As the nomination phase of GO continues this week, now is a good time to review the weekend and share some statistics about weekend visitation rates. Here’s a brief rundown of what happened, and we’ll explain these figures in the paragraphs which follow.
Let’s look at what these numbers mean and how we got to the estimated totals. Among artists surveyed informally throughout the weekend by GO staff, only 1/3 of visitors were visibly using mobile devices to check in to studios or were seen writing down artist codes. Based on this, we are taking the total voters who checked in to at least 1 studio (6,106) as a baseline and using this to project an estimated attendance of 18,000. The same holds true for studios visited; 48,924 check-ins would correlate to approximately 147,000 studio visits. These estimates, however, are conservative. As one indicator, many families were visiting studios together, but children under the age of 18 could not register per the voter guidelines; as another, we saw groups of people where only one person was recording visitation. We do know traffic was dispersed throughout the borough, but it seems double tornado warnings and transportation issues in Brooklyn could not keep people from visiting artists during GO.
Based on our own travels and what we are hearing via share your story feedback, it’s clear some artists had more visitation than others, but even these metrics surprised us. Sharon and I were in some of the larger studio buildings in Bushwick around 3:30pm on Saturday and artists reported having only had 7 visitors by that time (we heard things picked up a lot on Sunday). At the end of the day on Sunday, Sharon and I walked into a Gowanus studio, where the artist (with a counter) clocked us as being visitor 297 and 298, while another artist just a few blocks from there reported a weekend total of roughly 125. In lower density areas like Bay Ridge, artists reported between 8-12 visitors; some with fewer. An artist in Prospect Heights estimated roughly 300 for the weekend, and another artist in Crown Heights wrote to say, “more people came through here than I ever expected.” Large venues like Screwball Spaces in Red Hook counted 1500 for the weekend even with the F/G trains not running and the building being in a relatively isolated area. A smaller studio in a residential area of between Carroll Gardens and Red Hook reported roughly 50 on day one. What’s clear is assumptions about traffic flow were sometimes true and other times false.
Noel Hefele, an artist in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, made a timelapse video of traffic to his studio. Fast forward to day two when the camera is positioned a little better. 24 artists participated in PLG and, as you’ll see, the neighborhood really turned out to support them.
From the feedback we heard during the weekend and comments still coming in, a few things are ringing loud and clear. Many people have reported that visitors to their studios were unlike those for other open studio events; visitors were engaged and focused. Artist feedback indicates a high level of discussion happening in the studio. Most artists said there was a mix of traffic – 30% invited friends, 70% new visitors. This mix changed from neighborhood to neighborhood, but overall we heard artists gained a new audience for their work. Also, it felt like some neighborhoods had residents turn out in force; feedback from Crown Heights, Prospect Heights, and Prospect Lefferts Gardens indicate the majority of foot traffic came from their own neighborhoods with higher engagement than anyone expected.
We’ve been getting a lot of questions statistics, and in the coming month, the web team will be analyzing a lot of the data, and we’ll be releasing stories and visualizations about weekend patterns. As you see us release data, you’ll find we aim to do it in a respectful way; you will never see a list of artists and/or neighborhoods and how they placed. You will see us focus on data in aggregate and use specific examples to show trends representative of the whole.
We think you’ll be just as surprised by some of the information as we have been, and we look forward to sharing it with you.
Shelley Bernstein is the former Vice Director of Digital Engagement & Technology at the Brooklyn Museum where she spearheaded digital projects with public participation at their center. In the most recent example—ASK Brooklyn Museum—visitors ask questions using their mobile devices and experts answer in real time. She organized three award-winning projects—Click! A Crowd-Curated Exhibition, Split Second: Indian Paintings, GO: a community-curated open studio project—which enabled the public to participate in the exhibition process.
Shelley was named one of the 40 Under 40 in Crain's New York Business and her work on the Museum's digital strategy has been featured in the New York Times.
In 2016, Shelley joined the staff at the Barnes Foundation as the Deputy Director of Digital Initiatives and Chief Experience Officer.