Sunshine fuels audience development

October already, and today autumn will start. At least in London, so they say. Yesterday was said to be the last of the milder weather. Perhaps it’s been the warm weather and sunshine that has made communications and audience development projects multiply like … well, like autumn toadstools.


I’ve explored the amazing Depot that London Transport Museum has over in Acton, West London. A huge shed of a space, with vast numbers of train carriages and engines, buses, taxis – not to mention signs, posters, art and a lot more besides. This is the Museum’s store, a working environment, and when possible they open it up to visitors – for Open Week events, Open Weekend festivals, or for tours and research.


In an ACE-supported piece of consultation, I’ve been talking to staff and members of local community groups about how their use of the Depot could be extended and improved. The next stages of the consultation will be observation of how groups and the public use the space, and focus groups to delve deeper into barriers and suggestions for future use. So I’m gleefully looking forward to ‘having’ to attend the next Open Weekend on 1-3 November in this remarkable space.


Later this month I’ll be leading a workshop for marketing and learning staff from all 10 galleries involved in the Tate-led, Paul Hamlyn-funded Circuit project, after which my support for the 4-year project will crank up a few gears. We’ll be unpicking the best ways to communicate with young people, especially un-engaged young people, to the array of art activities the galleries’ groups of young people are creating.


Over in Devon and Cornwall, the interviews for our iOrchestra Audience Development Project Manager and 3 local AD Coordinators have resulted in an energetic team, and it sounds like they’ve thoroughly grasped the nuances of the project and are getting stuck in. All 4 are coming to London in a couple of week’s time, to meet the wider Philharmonia staff, attend a concert of the full orchestra, and – I’m excited to say – to have a first, intensive working meeting with me during the visit.


State of Emergency’s new title for its Strategic Touring Funds-supported project and tour, Love and Sex, really gets to the heart of the issue in a tantalising way. I’m so pleased that Nell Baugh will be handling the marketing campaigns and coordination. I first met Nell when she was on my Intro to Marketing course on ITC’s Fast Track scheme a few years ago, and she’s been an energetic (and fun) marketer since.


While the non-project funded work with KazzumTheatre TransformationsSouth Asian Arts UKAMA, and more continues (showing how seriously even small companies are regarding their communications strategies) I’ve been approached to help draw up audience development strategies for a number of other organisations. Funding to address these issues does seem to be available, and spread widely around the country. Seeking expert help to oversee a strategy and advise on best approaches is hugely valuable, allowing an organisation to step outside it’s usual imaginative framework and really look at its audience needs afresh. But as I say in a recent blog, I do have concerns when the implementation of audience relationship development is tied to short-term and project funding and staff …