Arts organisations need to boost membership as the cuts slash their funds


If you look around London and other UK cities you will find statues of dignitaries, commissioned through ’public subscription’. In previous eras, this meant that tax-payers hadn’t stumped up the cash to honour these people, nor was a single benefactor involved.

With the Government axe swinging over arts organisations, we look set to return to ’public’ funding for culture if we want to keep it. Already ticket prices have risen in galleries and museums entrance to London’s Design Museum is now a steep £11 for an adult and we might anticipate dwindling visitor numbers as a result.

With the Government axe swinging over arts organisations, we look set to return to ’public’ funding

In recent years, cultural institutions have sought to entice people into membership. Members or ’friends’ invariably enjoy reduced entrance prices and perks like private views, magazines or access to a ’members’ room’, as well as the smug feeling of being part of the in-crowd. The institution, meanwhile, has a guaranteed income from its public repertoire and gets to know its audience better.

It’s not a new notion, but we might expect to see its uptake grow, given the all-round advantages. And that can only benefit designers, drawing punters in via a beautifully produced members’ pack and follow-up communications.

The Art Fund now more prominent given the Arts Council’s slashed budgets is one of the highest-profile organisations seeking to boost membership. The work by Fallon breakaway 101 is a major step in achieving this and builds on Fallon’s previous work in the cultural arena, notably for Tate Modern.

Experience with Design Week’s Benchmarks awards has shown a rise in branding campaigns during recession. Arts organisations need campaigns like membership drives to establish themselves in the public eye as they compete for support and sponsorship. Design’s challenge is to help them differentiate themselves and make membership pleasurable.

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