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MAO-Model of Audience Development

Some Theoretical Elaborations and Practical Consequences

April 23, 200823 April 2008

Arts attendance / Performing arts

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Motivation, ability and opportunity are three key pre-requisites to cultural attendance. This paper, presented at the 8th International Conference on Arts and Cultural Management, examines how arts organizations can better understand and use these three concepts in their audience development work.

Motivation results from “the activation of beliefs about the cultural participation”, including positive or negative associations with the activity. Some possible perceptions of cultural activities may include: significant (or insignificant), effective (or pointless), valuable (or worthless), fundamental (or trivial), enjoyable (or annoying), fascinating (or boring), exciting (or not exciting), and relaxing (or frustrating).

The ability to participate can be “defined as having the skills or proficiency to act”, which can encompass all the personal resources of an arts attendee. Ability can be affected by financial resources, time budget, physical capacities, and mental resources.

The opportunity to participate, “defined as the absence of environmental barriers to action”, can be influenced by a range of factors, including:

  • Price (price knowledge, perceived costs and perceived value)
  • Place (location, familiarity, accessibility)
  • Product (the cultural activity itself as well as services and facilities that augment the experience)
  • Promotion (awareness and image of the cultural organization, like or dislike of the organization, intentions to visit)

Findings such as these can help cultural managers develop additional information about their participants (and non-participants), with the goal of increased audience development.

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