Audience development toolkit

Audience development toolkit

By Louise Cogman


Boost your confidence in audience development with this practical toolkit, which covers definitions and key principles and provides guidance on writing and delivering an audience development strategy.

There is a lot of debate about audience development, what it is and why we do it, but currently very little in the way of publications or published guidelines.

Arts organisations are defining audience development by doing it. We can learn a lot from looking at how other people do it and what they achieved.

The bottom line is we all need audiences, most of us need more audiences and believe the work we do should have a wider audience. So, above and beyond our marketing strategy, we need a plan to develop the audiences we already have and find and retain new ones.

This toolkit aims to give you a one-stop guide to tackling your organisation’s audience development needs, highlighting the must-have tools, offering information on the process and flagging up possible pitfalls. It is a big topic, so there are also handy references to more reading you can do.

What do we mean by audience development?

Don't get bogged down in definition but use the common themes from these examples to establish the fundamental principles. What matters is how you apply audience development tools to the work your organisation does and - most importantly - to the people you want to reach.

'Audience development is about making an organisation-wide commitment to engaging with people, whether or not they are currently your audience, and developing long-term relationships of mutual respect and benefit with those people.' Eastern Orchestral Board

'The term Audience Development describes activity which is undertaken specifically to meet the needs of existing and potential audiences, and to help arts organisations to develop ongoing relationships with audiences. It can include aspects of marketing, commissioning, programming, education, customer care and distribution. 'Audience' encompasses attendees, visitors, readers, listeners, viewers, participants and learners.' Grants for the Arts, Arts Council England, 2004

'Audience development is a continual, actively managed process in which an organisation encourages each attender and potential attender to develop confidence, knowledge, experience and engagement across the full breadth of the artform to meet his or her full potential, whilst meeting the organisation's own artistic, social and financial objectives.' Morris Hargreaves McIntyre

'Audience development is a planned process which involves building a relationship between an individual and the arts. This takes time and cannot happen by itself. Arts organisations must work to develop these relationships.' Heather Maitland, The Marketing Manual

Download the guide to read more

Resource type: Guide/tools | Published: 2013