Arts Marketing Association
Conference, July 2000
in partnership with
The Lowry, Salford
Thursday July 27th – Saturday July 29th 2000
KEYNOTE SPEECHES 4
Ken Robinson 5
Andrew McIntyre 8
Dianna Yach 11
John Summers 14
Sanjiv Lingayah 18
Heather Maitland 21
Catherine Holden and Richard Whitehouse 25
Sarah Bedell 32
Melanie Brooker and Jessica Silvester 34
Alasdair Cant 44
Stephen Cashman 47
Philly Desai, George Matheson and Ron McAllister 50
Mark Dobson and Tracy Cochrane 53
Graham Fowles 60
Angela Galvin 70
Paul Kaynes and Sarah Ogle 72
Paddy Masefield 75
Anne Millman 84
Anne Roberts, Rob Macpherson and Samantha Orrell 86
Bill Thompson 95
Helene Toogood 100
SPEAKERS’ BIOGRAPHIES 109
Understanding the nature of the barriers that deter around two-thirds of the UK
population from participating in any form of arts activity is one of the major challenges
facing arts organisations today. The Arts Marketing Association Conference 2000 has
drawn attention not only to the wide range of barriers that exist – some of them quite
imperceptible to those who are familiar with arts organisations and their conventions –
but also to the extent of their impact.
Speakers at the conference have offered insights into barriers both tangible and
intangible, physical and psychological, and those that exist in the wider social
environment as well as those that are internal to our own organisations. They have
described, explored, examined and evaluated the barriers; but also they have given
examples of projects that are breaking down these barriers, and practical advice on how
arts organisations can identify and break down the particular barriers that face their
audiences. In this report I have tried to capture the essence of their speeches, seminars
and workshops, but must apologise in advance to any who feel that their words have
been misunderstood or their views misinterpreted.
The keynote speeches at the conference, as well as the seminars, followed three themes,
which address key issues:
• Why do we find it difficult to tear down barriers? Speakers have identified a wide
range of social, cultural, political and organisational factors that create ‘spring-loaded’
barriers to arts involvement – barriers that spring back up again as soon as they are
• How do we dissolve barriers? Organisational change was consistently highlighted as
the key to dissolving barriers. Speakers constantly reinforced the message that
marketing activity to break down barriers cannot operate in a vacuum. It has to be
supported by the culture of the organisation.
• How do we know if we are successful? Only if we evaluate our activity will we be
able to see whether our attempts to tear down barriers have worked; but speakers
pointed out that the process of evaluation is as important as the outcome, and that
important decisions have to be made as to what to measure.
This report is essential reading for anyone who is concerned that the arts in this country
are clearly not appealing to the widest cross-section of the community, who is interested
in audience development and open-minded to new approaches. It provides food for
thought, the benefit of others’ experiences and a wealth of advice. It should leave no one
in any doubt that there are many ways of tearing down spring-loaded barriers for good.
Why do we find it difficult to tear down barriers?
How do we dissolve barriers?
How do we know if we are successful?
Reflections on ‘Tearing Down Barriers’
Catherine Holden and Richard Whitehouse
A DOWNSTREAM PROBLEM
A keynote speech by Professor Ken Robinson
Based on ‘All Our Futures’, the government report into creative and cultural education, Ken Robinson
highlighted the consequences of years of limited and unimaginative arts activity in schools. He put forward
a powerful case for the integration of a new and different form of arts education into the school curriculum.
The experience of being in school was a tedious one for many: a sense of containment,
interspersed with odd moments of liberation – after school, when you can do things you
like doing. One of the things that people have never done properly at school is ‘the arts’;
and this is the problem that arts organisations are picking up now. Poor education in the
arts leaves a ‘downstream’ problem for those working in the arts.
When Tony Blair came to power, he said he wanted to reform education. This was seen
as an important response to social, cultural and technological change. A great
opportunity to get the arts into the education system perhaps? Recognition that the arts
should be at the centre of education policy, and also at the heart of social policy? But no.
Instead, the emphasis was placed on ‘raising standards’.
In practice, this meant two things: firstly an emphasis on literacy. In 1998, arts and
humanities were dropped from the primary school curriculum – completely – to
concentrate on literacy. The problem is, when everyone is literate, what are they going to
read? To concentrate only on literacy is to place the focus, wrongly, on where the
problem occurs – not the source of the problem. People want to raise standards in
literacy, but should we then drop everything else and do nothing but? The solution does
not lie only there. Most systems are synergistic – they depend on the effective interaction
of different parts.
Secondly, there was a renewed emphasis on the Tory ‘evaluation’ agenda – quantifiable,
statistical measures to assess the achievements of schools. Ofsted was given more
powers, and the terrible scourge of accountability in the public sector was compounded
in the education system. It’s not that accountability is in itself bad – but this was a
particular form of accountability, using quantifiable methods. Supposedly this helps raise
standards. The problem is that, interesting though the numbers are, they don’t tell the
whole story (or the real story, very often). People are confusing standards with
Neither of these things is designed to inhibit the development of the arts, but they do.
The arts are slipping further and further away – being squeezed out of the education
system. Not that this is unusual. In a survey of arts education in 22 European countries,
the arts were without exception at the margins of the curriculum. At the age of 14 kids
drop the arts unless they are thought to be talented. These are the people that arts
practitioners are trying to engage in the work that they do. They’ve come through a
whole education system that has either not positively encouraged them to understand
what the arts are, or has minimised their engagement with it. Why? Why do we have to
spend so much time telling people how important the arts are? What are the barriers and
why are they having to be torn down? There’s an implicit assumption in the theme of this
conference that the arts, and the people who work in them, are somehow divided from
everyone else. It’s true, but why? It’s because people’s attitudes towards the arts have
been formed at school; and that leaves arts practitioners with a downstream problem
when they try to engage with them.
In its report ‘All Our Futures’, the National Advisory Committee on Creative and
Cultural Education – a group set up by Tony Blair to look at creativity and cultural
development – has made a strong case for improved provision for cultural and creative
education. But there’s a problem when you start talking about the ‘arts’, because that
word conjures up ideas in people’s minds; and what they have in mind may not be what
you have in mind. This is at the heart of the problem, and creates two conceptual
Firstly, there is confusion about the meaning of the word ‘arts’. The school curriculum
defines it as ‘art and music’ (with dance as a branch of PE and drama as an offshoot of
English literature). This is completely wrong. Defining the arts as subject categories is a
mistake: yet arts funding agencies do this all the time. ‘Aesthetics’ (the definition of art
forms) is to artists what ornithology is to birds. It doesn’t bother artists what it is they’re
doing – they just get on and do it. They often don’t even know there’s a category for
what they do. It’s only when you want to fund or promote what they do that you run
into problems. Even the arts and science are no different in most ways. They are simply
languages for exploring ourselves and the things around us. The only real difference
between them is the type of understanding being sought. So subject labels for dance,
drama, literature, etc., are unhelpful, particularly at a point in time when the Internet is
about to change the potential of every form of arts practice.
The second conceptual barrier arises from the notion that there are some forms of art
that are of enduring beauty and eloquence – ‘high art’ – but that ‘popular culture’ is
shallow and ephemeral. Some forms of popular culture make no claims to be anything
but ephemeral and shallow, but very often works of enduring beauty emerge through
popular culture. And equally, works of enduring beauty and eloquence can be hugely
popular. The division between high art and popularity is a complete misconception, and
it doesn’t help us at all in trying to frame artistic policies. Our conceptions of ‘culture’
and ‘art’ act as a barrier to us. We talk about engaging people in the arts, but what we
mean is engaging them in the particular type of arts practice that we like. Lots of people
are engaged in all kinds of aesthetic cultural practices, but we just don’t define them as art
in the first place – so we persist in spending a lot of time trying to engage them in the
things that we happen to favour instead – which is why the school curriculum is so
narrow in its conception of the arts.
Another barrier arises because of administrative problems we have in organising the arts.
Every arts organisations in the country, more or less, has an education policy; but
education is really the wrong word. Actors themselves are often refugees from education
and shudder at the word. It’s the word – not the activity. If you say ‘education
programme’, they think it’s to do with worthiness and civic duty.
Most arts organisation have two core functions: one to produce artistic work of the
highest quality, and the other to engage the widest range of people in artistic work and
deepen their understanding of it. That, in itself, is the education function. But if you call
it education you make it sound marginal – like Wednesday afternoon teachers’
workshops and schools programmes – but it is not marginal: it’s a core function. What
our arts organisations need is not two policies, artistic and education, but a single
integrated cultural policy that describes the artistic mission of the organisation and the
strategies through which it will be implemented, and people will become engaged with it.
So education and marketing are dual functions – they need to be co-equal. The problem
is that when artistic directors set policies for their organisations, somewhere down the
line the education department is expected to mediate it to other people. Another
In the end, the only way forward is to recognise that we need both conceptual and
administrative solutions to tear down the barriers. Firstly, there has to be more debate
about what the arts are and what they are for, and how they co-exist with other major
areas of social culture like science, technology, politics and religion. They’re not a
separate part of social life, but in the mainstream. Secondly, there have to be internal
programmes of management development. The problem is that institutions are
inherently conservative. The trick in management terms is to keep them alive and flexible
to new developments. Tearing down the barriers doesn’t mean destroying the structure,
but having a framework that is flexible and permeable to change. Some of these ideas are
set out in ‘All Our Futures’, where we’ve tried to say, practically, what needs to be done.
Our task in the arts is to enable people to feel together and think for themselves; instead
of thinking together, and feeling alone. Our entire formal education system has
promoted the latter; so to make progress now, we have to recognise that the barriers are
substantial. They can be overcome, because mostly they exist in mindsets. Overcoming
those should begin in education, but must be carried forward vigorously in our national
and local arts institutions.
MARKETING EVOLUTION TO MARKETING REVOLUTION
A keynote speech by Andrew McIntyre
Andrew McIntyre believes that current arts marketing practice is failing in its attempts to generate new
audiences for the arts, and called for a revolution that places the focus more firmly on the needs of the
Most people don’t attend the arts. But the government wants more attenders, and soon.
This is a real problem. Why is it that there are 6 million empty theatre seats every year,
and acres of empty art galleries? Why is more money being spent on arts marketing, but
arts audiences are failing to materialise?
Arts marketers today are basing their approach to their work on the hypothesis that there
are powerful barriers in place that prevent people from engaging with the arts. It is a
timely and seductive explanation for the failure of arts marketing to deliver audiences.
But is it defensible?
The theory rests on two planks:
1. That there are millions of ‘intenders’ out there, who are prevented from engaging with the arts by one or
more barriers. In reality though, there are lots of non-attenders who are open to
persuasion, but not many intenders. It’s not the presence of barriers that deters them
from, but the lack of a reason to attend. They are simply not persuaded that the arts will
meet their needs.
2. That artistic products are excellent and marketing activity is professional, so if people still don’t come,
there must, by a process of deduction, be barriers in place.
But maybe the apparent ineffectiveness of current arts marketing is because it really is
ineffective. If most people are open to persuasion, but don’t attend, then arts marketing
isn’t very persuasive.
