Audiences, they’re not just for arts & cultural organizations anymore.
My favorite part of any show or concert takes place precisely when the houselights dim and the curtain rises. It’s at that remarkable moment that an assembly of individuals unites into an audience – a community of people who share focus, openness, and trust for the journey about to unfold.
This blog is dedicated to what it takes to gather and grow an audience – and that means more than just selling them a ticket. The cause of “audience development” exists to welcome a diverse variety of people to that moment of ENGAGEMENT.
So generally, that means this blog will pay attention to these building blocks:
- Attract – to innovate methods of sales, marketing, and public relations,
- Build Momentum – to bolster best practices for getting attendees to return,
- Cultivate – to embolden long-term strategies that advance opportunity and responsibility,
- Diversify – to nourish inclusiveness, equity, and a passion for community betterment,
- Experience – to recognize and adapt to the changing nature of what people value.
In 2011, when Doug McLennan at ArtsJournal generously invited me to launch this blog, I could sum up my pitch for “audience development” with the assertion that the marketing of arts & cultural activities must aim higher than the “low-hanging fruit” of older, affluent, and educated audiences.
Of course, that’s still a valid (and obvious) point.
However, over the years, my professional work has expanded to also address the (surprisingly) similar “audience development” challenges of associations, non-profit causes, civic organizations, universities, companies in all sorts of industries, professionals in private practice, municipalities, and government agencies.
Even though they don’t all commonly describe their customers or constituencies as “audiences,” THEY VERY WELL COULD! If you crave the same kind of focus, openness, and trustfulness of your “customers,” then you share in the cause of “audience development” in which we study and explore:
- The virtue of togetherness,
- The meaning of exceptional shared experiences,
- The essentialness of artistic integrity,
- The business of growing attendance and support.
For those reading this blog looking for practical insights and instruction for running an arts & cultural organization, you’re still in the right place. For those interested in growing “audiences” for other sorts of causes, businesses, and community endeavors, you’re in the right place, too.
Together, let’s wear our hearts on our sleeves by posting the sign that reads: “Audience Wanted.”