Fortune favours the networked!

At this time of uncertainty it’s really easy to stay heads down at your desk, ploughing through all the to do items on your list.  My job here at Audiences London is all about engagement and often that is easiest to make happen by meeting up and listening to people face to face.  So in the engagement team we’re big fans of networking events, and we’re doing whatever we can at the moment to make sure these stay as regular features.  Why do we think it’s important?

  1. It’s knowledge building – each person you talk to will have some information that you don’t
  2. New work comes from it – people bring with them ideas, partnerships and opportunities
  3. It’s inspiring –  hearing what other people do and why will re-energise you too
  4. You can build trust more quickly in person –  and personal introductions from people you’ve met have far greater credibility than cold calling or emailing

To give you a flavour here’s  a pic of our most recent event aboard the boat the Golden Jubilee on the Thames.

Over 100 people interested in the arts and older audiences joined us for a beautiful afternoon of performance, networking and fun in an event we hosted in partnership with our friends at the wonderful Entelechy Arts and Capital Age Festival.

To find out about future networking opportunities with us sign up for free to our Community Engagement Network and we’ll keep you posted by email…  or if you’re interested in partnering with us to host an event please contact me anytime at

While we’re thinking about networking I just want to credit the lovely team at Create KX who sadly closed their organisation last month and who have held some of my favourite networking events in London.  A big thank you to them all, we’ve loved working, socialising and collaborating with them and look forward to carrying our connections on with them at the various organisations they’re heading to where we know they’ll continue to do a fantastic job.

From left to right: the lovely Fiona  Smith, Catherine Packard, Gill Henderson, Susanna Roland, Sian James and Siobhan Henderson.

Pass it on…

Interested in the power of word of mouth marketing? Well then read on…

Here at Audiences London I’ve been developing new work about Arts Ambassadors recently.

So now you can check out our free resource online, watch me get interviewed about the 3 success factors for ambassadors by our friend Mel Larson or join me for my next seminar next Thursday.    Be sure to check out Mel’s great arts ambassador resource too.  If you’ve got questions about ambassadors or examples to share let me know.

No white elephants for the Royal Court

Our friends at the Royal Court launched Theatre Local yesterday, which will see them take 4 of their shows out of their main theatre to be performed at a disused shop at Elephant and Castle shopping centre.  I’m thrilled to be working with them to test out who their new audiences are and what they think of this new approach.  We’re certainly pleased to see the initative attracting media as well as locals’ attention – check out articles at The Guardian, The Telegraph and London SE1 – where you can view a video of Dominic too.

Arcola leading eco-concept in London’s theatres

Arcola Theatre representives were at City Hall last week to launch their vision for a new eco-theatre in Dalston Junction.  Executive Director, Dr Ben Todd, said:

Our aim is to create a place Da Vinci might call home where creative people across multiple disciplines drive innovation for a sustainable and equitable future.

The theatre’s environmental sustainability and community engagement programmes are seen to be a crucial part of the site which will include a public garden and growing space as well as space for sustainable technologies research.

With London’s theatres needing to reduce carbon ommission by 60% over the next 15 years (read the Mayor’s Green Theatre Plan here), and other art-form venues starting to follow, the lessons Arcola are learning now are likely to come in handy for other organisations considering how best to meet their own target. Our eco-champion here is Bryony who I’m sure will be keeping an eye out…

Follow the project at Future Arcola

A steer for your volunteers

With the current levels of youth unemployment volunteering is becoming a neccessary way of gaining experience at work, particularly in the arts.   We’re getting more requests about good practice when it comes to working with volunteers, and definitely advise being prepared.   Anyone starting up or managing a scheme should take a look at the Management of Volunteers: National Occupational Standards 2008. Not the catchiest of titles but a great resource.  It’s a big document but is clearly divided into sections and provides great checklists on each theme, including managing projects, handling expenses, organsing events and perhaps most useful dealing with any problems along the way.  Anyone with a deeper interest can also attend management of volunteers training and qualifications, up to NVQ level 5.

And if you’ve got good examples of volunteer schemes in your organisation, and would be willing to share as a case study I’d love to hear them.

AMA conference – open up and let them in!

openingdoorThis year was my first AMA conference and as a non arts-marketer I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect.  Being someone who networks a lot in my job, I liked the encouragement to get sussed about who you wanted to meet in advance.   So I arranged some quick hellos and some longer meetings with other delegates in advance and enjoyed making good use of the meeting spaces provided, discussing cpd, community consultation and artist studios in housing associations amongst other topics.

From my perspective the conference messages were delivered incredibly well by some smart and professional speakers.  Diane Ragsdale opened really well, and I loved her assertion that cultural institutions only exist to matter to people right now, Dan Germain at Innocent kept it simple but memorable about creating a well loved brand – the worst thing we could do at Innocent is clam up and get too serious and stop talking to people.  Ed Sanders from Google/You Tube shared the quick way to digital upskilling 1) Find a geek 2) Buy him beer 3) Reap rewards and Dick Penny talked through how his organisation in Bristol, Watershed has made sense of the disruption of changing their organisation by understanding that their work so far has resulted in their role as custodians of a shared cultural space held in shared ownership.  A role that brings them both rights and responsibilities.

There was a massive emphasis on 2 way interaction during the conference and my AMA wordle overall would have to include…

Open  Honest  Trusted  Humble
Listening  Co-created

All principles central to community engagement.

The atmosphere amongst delegates still seemed to show a range of barriers to reaching this ‘open organisation’ nirvana.   When it comes to putting the vision into practice, some messages I took away were:

  • There’s a culture change afoot (and not everyone will like it)
  • Self-awareness includes listening to and not being offended by criticism
  • Not listening will soon be a criminal offence (well as good as…)
  • Willingness to see other viewpoints or wear different shoes will put you ahead of the game
  • Our to do lists should be changing – taking the time to listen and plan your actions in response is the work… it’s not an extra bit.

Some places to look for inspiration

S.L.A.M (referenced by Diane Ragsdale).  They say –

Our space is open to the public.  Come in and watch the process as it unfolds and if you have a great idea let us know.  Bring lunch and use our WiFi!

Watershed’s D’shed (Dick Penney).  They say –

Welcome to dShed, Watershed’s online showcase of digital creativity, it’s a publishing platform for artists, media producers and communities and a space to view, explore, create, learn, discuss and debate.

The 90-9-1 principle for how users participate in social communities


This came up at the ambITion roadshow and is my new favourite theory on social engagement, both online and offfline!

The 90-9-1 principle dictates that while 90% of people are reader/observers, 9% are more actively engaged as editors of content, while a mere 1% are actually creating anything in the first place!

A fascinating insight into how users participate in social communities… read more at