Family Audiences – making a difference. Blog: Clair Donnelly


Clair Donnelly takes us through top resources that make a difference when working with families ahead of the national Family Arts Conference on 12thFebruary 2019. 

As we move further into the New Year, many of us will be planning ahead to decipher how we can become even more inclusive, engaging and welcoming to our audiences. For many organisations, families will be at the heart of that work; they are the audiences of the future as well as the audiences of now, however, they are the audience whose planning needs and access to prior information is greatest. With multiple varying factors to consider, the family audience can often be the most difficult audience to please but arguably the most rewarding when we get it right.

Families are not just good for our audience development goals; they’re good for business and can contribute to our organisation financially. But if families are going to part with their hard-earned cash, how can we ensure value for all family members? It’s a key theme at this year’s Family Arts Conference, which will explore the value of arts, culture and creativity for families.

Our conference will consider what value means in today’s family arts sector in terms of the benefits engagement with arts and culture can bring and how we can communicate and capitalise on that value through our evaluation, fundraising, income generation or data gathering.

A not to be missed session with Baker Richards consultancy service will talk us through how to create commercial value in your family offer, and lead on from their excellent existing resource on Pricing your Family Events.

And what about older family members? Research has shown that older adults are more likely to be visiting as part of a larger family group than they are to attend alone.  We also know that older generations may be more likely to experience barriers to engagement than younger family members. The Age-Friendly Standards provide specific guidance on welcoming older audiences and can help your organisation become more inclusive for older generations who may have access or additional needs.

At this year’s conference, we’ll explore the value of intergenerational experiences that bring older and younger audiences together with a key note presentation from Dr. Zoe Wyrko, the brains behind the channel 4 documentary Old People’s Home for Four Year Olds.

Once you have your family offer in place, how can you ensure that you’re doing the very best you can do for your family audience? Evaluation, however small-scale, can provide you with insights about the effectiveness of your activities and help you to plan events in the future. The Family Arts Evaluation and Audience Research Toolkit built by evaluators Catherine Rose’s Office, has been designed to support evaluation of your family events. At next month’s Conference, the Big Lottery Fund will run a workshop on the implications of carrying out evaluation in the context of family audiences, along with recent examples and online tools to aid your evaluation processes.

If it’s data you’re after, there are lots of tools that can help you drill down into the dos and don’ts of family audiences. All arts and cultural organisers are entitled to use the free Audience Finder survey tool, which can help you collect data on your family audiences. Once complete, you can profile your audiences using Audience Spectrum to show you which types of families are attending your events. You can then compare this with data for your region to find out who your potential new audiences could be. Make sure you select ‘families’ when requesting your survey, so that it can be personalised to include a range of specially selected Family Participation questions.

So what’s next for the future of family arts? Digital engagement is of course on the rise, but so is outdoor art and culture, which is valued for its interaction with diverse community groups. Last year’s Outdoor Arts Audience Report found that outdoor cultural events tend to be representative of the demographic in their area. They can be a great way to have fun as a family and are successfully attracting similar proportions of first-time and repeat visitors. It’s a topic we’ll be exploring further at the Conference, joined by Outdoor Arts UK and other experts in the field.


The Family Arts Conference takes place 12thFebruary at the Everyman Theatre, Liverpool.Tickets are available for £175+VAT. The full programme and booking can be found here.

Unlimited: The Symposium. Blog Two – Andrew Miller reflects on the Arts Panel

© Rachel Cherry

The second of a series of blogs where session Chairs at Unlimited: The Symposium share their responses with the aim to inspire others. 

Unlimited: The Symposium was a disabled-led, two-day discussion event, held at the Unicorn Theatre on 4 and 5 September 2018. It was aimed at both a national and international audience across the cultural sector, with people attending in or engaging in the discussion and debate online.


Reflections on Unlimited Symposium’s Art Panel: Andrew Miller 

Andrew Miller reflects on the session he chaired at Unlimited: The Symposium and discusses the key takeaways, themes and possible actions from the discussion…

“Disabled people NEED to be leading” was the key message from the panel discussion on Art at the 2018 Unlimited Symposium. We were responding to the question: how can disabled artists change the ‘mainstream’ arts sector? Our panel was united in the view that only when disabled artists’ work achieves wide recognition and disabled creatives lead mainstream arts organisations will real change occur.