Real barriers prevent some people attending – economic, transport, physical access
barriers, etc., and there are some real intenders who experience psychological barriers –
feeling unwelcome, intimidated, alienated or patronised. However, the vast majority
aren’t actively prevented from attending – but the arts still pass them by. Most people
aren’t aware of what’s on, and when they do find out, they’re not convinced by the
message. Barriers are in the eye of the beholder.
Symptoms of poor practice
The big issue, then, is that current arts marketing practice isn’t working. What are the
symptoms of this?
• Pareto effect gone mad Everyone knows that 80% of bookings come from 20% of the
audience, which is why direct mail – the enemy of audience development – has
become so popular.
• Direct mail myopia The targeting of potential attenders with direct mail is a process
that says ‘Don’t bother with most of your current attenders – let alone new ones.’
Most mailing is repetitive, introspective, short-sighted and frequency-building. It
creates a self-perpetuating core – a decaying under-mailed or never-mailed periphery.
• Survival of the committed Being ‘on the list’ isn’t plain sailing either. Lists of lapsed or
infrequent attenders are often deleted. We take the Charles Darwin approach to
purging our mailing lists – the survival of the committed – proper attenders, like us.
• Prisoners of loyalty Too many loyalty schemes are set up to serve the organisation’s
needs, not the audience’s. We design our loyalty schemes out of desperation to
capture and shackle our own attenders: but most customers want a range of
experiences. Loyalty schemes are only popular with organisations because customers
are fickle. We’re trying to turn back the tide of consumer choice in our pursuit of
exclusive market share.
• Audience development schemes The fact that ‘audience development schemes’ are
proliferating, bolted onto core work with occasional grant funding, is proof itself that
the work we do is not well suited to developing audiences. If the role of an arts
organisation is to engage audiences, then audience development should be core work,
not dependent on occasional windfalls.
Diagnosis of the problem
Today, we are obsessed with the medium, not the message. In our rush to develop
sophisticated techniques mining box office data, we’ve forgotten the importance of good
copywriting, good press releases, good brochures, good direct mail letters. Refining the
medium is about efficiency – doing things right: but refining the message is about being
effective, and to be effective we have to engage with our audiences. All too often, those
working in the arts are detached from those they are trying to attract – treating them with
disdain, even to the extent of describing them as ‘the great unwashed’ or ‘philistines’. To
be effective now, we need fundamentally to change the relationships between our
organisations and our audiences – otherwise we won’t be around for long. We are at a
defining moment in the evolution of arts marketing.
A shift in focus
Internal momentum and external factors are colliding to produce a shift in focus towards
the audience and away from the product focus, sales focus and management science
focus seen during the evolution of arts marketing, all of which placed ‘efficiency’ at the
core of the marketing function. With audience focus we stop believing that what we’re
offering is intrinsically desirable to the world, and start asking whether our product could
be potentially more accessible so that lots of different market needs can be met. The
whole organisation needs to be audience focused – not just the marketing department.
This presents quite a challenge: it is a revolutionary change, not an evolutionary one.
The question is: what minimum level of engagement with the audience is required to
continue with artistic autonomy? What do we have to do to inspire more people with our
artistic vision? We’re not talking about being ‘audience-led’. We all want to have artistic
integrity. But artistic vision is not about a passion – ‘loving’ the arts. It’s a vision that
leads to an ability to inspire people about the arts. Only those without the ability to
inspire feel threatened by this. Let’s not suggest abandoning the arts to market forces,
nor the survival of the fittest, but the survival of the able – those who have a vision to
To meet the needs of our audiences, we have to recognise that the audience is not
homogeneous. Therefore, it has to be segmented – by needs. We need to find out what
the shared needs are, and segment in that way. Psychology drives those needs, so we
should base our understanding of the market on this. Instead, we tend to look at
behaviour, through booking histories. Most market research is done at that level – very
little to investigate the attitudes that drive behaviour.
The task that now faces us will make or break arts organisations. There is a natural core
audience for what we do, but the arts face the task of transforming all people’s lives. We
have to do this layer by layer, by understanding their attitudes. To achieve this, we need a
funding system that forces us to do it, ceasing to support those who do not face up to
the necessity of doing so. Why starve audience-focused organisations to prop up those
that do not want to engage with their audiences? We have no alternative. We have to go
forward. Timidity is the mother of convention. We could be accused, at the moment, of
being very timid. To change audience attitudes we have to be bold, and start to change
our organisations as well as ourselves.
AIMING FOR EQUALITY OF EXPERIENCE
A keynote speech by Dianna Yach
Dianna Yach explained how institutional racism can create barriers to equality of experience for both
staff and audiences, and explained how change management is key to the removal of discrimination.
This whole concept of tearing down barriers in the arts takes place against a backdrop of
developments in a range of other contexts. In particular, racial discrimination is hitting
the headlines, and landmark legal developments are taking place: the Stephen Lawrence
Inquiry Report, Article 13 – European Commission, the Race Relations Amendment Bill,
and Human Rights Act, as well as legislative and case law developments, increased
awareness of rights and entitlements and record compensation awards. At the same time,
the race agenda is coming to the fore in many organisations, and there is increasing
pressure on those seeking public funding to demonstrate best practice in discrimination
Institutional racism is a particular problem for organisations. Defined as ‘the collective
failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people
because of their colour, culture or ethnic origin’, institutional racism can be seen or
detected in processes, attitudes and behaviour that amount to discrimination through
unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping that
disadvantages minority ethnic people. Accusations of institutional racism are often met
with outrage. Managers, many of them professionals who have well-defined equal
opportunities policies in place, cannot believe that the term ‘racist’ can be applied to their
organisations. In organisations such as the Metropolitan Police, which has had to rethink
its community policing policies in the light of the Stephen Lawrence Report, are still to
some extent in a state of denial. Some initiatives born out of the findings of that report
are being actively undermined as a result.
The vision: racism-free arts
The target for arts organisations is the absence of discrimination: against users, against
staff, against visitors and against providers. But one of the challenges is to define what is
meant by ‘racism-free’ arts. The definition must embrace both direct and indirect
discrimination – decisions taken on racial grounds or treatment and services provided
that reflect racist attitudes, as well as procedures that on the face of it seem fair, but in
practice impact differently on members of different groups.
The goal is equality of experience. Users from all groups must be attracted to and attend
the arts, and both users and potential users should feel that their interests and needs are
addressed. It is important to demonstrate that the arts are racism-free, not just make the
assertion. This means improving potential user expectations as well as measuring
outcomes and user satisfaction – including staff and public. Fine words won’t do.
Rhetoric needs to be translated into action.
Barriers and challenges
In the main, policies and procedures are fine. It is the culture of organisations and the
implementation of their policies that need to be addressed. Therefore, for most
organisations, facilitating equality of experience presents a number of challenges.
Some put up the ‘colour-blind’ defence to their activities, saying ‘we treat everyone the
same’. But this can lead to inequality. You can’t assume that if you treat everyone as you
would like to be treated yourself, then everything is OK. That’s a cop-out.
Others show complacency, saying ‘I’m doing all I can’. Individuals are viewed as being
members of particular groups in society – it’s ‘us’ and ‘them’, and the problem is ‘them’.
Ignorance and prior assumptions get in the way of effective policy-making and
The challenge of changing this should not be underestimated. Change is painful and
dangerous; and letting go of old established ways of doing things means losing control.
People always have a lot invested in the old ways of working, and will resist anything that
threatens that investment.
There is nothing more difficult to handle, more doubtful of success, and more
dangerous to carry through than initiating changes. The innovator makes enemies
of all those who prospered under the old order, and only lukewarm support is
forthcoming from those who would prosper under the new ... Their support is
lukewarm partly from fear of their adversaries, who have the existing laws on their
side, and partly because men are generally incredulous, never really trusting new
things unless they have tested them by experience … (Machiavelli, The Prince)
How do we dissolve barriers?
Effective change management involves a series of steps, starting with a real
acknowledgement of the barriers to equality – particularly denial, the biggest enemy of
all. Then find out the facts. Review policies and procedures to assess the extent to which
equality of opportunity and support for diversity is happening – not just in terms of race,
but also gender, age, disability and other factors. Data gathering should include ethnic
monitoring of users and staff, including recruitment, retention and advancement
statistics, and the focus must be on actual performance in all these areas. If people are to
be mobilised to change their day-to-day behaviour, it must be demonstrated that the
leadership is committed to the need for change and consultation, both internal and
external. Policy-making should have lay involvement. And there must subsequently be
impact assessment, policy appraisal and evaluation. In service delivery, it’s important to
identify just who service users are, to identify their needs and expectations and focus on
delivery, then assess customer satisfaction. Where staff are concerned, targets and
monitoring are important for interventions such as recruitment, mentoring and
development schemes. Fairness of practices and procedures must permeate the
organisation in areas such as grievances, and a support system needs to be in place.
Training of front-line staff, managers, recruiters and selectors underpins all of this.
The implementation of barrier-free policy is a long-term process, so it’s important to
anticipate reactions to change and avoid the temptation to go for quick fixes. Solutions,
initiatives and actions must be based on rigorous assessment of current situations. Staff
throughout the organisation must be involved if ownership and real change is to come
about. Co-operation and sharing of information across the arts constituency is key, and
it’s important to remember that race is but one discrimination issue – there are others.
Can we make progress on all fronts without sidelining race?
How can you help to accelerate change?
This requires a bold collective vision of the future, which involves partnering with
communities. It will mean dealing with opposing progressive and reactionary forces, at
which point allies need support, and detractors are marginalised. Focus on results, not
just good intentions, and frame strategy in positive terms. Above all, do not be diverted
from your mission. It’s about actions, not words. Be proactive and move forward, rather
than dwell on mistakes.
Gareth Morgan1 states that riding the waves of change requires clarity of purpose which
must be endorsed at the highest level and clearly communicated. At the strategy level,
there must be a fit with other business strategies, and in terms of implementation, there
should be interaction with the implementers and practical action planning.
Questions to ask include: ‘What are we trying to achieve?’, ‘How does it fit into the
bigger picture?’, ‘What is already in place?’ and ‘What else is needed to make it happen?’
‘… Driving in forward mode means looking through the windshield rather than through
the rear-view mirror – watching, anticipating and being ready to act whenever one picks
up significant indications that changes may be needed now or a little way down the road
1Gareth Morgan (1988), Riding the Waves of Change: Developing Managerial Competencies for a Turbulent
BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS TO CHANGE
A keynote speech by John Summers
John Summers, who has been involved in stabilisation programmes at both Northern Sinfonia and the
Hallé, explained how both internal and external resistance to change needs to be managed if barriers to
organisational development are to be broken down.
Suppose you were to name nine other organisations who are your competitors –
nationally or internationally. Then imagine 20 experts who know more, from a
professional standpoint, about your field of activity than any others: peers or artistic
directors of similar companies.
Suppose you were to ask them to rate your organisation in comparison with your
competitors, firstly as the public perceives its artistic achievements and professional
standing, and secondly as they actually rate it. My contention is that if you are not
honestly at no. 1 in both lists, you have a job to do – things to change – barriers to break
down. By and large all change involves the removal of barriers. If, however, you think
you are (honestly) at no. 1, apart from asking whether you are engaged in self-deception,
you should start thinking about preparing for the next round of change.
