15 Sep 2014
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Take This Arts Survey Now!

Got 10 minutes? AMS Planning and Research asks potential users of the 311 W. Main arts center to take a brief anonymous survey to find out their wants and needs - and you can win prizes too

Take This Arts Survey Now!

It was revealed Wednesday night at the 311 W. Main Task Force meeting that the primary market for successful potential users of the future arts and entertainment center is within a 15-minute commute from the borough's downtown.

That's the radius where  AMS Planning and Research Corp., the Connecticut firm hired by the task force as its consultant, will focus its market analysis for the renovation and programming of the former Masonic temple on Lansdale's Main Street into a community arts and entertainment mecca.

But the firm cannot rely on that analysis alone -- an analysis that relies heavily on The Nielsen Company's PRIZM model, a geo-demographic market segmentation for the suburban Lansdale area. (Nielsen is the same company that compiles information on what people watch on TV. The measurement company also provides market research and data on what people buy.)

AMS will also be relying on a regional survey to assess potential users' thoughts and wants on the arts center. The survey is anonymous, if you choose it to be.

Through June 2, the survey can be taken at this link: http://www.keysurvey.com/survey/430228/160a/

"We do really want community input on this," said task force chairman Mike Sobel. "It takes a few minutes. There are very, very good questions, and it's very, very well thought out. It will be very, very helpful in the direction this task force moves."

That link again:  http://www.keysurvey.com/survey/430228/160a/

While the survey is anonymous - only asking for the ZIP code of your primary residence - the user can choose to identify himself or herself at the very end.

This is part of an incentive AMS Planning and Lansdale Borough have teamed together on to get more input.

"We are looking into gift cards, giveaways and drawings for those who elect to give us information to enter that drawing," said parks and recreation director Carl Saldutti.  

AMS Planning and Research Corp. Principal Michele Walter said putting your name is not required in any way.

"You will be asked if you would like to be entered into a drawing to receive a gift certificate from an area establishment. It's completely up to you," she said. 

The borough and AMS are also capitalizing on upcoming events to get more participation in survey.

Lynette Turner, of AMS Planning and Research, said they are working with the borough to get the word out to a lot of places. 

In addition to the borough website, the survey -  http://www.keysurvey.com/survey/430228/160a/ - will be brought to citizens' attention, through flyers with a notification to drive people to the survey link, at the parks and recreation building and at the pool registration events.

Both parties have also looked to the local media outlets - ephemera, digital and broadcast alike - to help spread the word.

"We are really trying to have a variety of access points for the survey," Turner said. 

Turner said the borough would be looking to PennSuburban Chamber of Commerce to notify members through an email blast. Lansdale would also be notifying residents on utility bills and in the "Electric Wire" resident newsletter.

"If we reach only 50 percent in that cycle, it's better than reaching none," Saldutti said of publication in "Electric Wire." "(The electric company) has spoken to us about multiple blasts in their publication and they promised to get that out to help us."

Saldutti said Lansdale could buy an advertising package from WNPV 1440AM.

Fuller took it one step further and suggested promoting the progress of the task force on "Comment Please by Univest" on WNPV.

"They might be interested in doing a segment on one of their shows about what we’re doing," she said.

Walter said, because of the cost involved, and because "nobody does that anymore," paper surveys were not considered.  

The survey was supposed to wrap up May 18, but that has been pushed back to after June 2; Lansdale Borough wants to hit potential users at the next First Friday on June 1 and Lansdale Day on June 2.

"While the original timeline suggested the survey would be closed earlier, we made a collective decision to leave it open and find the mechanisms that both First Friday and Lansdale Day can draw attention to it," Walter said. "Hopefully, we can create some visibility for the survey."

Saldutti said borough officials discussed setting up tents and computers to encourage people to fill out the survey right then and there. 

Task force member and councilwoman Mary Fuller said there will be four tables from Discover Lansdale at First Friday, with volunteers directing people to them and thus to the survey. 

"We can reach out to the Rotary, who sponsors Lansdale Day," said Saldutti. "If there are any other suggestons to get the word out, just forward them to us and we'll reach out as well." 

More and more ideas flowed from the creative minds of the task force members.

Dawn Harvey suggested putting information on the survey inside the runners' bags for the Kugel Ball 5K Race, which also occurs June 2

Bob Willi suggested promoting the survey to commuters getting on and off the SEPTA train at the Lansdale stop.

Fuller suggested placing flyers next to the computers at Lansdale Library to get people to take the survey.

Doug Pett suggested reaching out to the Lansdale Little League and various softball groups.

"Between softball, T-ball and Lansdale Little League, that's about 400, 500 families there," he said. "They can get emails out to groups of families."

Walter said all the ideas were good ones.

"In a perfect world, we know we're not going to hear from everybody," she said. "But in a perfect world, everyone will know they had the opportunity to be heard. Hopefully, we get to the end of this and no one says, 'I didn't have a chance.'"  

Walter said pushing the survey back "puts a squeeze on us on the back end." She said AMS pledged to have survey results at the June 7 meeting. The survey can be found at  http://www.keysurvey.com/survey/430228/160a/.

The 311 W. Main Task Force will now meet on the first Thursday of the month during the summer, NOT the first Tuesday. 

Saldutti said pushing back the survey is a must.

"We want that information. So, while we want to stick to the timeline, often it's best to alter that to get the best results," Saldutti said. 

Sobel shared the same sentiment.

"To get Lansdale Day and the next First Friday included in this, we have to do that. That's a golden opportunity to have an audience there to participate. If we have to back off a bit, fine," Sobel said. 

Task force member James Collins Jr. asked if the survey results would be used independently of the Nielsen information.

Walter said to think of the approach as a big funnel, except it's a centrifuge.

"We take all the data and retain all that which is meaningful to our inquiry and discard the noise along the way," Walter said, "so it gets narrower and narrower and helps us develop our focus."

She said aspects of the Nielsen research will inform the work on a going-forward basis, as will the survey, albeit in a more detailed manner.  

"This helps us understand the market and who the potential users might be, but it will be affirmed or refuted by the survey. We take that signficantly into consideration," Walter said. 

Collins then gave an almost devil's advocate statement: Those who attend the theater or those most likely to attend a theater are the ones most likely to take the survey; people not willing to attend those things will not fill out the survey. 

"We are interested in attendance. We understand tax dollars and it's a community and we want everyone to have ownership and feel it's for them," Walter responded. "We want to hear from as many as possible."

Walter then shed some naked truth on the matter: AMS Planning has no way to assess a successful rate of return with the survey.

"We don't know ho wmany people we are asking, and we don't know how many we are asking because we are throwing as wide a net as we can. We won't know if this link is going to 10,000 households, 20,000 households or 2,000 households. We'll never know," she said.

AMS wants 300 responses, but beyond whether there is a percentage of those who received it, Walter said, they will never know.

"There are absolutely underrepresented cohorts in the community that will not fill this out and not be represented," she said. "It won't be statistically valid from a selection standpoint. It won't be balanced."

Collins is excited to see if the survey results will alleviate the less enthusiastic members of the community "who might not be willing at first to follow the whole performing arts aspect." 

"I'm curious to see how many respond," he said. 

Walter said there will most certainly be a gender disparity with the survey, available at  http://www.keysurvey.com/survey/430228/160a/.

"I'll tell you right off the bat," she said, "women fill out surveys. Men don't."

AMS Planning has set September 6 as the date when it will deliver the final renovation and programming report to the task force.

Be sure to take the survey at  http://www.keysurvey.com/survey/430228/160a/. You can also access the survey through Lansdale Borough's website at www.lansdale.org.

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