And we’re making progress! We heard many examples of mainstream success. From the learning disabled band PKN representing Finland at Eurovision 2015 to the Paraorchestra appearance at Glastonbury and Lost Voice Guy’s victory on Britain’s Got Talent.

Yet for every success, there is the threat of marginalisation. On Twitter, Singapore’s Disabled People’s Association endorsed Jess Thom’s warning that ”as a society we must ensure we’re not adjusting to inequality but making the adjustments needed to equalise opportunity”. And Arts & Disability Ireland’s Padraig Naughton echoed Lloyd Coleman’s view that, “we mustn’t become too dogmatic…of being too narrow when trying to be inclusive.”

Marc Steene highlighted the problem with labels in art; “labels made by others, not us” and he observed that, “we have an important role to widen who can be artist”. Sari Salovaara and Outi Salonlahti from Helsinki’s Culture for All continued that theme by asking, “Who decides quality? Who chooses who can be an artist? The gatekeepers of the arts need to be challenged”.

However, Darren Henley’s conference opening remarks were encouraging. He stated: ”As a society we must take steps to include everyone in our cultural conversation. It’s a moral, civic and cultural responsibility. The work of disabled and D/deaf artists is often the boldest, most aesthetically adventurous art out there.”

As individuals working in the arts we must ask ourselves what we’re doing to challenge preconceptions and prejudice and to ensure that the best of art is properly supported. It’s a moral, civic and cultural responsibility.

The work of disabled and D/deaf artists is often the boldest, most aesthetically adventurous art out there.

Darren Henley (full speech available on the Arts Council England website)

For me, there was one surprise. The extent to which our international disabled colleagues look to the UK for leadership and inspiration. It was clear both our artistic ambition and policy frameworks inspire the world. In my breakout session focused on the ACE Creative Case for Diversity, we heard over and over again that the UK occupies a privileged position.

And that makes me even more determined to dismantle barriers for disabled people to access training, employment and representation in UK arts. Knowing that in achieving better equality here, the world will be watching and preparing. As Tim Wheeler observed of our discussions on Twitter, “What an exciting and precarious place we are at”.

But I’m going to give the last word on our debate to the bold message carried on Outi Salonlahti’s T-shirt, “Be yourself, be a monster, be an optimist!”

Andrew Miller is the UK Government Disability Champion for Arts & Culture

First published on Unlimited.

Andrew Miller (left) chairs the Unlimited Symposium session on Art with Jo Verrent (right). Photo: Rachel Cherry. 

The 6 Degrees Podcast: Episode 1 with Cath Hume


We’ve been inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation – that all living things and everything else in the world are six or fewer steps away from each other – so listen in as we follow a trail of six podcasts starting with Carol Jones (Editor, AMAculturehive) interviewing the AMA’s CEO, Cath Hume.

In this first episode Cath and Carol reveal their early arts experiences and our passion for connecting arts with audiences. Warning: this includes Carol singing (badly) a snippet from an operetta…

And it’s party time as we celebrate 25 years of the AMA so Carol asks Cath what changes during that time stand out for her. Cath also tells her what she thinks are the key challenges facing the sector and how the AMA will help meet those challenges.

Cath doesn’t get a luxury item and the choice of a piece of music to take to a desert island but she is given a magic wand to make a wish for the next 25 years of the AMA.

In true tag-team talk show style the batons handed to Cath to choose someone that she wants to interview as our 2nddegree of separation and the chain will lead from there. Follow us over the next few months to find out where we end up.

Listen to the first 6 Degrees Podcast here




Unlimited: The Symposium. Blog One: Equality – Disability, intersectional identities and the arts.

Sonya Dyer Associate AMAculturehive

The first of a series of blogs where session Chairs at Unlimited: The Symposium share their responses with the aim to inspire others. 

Unlimited: The Symposium was a disabled-led, two-day discussion event, held at the Unicorn Theatre on 4 and 5 September 2018. It was aimed at both a national and international audience across the cultural sector, with people attending in or engaging in the discussion and debate online.


