MHM’s Washington DC Audience Atlas report, published in February 2021, focuses heavily on how the pandemic is affecting people’s cultural habits, motivations and future intentions. 

Download the report below or watch our February 23 webinar here.

We’ve chosen four actionable insights from the report that will have resonance for cultural organizations everywhere:

1. People’s biggest safety concern is other attenders

DC audiences are naturally concerned venues have the right safety measures in place, but for 84% of the market the main fear is other people not following the rules.

Advertising draconian enforcement policies isn’t the solution: attenders want their visit to be safe AND fun.   

Action: The trick to managing these competing messages is to emphasis the pleasure of the visit while positioning Covid safety as an entirely normal part of the experience. SFMOMA has done a great job of this on their website and social media with images like these: 

2. After months of ‘same’, people are excited for ‘new’

The top incentive for DC audiences to return to cultural venues is to ‘try something new’, while the thing they are most looking forward to is ‘learning something new’.

Action: Even if you haven’t changed your offer much, you can tap into people’s need for stimulation by highlighted new ways they can experience the old. This might even be as simple as: ‘See the art without the crowds.’

3. Families are digital culture’s greatest fans

DC families with children under 18 have been the biggest consumers of culture online this year, particularly educational content: 

  • Families are significantly more likely to engage (82% compared with 62% of the overall market).
  • They are more willing pay for online content, and
  • They are most likely to say they’ll continue to use engage with cultural institutions in this way post-pandemic. 

But there are inevitable signs of screen fatigue. Seven in ten in the DC market want a rest from the computer in their spare time. 

Action: Offer target audiences plenty of ‘hybrid’ content where watching the screen isn’t the focus of the activity. A curated physical task – such as an art project or dance class – offers engagement with the organization and give the target audience a welcome break from square eyes. 

4. Sustainable fundraising relies on shared values

DC audiences will fight to save the culture they love.

Nearly half (43%) will donate to save an organization from closure and 40% will give to support paying staff or artists. 

For more sustainable, long-term strategies, the values-based motivations to donate are stronger than transactional: 38% would support an organisation in their community, and 37% whose mission aligns with their beliefs.

By contrast, only 27% cite benefits to themselves, like tickets or access, as a motivator to donate. 

Action: To connect with potential supporters for long-term relationships, put your mission and community values at the heart of fundraising messaging. 

MHM Washington DC Audience Atlas 2021 Report

Full report with insights and data from the Washington, DC Audience Atlas, published February 2021.

view | download | pdf | 2317KB

The Audience Atlas includes has powerful insight on over 60 individual DC cultural institutions. 

For a deeper dive into the data, contact