Daily Archives: August 30, 2012

Building trust for arts audience development

I have been catching up on You’ve Cott Mail emails this morning.  Thomas Cott is another arts administrator and advocate that scans the news for pertinent arts articles.  This week he had a series concerning programming only “familiar” repertoire.   It can be a balancing act to program the new when audiences seem to want what they are used to seeing.  I wanted to emphasize the seem.  Most audiences would enjoy more than what they are familiar with, if we support them on their arts journey.

This brings me to my main thought that popped in my head after reading all of these articles.  Do your audiences trust you?  Have you built a relationship with them where they trust you to guide them to new and slightly more adventurous art offerings?  Perhaps the fact that you don’t have a strong enough relationship with your audience means that they don’t trust you enough.

I once worked with a music director that insisted on programming some newer works after years of only the “audience pleasers.”  Since he was in the mode of getting to know the audience members, when he started to change the program format, the audience was a little nervous, but many of them were saying, “I trust him so I will listen.”   He had built the relationships and it made the audience members more secure and open to listen to new music.  They could then decide for themselves whether or not they liked the new music since they were now open.

Audience development for the arts takes on another role in this consideration.  You can develop relationships with your audience to help your audience develop on their arts journey.  When they trust you, they will be open to new possibilities.  This will mean that you can take on the role of arts guide and share the very best of the old and the new with them.  Wouldn’t that be refreshing?

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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