Tag Archives: building new audiences

Arts Audience Development and new ideas for new audiences!

TGIF! Today, I wanted to alert you of an idea from Audiences NI (North Ireland).  They have sent me the information on their latest audience development program, Test Drive the Arts NI. Straight from their website:

Test Drive the Arts NI is an audience development initiative, funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and managed by Audiences NI. Similar initiatives have run across the UK and further afield, including Sweden and Australia. The initiative takes the concept of taking a car for a test drive and applies it to the arts. Research shows that many people who try the arts for the first time will discover how much they enjoy the experience and go on to become attenders. The initiative uses unsold tickets and therefore availability is strictly limited. A range of arts organisations are involved in the initiative, including Belfast Film Festival, Belfast Waterfront, the Grand Opera House, Lyric, Moving on Music, Queen’s Film Theatre, Ulster Hall and Ulster Orchestra with many more to come.

The initiative was based in Belfast initially and was rolled out across Northern Ireland in April 2010. There are many regional organisations involved including the Alley Theatre in Strabane, the Market Place Theatre in Armagh, Millennium Forum in Derry / Londonderry and the Strule Arts Centre in Omagh.

Audiences NI is the audience development agency for Northern Ireland. If you want to know more about us please visit our website.

Reading further into this idea, the tickets are only available to people over 18 that have not yet purchased a ticket from the particular cultural organization within 3 years, and you can only sign up for test drive tickets one time.  This is to ensure that other people that are new to the performing arts have a chance to receive these tickets. Plus, if you don’t find an event that suits you currently, you can sign up for alerts for future events!

I have seen a few other ideas that are similar.  Such as:

  • Bring a friend programs
  • Cultural library passes
  • Comp ticket programs
  • Rush tickets
  • If you can think of any other programs, please reply in our comment box!

The fact Audiences NI is lending a hand to organize an initiative for interested cultural organizations in their area is a definite bonus.  The extra exposure will serve the participating cultural organizations well.   They also have included a tell-a-friend email system which will help increase interest for this program.

Audiences NI has done a fantastic job with all the details of this program.  It has been recently reported that Test Drive the Arts NI has reached the milestone of 10,000 successful applicants this year.  Now we know that this program really works, and I hope to see similar initiatives implemented soon!

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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