Schools Hold The Key

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A new study on audience development has concluded that cultural organisations should do more to integrate with schools and make greater efforts to reflect their local communities.

The study was led by Italian culture body Fondazione Fitzcarraldo and looked at case studies from 30 different arts organisations across 17 European countries, including the York Theatre Royal, the John Rylands Library and Brighton’s Early Music Festival. Among its recommendations to adapt cultural policy and focus more heavily on audience, it concluded that organisations needed to forge better links with schools and universities, and emphasised arts education as a fundamental way to create growth.

The report also advised that audience development should be all-encompassing, embracing the organisation as a whole, with venues taking a longer term view of the strategies they implement. Many of those featured in the case studies highlighted the need for improved coordination, particularly between artistic direction and their programming, marketing and education departments. York Theatre Royal came out as a clear example of how open leadership can facilitate and trigger free exchange of ideas. Their TakeOver Festival, run entirely by young people aged 12-16 has enhanced the way in which they deal with young and difficult-to-reach audiences.

The study also highlighted training as a widespread issue across organisations, with “some skills and competencies particularly lacking: data analysis, marketing, participatory project management, mediation, digital and social media management, evaluation, team working and lateral thinking.”

As part of the study, the research consortium has released two handy guides to improving audience development. You can access these, as well as the final report, for free here.

At Kids in Museums we love to hear about the different ways you’re reaching out to your audience – especially families! If you’d like to let us know what you’re doing at your organisation, why not get in touch? Email [email protected] – we’d love to hear from you!

Becky MacNaughton, News Editor

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