To stay still is to go backwards. All organisations that are successful undergo constant
organic change, both in what they seek to do and how they do it. Arts organisations are
no different than any other. I simply do not accept that they are, in this regard, special.
They do not stand above the cut and thrust of issues that affect straight commercial
businesses; although an interesting feature of arts organisations is that dual organisational
objectives (financial – artistic) mean that the need to change is not purely driven (or
opposed) for commercial reasons.
People who work in the arts have tunnel vision (which can sometimes be a strength) and
tend to imagine that their problems are unique. But an arts organisation goes backwards
when it tells itself that it cannot improve everything it does – and orchestras are
especially good at this. Often they rise up onto what they imagine is a plateau of artistic
achievement, but it is often in fact a gentle slope downwards. Success often breeds
complacency. The world changes and change that is anticipated is always more
productive than that which is allowed to happen.
A few years ago Northern Sinfonia was at the end of a cycle of artistic achievement – still
with some of the founder members playing in the band, and playing in a hall that was
totally inappropriate for its or the public’s needs in the 21st century. The original
circumstances that had led to its existence had either changed or started to change and
the organisation felt a little stale.
The Sinfonia is resident in a large region with a relatively small population, which is
concentrated at one or two large urban centres. The demographic profile of the area is
very wide ranging and addressing our public service remit was a problem. But there was a
need to provide maximum public benefit by reaching out to the non-traditional
audiences. Furthermore, the model on which the organisation was based was
unsustainable financially in the long term. The cost of employing a permanent core of
players and administration was becoming increasingly difficult to justify unless the
orchestra provided other benefits that went wider than its traditional remit.
Successful organisations are those that do things they believe in. Defining what those are
requires a shared vision. The most important thing in any programme of change is to
create, articulate and communicate the vision. By this I don’t mean the nebulous
statements about being the best and brightest, the most innovative, etc.
The vision needs to be grown out of an honest appraisal of your organisation’s strengths,
weaknesses and aspirations. It can come from many different sources. The wide-eyed
fanatic, the back desk of the second violins, the music director, the public, market
research, the marketing department, an impending change in circumstance (as in the case
of the Sinfonia); but it has to be an understandable, believable and deliverable set of
aspirations around which the important people in and to your organisation can gather. It
also has to be, to some degree, measurable and tangible.
As far as I am aware the vision of the Music Centre in Gateshead (MCG) has not
fundamentally altered since the meetings in the very early 1990s when a very small group
met to decide on a long-term vision to enable this thing to happen. In the case of the
MCG this vision was to do with the role of the musician in the 21st century and how the
increasingly diversified roles of performer, creator and teacher were leading classical
music in particular in the wrong direction. Specialism in classical music was a 20th century
phenomena and it is my contention that the musicians of the 21st century will want a
musical life that is far less reliant on a very narrow band of activity. It was felt that the
musicians of the future would, like the musicians of the more distant past, be rounder
and more involved with all the community, and givers as well as takers in aspects of
musical life outside their first discipline. Even the building itself seeks to embody this
What were the barriers?
These, in my experience, fall into four categories:
All present problems in different ways and become more or less dominant according to
the age and circumstances of the organisation.
A very young organisation is constantly ready for change, but as soon as it becomes
established, it is likely to becomes ultra-conservative. Why? Because these organisations
are most often one person’s dream and usually that person remains the driving force.
The most threatening time for such organisations is when they pass into other hands and
the history books are full of ones that don’t survive the experience. Organisations that
start their life for a very distinctive reason – however groundbreaking and radical –
become institutionalised quicker than any others, are the harder to change and face the
greatest threat at the time that the original life force (usually a person) moves on.
Middle-aged organisations (and in this category I include the Sinfonia) are often the most
resistant to change from within. Many of the founding fathers are still there, especially in
a contract orchestra, and they use their intimate knowledge of the history of the
organisation as an escutcheon against the ravages of incomers who want to (as they see
it) ignore the gods of the past. These, in my experience, are the most inherently
conservative of all organisations, although external barriers (in the case of the Sinfonia)
barely existed and almost all of the change drivers came from outside the Orchestra.
Although it wasn’t the case with the Sinfonia, I can imagine that in these types of
organisations the marketing department could throw up a significant set of hurdles if the
‘tried and tested’ was in question. A winning formula – even when it stops winning – is
very hard to give up and the journey into the unknown often provides the greatest test
for those who are asked to promote it. As an example, having spent many years taking a
keen institutional interest in education work I can categorically say that the most difficult
people to convince of the value of the work (and many still aren’t) are the players.
Mature organisations like the Hallé have far more to worry about from external reaction
to change. Ownership of the Hallé’s soul is at many different levels and in different
places. I sense that it is the perception of what we are or, more significantly, what we
have been that is really significant. Although the sense of history runs, rightly, strongly
through the players and administration, it is as nothing compared to external reactions to
any perceived changes. One of the biggest debates we are having at the moment is
whether or not we continue to play the National Anthem at the start and finish of each
season – not because of the reality of what that means but because of the perceptions
that lie behind it.
The first thing was to create the vision, and define the end point. In doing so we tried to
think outside the box – to imagine how it felt to be there and get others to do so. We
encouraged an open debate. It was important to listen; not to be defensive or stubborn.
And external facilitators played an important role.
We tried to find the levers within the organisation. Who were the opinion formers and
the leaders of change? Where were the cynics and Luddites? And who were the hares and
tortoises? We had to identify the movers and the backwoodsmen, and try to move at the
speed of the former but be prepared for the latter to become a factor when things go
wrong (as they did).
Marketing was used to change perceptions, though not letting the message get ahead of
the reality. Change means communicating and taking the long view. People must be
prepared to adapt and admit mistakes. Both stick and carrot can be used to bring people
on board, but the organisation must be prepared to lose people.
What has been the result?
At the Sinfonia, as yet we can’t be sure. Thinking on a 30- to 40-year canvas, we can see a
more adaptable organisation with much better support of the funding system. There’s a
new hall, and the opportunity of a step change in musical opportunities in the North of
The Hallé is engaged in a dialogue with all parts of the organisation, and has an
opportunity to move significantly in new directions – to create new perception of an old
friend and get rid of the complacency that often exists in an old and distinguished
What will be different next time?
Lessons learnt from experience are very powerful. The checklist for next time will
include the following:
• Prepare more thoroughly, and do more groundwork.
• Be clearer about who are the hares and tortoises, where the movers and shakers are
• Pick external help very carefully.
• Don’t leave questions unasked. Confront the difficult bits.
• Be prepared to lose people.
• Let people feel they are doing it – don’t stand at the front of the stage.
• Be decisive – it’s better to be wrong convincingly than to dissemble.
• Judgement of when to use stick and carrot is vital – use both if you have to.
• Don’t overpromise.
• Take the long view.
• Be prepared to adapt.
• Admit mistakes.
But above all, communicate – which is where marketing comes in.
MEASUREMENT AND EVALUATION
A keynote speech by Sanjiv Lingayah
Sanjiv Lingayah explained how a participative process can lead to measurement and evaluation which
recognises the intangible value of arts activity and its contribution to the quality of life.
The New Economics Foundation is a research charity. Its aim is to put people and the
environment at the centre of economic thinking. It promotes an understanding of the
quality of life based on complex measures, recognising the difference between value and
money. It’s not only counted in pounds and pence. In trying to understand and measure
quality of life, we realised that there are untold riches in our society and environment –
things like the arts, that bring people together, excite people, trigger vivid thoughts.
These are all part of those untold riches. We also know that many of the things we do as
an economy damage our environment, but this story is never told – and measurement
and evaluation are all about telling a true story. So we need to measure intangibles as well
as tangibles, because by making these impacts visible, we can see in all our organisations
whether we’re having the influence on quality of life that we might want.
So prove it . . .
The challenge, though, is to prove the value of the arts to others. Many of us have gut
feelings about the things that we do and the difference that we make, and we may hear
stories of the impact on individuals or communities, but the current environment needs
you to prove it, because funding doesn’t come easily; because the arts are traditionally
thought of as a middle-class woolly liberal preserve; but also because the challenges laid
down for the arts are getting tougher and more important – witness Gerry Robinson in
his New Statesman speech, saying that creativity is the key to promoting economic
prosperity and educational achievement; and the PAT 10 work on evaluation, seeing the
arts as a mechanism for social inclusion.
Reasons to measure
As part of proving the value of the arts there is a role for measurement. Often there’s
quite a lot of resistance to measurement, but there are some very good reasons to
measure in a tight funding environment. It’s important to demonstrate value for money;
to make visible the difference you make, and to build capacity – those involved in
measurement have to learn precise skills so that they can ask tough questions, and ask the
right questions. Most importantly, measurement gives an understanding of where you are
today, but also influences where you head, and it informs future directions.
Tools for measurement
Based on the adage that what gets counted counts, indicators have proliferated; but these
days there are probably too many indicators in the world. Indeed, they are issued forth
from every organisation, but the ratio of indicators to changes in behaviour is painfully
low. Although I am an advocate of measuring, only do it if you are going to listen to the
answers. Otherwise it’s simply locking up resources.
‘Indicators’ are particular tools that can be used to measure. They measure, or quantify.
But they also simplify, like a map; and they communicate. They tell you something isn’t
right, just like a high body temperature tells you that the body is not well. The key is to
measure important issues and events as a basis for action.
What should the indicators be for the arts? And what are the outcomes – engagement,
imagination, confidence, expanding horizons? The journey of discovering what matters
to the organisation (the process) and what should be measured is almost as important as
the product. The process we’ve used is participative, and has six stages.
1. Bringing people together The starting point is to bring stakeholders together. You can’t
develop good evaluation or indicators in a dark room on your own. We need to
measure the important things, and it’s not only the people who run those
organisations who know what the important things are. Other stakeholders are key as
2. Identifying issues When the ‘measurement army’ is together, you can identify issues and
the things that are worth measuring – the types of impact you’d like to see, and you’d
like to see how well you’re doing.
3. Choosing indicators Having identified the issues, you can develop indicators, e.g. in a
community project, an indicator may be the number of friends that community
participants make through being part of the project.
4. Collecting data Next you have to collect the data. You normally need to either ask
people, or observe behaviour.
5. Communicating findings This is very important. The indicators will tell you about the
impact that you’re making, but in order for that to be a spur to change or take new
types of actions, people need to know about that story. Quite often. After collecting
the data, everyone is so exhausted that they don’t want to tell anyone what they
found. But it is crucial.
6. Taking action This isn’t just the last step, because throughout this process, different
ways of behaviour may have been observed.
Learning from other experience
Groundwork make ‘grey space’ into green, community-friendly space. They were
struggling to understand their impact, because the most important impacts aren’t the
easiest to collect. So they tended to use measures like numbers of trees planted (the arts
equivalent might be ‘bums on seats’). These aren’t meaningless, but are not necessarily at
the heart of the impact of the organisation. They felt that their biggest impact was in
bringing people together, and building relationships within the community. That impact
is known differently in different places – sometimes ‘community spirit’, sometimes ‘social
capital’; but we call it ‘social energy’, which we think reflects the impact that Groundwork
makes. (The evaluation process used for Groundwork was written up in a handbook,
entitled Prove It!)
Social energy is broken down into three strands for measurement:
1. ‘About me’ – what community participants got out of being involved in Groundwork
projects, e.g. personal attitudes – percentage proud of this area.
