In order to have a coherent approach, any organisation wishing to engage in cultural education needs an education policy. It sets out the aims and objectives of the educational services, the context in which the activities are carried out, provides an overview that allows priorities to be set, identifies specific tasks, establishes the decision-making process and specifies expectations, available resources and target groups, as well as tools for evaluating their activities.
The educational mission communicates publicly the essence of the existence of educational activities, summarising in a memorable phrase the motivation for why we do certain activities, for whom and what we propose. The mission is complemented by the vision, which provides a projection of the organisation’s long-term positioning, plus the values that the organisation chooses, promotes and respects, in line with its own organisational culture. Borrowed from marketing, these principles have been adapted to the cultural domain. For example, the mission, vision and values of the Indianapolis Children’s Museum are outlined here.
With this in mind, an extremely important step is to correctly segment target audiences. In general, audiences are demarcated by age, geographic location, habits, frequency of use and interest in the organization. If there are other potential issues, other audience segmentation criteria can be used. The segmentation criteria are prioritised and cross-referenced according to what the organisation aims to achieve.
If we want to provide educational services for young people, for example, we identify them by age (14-18 and 18-24), analyse their habits (they participate in such activities in organised groups in high school/college or in groups of friends, less often by individual registration), we decide whether we want them to be from the locality where our organisation operates or from outside (an important criterion if we intend to propose summer school-type activities, which usually generate informal, mixed groups, not organised groups) and whether they could be selected from the category of committed beneficiaries, with whom we have worked before, or whether they are only occasionally involved in cultural-educational activities. Of course, we can also consider a much wider category of participants who have never been involved in activities of the kind we want to offer, for example young people from rural areas, but we have to bear in mind that it might be more difficult to attract them and that, in addition, there are various organisational constraints such as transport and accommodation (for cultural education specialists with whom we want to carry out activities or for young people if we want to ensure the mobility of participants).
After analysing the characteristics and potential of these categories, we can narrow down the search, let’s say in the following way: we decide to offer activities aimed at young students locally, who will benefit from our organisation’s offer in an organised group. In order to achieve this, we can initiate collaboration with higher education institutions, through which we can easily attract the target audience. In addition, we can also take into account the fact that an organised group generally has common interests that are easier to identify than a mixed, informal group composed of individual participants. This method of attracting a partner through which the organisation can more easily reach the desired participants was applied, for example, in the project carried out by the Museum of Bucharest in 2018, Histories about the Great Union. The project, carried out with financial support from the Administration of the National Cultural Fund, was aimed at young students and high school students, with the aim of providing a new perspective on the Great Union. From this perspective, it was carried out in partnership with the Faculty of History, University of Bucharest. Details of the project can be found here.
And some of the results of the project, focused on augmented reality, which were realised with the contribution of the Augmented Space Agency, are presented here.