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Arts audiences: Insight 2011

January 14, 201314 January 2013

Arts participation / Public engagement

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Based on large-scale surveys of English adults, this report aims to provide “a tool to inform marketing and audience development plans for arts organisations, local authorities and other agencies working in the arts”. The report outlines 13 arts consumer segments, based on patterns of arts consumption, attitudes toward the arts, leisure pursuits, socio-demographic factors, media consumption, and lifestyle elements. The segments, although tailored to English adults, might also be useful for Canadian artists and arts organizations in thinking about the possible attitudes, opinions, and motivations of their current and potential audiences.

The two segments that are highly engaged in the arts are “traditional culture vultures” (4% of the English population) and “urban arts eclectic” (3%). Older, highly-educated, affluent people (especially women) form a significant proportion of traditional culture vultures. In addition to having the arts and culture as part of their identity, traditional culture vultures also travel and spend time with their families. Members of this segment, who “form the core loyal audience base for several of the more traditional arts”, believe “that time is more important than money”. In terms of marketing, the report indicates that “positioning the opportunity as high-quality, creative and intellectually stimulating may prove most compelling for this group”.

The urban arts eclectic group is younger, active, highly educated, affluent, and “more actively engaged in the arts than any other segment”. In addition, members of this segment “are highly motivated, have a keen interest in other cultures, and a thirst for new experiences.” They view the arts as “fun, exciting and encouraging them to think differently about life”. In engaging with these people, the report notes that the key challenge will be competing for their time. Their interest in new experiences might not make them a loyal audience base for any single organization, but their social connections could make them valuable arts advocates. The report recommends that arts organizations position “the arts offer as something cutting edge, as an opportunity for self-expression, a way to explore other cultures or to socialise”.

There are four groups that are not engaged in the arts, including “older and home bound” (11%), “a quiet pint with the match” (9%), “time-poor dreamers” (4%), and “limited means, nothing fancy” (3%).

In the middle are seven segments, comprising a majority of English adults, that show moderate engagement in the arts. The largest of these segments are classified as “dinner and a show” (20%), “fun, fashion and friends” (16%), “mature explorers” (11%), and “family and community focused” (9%). The three smaller segments with some engagement are “mid-life hobbyists” (4%), “retired arts and crafts” (also 4%), and “bedroom DJs” (2%).

The report also contains fuller descriptions and tips for positioning the arts for the somewhat engaged and not engaged segments.

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