Cultural diversity and audience development

Cultural diversity and audience development

By Alison Edbury
Rachel Harrison
Anne Torreggiani, The Audience Agency
Ivan Wadeson
Heather Maitland


Discover arguments for focusing on cultural diversity, examples of good practice and practical advice for marketing, management and audience development in this comprehensive guide.

Diversity is a fact of life; it belongs to us all. It should not be a big deal. To benefit from it we need to embed it right into the heart of an organisation, where it is embraced as a defining feature of British culture and so is integral to core business. Cultural diversity, like audience development, should be more than a strategy, it should be a philosophy that is integrated in a coherent way with other key policies and agendas. Culture change may involve replacing and re-educating staff, and re-designing organisational systems. Many arts managers feel they have little time for anything other than coping with emerging events, but reflective practice is not a luxury, it is a priority. The motto for the coming years: reflect more – do less – accomplish more.

When we studied organisations that are attracting a broad audience, we found that successful organisations make an effort genuinely to connect with audiences on the audiences’ own terms. Here, the things that make the biggest difference are:

• how audiences are perceived and talked about
• the way the organisation engages with and involves audiences
• the way programming reflects the needs of the audience
• the effort the organisation puts into making a diverse audience feel at home.

We all choose to align ourselves with any number of different collective identities. Ethnicity does not necessarily dictate one’s cultural choices and neither does age, income or gender. Instead look for people who share a similar perception of or relationship to your brand.

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Resource type: | Published: 2013