Does engagement require competition?

Now that we’ve published a lot of our findings about the data we saw over the open studio weekend, we are releasing all of the feedback we received when we asked participants to “Share Your Story.” All of the feedback is now available in the Shared Stories area of the GO website; we’ve tagged stories consistently, so you can easily discover what themes emerged. You can also search by participant type (artist, voter, volunteer) and neighborhood, so it’s possible to see the feedback coming from participants in one area and compare it to experiences in another.

As we reviewed the feedback, Sharon and I were struck by how much participants talked about “discovery”—one of the largest tags in the cloud. This feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and inspiring.  If you take a look, you’ll find participants discovering so much about their communities and neighborhoods and expressing their gratitude for the project.

Voters canvassed their neighborhoods finding familiar faces in places that were not accessible prior to GO; artists reported a greater awareness of others working near them, often in the same building or just down the street. Many participants felt GO facilitated a greater understanding and a coming together that wasn’t present before the project.

In our previous posts, we discussed much of the feedback we’ve seen. The data suggests that while hot spots existed, the traffic during the open studio weekend didn’t necessarily align with people’s assumptions. We discussed the weekend’s hours and participants desire for a multiple weekend event. Plus, we received plenty of feedback about technical problems, our app, our website, and even our printed maps; we’ve talked about this quite a bit.  Despite all these hurdles, you’ll find that almost every story says something along the lines of “We must do this again.”  

The common thread you’ll see running through all of the feedback is that this project made a difference to people, grew communities, and fostered connections that participants had not anticipated—people were deeply engaged through GO. Yet, as much as we heard rave reviews about the discoveries people made over the weekend, we also heard people struggling around the notion of this project as a “competition.” This incredibly rich and interesting feedback about the “competition” combined with participants’ overwhelmingly positive experience over the weekend has led us to wonder, if GO had been an open studio event without an exhibition, would your level of investment—or that of others—have been the same?