The Ultimate Guide To Attracting New Audiences

Last month, attendees at the 2018 WA Showcase in Perth were given the chance to hear from exceptional keynotes, including local Choreographer, Arts Consultant and Audience Engagement Queen Annette Carmichael, US Market Researcher Bob Harlow and the Director of Education/Public Engagement for the New Victory Theatre, Lindsey Buller Maliekel.

Their inspiring presentations tackled a subject with growing interest amongst the industry: audience development and audience engagement. Our marketing coordinator, Cecile Lucas, who attended the three-day conference, reports for us.

Over recent years, audience development and audience engagement have been on everyone’s lips, permeating through our thoughts and shaping our projects. Pervasive in everybody’s mind and now a key element in most funding applications, these two concepts often receive mixed responses: some (like me) may be fuelled by zeal just hearing these two terms, others may feel disarmed. Fortunately, some experts in this field have paved the way on how to broaden, deepen and diversify audiences based on personal experiences and case-study based research.

One of them is the internationally renowned US Market Researcher Bob Harlow. Lead author of The Wallace Foundation publication series, Wallace Studies in Building Arts Audiences, Harlow followed 54 arts organisations between 2006 and 2012 that received funds from The Wallace Foundation to pilot test audience-building programs. Ten of these case studies have formed The Road to Results – Effective Practices for Building Arts Audiences research led by Bob Harlow.

Harlow’s study revealed, in particular, that audience research was the key factor that strengthen audience-building strategy and lead to better results, and while this is something everybody recognise, only a few organisations, however, take on audience research.

Despite the unknows, a surprisingly large number of audience-building initiatives move forward with little input from the very people organisations are looking to attract. That’s like inviting guests to dinner without first finding out what they like to eat or what food allergies they may have.

Magda Martinez, director of programs at Fleisher Art Memorial. The Road to Results – Effective Practices for Building Arts Audiences by Bob Harlow, p.1

Through his research, Bob Harlow identified other key principles that contribute to a successful audience development strategy which I have summed up for you in the document below.

Download Attracting New Audiences

Image by Deprimo Photography

Performing Lines acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the lands on which we work – the Gadigal in Sydney, the Whadjuk in Perth, and the Muwinina in Hobart – and pay our respects to their Elders past and present.

We extend those respects to all First Nations peoples on whose lands we travel and perform.