EvalFest has collected over 10,000 survey responses (and counting!) from science festival attendees at 25 partner sites across the US over the last four years. This left us asking a question: who isn’t attending these events and what can we find out about them? This question is part of what fueled the development of the Follow Up/Leisure Time Survey which was first implemented in 2018.

The Follow Up Survey is sent out to partner institution’s listservs/email lists four weeks after their science festival and is meant to capture information on both festival attendees and non-attendees. In comparison to the Attendee Survey, which does allow for a comparison between new and returning attendees, the Follow Up Survey provides a look at four distinct categories of attendees and non-attendees: 1) new festival attendees coming for the first time, 2) returning attendees who’ve also been to the festival in the past, 3) past attendees who didn’t make it this year, and 4) non-attendees who’ve never been to the event.

In its inaugural year, nine partner festivals gathered almost 4,000 responses, with 41% of respondents reporting they had attended one of the participating science festivals that year. From this data, we were able to begin to look at differences between science festival attendees and those who had never attended.

Demographically, festival attendees and non-attendees were similar in terms of gender, income, and educational attainment; however, non-attendees were more likely to be White/Caucasian and over the age of 55 when compared to attendees.

We also asked about people’s science involvement; this included questions about their self-reported interest in science, their science hobbies, and if they worked in a STEM-related field. As a general trend, people who had never attended indicated a lower level of science involvement:

The Follow Up Survey also provides an opportunity to look at how people use their leisure time to see if festival attendees and non-attendees are using their free time in similar or different ways. This information allows for a deeper dive into ways in which festival non-attendees might be reached or engaged as a new audience. The survey instrument, along with many others, is available on the website under Resources – make sure to check it out.

We were excited by the results of the 2018 Follow Up Survey and have already begun more in-depth analyses of the data… be on the lookout for future publications!

Kim Kiesewetter currently works as a Research Assistant on the EvalFest project.

Image courtesy of the Philadelphia Science Festival. Learn more here.