Strategies for Creating Diverse Audiences
IssueAudience development, arts marketing and communications
There are four resources available as part of the Communicating Value conference’s panel on engaging diverse audience.
Kim Kruger’s presentation on Ilbijerri’s “Blak Bums on Seats” initiative notes that Ilbijerri makes “theatre by Blakfellas for Blakfellas”. Their focus is on access, inclusion, empowerment and sharing history rather than on box office returns. Their research shows that Blakfellas do go to the theatre but that there are two main barriers to attendance: 1) the perception that theatre is not relevant and “not for them”; and 2) the lack of a comfort zone related to price, venues, subject matter, kid-friendliness and the ability to attend in groups. Ilbijerri’s marketing strategy revolves around word-of-mouth initiatives, such as high profile endorsements and getting a well-regarded community member “to visit organizations and talk up the show”. Ilbijerri also seeks “to engage other Indigenous groups in the creation of the work and to encourage their networks to see the show”.
The Arts Centre’s Janet Wells presents information about their “Mix It Up” program, which was a multi-layered “audience development and partnership model” that included “performances, artists’ talks, workshops, exhibitions, master classes and post-show talks”. Collaborations were sought in program design, identifying local artists, program delivery and connecting with local communities. Quantitative and qualitative audience research found that key motivations for attendance included “the opportunity to socialise with friends, a general interest in other cultures, the potential mood of the crowd and tone of the performance”. The presentation provides “seven strategies for working in new ways”, including changing the culture of an organization, building relationships, creating dialogues, appointing cultural ambassadors, empowering marketing staff, developing artists’ skills, and establishing a multicultural peer network.
Magdalena Grubski’s presentation about Is Theatre’s activities indicates that partnerships are important in their “niche market audience development”. Their collaborative activities include co-presenting, co-producing, partnering, participating and supporting other organizations. Daniel Goodfellow spoke about how Chunky Move targets a youth audience by “challenging notions of what can be contemporary dance, creating an online community, [having] a young, marketable artistic director, [and presenting] a youthful, cheeky, irreverent, ironic” brand. The organization targets youth through their programming, practical engagement (i.e., introducing young people to dance), and marketing (by trying to become a part of the messages that people actively seek).