Midsumma Festival
5 min read

Midsumma Festival

Midsumma Festival is Victoria’s premier LGBTQIA+ festival. A cross-generational festival that champions LGBTQIA+ ideas, stories and experiences through conversations and events.

Usually held in the summer months each year, the festival is a three-week program made up of visual arts, theatre, spoken word, cabaret, film, live music, parties, sport, social events and public forums. The organisation also works year-round to provide support and tools to artists, social-changers and culture-makers.

Culture Counts has partnered with Midsumma since 2018 to evaluate its annual festival – capturing the social, cultural and economic impact of the event using feedback provided by audiences, participants, volunteers and the broader community. The final reporting output, our Online Insights Report, highlights:

  • The demographic profile of respondents
  • The cultural and social impacts of the event
  • Marketing channels, sponsorship recall and Net Promoter Score
  • Sentiment analysis of comments and feedback
  • The economic impact of the event

By evaluating Midsumma activities using a consistent methodology, Midsumma have been able to provide Victorian funding bodies with an overwhelming amount of evidence characterising the size, value, diversity and importance of Midsumma Festival and its impact for Victoria and Australia.

The ability to consistently evaluate results, especially in areas of high strategic importance, has been vital in our ability to track outcomes and results against investment of time and money.
Felicity McIntosh, Midsumma See the report
2021 Midsumma Festival - Midsumma

Requirements

In 2018, Midsumma Festival were exploring ways in which they could report on the various outcomes of their annual festival event – bringing together the research interests of their operations teams, with third-party evaluation that stakeholders and supports were looking for. Midsumma engaged Culture Counts to undertake a full evaluation of the festival and to provide the organisation with a comprehensive report it could use in its own decision-making, reporting and relationship management with stakeholders.

Approach

Culture Counts worked with Midsumma to design a custom-built survey in the Culture Counts Evaluation Platform. The survey needed to cover:

  • Demographic questions, including age, identity, access and previous attendance
  • Social and cultural impacts of the Festival
  • Marketing channels and sponsorship recall
  • Qualitative feedback and sentiment analysis of respondents comments
  • Economic impact of the festival on the local and state economy

In collaboration with Midsumma, Culture Counts built the survey and provided Midsumma organisers with a link to the online survey. Organisers disrupted the survey through direct email to ticket holders, as well as social media. A QR code for the survey was also included in the Festival program. This multi-channel approach was used to source response data from a diverse set of perspectives, in a practical and cost-efficient manner.

After data collection was complete, Culture Counts analysed and summarised the data collected. The reporting format was co-designed with Midsumma and customised by Culture Counts to deliver reporting data in a functional format that could be easily used by the Midsumma team. The report was delivered an an Online Insights Report, which contained charts and accompanying insights from the Culture Counts team.

Outcome

The report effectively illustrated the diversity of impact Midsumma Festival delivered. One of the most predominant goals for Midsumma in engaging new audiences whilst maintaining a positive ongoing connection with current audiences. In 2018, 42% of attendees were new to Midsumma, with 33% in both 2019 of 2020. On average, audiences attend three shows during each festival, with recent data showing an increase in participants from older audiences and female attendees – a strategic focus of the Festival.

As for its economic impact, Midsumma attracts a significant portion of its attendees from outside of the Melbourne metropolitan area – approximately 15%. In the 2020 Festival, Culture Counts estimated that the direct economic impact of the event was $11.1m, or $32m in total value to the wider economy. This represents spending that would not have occurred otherwise, if not for Midsumma Festival.

The social and cultural impacts of the festival are particularly poignant, with 95% of survey respondents saying the felt Midsumma Festival is an important event for Melbourne. 95% said that attending the festival helped them feel safe and welcome and 92% said that participation in Midsumma helped they feel more connected to community. 88% said that attending Midsumma had a positive impact on their personal wellbeing.

By engaging with Culture Counts over successive years, Midsumma has been able to collect consistent outcomes data for analysis and benchmarking. Tracking actual outcomes for identified strategic priority areas is of huge benefit, as is seeing how investment and added resources to these areas achieve measurable results in both audiences and artist engagement. These learnings are further fed year-on-year, into the development of practical programming and positioning strategies, as well to help facilitate deeper ongoing development at the organisational level.

Image Attribution: Nikki Russian Photography, Rainbow Families Caberet

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