Equality: Disability, Intersectional Identities and the Arts Symposium – a personal response by the Chair of this session, Sonya Dyer.

One of the most important lessons I learned during the Unlimited Symposium was quite a simple one, but it was something I had, in all honesty, never thought of before.

We were setting up the A/V in advance of the ‘Intersectionality’ panel, in the main auditorium. Lapel mic pinned on my top, I did something I presume I always do – I asked the technician, ‘Can you hear me?’. I did so without thinking, as I imagine most people do, most of the time, when setting up for events.

This lesson was taught by one of the panellists, Chun-Shan (Sandie) Yi. Sandie taught by doing – when it was her turn to check her mic, she asked this simple question, ‘Is the mic working?’. Sandie later explained the purpose of framing the question in this way, namely that asking ‘Can you hear me?’ implies that everyone can hear, or indeed should be able to hear. We all know this is not the case.

This stopped me in my tracks. I strive to be a better ally to D/deaf and disabled people. However, I have always asked, ‘Can you hear me?’ without seriously considering the implications of those words.

For me this was a necessary reminder of the importance of unpicking certain seemingly benign behaviours I perform everyday. Learning to be a better ally is a life long practice.

I was grateful to Sandie for handling the situation in the way that she did, by just doing better and sharing her knowledge and understanding with all of us. I don’t imagine I was the only person who needed this lesson.

This is something I will take with me, and change about myself moving forward. In fact, shortly after the Unlimited Symposium, I ran another daylong event with an organisation outside the disability-led sector. As we were setting up the A/V I heard myself asking, ‘Is the mic working?’.

Sonya Dyer, October 2018


About Unlimited

Unlimited supports ambitious, creative projects by outstanding disabled artists and companies. The projects include theatre, dance, music, literature, performance, painting, sculpture, public artworks, photography, digital artworks, installations, films and more.

Unlimited wants to change perceptions of disabled people by commissioning disabled artists in the UK and internationally to make new, groundbreaking and high quality work.

We also do this by building a community of Unlimited Allies who help us to embed the work of disabled artists in the mainstream cultural sector and improve access for artists and audiences.

Unlimited is a commissioning programme, not an organisation. It is run by two different organisations:

  • Shape Arts, a disability-led organisation which works with disabled artists and has an office in Kentish Town, London
  • Artsadmin, which supports artists to create work without boundaries and has an office at Aldgate East, London.

Unlimited works with disabled artists from all over the UK
– England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – and offers funding for research and development, to make small and large-scale projects happen in the UK and around the world, and awards for emerging artistswho are new to art, early-career or haven’t had reached large audiences yet. We also fund full commissions (from an artist’s idea through to its realisation and touring) and commissions created through international collaborations.

From 2013-2016 Unlimited supported more than 2,300 days of performances and exhibitions by disabled artists, which were seen by over 130,000 people.

Connected resources: The Accessible Marketing Guide

My Freelance Journey: Blog Four – Marketing yourself and getting work

AMA conference 2018 © Brian Roberts Images
©AMA conference 2018 © Brian Roberts Images

MY FREELANCE JOURNEY is a new bi-monthly blog series where we follow Arts Marketing and Fundraising consultant Beckie Smith on her journey into life as a freelancer

Marketing yourself and getting work

With all the background work done, I needed to put myself out there and start getting work.

I thought this would be easy – having been at the top of my game in marketing, I assumed that marketing myself would be second nature.

I was wrong. I found myself standing on two polar extremes. On one hand I was ready and eager to go. There were people to meet, organisations to help, and audiences to serve. On the other, I was under-rehearsed, tongue-ted and I felt like it was my first day at school.

Time to go back to basics with Marketing 101.

Define your audience. Who is most likely to need my services? Easy! Arts organisations (or rather the people within it).

Segment. What kind of arts organisation? What size? What discipline? I’m focusing on multi-disciplined arts centres, or companies who specialise in performance with an annual turnover of £1m- £5m, but if you’re a dance specialist with international touring experience, why not start there?

Segment again. It isn’t an organisation who will contract you. It’s the people within it. If you’re a marketing or development consultant, it is likely to be the CEO, rather than the marketing team that hires you. However, if you are a freelance campaign manager, the Marketing Director would be a safe bet because they are the people on the front line, desperately needing support services and are looking for a solution to present to their CEO.

