San Francisco Museums for All
Creating Equity in the Arts with Year-Round Program, San Francisco Museums for All
Inspired by the national Museums for All program, San Francisco Museums for All was created to ensure all San Franciscans have access to local museums and cultural institutions. In partnership with The Financial Justice Project and the San Francisco Human Services Agency (SFHSA), D&A was tapped to build positive brand awareness and increase participation for SF Museums for All to reach targeted populations in the community. Through a series of listening sessions with Bay Area community members, D&A organized and facilitated focus groups to learn about current beliefs, attitudes, and perceptions surrounding racial bias in the arts. Our findings informed an integrated marketing campaign that launched in June 2022. Our aim for the campaign was to provide equitable information that was accessible, relatable, and consistent while amplifying available resources and improving equity in the arts.
High entrance fees historically prevented many low-income San Francisco families from visiting local museums, underscoring a broader challenge in promoting social inclusion in the arts. Launched in 2019, The SF Museums For All program aimed to address this by providing families from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds access to local museums. The program became a mainstay in 2021, however, there was a need for increased public awareness. To reach the targeted audience, we created an integrated marketing campaign that targeted priority populations and families who receive means-based public benefits.
It was essential to embody the culture and values of San Francisco residents as a part of this campaign—particularly those who receive CalFresh and/or Medi-Cal benefits. To align with the overarching goal of providing people from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds access to museums and cultural institutions, we aimed to achieve the following:
- Utilize a targeted approach to reach historically excluded communities through an accessible, consistent, and equitable messaging framework
- Build credibility by positioning SF museums as relatable and fun
- Amplify resources available clearly and simply, incorporating language such as “free” and “fun” to boost engagement
- Convey personal empowerment through art and knowledge to improve equity in the arts
Ultimately, we aimed to create engaging, compelling, and straightforward messaging that would resonate with the target audience through the development of informative, authentic, and visually appealing collateral materials.
To ensure San Franciscans with benefits cards learned about SF Museums for All we highlighted the opportunity to visit museums for a free or significantly reduced rate. We developed a strategic integrated marketing plan to target low-income Bay Area community members and increase awareness of these offerings. Through a series of listening sessions with Bay Area community members, D&A organized and facilitated focus groups to learn about current beliefs, attitudes, and perceptions surrounding racial bias in the arts. Our findings initiated the “Free Family Fun” awareness campaign launched in June 2022, as families and caregivers naturally look for low-cost activities to do over the summer months. Through our listening sessions, we gleaned valuable insights such as the need for consistent and multichannel communications and an updated, user-friendly SF Museums For All website. We also learned the critical piece of creating messaging that is simple and relatable, which helped to inform our outreach strategies.
Our simple and direct approach combined with fun and energetic visuals leveraged a paid media strategy designed to reach people in specific geographic neighborhoods. Through qualified key messaging and deployment strategy, the “Free Family Fun” campaign introduced a dynamic visual identity and brand-building color palette that contributed to strong performance over the course of the summer-long campaign.
Our efforts were successful and resulted in reaching priority populations in multiple zip codes around San Francisco—strengthening awareness of the program. Our strategically targeted digital paid media, working in tandem with influencer marketing strategies, was executed and optimized over the course of the summer and resulted in a suite of organic content and paid media produced in English, Spanish, and Chinese. The integrated approach was supplemented with content by community influencers throughout the Bay Area. In addition, in-language postcards and flyers were created to reach CBOs and support their efforts for the audiences they serve.
Museum admissions data showed that the SF Museums for All program was used over 130,000 times in 2022 by residents with low incomes to obtain free or $3 admissions access to 20+ museums and cultural institutions across the City. Participating museums reported a significant improvement in the racial and economic diversity of their visitors as a result of SF Museums for All. Recognized by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals (AMCP) as a 2023 MarCom Award-Winning Campaign, the SF Museums for All campaign was a testament to our success at increasing program engagement and participation through a strategic integrated marketing campaign, reaching our initial goal of improving equity in the arts.
“It was essential to embody the culture and values of San Francisco residents—and those that receive EBT or Medi-Cal.”