2. ‘About us’ – community relationship, e.g. percentage who believe that neighbours
around here look out for each other.
3. ‘Us and them’ – the way that the community relates to external agencies, e.g.
percentage of local people who know who to contact to help them from the council.
Each element is measured at the beginning of the project, and again at the end, when we
hope people will give more positive answers than they did before their involvement.
This approach might be appropriate for arts organisations, but it poses as many questions
as it produces answers:
• Which stakeholders should be involved in an evaluation of arts activity?
• At what level should we measure? Should it be projects, or the organisation as a
• Which impacts to measure? What is the most important story, e.g. social inclusion,
• How to build measuring in so that your funders are happy, and it is elegant and not
an additional burden? How do we avoid ‘slitting the skylark’s throat to see what
makes him sing’?
Whatever the answers to these, it’s no longer possible to argue that a participative
approach to measuring value can’t be done – that it’s too complex, that it lacks rigour or
is subjective. The challenge is there, so is the technology …
For a copy of Prove It!, email firstname.lastname@example.org
PREPARE TO PROVE IT!
A keynote speech by Heather Maitland
Heather Maitland believes that arts organisations must overcome their resistance to evaluation and set to
work now, if they are to ensure that the criteria on which they are evaluated are relevant to what they are
trying to achieve.
We are now working in an environment where we must prove the value of what we do.
We need to prove that we can and are tearing down barriers to the arts. This change has
happened rapidly, speeded up in particular by the introduction of the Best Value regime
in which local authorities are being asked to evaluate the effectiveness of the cultural
services they offer their communities. They are also being asked to prepare local cultural
strategies centred on consultation in their communities.
There are arts organisations for whom effective evaluation is second nature, but many
people working in the arts outside local authorities haven’t come to terms with the ‘Prove
it!’ culture yet, and are ill equipped to perform such evaluation. Recently, an arts
organisation asked students on work placement to interview its audience in the foyer
before a series of events and ask them intrusive questions about their personal life
including whether they had a criminal record. Not surprisingly, audience reactions ranged
from astonishment to outrage.
What’s causing this kind of poor practice? Firstly, we feel that the performance indicators
have been imposed upon us. We don’t feel that the many performance indicators we are
being asked to measure ourselves against have much to do with our activities.
Furthermore, the pace of change means that we’re lagging behind in our thinking – the
pace of change has meant that local authorities are calling the shots and we have no
response so we are being stampeded. We also feel that evaluation may be used against us.
We feel we have to ‘tick all the boxes’ regardless of what our organisations are trying to
do in case we are punished and have our funding taken away.
Many of us are also naturally suspicious of numbers – we feel that we are diminishing the
work if we express it numerically. One local authority arts officer said, ‘It’s quite
dangerous collecting figures. It depends so much on how they are presented. How do
you compare a project which had seven participants where the quality of the experience
was really high and a project that reached 800 people with a much lower quality of
Marketers and education workers tend to feel comfortable with the idea of measuring
outcomes, but other colleagues – the artistic team and administrators in particular – are
being asked to make a huge cultural shift very rapidly. It’s important not to underestimate
the seismic shift that arts organisations will have to make. In the New Economics
Foundation handbook, Prove It!,1 author Sanjiv Lingayah says ‘Some people in your
organisation and elsewhere may be hostile to measuring. It may seem like policing or a
way of highlighting the weak parts of their projects.’
1New Economics Foundation, Prove It!: Measuring the Effect of Neighbourhood Renewal on Local People,
Groundwork: The New Economics Foundation and Barclays plc, 2000.
He suggests three possible solutions:
1. Involve them, so that measuring feels like something they do, not something that is
done to them: at the moment, many arts organisations feel that evaluation is
something that is done to them. We need to get involved and to take ownership of
the measuring and evaluating processes.
2. Tell them the benefits they will get: Simon Kensdale said in ArtsBusiness in March
2000, ‘we are not allowed to admit failure honestly’ because we fear the
consequences. This means that we often don’t get the benefits of effective evaluation
– the ability to learn from achievement and to address failure.
3. Create a climate in which mistakes are seen as opportunities to learn, not reasons to
blame: many people working in the arts fear that their admission that something
hasn’t work will be met by reduced funding, or at the very least, greater difficulty in
getting funding next time.
Input vs output
In the past the arts were important because every town should offer its community
quality artistic experiences. The focus was strongly on the quality of creation and
production, and on the number of such ‘quality’ experiences on offer. Evaluation was
done only by the organisation’s peer group through the system of ‘show reports’ where
people practising in the field – the people who know what it is like at the sharp end and
can make appropriate allowances – were asked to assess the artistic quality of the work.
Later, the Touring Department of the Arts Council of England asked assessors to make a
visual assessment of the make-up of the audience (hardly effective but at least lip service
to the idea of consumption).
Now the emphasis is on the other end of the chain – the impact of the experience on the
audience member or visitor. It is no longer enough to offer quality experiences, these
experiences have to achieve something – developing people’s feeling of self-worth or
contributing to the local tourism economy.
That something is measured in terms of objectives that still feel alien to many people
working in the arts – the arts have to be for something, usually something measured in
economic or social terms rather than in artistic terms. The focus of attention has shifted
dramatically. Because evaluation was centred on artistic quality, the focus was in the
rehearsal room or the curator’s office. Now the focus is on our audiences, visitors and
participants. The focus isn’t even on what goes on in the auditorium or workshop studio
but is outside our buildings entirely. It focuses on what the people who engage with our
organisation take away with them into the wider community. This symbolises a power
shift within the organisation that many feel they must resist.
This is what community arts movements have been doing for years. In 1984, London
Arts Board said, ‘Community arts proposes the use of art to effect social change and
affect social policies, and encompasses the expression of political action, effecting
environmental change and developing the understanding and use of established systems
of communication and change.’
But the funding structures have systematically devalued the work of community arts
organisations in favour of what they term ‘artistic excellence’. In its 1975/6 annual
report, the Arts Council of Great Britain stated that cultural democracy ‘rejects
discrimination between good and bad and cherishes the romantic notion that there is a
“cultural dynamism” in the people which will emerge if only they can be liberated from
the cultural values hitherto accepted by an elite … This demagogic doctrine insults the
very people it is supposed to help.’ Now, suddenly, we’re all being asked to adopt that
very same social and political ethos that was so scorned under successive Conservative
Just do it
People who work in the arts usually want to do things. One local authority cultural
officer said, ‘I want to develop summer play facilities and sports opportunities in schools.
I don’t want to sit at my desk and ask myself why we do it.’ And there is a trade-off.
‘Before Best Value came along, people were already working flat out and something has
to give. Should it be the service that gives or Best Value?’ If we are given a choice
between doing something that we think might have a useful impact and not doing it but
evaluating the work we have just completed instead to check out just how useful it was,
which do we choose? We are so focused on output, on doing things, that we would
rather do something that doesn’t work than do nothing. Instead, we must learn to focus
on outcomes – on what happens because of our work.
As marketers, we need to change the way in which we engage with audiences too. Our
research has traditionally asked questions that describe our audience and their behaviour.
We almost never ask them what they think of the work (the nearest we get is the ‘Do you
have any other comments?’ box at the bottom of the final page of the questionnaire).
Now we have to give audiences and visitors the opportunity to evaluate the work we
provide. For example, in Birmingham, to measure the impact of contemporary work
we’re giving audiences the opportunity to say that they were bored or irritated by our
work. This feels so threatening to some of our colleagues. Evaluation is no longer a
This kind of evaluation consumes resources, and many local authority cultural officers
are finding the burden overwhelming. Often local authorities are being asked to do
inappropriate evaluation because they aren’t calling the shots. The Best Value processes
are in the control of people who have no understanding of how the sector works and no
understanding of the wider impact of the arts. That’s largely our fault because we’ve
never collected the information that can demonstrate this to them.
The three groups involved in telling local authorities how to evaluate the cultural sector
are the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the National Audit Office
which will inspect local authorities and test their Best Value reviews, and the Department
of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR). Their rulings directly affect
what local authorities are asking of arts organisations. Unfortunately, their advice,
guidance and directives directly contradict each other. The DCMS is advising that
cultural strategies and Best Value reviews should be organised around themes like health
and education to which a range of departments contribute – seems sensible to me.
DETR has directed that they are organised by service. The National Audit Office has
said that it does not consider simple customer satisfaction surveys to be adequate
consultation. DETR has said that they must be done. So what do we need to do?
The next step
The cultural sector needs to accept that we need to prove it. But instead of being passive,
we must take control of the evaluation and reporting process. We need to decide what
our activities are intended to do – not what the local authority or other funding body
thinks they should be for. If we don’t intend our work to tackle re-offending statistics,
we don’t have to measure its impact to see if it does. We also need to involve all our
stakeholders and that means sharing power – just as in the good old days of the
community arts movement. Together each organisation and its stakeholders need to
come to a consensus about common values – to agree what the arts are for in each
This means a shift in attitude by the funding system too. They need to work with us to
establish a common set of performance indicators that arts organisations believe will
enable them to evaluate their work in a productive way – a way that means we learn from
achievement and address failure. This will drastically reduce the number of times
administrators and marketers have to re-calculate all the figures to fit in with yet another
way of framing the information. They also need to establish a relationship of trust with
their clients which means that evaluation is seen as a means of encouraging constant
improvement rather than as something that will be used as evidence against them in the
next funding round.
It is ridiculous to expect every arts organisation to do everything. The development of
young audiences is the perfect example. Some arts organisations are well placed to make
a genuine impact on the lives of young people. Some are better placed to focus on other
groups in our society. This shouldn’t lead to loss of funding. Many officers within the
funding system regard this as heresy. It will remain heresy until our organisations are
crystal clear about what we want to be for.
A FINAL REFLECTION ON THE CONFERENCE THEMES
By Catherine Holden and Richard Whitehouse
Catherine Holden re-visited ‘external’ barriers to involvement in the arts.
Is access for everyone seen as incredibly important? Yes. Is it achievable? Really? For
everyone? No. Most people don’t come to our venues. They wouldn’t fit for a start. But
most people don’t do most things. There are only one or two things that ‘most people’
do, and the arts are neither of them. So most people won’t visit our venues or book our
tickets. The arts aren’t for all. Nothing is. Let’s accept it, and get on with the real issues.
Lies, damn lies and segmentation
But if not everyone will visit, who will? Who might? That is the question. Take me –
what did I do this month? I went rally driving in the Welsh mountains; I saw the film
Stuart Little at the local cinema; I visited the Royal Horticultural Society Flower Show at
Hampton Court; and I went to the Banana Cabaret Comedy Club in Balham. This makes
• An 18–24-year-old lager-drinking Loaded-reading red-blooded male.
• A 10-year-old Pokémon collector with a peculiar mouse fetish.
• An over-55 true-blue lady-who-lunches from Tunbridge Wells.
• A 30-something London-based Guardian reader with a terrible sense of humour.
Which is the real me? Easy to guess? No, because of course the answer is: all of them –
and none of them. We need to recognise that really-rather-irritating-for-marketers factor
of human individuality – and find new ways of grouping people into targetable segments
– by who they are and what they want out of life, not what they’ve maybe once done.