Make it relevant. At what point in an organisation’s journey will it be most appropriate to work with them? For me, it is at a time when an organisation needs to try something new. It might be that they are feeling stagnant and need a change, or they have recently received funding and are looking to make new waves in the industry. If you are specialising in campaign management, it would be more timely to make your approach in advance of a big campaign launch or just after one, so they can consider you for next time.

Identify your messaging. We all know that ‘please buy our tickets’ is the world’s worst marketing message. ‘Please contract me’ is equally bad. When we are selling tickets, we entice people with engaging content. It’s the same here. Offer case studies, blogs, offer golden nuggets of enlightenment and gems of inspiration. Draw conclusions from articles and form your own opinions.

Identify your channels. We know this like the back of our hand, don’t we? In the day job we specialise in online marketing, social media, print, promotion, partnership, advertising, pr. We choose the best channels and amplify our message through the others to ensure we get heard. For freelancers this means, network, write professionally, speak at sessions. Many counties have agencies who facilitate networking events, make your introductions there, follow up with an email and connect thorough social media. (Don’t do all of this in 24 hours, people will think you are stalking them). The best channel is word of mouth recommendation. Who do you know, who knows who you want to know? Can you ask them to make an introduction and recommend you?

Tailor your ask. No consultancy project is the same. You cannot say ‘this is what I do, please buy it’. Instead, tailor what you do to what your client’s needs. You can only find out what they need by meeting them. But what happens if they don’t know they need anything yet? Find a way to listen to their story so far and understand their aspirations. Make the conversation be about them. Then go away and work out how you can help them achieve their aspirations. This isn’t about them hiring you, it is about starting a conversation which might help them.

Coming to a contract. Only when a customer ‘actually asks you to do something’ should you talk about a contract and a fee. Professionals are not stupid. They will know that when they ask you to do something, they will expect to pay you. They will probably be the ones to bring it up (which is a relief because it helps you understand their budget, and it saves you from having to make the ask). Then you can either negotiate or accept – depending on your circumstances.

In conclusion. Marketing ‘the new you’ is as full on as marketing an artistic programme. It is a full-time job. Yet at the same time you must deliver the work for the clients you have already won. If you consult part-time, you will find yourself working full-time hours. If you used to work a full-time job at 40 hours, it has suddenly increased to 60 hours, 20 of which are unpaid.

No-one said it would be easy.

But it is worth it.

Follow Beckie’s journey as she adapts to the challenges and opportunities of freelance life. Next time, Beckie discusses the highs and lows of being a freelance consultant.

My Freelance Journey: Blog Three – Understanding your place in the market

AMA conference 2018 © Brian Roberts Images
© AMA conference 2018. Brian Roberts

MY FREELANCE JOURNEY is a new bi-monthly blog series where we follow Arts Marketing and Fundraising consultant Beckie Smith on her journey into life as a freelancer.

Understanding your place in the market

So, how does my new freelance venture fit in the market?

It is here that I need to name check and thank Ron Evans (Group of Minds), Carol Jones (AMA) and Deborah Reese (Cast in Doncaster) who helped as I grappled with shaping my direction because I found this question hard.

What have I got that no one else has? What is my USP? Why hire me instead of someone else? Am I a freelance marketer or freelance consultant? What is the difference?

I knew for certain that I wanted career progression. I used to run departments, sit on senior management teams and shape strategic vision, so I questioned if the marketer role of campaign delivery was necessarily for me.

The next logical step was to become a consultant – alongside the likes of Roger Tomlinson, Jo Taylor, Ron Evans, Debbie Richards, Andrew Mcintyre, Helen Dunnet, Andrew Thomas, Lisa Baxter and all the other consultants who shape our field.  They have more experience behind them, but were new to consultancy once. And since then, they have created Culture Segments, The Ticketing Institute, modules, algorithms, and platforms.

What will I end up creating? I wonder.

It was Ron Evans who put me to the test. “What have you got?” he asked, “Tell me a career highlight.” I gave him case studies where I combined market data, profiling and segmentation to turn fundraising strategies on their head and how The Audience Agency thought it was a unique approach.

