Attracting and engaging with a socially inclusive audience: an exploratory study into special events which are held in museums
This study aims to identify how special events which are held in museums can attract and engage with a socially inclusive audience. The event attendees’ perspectives will be explored further to ascertain to what extent museums are achieving social inclusion through hosting special events. The research follows a qualitative approach through the form of semi-structured interviews. Nine semi-structured interviews were conducted with individuals who had attended a special event in a museum. The research was conducted in Edinburgh, Scotland. The findings conclude that participants’ perceptions of museums have improved after attending a special event in a museum. Secondly, free admission is critical to ensure fundamental equal access to the museum event. However, the results indicate that free events only reach current museum visitors. The special events are more accessible for the working population, who are unlikely to visit the museum on a regular day. Despite this, the results identify that corporate museum events are exclusive. Lastly, a positive event experience strengthens attendees’ engagement with the museum’s events programme. On this basis, it is recommended that museums’ management aim to relieve the barriers to participation from non-attendees and raise awareness of their free events through social media. Future research is required to determine the rationale for corporations selecting the museum as their host event venue. Secondly, the barriers to participation in museum events must be investigated, from the perspective of non-attendees, to understand this target audience and market the special events accordingly.