The fourth meeting of the Audience Development through digital means group met last week in Brussels. This group is part of the “Open Method of Coordination” programme that brings together experts from across Europe to discuss key issues for the cultural sector. Visiting Arts Chief Executive, Yvette Vaughan Jones reports.
“The issue of audience development is a perennial topic of interest as arts and cultural organisations strive to engage wider and deeper with their publics. Understanding audiences and non-audiences, in particular, has never been more crucial to the sustainability of organisations and can make the difference between success and failure. However, now, the impact of the digital shift is creating enormous possibilities to advance the practice exponentially and the potential for major collaborations across Europe if we can create the right conditions.
The meeting began with a presentation from Sejul Malde and Charlotte Hamilton who distilled the main ideas from the Voices of Culture group on audience development during their last meeting in Berlin earlier in the month. The group identified four key elements that they felt needed to be addressed above all others:
- Capacity building – a need to understand how audience development must be systemic throughout organisations and not confined to a department. This involves a change in attitudes throughout organisations and skills development throughout.
- Data – the collection retention, management and retrieval of data is facilitated through digital means but the need for standards and protocols is more important now than ever before.
- Access – widening and deepening access through the opportunities that digital media offer is a vital issue and will continue to grow in importance and impact.
- Tailoring the offer to be meaningful for audiences.
We also heard two other presentations – the first from Gerda Sieben from Mediezentrum in Vienna whose project, Occupy Culture!, targets disadvantaged young people. The idea was to find new fresh ways of engaging young people with “established culture” rather than looking at youth culture or digital culture. The work was inspirational and will certainly be a case study in our final report.
The final presentation was from a young creative entrepreneur from Poland, Zuzanna Stanska. She is an expert in digital communications and has also created a very successful app Daily Art, which sends an image of a work of art to your phone every day. Daily Art is particularly popular in the US where she is also conducting a crowdfunding campaign to support an upgraded version of the app.
We have two more meetings before producing a final document, which will be an overview of current policies, identification of key issues, a selection of illustrative case studies and recommendations for capitalising on the technology.”
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