“You use market insight to make strategic fundraising decisions” he said. “What else?”

I gave examples of marketing strategies that u-turned because the fundraiser in me pressured me to move forward through the power of emotion, sentiment and storytelling.

“You use fundraising tactics to re-position marketing campaigns” he said. “Ha! You’re the ‘Marketing and Fundraising Matchmaker’.” (I can see why Ron is internationally renowned for steering world-class organisations through a sea of icebergs). “But what is the point? Why bother?”

Answering the “Why bother?” questions is something all new consultants need to do…and continue to do on a regular basis. I gave myself factual (marketing) answers – revealing hidden income streams, increasing donations, trying untested tactics that have ground-breaking potential and energising engagement.

And also emotional (fundraising) answers based on bringing the audience and donor together on one magic journey where they engage the most, spend the most, and give the most that is possible for them to give – all the while falling deeper and deeper in love with your organisation.

“That’s piping hot”, Ron reassures me. It is a new, exciting approach, and very topical to encourage organisations to break the silos of departmental working. (At the time I didn’t realise that this was the very core of Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy’s Shared Ambition programme).

People perceive consultants to have all the answers. Which just isn’t true most of the time. Lazy afternoons in the sun, and long evenings with a glass of wine sparked my inner monologue. Do consultants have all the answers? At conferences they say, “we were on a journey”, “we realised”, “we went back to the drawing board” and “we were in untested water” which is consultant code for “we didn’t know the answers either but stuck with it until we did.”

What else makes a consultant? They are well read and draw on other consultant’s work to shape their own practice. I certainly do that! If I wasn’t keeping up to date with JAM, Arts Professional, The National Arts Marketing Project, ACE, Americans for the Arts, SMU DataArts and the free resources provided by Culturehive,  AMA, The Audience Agency’s Audience Finder and Morris Hargreaves McIntyre I would have a lot more time on my hands to go to the gym, climb a mountain or go wild swimming.

For me as a consultant, I’m driven by the saying “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, give him a rod and teach him how to fish and he will eat for a life time.”

Having seen a number of organisations struggle, I’m passionate about the latter.  I can’t help but think that if they had a rod and could fish with it, their story may have been different. To provide the services that I very much needed in my early career, and to empower and educate other professionals so they can make changes, is special.

So find the basis of your consultancy offer. Understand your USP. Know what makes you unique. Be driven by finding out the answers and empowering organisations to do the same.

The fact that I am inspired by the pioneering works of those ahead of me … simply lets me set my sights on an exceptionally high bar, that over time, I will get close to reaching.

Follow Beckie’s journey as she adapts to the challenges and opportunities of freelance life. Next time, Beckie discusses marketing yourself and getting work. 

OF/BY/FOR ALL: Nina Simon. Blog – launching the movement

Nina Simon
© Nina Simon

The AMA is backing the OF/BY/FOR ALL change network and following its progress through a series of Blogs by Nina Simon.

Find out more and join the movement including how well your organisation embodies OF/BY/FOR ALL outcomes and practices and how your work can grow.

Launching the First Wave of the OF/BY/For ALL Change network

How do you build a movement for institutional change?

That’s the question we’ve been grappling with as we start the OF/BY/FOR ALL initiative. Our goal is to help civic and cultural institutions become more representative OF, co-created BY, and welcoming FOR their diverse communities. We’ve see this model succeed at the MAH and at other community-centered organizations around the world. We want to share the methods and tools that make it work. Not as a prescriptive recipe, but as a pattern. We see OF/BY/FOR ALL as an adaptable playbook for community change.

The challenge is to figure out the best way to share that playbook. Last year, we tested out different formats. We explored opening a training center. Publishing toolkits. Consulting. Building a leadership development program. We even thought about franchising.

The model we landed on was movement building. We plan to fuel a distributed Change Network of organizations growing OF/BY/FOR ALL together. We’ll offer an online program for change, support a global community of practice, and keep expanding the program based on community input.

We want to make the “how” of community involvement clear and achievable. Change Network organizations will make specific pledges to become of, by, and for new communities. We’ll provide tools to help organizations meet their goals step by step. As the network grows, more of the tools and knowledge base will come from participating institutions, with our staff focusing on community organizing and connections.

