We just won gold for this partnership in the Public Outreach category of the AAM Muse Awards and ten more wrapped bikes just launched on the streets of Philadelphia. The time feels right to look back and report on how things are going. In this case, measurement requires looking at many angles to form a complete picture. I wouldn’t say we have all the answers here, but how we’re analyzing may make for an interesting story.
The reasoning for the partnership sets up how we’ll measure its success. The Barnes adopted a five-year strategic plan in 2015 that prioritizes innovative strategies for reaching new and diverse audiences reflective of Philadelphia. Visitor surveys tell us that the current Barnes audience is more representative of the demographics which mirror the surrounding suburbs including audiences who are predominantly older, white, well-educated, and from affluent zip codes just beyond the city line. Our goal has been to broaden awareness and deepen access opportunities for local communities, particularly those currently underrepresented at the Barnes and within a three-mile radius of the institution. Given this plan, the Barnes needed to provide pathways for new audiences, and much of this work would come through strategic partnerships with organizations that had existing footholds and reach in Philadelphia.
One such partner was Indego Bike Share. Launched in April 2015, Indego strived to “build a better bike share;” one that would be equitable and built with inclusion in mind. Indego included bike stations in underserved neighborhoods (coincidentally, not far from the Barnes) and continued with an inclusive marketing strategy. They deployed a network of “ambassadors” throughout the city to help citizens learn about the system, get comfortable on bike share, and to begin relationships with neighborhoods by meeting people where they lived. All of this activity had been coupled with affordable pricing — individuals who hold a PA ACCESS card, the state benefit card, are eligible to sign up to use the service for just $5 a month; this audience accounts for 10% of Indego monthly passholder trips.
Indego openly publishes their data and this gave the us the opportunity to see their strategy and discover that their ridership overlapped with our audience development goals. In discussions with Indego, their goal was to ensure a deep and lasting partnership — one that would result in giving passholders both activity, value, and interesting content.
In the first collaboration of its kind between a city bike-share program and an arts institution, the Barnes and Indego embarked on a plan to launch 20 bikes wrapped in paintings from the Barnes collection. With the goal of engaging the public in a community-wide initiative, the paintings were selected via crowdsourcing through an online poll. The poll was sent to both audiences through email and was hosted directly in neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia at community events where staff from both organizations used ipads with cellular connections to collect votes.
The first ten wrapped bikes were unveiled during a free launch party at the Barnes in September 2017. The next ten bikes were just launched at the Barnes Free First Sunday on May 6, 2018. Indego passholders receive free admission to the Barnes giving Indego riders direct and ongoing access. Indego passholders are able to bring friends who receive $5 off general admission.
Understanding Current Audiences
In looking at the health of the program it’s important to consider demographics of both audiences and compare those to the city of Philadelphia to see if we are meeting our goals.
The first step is to look at Barnes audiences at the start of the program and compare them to both Indego riders and city of Philadelphia statistics.
As a baseline, it’s clear that Indego audiences are closely reflective of the city and this is less so for Barnes audiences. We know by engaging Indego audiences they represent one aligned with our goals.
Measuring New Audiences
Are the audiences we were hoping to engage in the partnership coming on site as a result of it?
One measure is to look at the demographics of the launch event held at the Barnes in September. This event was attended by 531 people and we surveyed this audience on site throughout the evening. The event newly engaged or re-engaged the majority of the audience — 50% said they were first time visitors, while another 28% said they had not been to the Barnes in the last three years. 71% of attendees were under age 45, 38% identified as people of color, and 38% made under the Pennsylvania average household income of 56k per year. By comparison to everyday Barnes audiences — this represents a substantial audience shift and one much more aligned with Philadelphia’s demographics, a majority minority city where the median age is 33.8 and the median household income is 38k.
Can we make the leap that the audience coming on site for the launch event is somewhat representative of the total Indego+Barnes audience? Not definitively, but the chart above shows that among the bike audiences we have engaged and surveyed onsite, we’ve moved the needle about half way to our goal and this is a promising trend.
To get a fuller picture, we are pairing the audience measurement with program engagement and there are a few ways to measure this. The most obvious of these is the poll, which determined the paintings wrapped on bikes. The poll engaged 1,442 users who cast 6,962 votes.
Then there’s attendance — represented by event attendance and those taking advantage of the free admission offered. The launch event held at the Barnes was attended by 531 people. Free admission went into effect mid-September 2017. To date 294 people have taken advantage of it — 225 represented passholders and 69 were friends of passholders who purchased a ticket using the $5 discount.
The good news here is the partnership is not undercutting our normal ticket sales and, at the same time, it is providing a path for new audiences. For every few people who come in free, we’re actually selling a ticket to a friend at a slight discount.