Whydon’tyoujustswitchoffyourtelevisionanddosomethingmoreinterestinginstead was a 1970s BBC kids
programme – well intentioned, life-enhancing, full of great ideas to keep us kids amused
during the long summer holidays – but an incredibly irritating, patronising, goody-two-
shoes approach. If we’re not careful, that’s how our audience development initiatives will
come across to their innocent victims, who think they are leading perfectly interesting
and fulfilled lives, thank you very much, without us suggesting a few wizard wheezes for
them. You’ve got to respect people’s right to refuse. There were a lot of interesting
things I didn’t do last week after switching off my television. I didn’t go to a cricket
match, didn’t take up bungee jumping, didn’t visit a strip club in Soho, didn’t go to a Soft
Cell come-back concert, didn’t buy a diamond tiara, didn’t book three months in advance
for a new play, didn’t go to the big exhibition at the Royal Academy, didn’t phone my
mum, didn’t eat sushi, didn’t listen to a Kennedy CD …
Why not? Well, because: I didn’t know it was on; because I’m just not interested; because
I don’t get it; because I find it morally objectionable; because it’s scary; because it was in
Manchester and I was in London; because it sounded boring; because it’s not my style;
because someone told me it was terrible; because I didn’t have the cash; because I had
already done it twice that month; because I was tired; because my friends didn’t want to;
because the sun was out …There’s a million reasons that we don’t do things. And all of
the above could apply to the arts – even, in one particular week, with one particular set
of circumstances, to your absolutely peachy, frequent, recent, core target market,
database-driven, fully postcoded ‘I love your venue’ arts attender – never mind the never-
There’s a lot of choice in the world – and half of it is delivered to our front rooms more
or less free. We have to find what will get people out of those armchairs and choose arts,
and decide what we can contribute to the overall picture of life in 21st century UK.
Concrete or paper?
But what about these barriers? There may be a million reasons that people don’t do
things – from acts of God downwards – but let’s work out which ones we, as
organisations and as individual marketers, can actually do something about – and deal
Are the arts inaccessible?
• Yes if you physically can’t get in because you’re in a wheelchair.
• Yes if you don’t have anywhere to leave the kids.
• Yes if you can’t afford the tickets.
• Yes if your free day is Sunday and the theatre is closed.
• Yes if you’re too busy to trust booking months in advance.
• Yes if you haven’t heard about something.
• Yes if you have heard about something but God knows what that copy actually
All these things we can do something about – some more easily than others. Instead of
feeling overpowered by the idea of a Berlin Wall of inaccessibility, we need to sort the
paper barriers from the concrete ones, and work out which we need to chip away at long
term, and which can be torn down tomorrow. Then follow the wisdom of Nike – and
just do it. But look out for spring-loaded barriers that might come down but bounce
back up again. OK, so you’ve put on some Chinese opera. What about next month?
Audience development is a long-term commitment. It can be hard work to lower the
drawbridge, but once it is down, we’ve got to keep it down.
People like us
What about the inaccessibility that stems from going to something but feeling awful,
because you stick out like a sore thumb – maybe you’re a different colour to everyone
else, or have the wrong kind of accent, or you’re 30 years the wrong age. I’ve experienced
all three recently – at the Summer Carnival in Southall, which is a mile from where I live
but a thousand miles culturally from where it seems many other whites are; at a drinks
reception for the National Association of Fine and Decorative Arts Societies; and during
a rather ill-advised trip to a roller disco. We didn’t know roller discos were for children –
but there we were, three feet too tall, trying to have fun but feeling pretty embarrassed.
The thing is, it’s not funny. Collectively we seem to be OK. But are we? Am I? Are you?
We need to reassess our assumptions, which are, absolutely in the wrong sense, whiter
than white. Nice or nasty, we are infectious. We recruit ourselves, we employ ourselves,
we market to ourselves, we go out together. Our ideas are catching – among ourselves.
Do we want to stick with ‘Arts R Us’? Nice, mostly white, mostly graduate, mostly able-
bodied folk with passive liberal tendencies? Or do we want THEM, whoever they are? If
so, we’re going to have to try harder. And how far are we willing to change to encourage
Kicking and screaming
Opening the doors to the many means a loss of privilege to the few – and they will fight
it. V.S. Naipaul recently sparked a huge debate by saying that the government’s aims for
social change through the arts have ‘destroyed the idea of civilisation’ in this country and
imposed a ‘terrible plebeian culture’. The esteemed curator, writer and art critic David
Sylvester was quoted in the Guardian on 1st July as saying, ‘The whole education argument
is crap. I hate museums cluttered up with children’; ‘One really doesn’t want to be in a
gallery with more than a few people. This is the great problem with art. A big audience is
no good for it’; ‘I wish there was less interest. Perhaps the answer is for art to become
unfashionable and un-loved again.’ These are important people, with important allies.
Change can spoil the essential experience for those who’ve grown to know and love it. A
Glasgow cinema put on an Italian film season for the big Italian community there –
Italians came in droves. Italians like to talk during films, loudly. Glaswegians weren’t
happy. You can’t please all the people all the time.
Changing what we do to attract new people will almost inevitably displease the ones that
like it like it is. Won’t we just swap one audience for another, and leave our loyal
supporters out in the cold? Who is more important, the ones that like us now, or the
ones that might be persuadable? Do we want to keep some barriers up? No? Then prove
Change for good
Do we have a problem – or an opportunity? We need advice, from people who actually
know. We must find new communication networks and media channels; new opinion-
formers, new figureheads, new directors. New alliances – with churches, shops, sports.
New ticket outlets. New language, which is honest and informative not sensational and
pretentious. New environments with different lighting, smoking, late licences, drinks in
the auditorium, audience participation, the World Cup on screens in the foyer. Radical?
The RFH did it two years ago – and it worked. Maybe even a new venue – or at least get
our organisations to pop out for a bit of fresh air every now and then. If the three tenors
can go to Wembley, the arts mountain could go to Mohammed – literally.
The payoff could be huge. Buzz to your building. New audiences – desperately needed.
Also new artists, who wouldn’t have touched you with a bargepole before. New staff,
with challenging perspectives and the motivation to do something different. And new
income sources: black pound, brown pound, grey pound, pink pound. Can we afford not
to change? Probably not. Change would be good. And should be for good – forever.
This is not contentious. But it ain’t happening yet. And that is.
Richard Whitehouse examined some issues relating to internal barriers.
Three little words
Let’s just focus for a minute on reasons to visit rather than barriers – why we need to
position our organisations and find their USPs. It’s not a new idea. It’s not particularly
sexy. But it works.
• At John Lewis you won’t find the same thing cheaper anywhere else.
• At Waitrose you’ll pay more but you know it’ll be good.
• Nike is the best good because it’s used by the best athletes.
• On the London Eye you get the best view of London there is.
But what do you get from a day at the Dome? And what were you buying at C&A?
I know the ats is different. Performances/exhibitions/happenings are here today, gone
tomorrow. But most of us work for organisations that aim to be around for a while and
maybe that’s what we should focus on. In order to do so, we should all be able to give
reasons that someone should visit us rather than a list of why they shouldn’t. ‘Marketing’
= internal processes of working together. Are we limiting ourselves by this definition?
One more word
How many of us can say what their organisation aims to be in ten years’ time? How
about five? How about three? Three years is not a long time. It can take three years to get
the funding in place to finance one audience initiative. And that’s before you’ve done the
project and evaluated it. We’ve heard about a number of planning issues. Some may seem
too abstruse and abstract to get your heads round. How many people looked at the pre-
conference papers and saw a presentation about economic indicators and shrugged? How
many of you were deeply cynical about why the AMA should bother to include a
presentation about race relations in the Metropolitan Police? ‘Not more political
Maybe what we have been given here is not a magic wand that will turn our organisations
into overnight successes. Jane McDonald (she of the BBC Cruise series fame) was an
overnight success – 20 years after she first started in the entertainment business – and on
the verge of giving it all up. Maybe what we’ve been given here is some ideas that will
help us get round the subsidy problem. You know the one I mean: the funding merry-go-
round which keeps us focused on this year’s box office targets; which doesn’t give us any
head space to think about what we need to be doing in three years’ time; which would
help us to be around in five or ten years’ time …
And another one
It’s interesting, isn’t it, that we work in a creative industry and for most of us the nearest
we get to a creative thought is ‘How do I get this image approved by the artistic
director?’ And I imagine that’s why many of us get a bit bored servicing those who ‘do
the art’, for very little money and even less encouragement.
I can’t believe there is anyone in this room who wouldn’t fancy working in an
environment where we never had to hear someone else telling us what had to go on the
poster. Not because we wouldn’t be doing posters. And not because people don’t feel
strongly about how their ‘art’ is sold to the public. But because the debate that precedes
the discussions about how to communicate have been preceded by discussions about why
are we doing what we’re doing and who we’re doing it for. If our organisations are going
to survive, we all have to challenge assumptions. How are you going to do it?
Maybe you’ll be able to develop your influencing skills from within the marketing
department. And maybe internal advocacy is something you need help with and the
AMA should be providing. Hands up anyone who’s ever had a problem with an artistic
director. In my experience they can be the most capricious, difficult, manipulative people
you ever have to meet. And that’s on a good day. How many of us have ever wanted to
go on a negotiation skills course that would help you deal with what can be an extremely
stressful situation? Well, maybe you should ask the AMA for one …
Or maybe you’ll not be able to really do anything until you are running organisations
yourselves. Maybe that’s what we all have to aspire to: running organisations. And maybe
the AMA has a part to play in leading the debate about what sort of organisations are
required to meet the audience needs over the next 50 years and helping senior marketers
make the move through the tinsel ceiling. Maybe the AMA should run a ‘Druidstone’ for
potential chief executives.
But whether you want to run the world or just get more people in touch with your art
form, you will need to have thought about how your organisation is going to develop.
And the key question is: how are you going to build meaningful relationships with your
customers? You will have to have thought about the criteria on which your success is to
be measured. And you will have to build evaluation into your planning processes.
Why, why, why?
Barriers exist. The trouble is they’re a bit like a giraffe. Hard to describe but you know
one when you see one. Except, of course, you can’t see most of them. We just know
they’re there when we don’t quite hit the box office targets!
When looking at possible reasons that people don’t come to your performances or
exhibition or attraction and what you’re going to do about it, ask yourselves another
question. Why do you want to do something about the things that prevent people from
coming? Think of any important event in your life, something that you planned for rather
than something that just happened. Ask yourself which question came first: how am I
going to do this or why am I going to do this?
Principles and practicalities of evaluation
CBSO Ambassadors – making the most of your supporters’ enthusiasm
Melanie Brooker and Jessica Silvester
What are barriers, and where do they come from?
Developing a culturally civerse audience
Philly Desai, George Matheson and Ron McAllister
Using monitoring and evaluation to improve practice
Mark Dobson and Tracy Cochrane
ROAR – understanding young consumers
How Much? at Sheffield Theatres
Change through partnership
Paul Kaynes and Sarah Ogle
Invisible behind the barriers
Anne Roberts, Rob Macpherson and Samantha Orrell
Why technology creates more barriers than it pulls down
Tearing down internal barriers
PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICALITIES OF EVALUATION
Sarah Bedell explored what needs to be done to make evaluation a positive and helpful experience for all.