Our near-term goal is to enroll at least 200 organizations by the end of 2020, collectively pledging to involve one million new people in their work. Eventually, we may build a certification program, like LEED for green buildings, or B Corps for social enterprise. But we’re starting with a campaign to involve one million people – and to build a community of organizations helping each other make it happen.

We’re excited about this movement-building model for three reasons:

It taps diverse sources of expertise. The MAH is not the authority on all things OF/BY/FOR ALL. By building a change network, we will empower diverse organizations to share methods and expertise with each other.

It scales. We want to go big with this movement. We plan to involve hundreds of organizations in the next three years – and thousands in the years to come. We realized that models that rely heavily on in-person training or consulting wouldn’t scale to the extent of our dreams.

It emphasizes action. Talk is good. Change is better. Change Network organizations will make specific commitments to become of, by, and for more diverse people. The program we’re building will help accelerate their progress. But it starts with organizations demonstrating eagerness and pledging to take action.

The Change Network program launches next week in prototype form with a First Wave of twenty organizations (full list at the end of this post). We selected a First Wave that reflects diversity of geography, size, and sector, so we can see who this works best for and why. The First Wave includes 6 museums, 5 performing arts organizations, 3 public libraries, 3 parks, and 3 community centers. Half are led by people of color or indigenous people. We represent six countries and ten time zones. For this prototype, 19 of 20 are in English-speaking countries, to provide as much clarity as possible as we get feedback from participants. In the future, we look forward to taking what we learn from this First Wave to build a strong Change Network with organizations all over the world.

I can’t wait to learn with and from these amazing First Wave organizations. Some are leaders in the field of community participation. Others are just getting started. All are ready and eager to grow of, by, and for their communities.

OF/BY/FOR ALL is one of many projects in a growing ecosystem of efforts to propel more inclusive institutions. Some people are writing toolkits. Some are giving workshops. Some are developing training programs. Some are leading academic studies. Some are funding projects. If we are going to build a more inclusive world, we don’t need just one or two projects. We need an ecosystem of activists, academics, funders, professionals, policymakers, and associations striving together towards common goals.

With OF/BY/FOR ALL, we’re playing a role in this ecosystem as an accelerant for organizational change. I respect my colleagues who are writing, advocating, funding, and researching the nuances of community work. Heck, I’ve spent lots of time participating in those ways myself. But today, I’m motivated to focus my resources and energy on a program to help organizations commit to action and make it happen. That’s what OF/BY/FOR ALL is all about.

As we learn more from the First Wave and build the Change Network, we’ll write about it on the OF/BY/FOR ALL website. So if you want to join us in sharing stories and opportunities to become of, by, and for your community, please consider joining that email list today.

Here is the brave, beautiful, and wide-ranging First Wave:

Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History in Santa Cruz, CA, USA (host site)

National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, NM, USA

Techniquest in Cardiff, Wales, UK (science center)

HistoryMiami Museum in Miami, FL, USA

Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center in Niagara Falls, NY, USA

Immigration Museum in Melbourne, VIC, Australia

Te Manawa in Palmerston North, Aotearoa, NZ (museum)

Stedelijk Museum Schiedam in Schiedam, Netherlands

Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, RI, USA

Oakland Symphony in Oakland, CA, USA

Marfa Public Radio in Marfa, TX, USA

Laundromat Project in New York, NY, USA

ARTZ Philadelphia in Philadelphia, PA, USA

Oakland Public Library in Oakland, CA, USA

St. Joseph County Public Library in South Bend, IN, USA

Dakota County Library in Eagan, MN, USA

Los Angeles River State Park Partners in Los Angeles, CA, USA

Divis and Black Mountain in Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK

Movement BE in San Diego, CA, USA (youth empowerment)

Minnesota Transgender Health Coalition in Minneapolis, MN, USA

Genesis Centre in Calgary, AB, Canada (community wellness)

I can’t wait to learn and build the Change Network with this First Wave in the months to come.

Nina Simon

First published on the MuseumTwo Blogspot

OF/BY/FOR ALL is a new worldwide initiative brought to you by Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History

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