strategies an organization should have a clear understanding and consensus of their participation goals. Using the goals, organizations can begin developing an operational plan by deciding what target populations to choose and how to gather information about them.

As Kentucky's demographics and individual communities change, it is important for organizations to re-examine the area they serve. The service area of an organization may be geographic, demographic, or behavioral. While it may be tempting to think that an organization "serves everyone," clearly defining its community of service will help an organization narrow the range of options in order to select a target population.

An organization that determines its service area is a five-county range will still need to narrow its focus for targeting a particular group within that area. For example, there might be a particular geographic area or location, or a rapidly growing immigrant population that has not been engaged in the organization's activities. Knowing the community, and the ways in which it is changing is crucial in order for an organization to work effectively within that community.

Once an organization has selected a target group, information about that group must be gathered. Organizations that have a clear understanding of how their target population views the arts, why they might be interested in participating, and what they consider major obstacles are more likely to successfully reach new audiences. This information about your target group may correspond to socio-demographic data, but basing your tactics on behavior and attitudes is much more effective.

Questions for an organization to consider include: What do you know about the lifestyle and motivations of your target group? Are there specific program interests, or information about preferences in leisure activities? How do they learn about opportunities for participating in arts activities or events? Knowing as much as possible about the target group and their behavior allows an organization to adapt programming, scheduling, pricing and marketing efforts to the specific needs of the potential audiences.

To gather information about a target group, an organization can use a combination of methods. Discussions among staff, board and volunteers may be helpful, however, this is only a beginning point. Advisory committees that include members of the target population will help guide an organization in other methods of collecting information. More formal methods include working with focus groups, conducting surveys, and assessing the effectiveness of traditional marketing means.

A clearly defined service area, the selection of a specific target group within that service area, and accurate information available about the interests and inclinations of that group, will enable an organization to develop and implement an effective operational plan for increasing participation among the members of the target population.

For a more detailed description of this information about selecting a target group for increasing participation, see chapters four and five of A New Framework for Building Participation by Kevin McCarthy and Kimberly Jinnett. This report, commissioned by Wallace-Reader's Digest Funds and presented by RAND, may be purchased by going to the publications section of the RAND website.

For more information about the Kentucky START Initiative, contact Lori Meadows, Executive Staff Advisor, at 1-888-833-2787x4812.

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