Cultural Playing Field

Audiences UK Summit 2011 by Robin Simpson
February 25, 2011, 9:09 am
Filed under: meetings | Tags: , , , ,

On Wednesday and Thursday I was at The Quad in Derby to take part in the Audiences UK ‘Changing Times’ Summit. This event was an attempt to broaden the discussion about audience development by involving not just the 12 audience development agencies that Audiences UK represents but a range of other relevant organisations including the National Campaign for the Arts, Arts Marketing Association, National Association of Local Government Arts Officers and Voluntary Arts. Audience UK Chief Executive David Brownlee worked us hard with 7 key note presentations and 3 breakout conversations in quick succession. There was a lot to take in but quite a few points linger in my mind. Consultants Tim Gardom and Alison Grey demonstrated, by looking at a range of arts organisations’ public-facing websites and taking the first image of people you come across and the first description of what the organisation does, that our websites are often constructed with funders in mind rather than audiences. Charlotte Wilson from Culture Sparks presented the results of research into digital audiences which showed that, generally, those engaging with the arts online are those who engage with the arts as a live experience. Online spending is very much restricted to ticket purchases. Arts online is now mainstream but is a complement rather than a substitute for live arts. Jane Wilson from NALGAO recommended ‘The decentralisation and localism bill – an essential guide’ (available from as the best way to understand the Government’s localism agenda. She quoted 6 key points from the guide: lifting the burden of bureaucracy; empowering communities; increasing local control of finance; diversifying the supply of public services; opening up local government to public scrutiny; and strengthening accountability to local people. MLA Chief Executive, Roy Clare, gave a positive, optimistic presentation about museums, libraries and archives and their audiences after the MLA’s responsibilities are taken over by Arts Council England, stressing the need to join up strategies but finding a number of reasons to be cheerful. The final session of the Summit looked at proposals for a national arts benchmarking system being developed by Audiences UK. It was a very interesting two days and it was great to meet a mixture of old and new friends – particularly nice to see former VAI Chief Officer Brenda Kent who was there in her capacity as a Board member of Audiences Northern Ireland.

Robin Simpson.



Leave a Comment so far
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: