SMK Fridays – A New Way of Engaging Young People in Classical Culture? An Explorative Study of the User-brand Relationship Between SMK’s Young Non-traditional Users and SMK Fridays

Johannes Emil Boel Käszner & Stephan Broni Kejlberg

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

The future role of institutions of classical culture has been the subject of immense political debate in numerous European countries in the last decade – Denmark being no exception. Accordingly, increased expectations and political pressures to engage especially more young non-traditional users in culture has forced Danish state-subsidized cultural institutions to reinvent how they communicate with this particular target group. A new wave of event-based cultural activities in which traditional cultural formats are combined with elements such as popular music and the serving of alcohol and food have thus seen the light in recent years. One such event is SMK Fridays hosted by The National Gallery of Denmark which has managed to attract an increasing number of young visitors. But how do the young non-traditional users actually seem to experience this new interpretation of a museum visit? And is the event successful in fulfilling the culture political goal of integrating culture into the lives of young people? This is the starting point of our thesis. This thesis examines the user-brand relationship between SMK’s young non-traditional users and SMK Fridays. Based upon DiMaggio & Powell’s (1983) theory of institutional isomorphism we investigate how institutional conditions have shaped the context of this user-brand relationship. Moreover, we uncover the meaning-based negotiation that form the basis of the user-brand relationship through qualitative interviews with SMK employees and young non-traditional users as well as ethnographic observations from the SMK Fridays event. We apply an analytical framework based upon Susan Fournier’s (1998) consumer-brand relationship theory and Laclau & Mouffe’s (1985) theory of discourse to uncover different discursive representations of SMK Fridays and show how the user-brand relationship between SMK’s young non-traditional users and SMK Fridays is being negotiated and what characterizes this particular user-brand relationship. Our findings suggest that although SMK intend for the museum’s art and collections to be at the centre of SMK Fridays, SMK’s art is at best perceived as an “add-on” in the young non-traditional users’ experience of attending SMK Fridays. On this basis we argue that despite SMK Fridays manages to attract many young non-traditional users it does not necessarily mean that the event’s full potential has been reached in regards to integrating high culture into the lives of young people. It has therefore been suggested that event-based cultural events such as SMK Fridays should not only be evaluated on the basis of visitor numbers but also on how well they do in engaging visitors in culture. This aspect of cultural evaluation has thus so far been left out of the cultural political equation.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2016
Number of pages153
SupervisorsJulie Uldam