National Academies Press: OpenBook

Visual Arts Programs at Airports (2020)

Chapter: Chapter 3 - Conclusions

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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Conclusions." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Visual Arts Programs at Airports. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26002.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Conclusions." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Visual Arts Programs at Airports. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26002.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Conclusions." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Visual Arts Programs at Airports. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26002.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Conclusions." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Visual Arts Programs at Airports. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26002.
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33 Conclusions Increasingly, airport managers follow ratings of the world’s, their country’s, and their region’s top airports. These ratings are not only a way to keep score in a competitive marketplace, but also a marketing tool in their own right (for example, Skytrax and Airports Council Inter­ national). The theory is that every airport that aspires to high ratings must offer an engaging arts program because very engaging arts programs are offered by all of the world’s most highly rated airports. Further, it is now generally accepted that airport arts programs yield many additional benefits for airports, passengers, and the communities in which airports are located. But more than that, airport arts programs have become an amenity that airport passengers now expect, and they serve to tether an airport to its local community. As the available research discussed in this paper shows, when passengers find a well­run arts program, they respond positively. Whether to offer an arts program and whether to fund and staff it adequately are, in the end, business decisions that each airport must make for itself. This synthesis identifies many of the issues that airports may find helpful when considering such decisions. The remainder of this chapter summarizes the information and findings discussed in the previous chapters and identi­ fies gaps in knowledge of the subject matter. The chapter concludes with suggestions of areas for further research on airport arts programs that may prove beneficial to airport administrators, arts program managers, and others interested in the subject. Findings This synthesis provides a description of the state of practice of airport rotating visual art exhibition programs, with additional information about airport performing art exhibitions. The array of art exhibition offerings described in this synthesis suggests the difficulty of including all aspects of airport arts programs in a single paper. Consequently, this synthesis is not intended as a guidebook for airport arts programs, but as an introduction to the subject matter and a platform for further discussion and research into this interesting and valuable topic. Although each of the studied airports has developed a unique approach to its arts program that reflects the particular culture of the city and region where it is located, the following summary demonstrates that all of the studied rotating airport arts programs provide similar benefits that enhance airport users’ customer experience. As explained previously, airport users have an overwhelmingly favorable opinion about the exhibition of art in an airport setting. The 13 airport arts programs studied for this synthesis represent a cross section of airports of every size, in every region of the United States, and in population centers ranging from 16,000 to 18.7 million. Collectively, these 13 airports present visual art exhibitions to more than 365 million viewers each year. C H A P T E R 3

34 Visual Arts Programs at Airports In addition to the positive effect that airport rotating visual arts programs have on airport users, such programs also produce tangible, identifiable benefits for airports, their stakeholders, and the communities in which they are located. A recent ACRP report, ACRP Report 157: Improving the Airport Customer Experience (Boudreau et al., 2016), and anecdotal evidence suggest that airport users are more likely to increase concession spending when an airport presents art in passenger areas. Arts programs provide an aesthetic enhancement to airport facilities, thereby creating a more pleasing, calming environment that relieves passenger stress and contributes to passenger well­being. Airport arts programs also serve to tether an airport to its community and region and to generate goodwill for the airport and its stakeholders. Exhibition of the arts at airports creates a sense of place by presenting the culture of the geographical area, which further strengthens that goodwill and fosters a sense of community. The economic benefits from airport arts programs extend from the immediate beneficiaries of arts program spending and the artists who exhibit in the program to the larger regional economy. An internal report prepared by SAN for its Master Plan estimated that the cumulative economic effect of its relatively modest arts program budget on the larger regional economy was $47 million over a 4­year period. A recurring theme throughout the research for this synthesis was that the economic benefits of airport arts programs stand in stark relief to their relatively modest cost. As reported earlier, the average cost per enplanement of operation for the studied arts programs was just $0.02 million. Staffing for the arts programs was also relatively low, and the programs operated with few risk management, legal, and other expenses—a result likely attributable to the professionalism of the arts program managers and their staff. Concessionaires have recognized the benefits of airport arts programs, with some even voluntarily increasing their contributions to arts programs. Several of the studied airports are following the same path and as of this writing have plans to increase their arts program budgets. Other areas for potential improvement include arts program marketing and continuous passenger engagement studies. Few of the studied arts programs are responsible for their own marketing, and most of the arts programs believe that significant benefits could be achieved if specific arts program marketing plans were developed. Most of the arts programs also expressed an interest in performing the customer engagement surveys recommended by the master plans and conducted by several airports. At present, the arts programs measure customer engagement with mostly subjective, observational efforts. Providing better customer engagement informa­ tion would allow arts program managers to more closely and precisely focus their programs and to measure viewer reaction to specific exhibitions. Finally, although some of the studied arts programs already do so, most arts program managers agreed that the quality and diversity of the art available for their exhibitions would benefit from the payment to artists of a market­based fee or stipend. Further Research The information for this synthesis was gathered in significant part from interviews con­ ducted with 13 airport arts program managers over the course of several visits and telephone conversations. Additional information was obtained from reviewing arts program documents and websites. As noted earlier, research performed for this synthesis produced a significant amount of information on a subject that has received little attention. There were, however, limits to how much information could be gathered within the time available for such interviews and document review. Because of those limitations, there remain a number of outstanding issues on which further research is necessary to provide a complete understanding of the subject matter.

