Looking for opportunities during Covid-19. #ADA

Looking for opportunities during Covid-19. #ADA


Pauline Bailey, a mentor on the Audience Diversity Academy supports her Fellows as they look for opportunities to expand and diversify their audiences during Covid-19.

It was a pleasure to meet my new Fellows from The Wellcome Collection and Suffolk Libraries 

Like so many in the creative and cultural sector they are embracing the challenges that these surreal times present, where there are so many restrictions on how we interact, where we can go and how we can move around our spaces.   

In doing so we are all having to explore new ways to communicate with existing audiences to get them back into our buildings, engage with new and diverse communities which also means exploring and interrogating our languages both visual and written and the perceptions we hold about those we are trying to reach. 

Everyone (if they haven’t closed temporarily or gone out of business altogether), is looking for new ways to communicate, engage and re-establish their activities. So, while these are challenging times, I think (in equal measuresthey can also be seen as an opportunity.  This is what I’ve found myself grappling with during these times, and I believe what my Fellows will also be doing in order to arrive at the focus of their ‘experiment’. 

During our first session I was able to establish that there was already a level of openness between marketing and some teams at the Wellcome Collection, despite the organisation being quite large, and in some respect, bureaucratic. In the case of Suffolk Libraries, they have a different challenge as some of their branches/teams are rural, quite disparate and isolatednevertheless there is a fairly good relationship already existing with the other teams and library branches.   

One organisation doesn’t currently have an outreach programme as such although there is a school’s programme, and in the case of the other, good relationships have been developed, but challenged by the uncertainty of the current situation with colleagues in some of the more isolated branches.  Part of the task now is to build on those relationships and apply some ‘Blue sky’ thinking and contingencies where possible. 

My Fellows are thinking of exploring better ways to communicate with diverse communities including neurodivergent and young Black audiences, (especially in light of the Back Lives Matter issues almost everyone is taking into consideration),.   

To be fair the team at Wellcome had started this journey a little while ago as part of a 5 year strategy, and after each department embarking on a period of reflection my Fellows have been thinking of ways to revisit aspects of the collections (perhaps focusing on one to start with) and explore what/how they display, talk to, present and attract new audiences to the collections. 

Suffolk Libraries Fellows will not only need to deal with some branch closures, restricted hours or changing government guidelines, but also the remoteness and rural nature of some branches, thinking of online methods of engaging new communities/audiences let alone getting previous audiences through their doors 

This is going to be another exciting journey for me too as their mentor and I’m looking forward to working with my Fellows.  They have some interesting challenges and learning ahead with how, as a marketing team, they communicate externally and internally with potential audiences and peers. 

See below some of the things the Wellcome Collection and Suffolk Libraries have been offering 

RawMinds:   https://wellcomecollection.org/pages/Wuw2MSIAACtd3Ssg 

Schools https://wellcomecollection.org/pages/Wuw2MSIAACtd3StS 

Cultural activities:  https://www.suffolklibraries.co.uk/whats-on/online-arts-and-cultural-events-and-activities 

Pauline Bailey, Visual Artist, Director, Producer and Mentor on the Audience Diversity Academy.

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Audience Development & Strategy
Resource type: Articles | Published: 2021