Wayward, in collaboration with Project Projects, were appointed by the Van Alen Institute and the U.S. National Park Service to develop case studies for how the parks can attract diverse audiences, tell new stories, and engage the next generation of visitors at a time of fast-evolving technologies, regional contexts, and audience expectations. At a time of limited park resources and budgets, new ideas and strategies are needed to ensure these sites’ relevance and long-term sustainability, and to attract larger, increasingly diverse audiences that have countless opportunities for how they are entertained, educated, and engaged in the world around them. By focusing not on capital projects that require huge investments of time and resources but rather calling for a nimbler range of engagement, outreach, and experiential strategies, we worked to develop strategies that truly push the boundaries of what national parks can be in the 21st Century.
Through this fellowship, we developed Park Love - a unique model for strategic partnership building to create mutually beneficial pairings between the National Parks and a diverse range of cultural organisations. Drawing from matchmaking methodologies, we organise "dates" between cultural institutions that can bring new audiences, resources and deas to the parks. In turn, parks can offer space, nature and historical links that these organisations would otherwise not have. Pooled resources can also result in improved infrastructure, wider communications outread, sustained community participation and multi-layered visitor experiences. Utilising our strong network of both major cultural institutions (museums, academic institutions, creative enterprises and community organisations), Wayward acts as "matchmakers" to create invaluable connections and spark new possibilities. A Matchmaking Toolkit for the U.S. National Parks is in development.