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Audience Development program


The Audience Development Program at Regional Arts NSW was a three year project funded by the Australia Council for the Arts and managed by Audience Development Specialist, Lisa Andersen.

The program involved three major components:

  • A Collaborative Audience Research
    Pilot research into audiences for touring programs in regional NSW [more]
  • A one day forum at the 2004 Byron Bay Writers Festival
    “What do we reckon? Measuring the cultural, economic and social impacts of arts activities in Australia”
  • A one day forum at the 2005 Byron Bay Writers Festival
    “How are we going? Directions for the arts in The Creative Age”
  • A discussion forum at the 2006 Byron Bay Writers Festival 
    “Does Australia need a cultural policy?”

Each area of the program produced an array of outcomes including: survey results; annotated bibliographies of research; a three CD set; a DVD and more.

“It’s all about Access, Participation & Attendance”

Lisa Andersen introduced the Audience Development Program in article in the Regional Arts NSW magazine, ArtReach, in January 2004:

In late 2003, I began work at Regional Arts NSW on the Australia Council funded Regional Audience Development Project.

Even with a twenty year background in arts marketing and production, on my first day at Regional Arts NSW I thought my ‘Regional Audience Development Specialist’ title was going to be harder to explain than most. On day two, a senior arts worker said to me: “Audience development … aah…that’s about writing media releases.” Then, on day three, the Australia Council’s definition made everything clear:

Audience Development is the long-term process of attracting and engaging target arts participants, audiences, and markets and retaining them by establishing and maintaining strategic, dynamic, and sustainable relationships.

So, there it was. For the next three years my mission (should I choose to accept it) was to increase arts access, participation and attendance for the 1.7 million people in regional New South Wales. And possibly write some media releases.

Real work started on day four when I began asking regional stakeholders, beginning with the 13 Executive Directors, about local priorities for audience development and what they wanted me to do. From a large list of audience development themes, six priority areas were identified. Ranked in voting order, they are:

  1. Measuring the social, cultural and economic impacts of the arts
    Identifying rigorous and suitable processes for measuring these impacts to assist with planning, and to support advocacy and fundraising activities at all levels.
  2. Creative Tourism/ Creative Lifestyles
    Building partnerships around cultural tourism targeting regional visitors, and cultural lifestyles targeting new and potential residents, based on mapping and marketing locally distinctive arts.
  3. Cross-promotion
    Identify and develop partnerships with existing local infra-structure, especially libraries and schools, to showcase and promote arts activity.
  4. Skills development in market research
    Enabling better understanding of existing and potential audiences, and informing marketing and programming decisions.
  5. Arts incubation activity
    Capacity building with emerging arts organisations to better enable them to undertake arts projects, leading to more people participating in the arts.
  6. Data collection processes
    Collection and interpretation of data and information on participation in arts activity in regional New South Wales to assist with planning, and to support advocacy and fundraising activities at all levels.

Feasible projects and partnerships around these priority areas are now being scoped and developed:

  • “What do we reckon?
    With the Northern Rivers Writers’ Centre and the Australia Council, Regional Arts NSW will be co-hosting specialist and public forums on measuring the social, cultural and economic impacts of the arts during the Byron Writers Festival on 29 and 30 July, 2004. We hope this will bring together leading Australian thinkers and create an ongoing network and information exchange
  • Collaborative Audience Research project
    Pilot research into audiences for touring programs in regional NSW has already begun, with plans to extend the research to include local events in 2005.