Audience development and evaluation for iOrchestra


The Philharmonia Orchestra needed an effective and imaginative way of making sure the digital+live orchestra elements they intended to tour to south west England really made a different to communities engagement with orchestral music.


In creating an audience development strategy for their ACE Strategic Touring Fund bid, iOrchestra, I used desk and primary research to understand the local South West populations’ needs and barriers in relation to arts and culture. My resulting strategy worked in a nuanced way with these different communities during the iOrchestra project, and included advice on publicity and messaging appropriate to different audience needs and motivations.

I also created a full evaluation framework to measure and monitor the roll-out, and remained as steering consultant to the project, followed by analysis and reporting on the monitoring and evaluation.

The plan was based on the principles of:

  • Bringing an art form into people’s own places, to overcome barriers of travel or unknown places.
  • An experience shared and reinforced within a family or trust circle strengthens engagement, especially where things encountered at school are reinforced at home.
  • People controlling their own engagement level and style: flexible, drop-in, a variety of ways to participate, no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ response.
  • Maintaining the engagement or presence of the project over an extended period of time.
  • Placing art in locations where it can ‘interrupt’ people’s attention or behaviour.
  • Focusing publicity and marketing on emotional responses and the ability to share an experience.

These are just some of the facts from this complex and wide-ranging project:

  • 86,416 visitors experienced the main iOrchestra installations over the two years: 90% self-identified as learning from the experience.
  • Only 13% of visitors to Universe of Sound had ever attended an orchestral concert before, whereas 67% of the final concert audience attended as a direct result of their visit to Universe of Sound.
  • 17,354 visitors experienced MusicLab over the two 13-week residencies in the South West, with visitor numbers increasing 61% from  Year 1 to 1 Year 2.
  • 56% of audiences in Year 2 were curated visits for  community and school groups, ranging from pre-school to sixth form students and elderly people’s groups.
 A more detailed and nuanced presentation of the impact and learning can be found in the following reports:

iOrchestra: Review and Evaluation

iOrchestra Audiences Journeys

iOrchestra Audiences Reactions

In tribute, iOrchestra won the the Royal Philharmonic Society’s ‘Audiences and Engagement’ Award, with the citation: “For its impressive range of partnerships; for its innovative marketing; – for embedding itself in local communities in Devon and Cornwall, leaving them enriched through increased skills and connections; for interweaving outstanding live performances with online and installations; and for this organisation’s ability to reinvent and evolve, the RPS Audiences and Engagement award for 2015 goes to the Philharmonia’s iOrchestra project”.  See

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“Rachel’s work for the Philharmonia, developing an audience development strategy for a complex project application, was simply outstanding. Rachel has a unique ability to assimilate a range of complex artistic and social criteria and translate these into a meaningful strategy that speaks to the core values of the organisations involved. It has been a great pleasure for us all to work with Rachel throughout the process.”


Audience research, Communications campaigns, Evaluation, Funding applications, Strategic planning, Training and mentoring