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!

Personalisation to improve participation

I love Twitter. I just think it’s marvellous. Over the last couple of weeks it’s put me in touch with people working in aspects of audience development from Australia to the USand back again – click the countries to find out who! I’m having conversastions and sharing knowledge with my peers (often much more senior and experienced than I), whom without the power of social media I woudl never have stumbled across. Fantastic.

Anyway, I digress. My point is that I have a TweetBeep set up for “audience development”, quite often it yields stuff about high power PR and marketing for corporate brands, but today I got this alert:


Which let me to look at the Twitter profile of Nina K Simon (@ninaksimon means it’s in reference to something she wrote about essentially, it’s a signpost), which led me to look at her blog post, which led me to look at the PB Works site of her new book that she’s writing. Now Helen, our Community Engagement Coordinator is looking to offer any insights that might help with her book, so we might be considered a contributor… All in the space of about 15 minutes.

I say again – MARVELLOUS.

But why is this all so interesting? Well what Nina is writing about really chimes with the work that we do and are always trying to instill in our clients approach to audiences. Here’s an excerpt from her blog post about participation in museums:

Even places where I’m a member, I rarely am tracked as anything but another body through the door. This lack of personalization at the front door sets an expectation that I am not valued as an individual in this museum. I am just a faceless visitor.ninasmuseums

Nina goes on to talk about how we should be giving audiences/visitors a chance to “self-categorise”, rather than to segment them ourselves, because even with the best monitoring and research , we’re still going to be making assumptions.

Read more here… Nina’s Blog, Nina’s Twitter profile, Nina’s PB works site for her book – The Participatory Museum: A Practical Guide

Food for thought…

If you want to hear and see the latest thoughts about spaghetti, the credit crunch etc. etc. visit– a site full of inspiring talks by the world’s leading thinkers and doers (all downloadable to your ipod!). And for the one about the spaghetti click here

In 2009 you’ll be seeing a lot of…

clip_image002…Young People going to the theatre for FREE! ACE Audience Segmentation. Cultural Olympiad Projects. Ni 11: Local Authorities seeking to increase the number of people engaged in culture. Discussion about the effects of the global financial crisis etc. etc. and as Client Services Director my job is to work with organisations to make sense of all this, seize the opportunities or use the information, so that we can develop relationships with more/new/different audiences.