Walker Recipe 10: A Think & A Drink

Organization Name: The Walker Art Center

City: Minneapolis

Program Name: A Think & A Drink

Time of Program: Evenings

Program Length: The program, typically lasts the whole evening; it is a 45 minute tour through an exhibit followed by a dance performance and mingling afterward over drinks.

Goal: Walker strove to find ways to bridge a perceived artistic discipline ‘gap’ and more audiences from the galleries into the theater.

Time of Year Offered: Year-round throughout the run of the season

Program Description:

A Think & A Drink is a social gathering for a self-selected group of Walker members after gallery hours that involves a guided exhibition tour pre-performance. Most often these events link exhibition themes and visual art with the performing artists onstage. A Think & A Drink is an exclusive member event, limited in size, with the chance to view art and then talk and discuss over drinks and refreshments.

Number of Participants: There are 40–50 ticketed attendees for each A Think & A Drink.

Target Audience: The target audience is predominantly visual arts member base and experts such as curators and/or artists providing a membership perk.

Private/Public Public

Nature of Audience Engagement: Audience members attend the tour, interact with each other, listen to any "experts" involved, and ask questions.

Location: The program takes place at the Walker in both the gallery and the theater.

How Many Staff: About 4 staff members are needed: 2 staff members run the bar including time both pre-show and during, and 2 staff members manage and plan the selected events, run the front of house and manage the space.

Program Cost: This program costs about $1,000. This includes paying for staff, drink tickets for artists/guests, food for patrons (about 20-25 people), and subsidized tickets for participants.

Attendance To Date: There are 40–50 ticketed attendees for each Think & A Drink and every one of these events, when connected to performing arts shows, has sold out all of the tickets.

What works? A Think & A Drink provides context to a dance experience and encourages a predominantly visual arts member base to try out a performance. Those with more experience in gallery spaces are given an opportunity to connect to dance. The events provide unique access to experts such as curators and/or artists, and provide a membership perk. The performing arts version that includes a dance show builds on a successful visual arts program. Create a group of loyal patrons or reward subscribers by offering an exclusive tour of your space or galleries prior to a performance. The tour could include meeting the creator, the curator/programmer, or a dance historian to provide some context around the experience. Make it social! Drinks and snacks help.

Past Research on Program: Walker’s EDA-related research included distributing surveys to measure differences in audience’s engagement with the performance, comparing those who participated in Walker’s array of EDA-sponsored activities versus those who did not participate with positive results for those who did participate in the survey. This research was across various types of events, so is not specific to the A Think & A Drink. Engagement activities—particularly post-performance, or a combination of post-performance and online activity, resulted in significantly stronger reports of impact (captivation, feeling challenged, emotional and spiritual resonance, connecting with the dancers on stage, connecting with the audience, and the impression left by the performance) compared to those who did not participate in any engagement activities.

Continuing Program? Yes

Additional Comments:

A Think & A Drink provides opportunities to deeply engage with art and affiliate with other members, curators, and artists who present their work at the Walker. The director of the Think & A Drink program sent us an email in which she said "I’ve heard from a number of members about how much they loved A Think & A Drink. I also talked to a few PA-newbies who were impressed, intrigued and will probably try out another PA event because of this experience." According to the Walker’s membership department, “people are always happy to have tours be somewhat exclusive and are glad to be with others that are a little more engaged than the general tour groups that happen on weekends. Attendees are more chatty than the regular tour groups, too.” Note: This entry was taken from the Walker's Recipe Book for Audience Engagement, a product that their staff created during Round One of EDA. The full recipe book is available on the Dance/USA website (see EDA Audience Engagement Resource Library).

Resources & Links:

Please see the information about the Walker Art Center and its recipe book on the Dance/USA website
Read a profile about the project, and access related products, including the Recipe Book: http://www2.danceusa.org/walkerartcenter
See a resource guide about the project, and view videos from Walker staff about it: http://www.danceusa.org/edalearningexchangescontent

Target Audiences Young Adults, 25-35 Seniors General Audiences Families or kid-friendly

Event Formats Dance 101 - How to introduce contemporary dance to the novice adult

Social Bonding Aspects With dance experts - professors, critics, etc. With peer audience members With other "guides" such as students, volunteers