Is ‘evaluation’ a fad or valuable process? In theory, evaluation should offer a flexible
framework to support a project. It should reduce angst and the burden of worry, by
helping the management of partnerships; and it should offer a range of measures of
success for creative projects so that practice can be improved and shared. But in reality, it
often feels like an unnecessary condition of funding. It feels as if we have to produce
information for the sake of it – an extra chore before you can finish the project. It seems
to be an expensive and time-intensive (or should that be time-wasting?) process, and one
that is complicated but ‘woolly’ – what exactly are ‘soft’ indicators, for example? The
whole process seems to produce evidence that you wouldn’t really count on.
Practically, evaluation can assess the value and quality of a project, based on evidence. It
can provide an open and transparent process which involves partners and stakeholders
and it can become a decision-making tool during a project, and future projects, because it
enables strategic planning. Thus it is important, because it can help us improve practice
during and after a project – as well as long term – for all partners and participants. It
shows what happened, provides evidence for the positive benefits of arts activity and
provides evidence for audience development on a best value and practice basis.
So what do we have to do to make evaluation a positive, helpful experience for all? We
need to use SMART evaluation to focus on the collection and interpretation of evidence
that is relevant and appropriate to achieving goals; and we must integrate evaluation into
cycle. Reflecting, moving forward and reporting are crucial links in a ‘virtual circle’.
Objectives: Five steps of evaluating:
S specific Planning
M measurable Collecting evidence
A achievable Interpreting evidence
R realistic Reflecting and moving forward
T timetabled Reporting and sharing
Several planning issues have to be addressed:
• How and when will success be identified?
• How can an appropriate balance between ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ indicators be reached?
• How can partnerships be managed, including participants and stakeholders?
Consensus can be gained on the specific target achievements by being open about
everyone’s agenda, being realistic about what can be achieved, and agreeing aims that are
acceptable to everyone.
When collecting evidence to assess achievements, it’s important to keep it relevant and
appropriate to the project’s aims and objectives, and do it:
• before showing level of skills, knowledge or understanding to create a base line
• while documenting what happens
• after measuring results against targets.
Decisions have to be made about who to collect evidence from, so that the sample yields
a range of views within Equal Opportunities best practice.
Quantitative evidence tends to deal with facts and can include data collection through
surveys, per capita cost analysis or collecting numbers of people, performances, events,
etc. The pros include the potential size of sample, range of distribution/collection
options, cost-effectiveness and flexibility for style of questioning. The cons are that the
number of returns cannot easily be predicted. A limited quality of information is
gathered, and it relies on the literacy skills of respondents. Questions can be leading, and
analysis takes time and costs money.
Qualitative evidence shows opinions, ideas and impacts by giving a sense of what
happened and showing how people change during a process: thus it contributes to an
assessment of the quality of the project. It usually takes the form of interviews,
discussion groups or video sessions, diaries, or audio/visual feedback. It is useful for
unveiling a wide range of views, and can help to sound out ideas and generate feedback.
However, it is time consuming, and can be costly. You can end up reflecting only the
views of the most confident or the self-selecting, and logistics can be difficult.
Whatever methods you choose, they must:
• give you the evidence you need
• be user-friendly and flexible to support the project
• have everyone’s agreement to use this evidence.
Everyone is responsible for evaluation, but decisions have to be made as to who will
actually do it. This is quite a different question. If the task is managed internally, it can be
difficult to maintain levels of commitment because of other organisational/work
pressures. It is also difficult to retain objectivity, as the process may be driven by internal
agendas. However, it is easier to integrate the process within the project and organisation,
and those involved are more likely to retain ‘ownership’ of it. This approach can also
save money. External evaluation is more objective and independent and time is allocated
to do the work. However, it means developing and sustaining another relationship, and
may be difficult to maintain a sense of ownership by those involved. It can also be costly.
Reporting is done for a number of parties: the organisation and team leading the project;
the partners involved in the project; participants; and funders and other stakeholders.
Presenting must be done in a meaningful and useful way, with illustrations or other visual
elements. Keep it clear and simple, and use an appropriate tone for partners and
stakeholders. Think laterally … ‘The golden rule is that there are no golden rules’
(George Bernard Shaw).
We all need to work smarter, not harder. Investing in the initial setting up will create a
virtuous circle. Best value and evidence-based policy decisions are here, now.
Don’t we want to know what we’re doing and how to learn from mistakes? Remember,
‘A man may be very sincere in good principles without having good practice’ (Samuel
CBSO AMBASSADORS – MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR SUPPORTERS’
Melanie Brooker and Jessica Silvester
Melanie Brooker and Jessica Silvester described the CBSO Cultural Ambassadors scheme, which was
devised to persuade committed audience members to encourage new attenders who wouldn’t otherwise have
attended a CBSO concert.
Many CBSO Society members (friends of the orchestra/a priority mailing list) already
contribute financially to the CBSO through our individual-giving scheme, CBSO Patrons.
But we knew, both from speaking to them at concerts and other member events, and
from the positive response we get when asking for volunteers to steward at performances
or to stuff envelopes, that many of them would like to get involved in helping the art
form and organisation that they support and are passionate about.
We also knew from informal feedback that some Society members, patrons and
subscribers already try to ‘spread the word’ about the CBSO and its work, and they try to
encourage people to attend (for example, they sometimes bring people who are visiting
the city to a CBSO concert, they organise groups around their birthdays, or occasionally
recruit friends and acquaintances as Society members or subscribers).
With this in mind, the CBSO Cultural Ambassadors scheme ran during our last season,
with help from the New Audiences fund. The scheme was devised to channel this
enthusiasm and commitment, by capitalising on these people’s time, energy and
experience of concert-going and classical music to encourage new paying audiences who
wouldn’t otherwise have attended a CBSO concert.
To be more specific, the aim of the scheme was ‘to attract 500 new audience members to
CBSO concerts in Symphony Hall, Birmingham, by using the concepts of pyramid
selling, personal contacts and peer-to-peer selling’.
This would be achieved through the creation of ‘a network of well-briefed voluntary
supporters who would be willing to evangelise about the orchestra and its work, and who
have a sufficiently diverse social network to encourage parties from their friends and
acquaintances, or from membership of a club or society’. The kind of groups we had in
mind included sports clubs, Women’s Institute groups, Rotary clubs, Probus clubs,
University of the Third Age or Open University groups, local church groups, friends’
organisations, local school or youth groups, through to musical societies, choirs, music
appreciation groups and gramophone societies.
In trying to recruit Ambassadors we were intending to target recently retired CBSO
Society members/patrons who were relatively time-rich. Post retirement, many people
are now actively seeking ways to stay involved with their local communities and we
hoped that these Society members and patrons would consider this kind of scheme to be
doing just that.
We hoped that through the scheme these Ambassadors would persuade their friends,
acquaintances, colleagues and neighbours who wouldn’t otherwise have attended a CBSO
concert to actually attend. (In the main we were looking for people who were totally new
to the CBSO but the targets also included those who had lapsed for three or more years.)
The scheme was to be a relatively hands-off way of bringing in new audiences, by
effectively out-sourcing this to the Ambassadors. There would be little to lose in running
such a scheme as it would have a minimal impact on ticketing in that the new audiences
would be paying audiences and we weren’t selling out on the majority of concerts
anyway. And even if we had been selling out it wouldn’t be difficult to justify to the
finance managers as they were paying (whereas with schemes such as Test Drive,
justifying the initial outlay of free tickets to finance managers would be more difficult).
We also hoped that the leap from attending in an Ambassador group to becoming a
‘normal’ paying customer would not be too great.
The planning and running of the Ambassadors scheme
As we ran the scheme, we realised that a whole range of barriers had to be overcome.
Barriers for our Friends
The first barrier was how to persuade our Friends to take part. We sent an individually
addressed letter to all Society members and patrons asking for their support and playing
on their loyalty. The letter invited them to attend an introductory evening or to request
further information, and we emphasised that there was absolutely no commitment at this
stage. However, it was also necessary to make it clear that the scheme would require
some considerable effort on their part.
We offered them several incentives for undertaking peer-to-peer selling on our behalf.
Each Ambassador was entitled to a free concert ticket for each group of at least ten new
people that they brought. The Ambassadors’ guests bought their tickets for the concert at
25% discount, greater than the usual group booking rate of 20%. The Ambassador and
their guests also received a series of other benefits at the concert, including free concert
programmes, the chance to meet musicians and staff and a separate hospitality area.
We launched the scheme with an introductory evening, combining a series of
presentations about the scheme, including a step-by-step guide to the scheme and a
presentation on how to drum up interest from among colleagues and friends. With the
benefit of hindsight, this was probably not the best way to go about launching the
scheme, for reasons that are explained in the evaluation at the end.
We realised that once we had recruited the Ambassadors, we then had to conquer the
practical, perceptual and psychological barriers presented by their potential guests.
We felt that there were a number of practical barriers to attendance: the inconvenience of
booking tickets, waiting to get through to the box office; the difficulties of getting to and
from Symphony Hall at night, particularly from some of the rural areas where public
transport is limited; concerns about personal safety; the crush at the bars on concert
nights; and the queues for the cloakrooms.
We tried to resolve all these issues. First, we removed the box office from the equation
for the new attenders. They sorted out their ticket requests with their Ambassador, who
in turn sorted them out directly through the CBSO. The tickets were then mailed to the
Ambassador in advance of the concert. This meant that we had to reserve a series of
seats in each of the price areas of the hall for each of the recommended concerts. We
only offered the mid-priced seats as we felt these were not too challenging in terms of
the financial risk they presented to the guests, but that the cheapest seats did not have a
high enough return for us and also were not located in the best areas of the Hall for first-
timers. We then asked the Ambassador to gauge interest and to choose a concert. They
telephoned to reserve the seats in their preferred price area, before going away to get
their group of guests together. The group size had to be at least 11 people, including the
Ambassador. The Ambassador distributed the tickets, and was phoned the day before the
concert to check that everything was in place.
Secondly, the whole experience of attending a CBSO concert in a group automatically
removed many of the guests’ concerns about transport and safety. Many of the
Ambassadors chose to book minibuses to bring their guests into the centre of
Birmingham, solving the problem of lack of public transport from some of the more
Finally, we addressed the problems at the concert hall by ensuring that the foyer area
reserved for Ambassadors was available from one hour before the concert and that
whoever was on duty was ready to welcome them. We provided all the Ambassadors
with a drink order form in advance and so the drinks were ready for them on arrival,
removing the problems of queuing at the bar. We also provided them with a coat rail and
looked after their possessions for them.
Perceptual and psychological barriers
We thought that the Ambassadors would be concerned about any questions that their
potential guests might ask them about the CBSO, and that this was likely to be one of the
biggest barriers to both persuading our supporters to become Ambassadors in the first
place and to the Ambassadors being able to convince their friends or colleagues to give
the CBSO a try. We overcame this by briefing the Ambassadors with the answers to
some of the most likely questions. For example:
• Classical music is elitist – No, it’s not. We have mixed audiences of many ages and
backgrounds. You don’t need to dress up to come along. The reason that the
orchestra wear black evening dress is that it is simply a smart uniform and, just like
school, a dress code makes life much simpler.
