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Getty surveys find PST boosted L.A.'s image as arts capital

September 24, 2012|By Jori Finkel
  • People visit the Getty Center during Pacific Standard Time.
People visit the Getty Center during Pacific Standard Time. (Alexander Watkins )

How do you measure a city's cultural cache, or its reputation for serious art versus fun in the sun? The Getty has tried to do just that by commissioning multiple surveys related to its $10-million, decade-in-the-making, region-wide initiative Pacific Standard Time.

On the whole, the surveys -- involving about 14,000 responses -- show that PST gave Los Angeles a bit of a boost in its reputation as an arts capital.

Getty communications chief Ron Hartwig said the surveys, which relied on different population samplings and methodologies (and were vetted by the Getty's in-house metrics guru Tim Hart), are not being released or published in full. But Hartwig did let The Times take a look at the results while reporting a larger story on the legacy of Pacific Standard Time (and its relative lack of impact on attendance).

Some of the findings:

1. In surveys handed out at 31 participating museums, 43% of visitors said Pacific Standard Time was their “main reason for visiting” that museum.

2. In one online survey of L.A.-based “culturally curious” under the age of 45, 9 out of 10 respondents who attended at least one Pacific Standard Time exhibition said they went to at least one museum they had never visited before.

3. Of those in the same survey who considered themselves “aware” of the initiative, 80% said they “somewhat” or “strongly” agreed that Pacific Standard Time “made me think more highly of L.A. as an arts/cultural destination.”

4. Another survey, sent to museum mailing lists before and after PST took place, showed a jump in appreciation for L.A.'s cultural institutions. Before PST, 41% “strongly agreed” that L.A. has “world-renowned cultural institutions and 48.2% “strongly agreed” it has “a diverse art and cultural scene. After, those numbers grew to 57% and 62%, respectively.

5. Still, when the same survey asked if L.A. has a shallow culture, about 10% “strongly agreed” and that number remained the same after PST, suggesting that some clichés are harder to shake — or some people harder to win over — than others.

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