It seems like a common sense statement to make, but engaging an audience is essential for arts organisations. What audience engagement means can range from organisation to organisation – from growing audience attendance numbers, reaching specific people in a community, or encouraging conversations about the arts. But for any engagement to be effective there often needs to be a deeper connection or relationship with the audience first.
Organisations in regional and remote areas face the same problems as metropolitan arts organisations, with the added challenge of fewer arts events to use as a basis for sustainable relationships with the community. To help regional and remote organisations with this conundrum, the Australia Council has enlisted international expertise to shed some light on this area.
Director of The Experience Business, Lisa Baxter, is working with four regional Australian venues to develop plans to increase their audience reach as a part of our Audience Engagement Program. Lisa has over a decade of experience in analysing the impacts, motivations, barriers, perceptions and attitudes of audiences.
Participant feedback reports, on the program so far, highlight two key points:
- Shift your thinking
What is the value of your program to the audience? We often think of the value as the cost of the art work or the fee charged by the artist. But true value of any art is defined by its audience. The audience should always be a part of the programming conversation.
Think from the audience’s perspective: consider their needs, values and what they want to get out of their interaction with your organisation. One way to shift these thoughts is to consider what they (the audience) want from their experience, not only what we (the artist or organisation) want them to get out of it. Venues participating in the program were encouraged to create audience personas to help them see their organisations and what is on offer through the eyes of their audience.
Find out more about the program by watching our short showcase on the regional arts organisations taking part in the Audience Engagement Program.
Image: Lisa Baxter, Director of the Experience Business