• But I’m not a musician – I’m tone deaf. If your ears work OK, then open them. You are
allowed not to like a piece of music, but just be prepared to give things a go and you
might be pleasantly surprised.
• But I won’t understand what is going on – You don’t need to. It isn’t a test. There’s a lot to
read in your free concert programmes but all you really need to do is listen, relax and
watch. Don’t worry about trying to ‘understand’ the music, just enjoy it.
Although Ambassadors were briefed, we realised that the venue and the traditions of
attending a concert could still be quite intimidating when new attenders actually arrived,
so we decided to welcome all the groups on their arrival at Symphony Hall and answer
any questions that they might have. Musicians from the orchestra also joined the
Ambassadors groups in the interval, enabling guests to ask questions about life in an
orchestra, or the music that they had just heard. It helps if you can find musicians who
don’t mind being asked what their day job is and whether they play the violin in the first
half and percussion in the next! However, it has the great advantage of making the guests
feel special and giving them a musician to look out for on the stage after the interval.
Another barrier to first-time attendance is the fear of unknown music being performed.
There is a high perceived risk of attending if people do not know what any of the pieces
sound like and whether they will enjoy them. The medium of print isn’t much help, as
sound cannot be conveyed through a brochure.
We therefore selected a series of concerts throughout the CBSO’s main season that we
thought were suitable for first-timers. They contained music that had a lot to watch as
well as to listen to, with big brass and percussion sections. We also tried to choose
programmes that included repertoire that the Ambassadors’ guests might recognise from
other sources and at the approachable end of classical music.
Ongoing monitoring and evaluation
Although we felt that we had solved many of the barriers to first-time attendance, we
realised that our biggest source of information about the evening was from the attenders
themselves and so the day after the concert, I phoned each of the Ambassadors and
talked to them about how they felt the evening had gone, and what was done well and
what could be done better.
We also felt that it was important to follow up all the guests. On the booking form we
had included a space for the Ambassador to complete the name and address of each of
their guests which we checked against our database to ensure that they were truly first-
timers. The day after the concert, each of the guests was sent a personalised letter
thanking them for attending and enclosing a discount pass. This entitled them to 20% off
any tickets for CBSO concerts until the end of December 2000 for them and one other
Results of the scheme
The initial mailing about the scheme and the introductory evening went out to around
2000 Society member and patron households. The response wasn’t overwhelming in that
23 households accepted the invitation to the evening, while 28 households replied saying
they couldn’t come to the evening, but they were interested in receiving more
information about the scheme. As a result of the evening, and Jessica’s follow-up phone
calls to those who had expressed an interest, 20 Ambassadors were recruited in total, i.e.
1% of all those who were mailed. Only six of those 20 had actually come to the
The groups which these Ambassadors brought comprised personal friends, groups of
neighbours, groups of work colleagues, church groups, and groups made up from
members of societies and clubs. The majority came from outside the centre of
Birmingham and many of the groups from further afield arranged their own group
transport such as a minibus or coach, suggesting that the public transport infrastructure
is a barrier to attendance. Many of the attenders had known about the orchestra and the
hall and had been ‘meaning to attend’ for years, but just hadn’t got round to it.
There were ten concerts which were recommended in the Ambassador pack as being
particularly suitable for first-timers and for which we had seats on reserve for
Ambassador groups. All the concerts attracted Ambassador groups, suggesting that we’d
chosen concerts for first-timers reasonably well, and on average there were about three
groups in each night. In the main Ambassadors just brought one group, but three
brought two groups, one brought three groups and one excelled by bringing four groups.
The number of guests we had in on each night ranged from 11 (with just one group) to
117 (several groups).
We had asked Ambassadors to get together a group of at least ten new attenders, as we
had wanted to make sure that they had really ‘earned’ their free ticket! Perhaps had the
size of the group been set at a lower level, say six, the interest from the initial mailing
might have been higher. However, for those who did become Ambassadors it seems that
we could have set the group size at a higher level in that the average party size was 17.9
The aim of the pilot scheme was to bring in 500 new attenders to CBSO concerts, and
when we hit the sum button on the spreadsheet of bookings we did a double-take, as the
28 groups which the Ambassadors brought contained exactly 500 guests in total.
Unfortunately, there’s more to it than that because not all of these people were new
attenders. Some Ambassadors had expressed concerns about being able to find groups
that were made up entirely of people who had not attended in the past three years. We
had allowed them to include more recent attenders but these people only received the
normal group booking discount of 20% as opposed to the 25% that was offered under
the scheme. When the Ambassadors were making their bookings with us we were told
that 32 of the 500 tickets were sold to people who had attended more recently than three
When we added the names and addresses of Ambassadors’ guests to our database, we
found that we already held the names of 30 of the 247 guest groups. As the vast majority
of the Ambassadors’ guests attended in pairs, this would equate to roughly 60 attenders
who already attended CBSO concerts. Either some of the Ambassadors had not told us
of their ‘not entirely new’ attenders, or mistakes were made when Ambassadors were
vetting their groups. Or perhaps people couldn’t always recall accurately the last time
they came to a CBSO concert. In fairness, we know that there is a considerable amount
of confusion by the public between the CBSO and Symphony Hall.
Even taking into account these 60 people who were already attending, we can confidently
say that the scheme brought 440 totally new attenders to a CBSO concert, and it would
also be fair to say that in the main the frequency of attendance of the other 60 people
had been increased.
Financially those 500 tickets put us £6,639.50 gross nearer to being in the black (although
this doesn’t take into account the costs of the scheme), and the ticket yield for those
tickets was £13.28 – around £1 less than our overall ticket yield last season, because of
the discount they received. The stalls turned out to be by far the most popular area; 251
of the tickets were for stalls seats.
The discount cards, which all the Ambassadors’ guests were sent the day after they
attended the concert, were valid for performances until Christmas this year. They entitle
the user to a 20% discount on up to two tickets per performance. So far the bookings on
this card have not been terribly encouraging, either in volume of tickets sold under the
cards or in the number of people who have used them. Box office records show that 13
people have used the cards so far. However, only six of these appeared to be
Ambassador guests, the implication being that the box office staff have not been strict in
comparing the names on the cards with those who are booking. They seem to have been
passed onto people who the new attenders knew would make good use of them –
including one subscriber and two society members. Also only three of these six who were
Ambassador guests were actually among the 440 new attenders, the other three being
among the 60 who had come before.
These bookings on the discount cards accounted for 45 tickets valued at a total of £716.
However, the good news is that we do already know that many groups will be revisiting
next season, containing many of the same people next year. Therefore, it seems that the
leap from group attender where the concert is chosen for them and the booking sorted
out for them to booking off their own back is too large for these cards to be a big
enough incentive to be effective immediately after the first attendance.
Evaluation of the Ambassadors scheme
There were aspects of the scheme that did not work as well as we might have hoped and
which we have learnt from for the future. Many of the problems with the scheme were
due to logistics and administration and detailed below are some of the lessons we have
Try to predict ticket demand in advance
First, try to predict ticket demand well in advance. Because we did not receive
confirmation of the New Audiences funding until after booking for the main season had
opened, and because the CBSO has such a strong subscription base, it was difficult to
hold off the required seats for Ambassadors in all the selected areas, resulting in some
groups being split throughout Symphony Hall.
The introductory evening was not necessary
Second, you may find that the introductory evening is not necessary. It was interesting
that most of the people who attended that night did not end up as the Ambassadors,
suggesting that we didn’t need to launch the scheme with an introductory evening and
that the pack of introductory information was sufficient.
We misjudged the type of people who would attend the introductory evening, thinking
they were likely to be people with little experience of schemes like this, who would need
more information and would be seeking reassurance that this was something that they
both wanted, and were able, to do. However, most of the people who attended were
committee members of various voluntary organisations who had regular experience of
organising events and trips, so they were not interested in our presentations on how to
recruit new attenders, as they already had a great deal of experience. They were much
more interested in the benefits of the scheme, asking many detailed questions about its
future and presenting many different scenarios. In several cases we just had to say that
we would discuss their group’s requirements on an individual basis.
Furthermore, as they were part of structured organisations, many had regular newsletters,
which meant that they required a much greater lead-in time for the concerts to meet the
newsletter deadlines. Many of them wanted to organise groups for the following CBSO
season, starting in September 2000; but the funding from the Arts Council finished in
We also found that because of the structure of their various organisations, the events that
they usually organised took very definite formats, and they were all very keen to mould
our scheme to that pattern. Despite wanting to be as helpful and flexible as possible, we
had developed a scheme with a certain structure and needed to maintain it.
The Ambassadors mainly organised groups from their work or local community rather
than from national organisations such as the Rotary Clubs. The overwhelming reason
that the Ambassadors undertook the scheme was a lack of adequate transport from their
areas. The majority of their guests were intenders who needed the practical barriers
removed before becoming attenders. By presenting the guests with a complete package
which removed the inconvenience of choosing a concert, booking tickets and making
their way into Birmingham, combined with the safety and social aspects of attending in a
group, they were keen to give the CBSO a try.
Although the Ambassadors were prepared to spend a great deal of time organising their
groups, some of them were concerned by the financial risk involved in organising
transport. They felt that the CBSO should offer marketing assistance where necessary to
help them fill remaining coach places. We suggested that they could divide the coach
costs between more realistic numbers of guests and that any profit generated by
increased numbers could either go to the Ambassador, be donated to the CBSO or spent
on local advertising to increase group numbers further.
Difficulties with the hospitality facilities at the venue
We also faced some difficulties on the concert nights themselves. Symphony Hall relies
on the catering facilities provided by the NEC group and as the resident orchestra, the
CBSO is dependent on the NEC group as well. There are no hospitality rooms available
on the ground floor of the Hall, which was a problem as most of the Ambassadors’
groups were located in the stalls. We therefore needed to use a roped-off area in the
On several occasions, the catering staff decided that it was necessary to move the
designated Ambassadors area from one foyer to another. Although in all cases we
contacted the Ambassador in advance, in some cases some confusion arose as to where
they were supposed to meet and some of the guests got lost. We also had to rely on the
bar staff to prepare the pre-ordered drinks correctly. They managed this on most
occasions until they provided 20 coffees instead of 20 cups of tea one evening!
Relations with existing attenders
The enclosed area also unfortunately caused problems with some of our regular audience
members. We had ended up fencing off an area where they usually stood or sat in the
interval and they could see that these groups of people were getting special treatment.
Although on all occasions we explained to them what the scheme was about, and most
were supportive, we also realised that alienating some of our current supporters is not a
Because the Ambassadors area was in the public foyer we also had to be very vigilant
about looking after the coats, free programmes and refreshments which meant that the
concert evenings were quite hard work for the member of staff on duty. It also meant
that we were unable to hear the concert, which made it difficult to answer questions
about it in the interval.
Finally, we needed to think about our exit strategy earlier in the scheme. We had initially
thought that some of the Ambassadors’ guests might become the new Ambassadors of
the future. However, we realised very early on that this was too ambitious a goal and
decided to encourage the Ambassadors’ guests to return to the CBSO with a couple of
guests of their own and become regular attenders in that way.
