Putting audience development at the core of your organisation

Putting audience development at the core of your organisation

By Audiences NI


Explore the differences between good audience development plans and bad in this audience development manifesto. Reviewing the data from venues in Northern Ireland, it covers why audience development is important and introduces a toolkit for developing successful long-term strategies.

What does audience development really mean?

'Audience development involves the identification, engagement and retention of audiences. It is a planned and strategic management function aimed at delivering organisational objectives. Audience development sets out to affect a change in the attitudes, understanding and behaviour of both existing and potential audiences. It seeks to remove barriers, deepen relationships with audiences and create greater inclusion in the arts.' Arts Council of Northern Ireland

Audience development

  • is not a one-off event but a continual organisational development process
  • is not just a marketing function. It is a management-led organisation-wide function
  • is a strategic business function which should be planned, starting with context analysis and SMART objectives, developing through a strategic plan and key milestones and finishing with evaluation
  • is insight driven. It must have research, data and market intelligence at its heart
  • is a continuous cycle. It should never stop, but constantly improve with each cycle. Information gathered through control and evaluation should feed into each new cycle to achieve continuous improvements

Why should your arts organisation engage in audience development?

Audience development helps arts organisations achieve their objectives whether these are social, artistic, financial, funding related or all four. Growing your audience will not only increase the return on investment of any funding received, it will also increase earned income for your organisation during a challenging economic time.

It has been calculated that it costs between seven and ten times as much to gain a new attender for your organisation, than it does to develop existing attenders up the customer loyalty ladder. Audience development aims to retain current audiences, increase frequency of attendance, encourage lapsed audiences back and develop tastes to encourage crossover.

Good audience development aims to move prospects and one-time customers into loyal advocates for your organisation. It helps your organisation use your marketing resources more effectively and efficiently, and gain value for money and a better return on your investment. Audience development is about sound management. It is part and parcel of building confident, dynamic and sustainable organisations who can survive and thrive in the future. Audience development helps arts organsiations secure their future.

Download the guide to read more:
Putting audience development at the core of your organisation (PDF)

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Resource type: Guide/tools | Published: 2013