Audience Development

Getting people from very different social backgrounds involved in the arts

4. How does audience development work?

Methods of Audience Development:

  1. Research
  2. Marketing: product policy, price policy, distribution policy, service policy, communication
  3. Arts education

Audience development works in four different steps:

  • 1st step: Analysing which kinds of groups in the population your institution wants to reach according to your mission statement.
  • 2nd step: Becoming informed about the general reasons why certain groups of people attend arts events and others do not, what helps people become interested in the arts and what are the barriers – finding out the barriers your potential audiences face. Finding out the potential connections between the arts programmes your institution offers and people’s needs and actual interests. What are the attractive and popular aspects of your programme?
  • 3rd step: Inventing measures and methods to present and communicate the programmes of your institution in a way that is attractive to your target groups.
  • 4th step: Finding ways of connecting and bonding with first-time attendees to your institution; building long-term relationships and making them become regular attendees.

Examples of Audience Development

Tate Modern and Homebase: Everyday objects specially designed by famous artists, such as garden pitchforks, were sold in big department stores (a collaboration of Homebase stores and the Tate Gallery). Everyone who bought one of the objects also received a ticket for the Tate Modern. The goal was to make people interested in the artworks presented at the Tate Gallery.

Cesar at HAU: The avant-garde theatre Hebbel am Ufer, situated in Berlin Kreuzberg, a part of Berlin with a high number of Turkish immigrants, invited the rap music star Cesar, who is very well known amongst Turkish young people, into their theatre. The goal was to get these young Turkish people from the neighbourhood, who normally would never go into public arts institutions, into the theatre and show them that it is also their place; to give them a feeling of belonging there and to change their image of the theatre as a boring place.

“Give each pupil at primary school a musical instrument and teach them how to play it”: When the Ruhr area in Germany became the 2010 European Cultural Capital, the German cultural foundation decided not to give money for an arts festival as part of the cultural program, but to give money to all of the primary schools of the region to pay music teachers and buy musical instruments so that every pupil, regardless of his family background, could learn an instrument. The goal was to start with arts education in early life to give people the competence to get involved in the arts and to take advantage of the arts in their personal lives.

As these examples show, the goals of audience development programmes can be very different.


Mandel, Birgit/Institut für Kulturpolitik (2005): Einstellungen zu Kunst und Kultur, Kulturimage und
Kulturbegriff. Ergebnisse einer Bevölkerungsumfrage in Hildesheim, durchgeführt
von Studierenden des Studiengangs Kulturwissenschaften und ästhetische Praxis
der Universität Hildesheim,


Bourdieu, Pierre (1970): Zur Soziologie der symbolischen Formen. Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp.


Mandel, Birgit/Renz, Thomas (2010): Barrieren der Nutzung kultureller Einrichtungen. Eine qualitative Annäherung an Nicht-Besucher. Institut für Kulturpolitik, Universität Hildesheim,


Hoffmann, Hilmar (1979): Kultur für alle. Perspektiven und Modelle, Frankfurt/Main


cf. Council of Europe (eds.) (2002): Cultural Policies in Europe. UK

Birgit Mandel (2013): Audience Development. Getting people from very different social backgrounds involved in the arts. In: p/art/icipate – Kultur aktiv gestalten #03 ,