You serve an audience but you don’t “have” an audience.
An audience is not something you own.
Your venue is the shore. It’s a place where an audience washes up to connect with your arts & cultural experience.
Your organization is a beachfront property. You stand on the deck and watch as the audience tide periodically surges in attendance. And as it ebbs.
You may own a property “on the shore” but you do not own any particular drop of water. Your audience is fluid. It is ALWAYS fluid.
When you choose to believe that you know “our audience,” then you waste your limited resources by planting pretty little signs all over the beach to invite the water to rise. You point loudspeakers at the surf and fruitlessly beg the water to attend. You jump into the water with your plastic pail and carry small amounts up on to the beach with some vague expectation that its “friends” will notice and follow the example.
When you choose to believe that only a small portion of the water is “our audience,” your decision to dismiss the unexplored potential is tantamount to locking yourself in an airtight chamber and saying that you choose to breathe this air and no other.
When your interest extends to only that tiny fraction of water that you vaguely describe as “our audience” you necessarily ignore the mutual interests of so many other owners of arts & cultural “beachfront properties” – or you view them purely as competitors.
When you believe that your definition of “our audience” is real, then you are a success only when you achieve your revenue goal and you are a failure when you do not.
How would your world be different if you approached your audience as if it were the whole ocean?
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