We need to make real connections with our audiences, and the best way to do this is to ensure that every department across your organisation shares core values and vision. However, this can involve change, and change isn’t always easy. Here, we are offered case studies to show how two organisations have changed the way they think to allow the tastes and needs of audiences to aid artistic planning and thinking, placing inspirational art at the forefront.
There’s a very powerful passage in the Arts Council England book called Navigating Difference about cultural diversity and audience development. It’s a quote from Maddy Morton, and it enshrines for me a core principle of what we do: ‘Anyone who thinks they can achieve a diverse audience by implementing whizzy schemes whilst leaving the core of the organisation intact is on a hiding to nothing. The only really effective way to change the make up of your audience is to first change yourselves.’
People can find change very challenging. And yet managed well, change can be really exciting. One of the easiest ways to ensure that people don’t get left behind is to create working teams from across the organisation to consider issues beyond their normal jobs. It helps build trust and understanding of a change programme, and can help tap into people’s creativity – not just yours or the curator’s or the artistic director’s, but the visitor services manager’s, the box office assistant’s and the café supervisor’s.