Whose fault is it if there is no audience?

Happy Friday to you and happy first day of November.  I hope you had a fun Halloween.  I ended up dressing in my devil horns and going to our local Mexican restaurant that we love.  They were all dressed in costumes to the nines!  It was a fun evening.

Yesterday, I also had a conversation with a visual artist and an email from a storyteller.  The visual artist has published books about marketing art, yet despite blogging and putting some links online, he is not getting much of an audience (yes, I see the irony too).  He mentioned that he did go with a publisher, but they are not doing much for him.

The storyteller had a gig on Halloween at a local library.  It was a cold, wet, windy night, and no one showed up for the event. She ended up doing her stories for 3 librarians since she was already contracted.

So, in these two scenarios, whose fault is it that they didn’t have an audience, or a bigger audience?  You can blame the publisher and the library.  Right?  They were supposed to do the marketing for you, especially if it is a part of your contract with them.  You can blame the weather, although if it is cold, wet and windy, an inside gig would be a good thing, and it was free to the public.

I hope you don’t get too ruffled, but it is also the artists’ fault.  In this day and age, you can’t rely on someone else to do the work of audience building for you.  They simply do not care as much as you, even if they are being paid.  You are the one that wants an audience.  An audience or bigger audience will help them, but you are the one that really, really wants that audience!

Many individual artists mention that they don’t have the time.  However, I see many artists on social media networks just as much as the next person.  They also say they don’t think doing it on their own would work, yet they could build a team of people to support their efforts in spreading the word, just like anybody else.  I also hear they don’t have the money to hire someone to help them with audience development work.  I found out that a few resourceful artists have built a team of interns to help them get done what they need to do.  I do want to point out that some of these artists are paying for marketing ads and other services (such as online galleries that claim they will help sell your art).  If those avenues are not working for you, why not use those monetary resources for someone to help you with audience development instead?

The main point is, individual artists can build a team of support to do audience development, and for good effective audience development, you need a team.  And again, artists can reallocate the funds that they do have to be earmarked instead for audience development help.

No wonder the efforts of the publisher and library may have fallen flat. They most certainly didn’t have you 100% on their team, and you are needed as the number one team member.

Here’s what I am thinking.  When there is a will, there is a way.  And, whatever you focus on is what is going to happen.  If you focus on blaming the other person for not building you an audience, you are going to get more of this.  If you focus on figuring out ways within your means (and you do have means) to help build your audience, you will get an audience.  You, despite wanting to give this work to someone else, do need to be a big part of the team.

So decide what you really want to have happen and go for it.  The blame game will not get you an audience, but action on your part will.

Thoughts?  Cheers? Tomatoes? 

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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1 Comment

Filed under Arts, arts management, arts marketing, Audience Development

One response to “Whose fault is it if there is no audience?

  1. is it necessarily anyone’s fault ?

    i write from the uk, where to there are stories of events being staged and no one showing up to view. from small endeavours with little marketing budgets to nationally known museuems with huge merketing budgets, events happen with no audience.

    so is there a pattern to this?

    the large museum said no. there was no pattern and no prediction possible.

    can you build you own audience?

    yes i think you can. as an artist, what ever medium or critical thinking. there is however a responsibility to be realistic about what you can expect from your audience.

    near to where i live there are a lot of creative people who produce things and events. i get to know them and thier work through the active social media channels they use and i go out to see them at their public events. so yes i agree with the notion of being proactive about what one does.

    let’s focus in on ralph for a moment. he paints, he’s interested in implications of public transport on rural community development. he uses socail media to show the paintings as work in progress, he exhibits at two local galleries and pop up craft fairs.

    over time i’ve gotten to know ralph, his style and his argument. over time i listen less and i go out less to see him.

    maybe i should tell ralph i’m starting to ignore him because he’s doing the same things. as his audience(well a part of it) i’d like to see other things from him. this is of course now very centric on me.

    i continue to watch facebook and i continue to follow twitter. actually i am waiting for someone to come along with a practice i find interesting.

    the hardest part of audience development is trusting there is an audience you don’t yet know and cannot predict their movement.

    one last thought. if no one shows up, should one just put that down to experience and learn from it ?

    just a thought.

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