Diversifying audiences

Creative Trust’s Audiences Project continues in September with Donna Walker Kuhne, author of Invitation to the Party: Building Bridges to the Arts, Culture and Community sharing her unparalleled experience and expertise with Toronto’s arts community. Save September 20 and 21st for a keynote and workshops and look for further details and announcements over the summer.

Diversifying Audiences is the next stage in our community’s powerful journey of shared learning and collaboration. The Audiences Project has been bringing companies, large and small, together for more than two years to learn how to build and engage audiences. Some of our major achievements:

•         Over 30 companies analyzed their data collection practices and customer  relationship opportunities and upgraded their database and box office systems

•         With the assistance of Alan Brown, we developed survey and interview protocols for music, theatre and dance attenders and trained our members in audience interviewing techniques.

•         Surveyed 3,700 audience members on their audience engagement preferences and attendance patterns, shared the results, and followed that up with in depth interviews with selected audience members.

•         We began a pilot project with Picasso PRO to bring audio described and ASL interpreted performances to blind and low-vision and Deaf and hard of hearing theatergoers; Toronto now has eight new audio describers trained in live performance!

•         With PAONE, we undertook the Performing Arts Education Overview, the first survey of educational activities by performing arts companies in the GTA, to be released in September

•         We learned about creating more interesting newsletters, building better websites, blogging, using Facebook, Twitter, and video, improving customer service, and more

•         We shared our experiences, analyzed our results with colleagues, developed new approaches and formed new partnerships

The result is a community that has a heightened understanding of what brings people to the arts and keeps them coming; is using new skills and techniques in exciting and productive ways; and is developing a deeper and closer relationship with its audiences.

Jini Stolk

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