Southwest Contemporary’s 2022 reader survey results are in and are helping us with our future plans. Here is what we’ve learned so far. Plus, meet the feline members of our team.
Southwest Contemporary is comprised of arts writers, artists, and arts enthusiasts, (and, ok, sometimes art skeptics, who are really the biggest art lovers), so we’ve never been the types to observe from the sidelines. We strive to be part of the arts communities to write about, invite our readers into our world, and keep things transparent, accessible, and open to dialogue.
It’s in this spirit that we opened a reader survey earlier this year in search of your input. So far, this survey has given us valuable insights as we move into the second half of 2022.
Together as a team, we reviewed our respondents’ feedback, and here are some of our interesting takeaways:
Internal polling shows that 100% of Southwest Contemporary staff members self-identify as cat people.
In questions about the direction and focus of our content, we noticed several trends that we find both stimulating and energizing. Common requests include:
- More critical perspectives, including more in-depth reviews, essays, and cultural criticism. Since criticism is core to our mission, we are thrilled our readers care about it as well, and we know there is always room to grow.
- Similarly, many respondents identified a need to bring a more critical lens to arts institutions, including institutional DEI efforts, accountability, and arts and cultural policy within government agencies.
- Other themes that are top of mind include Indigenous art, art of the borderlands, issues of sustainability and environment, and a category I call “fringey hidden gems”—local histories, under-told stories, outsider artists, best-kept secrets—and the sometimes flat-out weirdness of our region.
- 81% of respondents are interested in reading more art news reporting.
- 60% of respondents are interested in seeing more coverage of craft arts, artisans, and maker culture.
We are excited to explore all of these topics moving forward, and we already have new story ideas in the pipeline!
We also learned that folks are excited about more in-person engagement! Popular events among respondents include:
- Exhibition openings (81%).
- Speaker series with artists, critics, or curators (68%).
- Small dinners with artists, critics, or curators (58%).
- Immersive arts experiences (57%).
Respondents who identified as arts workers and/or artists indicated high interest in:
- Access to networking opportunities, connecting with peers, and engaging with mentors (69%).
- Help with identifying and applying for grants and public funding opportunities (53%).
- Access to in-depth reporting on the art market, creative economy, and arts tourism (50%).
When asked about how COVID-19 affected their creative practices, artist respondents reported widely varying experiences. Many respondents spoke about the benefits of having fewer distractions and more focused time in the studio. Equally as many spoke of the financial hardship of fewer sales and exhibition opportunities.
Throughout all of the responses, a common feeling was a need and desire for connection and community. We see a lot of opportunities ahead for us to fill in some of these gaps—in our reporting, in the resources we make available, and in our programs and workshops. We strive to be a community hub that connects readers to information, but also to each other, and this survey has given us a lot of ideas about how we can do that better.
To that end, your feedback is always welcome and appreciated! If you’ve taken the survey already, thank you. If you haven’t, we will be leaving the survey open indefinitely. You’re also welcome to email us any time at firstname.lastname@example.org. (There are no cat-related questions on the reader survey, but we are interested in understanding cat fandom among our audience. If you have insights, be in touch). We look forward to hearing from you, and keeping you informed as we continue to adapt and grow.