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Boston Arts Institutions Applauded For Engaging Young Audiences

Two Boston arts organizations are being highlighted in a recent funding and research project by the Wallace Foundation.

That independent organization has a long history of supporting the arts, and has been following four American arts institutions to find out what it takes to nurture the next generation of art lovers.

"Younger audiences are so fickle," said lead market researcher Bob Harlow.

According to the latest broad survey by the National Endowment for the Arts, attendance numbers at arts organization nationwide are the lowest they've been in 30 years. But Harlow said the Boston Lyric Opera and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum are bucking those trends with their strategies.

"These organizations realized a couple of things, you know, that they really needed those younger audiences for the future of arts," he explained, "and so it was really finding a way to create experiences that would resonate with these audiences."

The Wallace report cites the Gardner's "Art After Hours" program that attracted the "elusive" 18-34 year-old demographic by merging art viewing with DJs and cocktails, and the Boston Lyric Opera's family-friendly "Opera for Young Audiences," which offers novel introductions to classic performances without watering them down.

Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company and the San Francisco Girls Chorus are also part of foundation's series of research.

This program aired on January 31, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

Andrea Shea Twitter Arts Reporter
Andrea Shea is WBUR's arts reporter.

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