Free vs paid online programs with Dr. Kate Meyers Emery
Are paid online programs at museums worth it, or is it better to go free and ask for donations?
Earlier this month, Dr. Kate Meyers Emery tweeted a question:
Kate got a number of responses to her question, which might be summed up as, “It depends.” It’s hard to argue with that answer — It’s true, it does depend on so many variables. Even so, the truth isn’t all that satisfying.
So, Kate’s question followed me around for a few days. At first, I found myself thinking of the question in terms of the amount of effort expended by museum staff — That is, if something takes a lot of work, shouldn’t people be expected to pay for it?
But that’s not a very good metric — Value isn’t tied to effort. A cat can work itself into a lather running on piano keys for hours, but would we pay to listen to that music?
It took me a couple of days before I started to think of the question in terms of the audience’s goals.
That is, I was trying to establish whether people would (or should) pay for virtual programming in absolute terms rather than relative terms — or in terms of the museum’s efforts. And that makes sense. After all, if I don’t know the audience’s goals or what their choice set is in working to achieve those goals, how could I approach the question in any other way?
Anyway, the question followed me around for a few days before I decided to invite Kate to chat with me about it to see what I could learn from her experience. I’m so grateful she agreed to talk with me and share her experiences with you all — Thank you, Kate!
You can watch the video below and reply to share experiences with me and Kate. (In case of technical tragedies, you can also watch here.)
As always, reply to this email to let me know your thoughts or leave a comment on the blog. I’ll be sharing feedback and replies with Kate as well. We’re both eager to hear from you all on this topic.
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