In this short article Jim Rosenberg, National Arts Strategies (USA), promotes customer-centred strategies as the way forward for arts organisations. He argues that an ‘ingrained’ fear of ‘pandering’ to customers could be holding arts organisations back and stresses that what audiences today seek is not necessarily very far from what many arts organisations strive to offer – ‘intellectual challenge, emotional truth, social connection and a new perspective.’
Even the most effective communications strategies can only carry you part of the way to new audiences, and in our experience, many professionals are far too optimistic about the effects of these activities. Marketing activities can help you move from your realised audience - those you serve today - to your potential audience - all those who would be interested in your offering if certain barriers (awareness, pricing, familiarity with programming) were overcome. This growth can be enough to sustain an organisation. However, this potential audience is commonly far smaller and much less diverse than the audience that organisations desire in order to achieve their missions and generate sufficient financial support.