This blog is no longer being updated

This blog is no longer being updated and is an archive.

Audiences London have now become The Audience Agency, in alliance with All About Audiences. As the Audience Agency we help museums, arts, heritage, libraries and other cultural organisations understand and grow audiences.

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Museums and Heritage Show 2011

Museums and Heritage Show 2011My first gig back at Audiences London (after 9 months on maternity leave…) was at this year’s Museums and Heritage Show at Earl’s Court.  AL was again invited to curate one of the seminar series (making it our third year at the show).  So amongst the giant blow-up frankenstein monsters, a multitude of audio guide providers, interpretation experts and cabinet makers and a frenzy around social media… we offered a tranquil space to think about visitors.

Sarah Boiling and Sangeeta Sathe of South London Gallery talked about the virtues of sustained audience monitoring in the context of the visual arts benchmarking project. Quickly followed up by a focus on segmentation, the driving force for a collaborative project and campaign byLondon’s orchestras to attract those less knowledgeable about classical music.  We then took a quick trip into the world of tourism with highlights from Susanna Mann from the Royal Collection on Group Tour Organisers and Operators.  Another royal connection followed as Helen Ball talked about the FUSE project developed with the Royal Parks to engage young people with the arts organisations surrounding the park. And finally a romp through any other kinds of relationships that organisations had developed a sustained…

Relationship building themes of the day for me were… know your visitors; hand over the reins to your visitors – give them the opportunity to develop ideas and run the show once in a while; collaborate and the return on investment can last for years; and finally keep evolving, don’t stand still… and you’ll  have more engagement, income and happier visitors!

Economics, Culture and Leadership

Attended a great event last week, which was ostensibly to launch The Economics of Cultural leadership: An economic impact assessment of the Cultural Leadership Programme, and debate how we assess the benefits of leadership development. It did absolutely both of theses things, but it also evolved into a celebration and wake for the great work of the  CLP, the closure of which in March had been announced a few days previously; and a fanastic disscussion of how we could use broader measures than simply economic impact studies to capture the value of arts and culture (and warning that if we dont grasp the opportunity to do so soon it may be too late).

It was orgnised by the Work Foundation and it was a delight to hear from the inspirational Will Hutton in person, as well as Hasan Bakhshi from NESTA, Ruth Jarratt from the ROH, Ben Reid from the Work Foundation and David Kershaw from the CLP.

My take-aways:

A plea for assessing the economic value of culture not just the economic impact. And related to this, a warning that economic impact studies, which are only as good as the worst    – you know who you are flimsy multipliers and exaggerated claims  – are increasingly not believed by funders.

We need a ‘Frascati’ moment in arts and culture (yes, the home of the Italian wine of the same name). This was the location of,  apparently, a meeting of leaders from the sciene and technology sectors at which they  created their own set of measures by which their impact and success could be measured by government – and lo and behold their measures were taken on board. Rather than fitting into a different stakeholders’ various  measures (instrumental, economic, intrinsic, social  etc) what is stopping our leaders working together as a sector to create a set of agreed meaures of the impacts of arts and culture? Its not like we are lacking the brains – ( the people in that room could do it) – but what about the will ?

A warning that if we don’t seize this opportunity we could be in the same position as medical research, the impact of which is measured by the profits of pharmaceutical companies rather than the number of lives saved…

Let your customers do your marketing for you…

A recent exchange with the excellent Ali Tomkinson, Director of External Relations at the CBSO about capturing and communicating the magic of live concerts, got me thinking about how we could use the amazing impacts we have on our audiences more effectively in our communications.

Two recent examples of organisations doing this really well caught my eye.

A cinema ad for Canada which uses (what looks like) real people’s own videos of the their holidays – the antics of a skidding bear, filmed from a ski lift, and the dramatic disintegration of an enormous iceberg. This really worked for me – I shared the amazement and delight of the people experiencing these great holiday moments.

Though annoyingly I can’t find them on the website.

Snow in Canada

Another one is over at Tate Modern where they are making the most of their swipe card technology and following up Tate Friends who visit a particular exhibition with an e-mail from the curator hoping that you enjoyed the experience and inviting you to write something about it for the Tate blog.

We know we provide incredible experiences to audiences, surely with the technology we now have available we could capture and communicate this magic more effectively ?

More images of audiences having a good time would be a really simple start…..

Ballet audiences are earlier bookers than contemporary or world dance audiences!

Research by Audiences London shows that from September 2009 up to August 2010, the largest chunk of booking transactions for contemporary or world dance events in London occurred between 2 and 7 days ahead of the performance date (21% for contemporary dance; 16% for world dance), while ballet audiences were most likely to book between 21 and 60 days ahead of the performance date (22% of all transactions for ballet events).

Could this mean that programming for contemporary or world dance is riskier than ballet, or that audiences are more spontaneous or undecided when it comes to booking for these two artforms? Or do audiences feel they ought to book further ahead for ballet performances? And what role do marketing schedules play? What’s your view?

Source: Snapshot London 2009/10 Benchmark.

State of the arts

Together with hundreds of other arts professionals I was at the State of the Arts conference last week. A number of the discussions were better than last year, and I liked the format of the first session with the audience tasked to answer and devise a question at their round table.

I lucked out for this, as I had Andrew Nairne and Laura Dyer from ACE, Jo Healy from Photographers Gallery and Gavin Stride from Farnham Maltings at my table – so we had a great discusson. Our answer to the question ‘what needs to change’  – Arts organisations need to listen to their audiences.

I found the parallel panel Where are the new audiences a frustrating experience –  the panel members weren’t well placed to address the question and despite the chair’s best efforts, the audience contribution didn’t really get us anywhere.

Back to some positives – Deborah Bull from the ROH was great talking about how we need to place audiences and artists at the heart of what we do, and I like Phil Redmond’s trajectory for arts orgnisations to

1st – survive

2nd -listen

3rd – become self aware

Plus he had a wonderful John, Paul, George and Ringo response… finishing with his prefered  philosphical response from George  that all things must pass…

Note to orgnisers –

Next year, I’d like to see fewer politicians on the panels (5 was too many, and 2 on the same panel the kiss of death) as this led to a not very sophisticated political point scoring style of debate.

Please bring back Matthew Taylor, who is a brilliant chair and John Knell who effortlessly combines being clever with being clear.

Arts Legacy Fundraising Report

Arts Quarter in partnership with Legacy Foresight have just published their report on Arts Legacy Fundraising. You may be aware that Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State, DCMS highlighted the potential of legacy giving as a fundamental source of arts funding in his plans. The report points out that legacy fundraising is still very much in its infancy with very little awareness from arts organisations in promoting legacy giving or receiving gifts in wills.

Read a summary of the report by following this link:
Legacy Fundraising in the UK Cultural Sector