Never Without Art

The Challenge

One of the UK’s best-kept cultural secrets, the Art Fund is a charity that supports UK museums and galleries, helping them to buy and display great art that everyone can enjoy. However, by the end of 2010 it was facing some challenges; it had an ageing membership base and unsustainably high member acquisition costs. How could it attract a new audience on a limited budget – and do so at the height of the recession?

The Idea

Rather than hoping the Art Fund could promote its way out of trouble, we felt that to solve the business’s problem, we needed to go deeper: to the proposition itself.

When people signed up for membership, they got great benefits such as free entry and discounts at galleries across the UK. Wouldn’t these be more attractive – particularly to a younger audience – if we framed them not as a freebie in return for ‘doing your bit’ and donating, but as a product worth buying?

From this starting point, the ‘National Art Pass’ was born. Instead of being a charity with a cause, the Art Fund was transformed into a retailer with a product and a new mission: to help everyone in the UK to be ‘Never Without Art’.

The Results

The National Art Pass over-delivered the Art Fund’s acquisition target by 80% in its first year, along with returning £4.70 for every £1 spent. Membership has since grown every year and is now over 100,000. The average age of a member has also been reduced by 21 years. The work was recognised with an IPA Effectiveness Silver award.