Conclusions 35 1. A Continuation of This Synthesis Focusing on International Airports Outside the United States: Many international airports have robust arts programs that have been the subject of significant industry attention and commentary. It would be helpful to extend this synthesis to the airport art exhibition experience in international airports outside the United States in an effort to understand how such airport programs are managed and funded. Lessons learned from those programs could then be made available to U.S. domestic airports. 2. Arts Master Plans and Other Governing Documents: The studied airports had significant interest in arts program governing documents (such as master plans, written policies and procedures, guidelines, selection processes, and checklists), the kinds of documents that are used by airport arts programs, how the documents are used, and what experience airports have had using such documents. It is recommended that future research collect the governing documents from a variety of airports, explain how they are used, and arrive at conclusions about their use. It is also recommended that future research include a discussion of airport arts program master plans, how they came about and how they evolve over time, the purposes they serve, their cost, and commentary and analysis about their usefulness. 3. Music and Other Performance Arts Programs: Research for this synthesis suggests that airport performance art programs differ significantly from the presentation of visual art exhibitions. Consequently, it may be helpful to conduct a companion synthesis that surveys airport preforming arts programs and explores various program models for performer identification and booking, scheduling frequency, performer payments, and liability issues. Such a study could explain how successful music and performance programs at airports are developed and administered; identify the costs and practical pitfalls of starting such programs; compare and discuss the benefits, detriments, and costs of using promoters instead of in­house staff; explore the experience of airports that have used different program models; describe the measures necessary to manage performance art promoters and their work product; and explain how program managers can be sure they are obtaining the most diverse and best musicians for an airport’s program. The survey could also explore how to integrate performance art into an existing visual arts program, the kinds of performance acts to book and how well they work in an airport setting, performer pay scales, and the space requirements for particular kinds of performances. 4. Community Partnership Development and Youth Arts Programs: A guidebook for the development of community partnerships—with local government organizations, non­ profits, and cultural institutions—would be helpful to explain the kinds of relationships that have been formed by arts programs and how those relationships have mutually benefited community organizations and airports. It is recommended that this research include a summary of best practices for community partnership development, an explanation of the expected benefits of such relationships, and a description of what community arts organiza­ tions can do for airports and what arts programs can do for community arts organizations. In addition, the research could also include a survey of the development and use of youth arts programming and outreach activities, including best practices for engaging commu­ nity members and educational institutions, as well as an explanation of the benefits of such programs. 5. Airport Arts Advisory and Selection Committees: It is recommended that future research include a survey of the use of airport arts program advisory committees and selection panels, the purposes they serve, the benefits and drawbacks of their use, and the various structures and selection methods for their makeup that have been used successfully by airport arts programs. 6. Viewer Engagement: It is recommended that future research include study and analysis of the various ways in which arts programs can measure viewer engagement, the methods

36 Visual Arts Programs at Airports available, the statistical models and questions that are most frequently used in such testing, how often such testing is recommended or necessary, and the potential cost of such analysis for various sample sizes. 7. Economic Impact: It is recommended that future research examine how airports can estimate the economic impact of their arts programs—and measure the results of those analyses—and whether arts programs can be viewed as sources of revenue for airports. 8. Arts Program Budgets: The studied airports had significant interest in arts program budgets and how they are calculated and created. There is also interest in the sources of funding for airport arts programs, as well as how and by how much airports decide to increase arts program funding and other resources in response to (a) airport growth and (b) additional demand for arts space and exhibitions. 9. FAA Rules and Regulations Applicable to Airport Arts Programs: Several of the arts managers expressed an interest in understanding the federal regulatory provisions appli­ cable to their programs, including rules regarding revenue diversion and artists’ rights for permanent art installations. Such a synthesis should explain the “bright lines” that exist for arts programs and organizations, and explain how FAA regulations intersect with arts program operations and management in a way that makes the applicable legal rules accessible to nonlawyers. 10. Permanent Public Art: There was some feeling among the art managers interviewed for this paper that the topic of permanent art collections at airports is underdeveloped in the literature. Accordingly, there was interest in a synthesis that examines how permanent public art is commissioned, selected, maintained, and financed at U.S. domestic airports. There was particular interest in a survey of how airports view the functionality of their percent for art programs and whether they believe their programs would benefit from amendment. Rather than warranting individual syntheses, these several topics could be combined into a guidebook for airport arts program managers and administrators. Such a guidebook could address (a) visual and performing arts program methods and practices; (b) viewer engagement with airport arts programs, especially the composition of surveys; (c) arts program staffing; (d) the development and benefits of relationships and partnerships among airport arts programs, the local community, and local artists and cultural institutions; (e) arts program budgeting and artist payments; (f) the use of advisory, review, and selection committees for arts program projects; (g) an examination of artist experiences with their participation in airport arts pro­ grams and the lessons learned from those experiences; and (h) best practices and guidelines regarding the most effective and strategic marketing practices for airport arts programs.

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Every airport that aspires to high ratings must offer an engaging arts program because these are offered by all of the world’s most highly rated airports. It is also now generally accepted that airport arts programs yield many additional benefits for airports, passengers, and the communities in which airports are located. Airport arts programs have become an amenity that airport passengers now expect, and they serve to tether an airport to its local community.

The TRB Airport Cooperative Research Program's ACRP Synthesis 114: Visual Arts Programs at Airports is an initial compilation of practices that airport arts professionals use for understanding the operations, management, and benefits of temporary visual arts programs at their airports.

Supplemental materials to the report include arts program case examples, arts program passenger surveys, and questions used for arts program manager interviews.

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