On Wednesday, May 22, 2018, the JBFC welcomed over 100 representatives from cultural institutions throughout the Hudson Valley to the JBFC Theater for the first-ever Hudson Valley Culture Track event (#CultureTrackHV). Culture Track is a pro bono initiative developed by LaPlaca Cohen Advertising Inc., which conducts an industry-leading study every three years to both parse out consumer attitudes towards cultural institutions and monitor or predict trends in the fields of arts and culture. Yesterday’s gathering marked the first Culture Track event in the Hudson Valley, though its success guarantees it will not be the last. The morning began with an introduction from JBFC Executive Director Edie Demas and co-host/Arts Consultant Tom O’Connor, who welcomed all attendees and offered questions to consider throughout the morning’s discussions.
Maggie Hartnick, Managing Director at LaPlaca Cohen Advertising Inc., and Phillip Cox, Associate Strategist at LaPlaca Cohen Advertising Inc., took the stage first to present the definitive highlights and takeaways from the latest Culture Track study, offering unique insight into shifting cultural attitudes and consumer behavior. A definitive summary of the 2017 Culture Track results is available on their website HERE; though the data is derived from sources across the country, nearly all of the cultural institutions in attendance cited useful ways to extrapolate the data and apply it to their staffing, marketing, and fundraising approaches. As LaPlaca Cohen Advertising Inc. wrapped up their presentation, the audience was eager to dive into the data.
Following the Culture Track presentation from LaPlaca Cohen Advertising Inc., JBFC Executive Director Edie Demas moderated a panel discussion of the findings alongside Anthony Davidowitz (Deputy Director – Operations, Administration, and Legal Affairs at Storm King Art Center), Jeffrey P. Haydon (Chief Executive Officer at Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts), Katie Liberman (Managing Director at Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival), and Emily Simoness (Co-Founder & Executive Director at SPACE on Ryder Farm). Over the course of an hour, the panel discussion covered everything from paradigm shifts in the industry and the importance of inclusive programming, to the role of digital capabilities in culture and how to increase access to and collaboration at cultural organizations throughout Westchester. With attendees from a wide range of institutions, including Cultural Pursuit, Westchester County’s Tourism Board, the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, and the Sing-Sing Prison Museum, Hudson Valley Culture Track offered a unique and multi-faceted approach to defining “culture,” as well as the opportunity to share institutional knowledge on a level rarely possible for such a variety of organizations, particularly during the audience Q&A following the panel.
Overall, the inaugural Hudson Valley Culture Track gathering was a huge success. The JBFC is endlessly thankful for the support and participation of all the panelists, attendees, and presenters who made the event so special. We at the JBFC look forward to applying the lessons learned and utilizing the Culture Track survey results to make more informed, data-driven decisions in all departments going forward. Moreover, we look forward to expanding and deepening our interorganizational collaborations and partnerships with cultural institutions throughout the Hudson Valley.