Top 10 reasons why audience development for the arts might not work…

For today’s Monday Moment, I have been thinking about all the organizations and artists I have had the pleasure to work with.  Through many of these experiences, I have found what works and what doesn’t work regarding audience development.  The following is a quick list for why audience development may not work.

  1. There is no plan  – just like any other goal, you need a plan for your audience development goals.
  2. There is no budget – although many goals can be achieved with little to no money, audience development is worth investing in.
  3. You do not have a team – if you are still relying on your marketing director to do all the work when it comes to audience development, think again.  You need an entire team working together to make positive increases happen.
  4. You don’t do the work – I have seen some organizations have a plan, budget, a team in place, but they forget that they have to do the work to make the goals happen.  Sounds simple stupid, but I have seen standstills happen due to this problem.
  5. You don’t have all 4 C’s in place – if you are missing any of the 4 C’s in your plan, Connections,  Collaborations, Community, and Care, you are missing one of the big components of audience development.
  6. You are lacking the 5th C, Commitment – it takes time to fully implement an audience development plan which takes a full commitment from the entire team.
  7. You don’t have the patience – audience development, building relationships, takes time to occur.  Your goals need to be long term with patience to see your plan through.
  8. You are still viewing audience development as “butts seats” – this is a short term goal and does not guarantee a loyal, returning and supportive audience.
  9. You are not asking your audiences for support – you need to ask if you want the extra volunteer and monetary support.
  10. You are not treating your audiences as partners – the arts fell into centuries worth of not valuing their audiences’ input.   Audiences want to have input again.  Your audience can give you the feedback needed to make all your goals a success.  All you have to do is to give them the opportunity, start listening, and then implement some of the worthy suggestions.

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,

Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists


“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
~James Stewart

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Filed under arts management, arts marketing, Audience Development

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