Unexpected Traffic Patterns

We expect to announce the nominated artists tomorrow; we’re running just a little bit behind schedule. In advance of announcement, we wanted to share some of the neighborhood data and think about what happened over the open studio weekend in context and in relation to some the feedback we’ve received.

Throughout GO, participants have expressed concern about the process being unfair. We’ve been asked if we’d weight results or adjust data to create an even playing field, but our answer has always been that we’d let the data stand as is; we simply didn’t know enough about traffic patterns or participation from the outset to create a model that would work for everyone. We felt it was best to let the weekend play out and look carefully at the resulting data to see if we would need to make adjustments in possible future iterations of the project. That said, we expected things to surprise us and they did.

Many participants were concerned that studios in low-density areas (i.e., not typical “artist hubs” like Gowanus and Bushwick) would receive less foot traffic and thus be at a serious disadvantage in an event like GO. If you look at the neighborhoods with the most check-insGowanus (6442), Red Hook (5800), Sunset Park (4751), Bushwick (4128), Greenpoint (3959)
at first the findings seem to align with these concerns. However, if we dig just a little more deeply, we find the data reveals far more nuanced results. 

Gowanus, Red Hook, and Sunset Park had something in common; each had many studios, most within easy walking distance and some buildings with large concentrations of artists (Brooklyn Art Space, Screwball Spaces, and Chashama, respectively). As a result we saw a higher than average rate of check-ins per studio; basically, a visitor could go into one of these neighborhoods and rack up a bunch of check-ins all at once. However, those same areas were below average in terms of the amount of visitors in relation to number of studios open. In other words, even though there were a lot of studios with high numbers of people checking in, the ratio of visitors to open studios was relatively low in comparison to other areas.

Gowanus vs. Boerum Hill traffic

Along the same lines, if we look at Boerum Hill, Prospect Heights, and Ditmas Park, these neighborhoods were not the densest in terms of studios (particularly Ditmas Park), but all had above average visitor-to-studio ratios. Relative to the number of studios, these neighborhoods actually had much higher traffic than the denser neighborhoods of Gowanus, Red Hook, and Sunset Park.

It was interesting to see Bushwick as a bit of an outlier in all of this, especially given the amount of feedback we received assuming this area would have all the visitation. With 241 artists opening their doors, Bushwick had the highest number of open studios of all neighborhoods participating in GO. However, not only did Bushwick receive below average foot traffic (number of visitors relative to the number of studios), but it also received a below average rate of check-ins per studio. This left us wondering about possible reasons; we think several possible factors are at play.

Many artists in Bushwick told us they felt like the requirement for artists in their studios during the weekend hampered visitation. The same people commenting added that those often visiting their studios during open studio events have been fellow artists, and our requirement curtailed typical artist-to-artist visitation patterns. We should acknowledge the incredibly successful Bushwick Open Studios just took place in June and could account for voters going to other neighborhoods where they had not yet had a chance to explore. Our data supports this theory by showing 61.7% of the check-ins logged by voters with Bushwick zip codes were for artist studios outside of the neighborhood, so Bushwick voters were seen casting a wide net in their studio visits. Lastly, we have to remember our data is only based on those who actually checked-in to studios. A common refrain we heard out of Bushwick was participants didn’t feel the need or want to vote, so foot traffic might have been higher, but it was not registered online.

After the nominated artists are announced tomorrow, we will look closer at how these kinds of traffic patterns impacted nomination data, so stay tuned. One thing we do know is almost all of what we’ve seen has run counter to what many had assumed.

Corinne Hoener, our Web Developer, compiled all this data, analyzed it extensively, and co-authored this post. If you’d like to take a deeper look, she’s posted the raw data.