A key to successful audience development is trust and reciprocity – the foundations of all long-term relationships. Truth is, retaining and growing an existing audience is more efficient than attracting a new one.
Diverse communities have well-established infrastructures – including existing platforms of culture making – and can be powerful collaborators and allies.
How to do it
According to the Wallace foundation (page 24), these steps have helped arts and cultural institutions build meaningful connections to audiences and communities:
- Have an understanding of the wants and needs of a community – and how that balances against the mission of the organisation.
- Form authentic, rich, and varied connections between artists, audiences and administrators.
- Build trust within the community. Going into the community and having a presence there.
- Seeing the organisation as integral to the daily lives of the citizenry.
- Developing our own models by working with the community in its own space.
- Opening your organisation to different constituencies, different groups and different markets.
When we foster long term relationships with communities and audiences, the benefits are consistent, sustainable, and flow both ways. Such relationships provide the foundation for positive social change.