Today, the very existence of our organisations has audiences at its heart. Whether through choice or originally through circumstance, audiences have become part of our business model but more importantly they have to be part of our philosophy. How do we develop audiences now and how we might do it in the future? How can we build broader, wider, deeper relationships in order that we also meet our organisation’s own artistic, social and financial objectives? This opening keynote presentation from AMA conference 2014 set the scene for a conference that aimed to explore and find the answers to some of those questions.
And Blair’s Labour Government shifted the emphasis from being entirely about economic impact to include social impact of arts. At first encouraging demonstration of our contribution to other government priorities: impacts on health; social cohesion; community well-being and so on. The problem was this wasn't why we were doing the art in the first place – our mission had never been to serve other government departments in this way. We’d never evaluated ourselves rigorously enough – nor against these objectives – so it was pretty difficult to prove. Not to mention distracting from our actual mission.