Another way to measure engagement is how often the bikes are getting taken on rides as part of the bike share program. In the six months they’ve been on the street, the ten Barnes bikes have been taken for more than 4,000 spins — all over the city of Philadelphia. That’s a lot of rolling collateral helping create overall awareness, not just among riders, but among those who see the bikes docked and riding throughout their neighborhoods.
In looking at it this way, we are seeing 755 visits on site as a result of Indego related programming and engagement metrics offsite — through the poll and the rides — in the thousands. This feels solid and we’re pretty happy with these engagement numbers.
This proved to be one of the more fascinating things to look at. To be frank, not a lot of people are posting their experiences using the #biketobarnes hashtag, so this part didn’t land as well as we’d hoped. About 105 posts to date on IG and many of those are from staff.
While hashtag use wasn’t what we wanted, the actual bike use — where these bikes have been rolling around the city — is everything we’d hoped. Steve Brady, our CTO, took a look at Indego’s publicly released ride data to share some maps with us. One map shows us our wrapped bikes have been where all bikes go throughout the city.
The city installed an Indego dock at the Barnes in December 2017 making it even easier for passholders to get here. Steve took a look at this data, too, and used it to show us where the bikes — all bikes, not just Barnes bikes — docked at our station were coming from.
It’s easy to see from both of these maps that the Barnes bikes are everywhere and the station on our property is seeing plenty of use from riders throughout the city.
This is the most difficult measure and there are some things we know and some things we don’t.
Here’s what we know — at this point the Barnes bikes have taken 4,025 trips, with 2,004 unique users. In that same time, the system as a whole saw 392,531 rides from 28,942 users. The Indego fleet size hovers around 1,200 bikes total; Barnes bikes account for less than 1% of the fleet but account for just over 1% of trips, and have been ridden by 7% of those users. This means we can say 2,004 of the 28,942 Indego users took a ride on a Barnes-wrapped bike. 7% of total ridership was exposed, and those who did ride our bikes rode them twice on average.
Indego has also shared with us that Indego members, the population we are targeting, seem to have specifically favored these bikes — “82% (1,650) of unique Barnes riders were Indego members (vs casual users), while only 27% (7,833) of all unique riders were Indego members” — this helps us see that the target demographic is being reached because we can pair it to the Indego passholder demographics at a rate of 82%.
I’d personally love to know if a ride on a Barnes bike meant you came to the Barnes or were a certain percentage more likely to visit, but we simply don’t have reliable tracking on that. This reminds me that sometimes have to make a judgement call with the data you have and while you’ll never have it all, measuring in many ways can help you get to a well rounded picture. We feel the measures we have point to a decent amount of participation from those reflective of the city; this was our original goal.
The next step will be to see if the numbers will increase over time. The Barnes has extended the free access to all passholders through December 2019. This gives us the opportunity to keep tabs on progress for another 18 months. We are expecting engagement to double during the spring, summer, and fall when people are biking often—our partnership was launched in September, so what’s here are the colder weather stats.
We’ve paired that nicer weather with the launch of 10 more wrapped bikes—bringing our total to 20 paintings rolling around the streets of Philadelphia. It will be interesting if there are trends in visitation based on weather and to see if visitation numbers increase with the number of bikes on the streets doubling — both things will be easy to chart. The addition of the dock is also something we are watching closely to see if there’s a direct correlation to visitation, but it will be a while before we understand those trends.
This ongoing partnership with Indego is one of many activations that include continued engagement with the bike community, new programs in libraries and recreation centers, low cost public programs that include collection access and free return, and a free “art for all” community pass — all of which are designed to provide accessible pathways for new audiences. We’re measuring all of these programs and, in the end, will be looking at each effort both independently and as a whole package to understand if they are helping bring new audiences to the Barnes.
Barnes Foundation Partners with Indego Bike Share for Audience Development won gold at the 2018 American Association of Museums Muse Awards in the Public Outreach category.
Barnes Project Team: Shelley Bernstein, Deputy Director for Audience Engagement and Chief Experience Officer; Barbara Wong, Director of Community Engagement; Joanne Tiongson-Perez, Director of Marketing and Social Media; Olivia Verdugo, Art Director; Pauline Nyren, Junior Graphic Designer; and Taylor Murray, Design Intern.
Indego Project Team: Aaron Ritz, Transportation Programs Manager, City of Philadelphia; Kiera Smalls, Marketing Manager, Bicycle Transit Systems; Estevan Fernandez, Field Marketing and Design Lead, Bicycle Transit Systems.
Bike Wrap Production: Brands Imaging