Slipping into old habits? – arts audience development

I have witnessed a few organizations that have started audience development, see great results for their first year, and then lose ground due to slipping back into old habits and ways of marketing.  Audience development does work when you apply it correctly, but it is not a one-time solution.  Instead, it is an ongoing solution that you constantly need to work at.  Here are a few old habits you may slip back into:

  • You are short on time and you just want to get it done, so you mass market instead of sending more personal invitations.
  • You lose some key players and do not have the team so you decide to do it all yourself instead.
  • You rather have your marketing person/department deal with everything, since that is what you hired them for.
  • You don’t have time to interact with your volunteers so you don’t (leaving your volunteer program to go flat).
  • You don’t want to share the work with others since you feel you are the only one that can do it right (and instead enter into burnout leaving everything done a little half-assed).
  • You do all your programming without any audience feedback due to artistic license.
  • You rather not “bother” your audience by conducting a survey.
  • You don’t want to ask for help via donations and volunteering so you don’t appear too needy.
  • You rather just place an ad and hope for the best because it is easy to do.
  • You don’t want to ask for money since it makes you uncomfortable.

Do any of these ring true or at least sound familiar?  There are probably more old habits that need breaking.  All I can say is audience development works when you focus time, energy, and a little bit of money on your plan and you keep playing this record instead of the old habits die hard one.  All of the above old habits, if they worked, I wouldn’t even bother to write this blog post.

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,


Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists


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

Although we are not a non-profit, if you would like to support ADS to continue our work, you can donate here.

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1 Comment

Filed under Audience Development

One response to “Slipping into old habits? – arts audience development

  1. PS One of the reasons I am writing this post is due to the debate about whether to leave one or two spaces after a period. As you can see, I slipped back into my old habit of two spaces since that is how I was taught. I will keep working at change, if you will too! Have a great weekend!

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