Report from an away day focusing on increasing audience retention.
Arts organisations are being encouraged to focus strongly on developing new audiences and visitors for the arts. Most achieve extraordinarily high rates of first-time attenders. But, disappointingly, many of these new audiences don't come back. They come into our theatres and galleries and go straight back out again - as though we had revolving doors.
150 arts marketers from all over the UK gathered to discuss how we can balance the development of new audiences with an equal focus on audience retention.
The first part of the away day put the revolving door syndrome into a national context. It established an economic argument for focusing on customer retention and surveyed some of the ways in which the non-arts sector tackles the issue. The final speaker then set up a theoretical framework which might explain why audiences and visitors don't return.
After a lively question and answer session, the second section offered three case studies from a concert hall, a mixed programme venue and a gallery, demonstrating how these organisations had significantly increased audience and visitor retention.