Audience development according to Impact Foundation

An exact or perfect way to approach audience development does not exist. Each organization – its mission, size, organisational culture, legal base, programme structure, the social environment it is working with, etc. is different. However, every strategy of audience development has a similar direction – it helps the organisation to grow and to impact the audience.

Audience development is as much about art organisations as about the audiences.

It is an attitude caring about the people and people’s experiences and a process that places the audience in the centre of the vision and actions of the entire organisation.

Sounds familiar? Yes, it echoes some audience development definitions. But we believe that this sentence is not just a definition. It helps to create a manageable reality for arts organisations. Audience development, or audience engagement, is not only something you do but it rather defines who you are, what you stand for as an organisation. It is a strategic approach and a process (not a single project without the follow-up!), so it never ends. It is a long-term engagement in diagnosing, learning, discussing, planning, coming up with ideas and translating them into actions, evaluating, and planning again. Audience development is not a "one-man" job. It is a joint effort. All team members (no matter their position in the organisation) take equal responsibility for that process.

These aims and principles best mirror our approach to audience development and the way we work while trying to spread the joy of the concept all over the culture and creative sectors in Europe. At the same time, they directly correlate with some of the main challenges faced by the art organisations we are cooperating with.

For us, audience development is not the buzz phrase accompanied by tricks and quick fixes. With this approach comes responsibility. We are here to share the awareness of the importance of togetherness and long-term processes. They should be based not only on intuition but should be supported by knowledge and evidence.