However, as the results have shown, the take-up from the Ambassadors’ passes was not
high. We didn’t foresee it, but what the scheme actually established was that there is a
large potential market for group bookings from either groups of work colleagues located
near the city centre or from community or village groups from further afield. We
therefore adapted the initial exit strategy as we went along. We wanted to encourage the
Ambassadors and their guests to move over towards the group booking scheme, and
slowly remove the additional benefits until they became self-supporting groups in their
However, Ambassadors felt that the scheme had worked so well because of the whole
package offered. When asked which of the benefits they would be prepared to lose, they
were not happy to lose any. They also said that as the scheme continued, their groups
would consist of a mixture of previous guests and completely new attenders. They were
adamant that we should not divide the scheme into previous Ambassadors groups and
new ones, but that the benefits should be consistent.
Our overall feeling about the scheme is that it works and we will be continuing it next
season. We were a little apprehensive about trying to meet our targets when we only had
20 people who had volunteered to become Ambassadors at the outset, but we realised as
we ran the scheme that actually it’s the quality of the people you recruit rather than the
quantity that matters, and all 20 Ambassadors worked hard in bringing in their groups.
Even though we were outsourcing a lot of the work of bringing in new attenders to the
Ambassadors themselves, it is still a fairly labour-intensive scheme to run. Once the
Ambassadors have been recruited, it doesn’t stop there: they still need servicing and
support from the office, and making arrangements with the box office over reservations
and bookings, and also arranging the concert nights and follow-up after the concerts is
quite time consuming. Our motto for future schemes would have to be ‘keep it simple’.
We would like these new audience members to stand on their own two feet fairly quickly,
and offering them so much may not be the answer.
Another lesson that we learnt was how important it was to have a dedicated member of
staff looking after the scheme, and this was an aspect that worked very well. It is very
important that the Ambassador trusts the contact at your organisation, as by bringing
their friends or colleagues to your performance they are taking a risk that their friends
might not enjoy themselves, and this is magnified by the fact that their friends are paying
for their tickets, albeit at a discounted rate. They need to feel able to discuss the event
and the programme with you to establish whether it will suit their party. A good
relationship with the Ambassadors also helps in monitoring the scheme and protecting it
from abuse. Unfortunately, we did have one Ambassador who took advantage of the
scheme to bring people who were not new attenders. It is essential that the list of guests
is constantly checked against your box office data to prevent this happening.
Despite some slight hitches, the scheme was a success. To gain 440 completely new
paying attenders for CBSO concerts and to encourage another 60 to increase their
frequency of attendance is no mean feat. We will obviously have to see how many return
in the future, but we intend to build on these foundations, and by recognising these
barriers to attendance, will be able to continue to break them down.
It’s also important not to view the scheme as an answer to all our audience development
• As we’ve used our current supporters to recruit new supporters, in the main we have
ended up with new attenders who are similar to our current audiences.
• It hasn’t addressed issues such as ethnic diversity (although if Ambassadors were
recruited specifically to do this, the scheme, with some adaptation, might be capable
of addressing that).
However, the scheme does promote access and it has tackled certain social exclusion
factors such as isolation due to lack of public transport. The Ambassadors are also keen
for us to introduce a further discount under the scheme for young people, and that is
something we are intending to implement for our next season.
Perhaps the most surprising outcome of the scheme is that it seems we have (quite
undeliberately) developed our group market, more so than the original intention of
developing advocates for the CBSO and classical music. Only one Ambassador I have
talked to actually seemed to be proactively trying to persuade/convert people who
weren’t already ‘intenders’ with regard to classical music concerts.
The process of managing change has become an accepted phenomenon in its own right, but has also been
accompanied by a growing mystique about the process of change together with the inevitable jargon.
Alasdair Cant demystified the topic and illustrated how we can influence change more effectively.
You may understand why your organisation should change, but the way you do this is
critical to eventual success or failure. After this conference, your motivation to change
things is likely to be high – not least because you have been through an intensive learning
experience. You have had an opportunity to hear new concepts, to reflect on them,
discuss and test out ideas before returning to the workplace. Other colleagues have not
have had this opportunity and that is where your approach to managing the change needs
to be carefully thought through. Imposing change is rarely successful, irrespective of your
seniority, soundness of thinking, charisma and so on. Instead, we must facilitate change
and the first step is to have a clear understanding of the main phases of organisational
and individual change.
Is the change incremental or fundamental? There are likely to be many incremental
changes as a result of the conference, but anticipating the effects of fundamental change,
and responding to them, is critical. When responsible for fundamental changes, Jane
Austen helps us with some overall principles:
• Pride: Don’t try to go it alone, or see this as your own project. Involving others is an
important key to ultimate success, but does require letting go at times.
• Prejudice: Watch out for assumptions that can include some to the exclusion of others.
Usually any fundamental change will have to involve everyone in some way.
• Sense: There is no mystique about successful change management. Much of it is
practical good sense with plans clearly thought out in advance
• Sensibility: Change can be painful as individuals may experience a range of emotions as
the process moves forward. Sensitivity to this does not lessen your resolve to bring
about change, but should have a positive effect on the outcome.
The phases in organisational change
A number of phases become apparent, when change is being proposed, and it’s
important to have a response:
Denial – Business as usual, apathy, won’t actually happen, what’s it to do with me?
Possible response – Be gentle but direct. Communicate urgency of engaging with changes,
by putting across benefits and costs of not embracing them. Listen actively, then respond
with specific examples of how this is different from past experiences.
Resistance – Anger, blame, anxiety
Possible response – Allow space for feelings to be vented. Listen actively, but try to
discourage personal animosities being indulged. Keep to facts, responding to fears by
correcting any misapprehensions. Don’t expect dramatic conversion to your point of
view, but try to engage them in a discussion of the actual issues as it affects them and will
affect them in the future.
Exploration – Over-preparation, confusion, frustration
Possible response – Acknowledge positive attempts to engage with change and the
complexities involved. Try to assist in stepping back from the detail to see the big
picture/vision. Encourage step-by-step methodical planning. Try to make links with
others in organisations that are also progressing the change.
Commitment – Fully engaged, functional team work, goal setting
Possible response – Acknowledge progress made, show gratitude, make links with others in
organisations still struggling with the change, get feedback about what has worked and
where improvements could be made in facing similar changes in the future.
As with project management, there are an infinite number of variables that could affect
your change programme. Hence, flexibility of approach is critical, but keeping a few
principles of good practice in mind such as the EASIER approach as outlined in D.
Hussey’s How to Manage Organisational Change should be helpful:
• Envision – Convey a clear picture of the vision/main ideas. Be explicit about the
potential benefits and enthusiastic in communicating these.
• Activate – Think ahead about who the potential ‘agents’ of change might be. These
are not necessarily those in senior positions, but rather those on whom you can rely
to help in setting the change process in train. Remember to include rather than
exclude and beware of your own prejudices.
• Support – Try to strike the right balance between trusting others by letting go of
specific tasks and yet to give practical support where needed.
• Implement – This is the detail stage, once support for the change project has been
largely won and there is sufficient energy for change. Everyone relevant should be
involved in some way in assisting with these details, such as budgets, human
resources, printing new literature and so on.
• Ensure – Follow up to check on progress, revisit targets. Don’t just assume that
because it has been agreed that it will be done.
• Recognise – Acknowledge progress, in public if appropriate, and celebrate success
Seven phases of individual change
An understanding of how to influence others requires a good awareness of the way that
change can affect people’ s morale. While there may be exceptional circumstances where
change has to be imposed, irrespective of hurting feelings, this should be a measure of
There are seven stages of individual change:
Numbness → Denial →Depression → Acceptance of reality –→Testing →Search for
Individuals do not necessarily follow through each of these stages, but where change is
fundamental it is likely you will encounter some of them. Adapting your style accordingly
will greatly benefit individuals involved and the actual programme of change. An
individual’s morale is likely to be at the lowest in the depression and acceptance of reality
stages, but starts to climb thereafter. Anyone trying to drive through a programme of
change who ignores these is likely to increase resistance.
Bringing about change requires ability to influence. You do not have to be in a position
of power to do this. Careful planning will make all the difference. Think about what you
are going to say, how you are going to say it, where/when you choose to say it and for
whom is it intended.
Some final thoughts
1. Be patient – organisational change is most effective when it is a shared experience,
not something that is hurriedly put in place by one or two individuals.
2. Good communication is vital, not least to keep misinformation and rumours at bay.
Wherever possible, try to communicate one to one.
3. Don’t forget the psychological contract. Sometimes the most precious aspects of
your colleagues’ jobs are the unwritten ones. Proposed changes may threaten these
and you could be totally unaware of this.
4. As there may be many unknown factors and variables, if possible try some of the
proposed changes on a small scale first.
5. Don’t get isolated – ask for assistance and advice when you need it. This can
sometimes be from someone with similar experiences outside your organisation.
6. Be open to new ideas about dealing with change. These can come from surprising
Some further reading
R. Heller (1998) Managing Change, Dorling Kindersley
W. Holland (2000) Change is the Rule, Dearborn Publications
D.E. Hussey (2000) How to Manage Organisational Change, Kogan Page
WHAT ARE BARRIERS, AND WHERE DO THEY COME FROM?
Stephen Cashman looked at a wide range of barriers to arts involvement, and concluded that both
organisational and social change is needed to break them down.
There are six propositions upon which the following observations about barriers to
involvement in the arts rest:
• Barriers that have real consequences can be identified.
• Some barriers come from inside our organisations and a prevailing culture of
(inadvertent) ‘institutional elitism’.
• Some approaches to marketing the arts risk compounding the problem.
• Social inclusion activity is not the same as social exclusion work – the nature of a
barrier depends upon how and where we look from.
• Organisations must start changing by changing their mind(set)s.
• A lot of audience development may prove futile unless we work to change society
With all of that in mind, we should start by investigating and categorising the nature of
generic barriers. They may be physical, social or linguistic. They may be created through
organisational processes, attitudes and behaviours, or stem from customer attitudes. They
can be psychological, informational, economic or temporal. Certain barriers – physical,
social, psychological, economic and attitudinal – are exogenous, external to the arts
organisation; but most of the others are endogenous – having an internal cause or origin.
This leads to an important question. Is marketing part of the problem (as well as part of
the solution)? Does it create barriers? Systematic, scientific, targeted marketing seems to
allow an approach to attracting users that is analytical, rational and effective. But it also
risks losing sight of our multiple objectives. Effectiveness implies a process of
reductionism, so more precise targeting implies greater potential exclusion, unless similar
processes are used to seek out, reach and persuade the non-usual suspects. Furthermore,
when we start to talk about social inclusion and exclusion, are we guilty of blurred
terminology? Social inclusion activity is about working to pull people to what we already
do – and is within our capability; but social exclusion activity is about changing and using
our work to address the causes and consequences of social exclusion.
They might not lovely
think like us but if I
can just persuade
them it’s good for Middle class
them. Even if they Middle aged
do wear smelly Middle
I come in?
Am I wearing
the right clothes?
I don’t know
how to behave
Organisational culture is an important factor in determining whether an organisation is
socially inclusive. Culture is about the organisation’s shared values – the things people
believe and assume, and the mental models they use to make sense of the world. In short,
‘the way we do things around here’. Culture is learned. It’s determined by the
organisation’s history; it’s partly subconscious; and it’s heterogeneous. It is also evident
through the symbols we use, and the group behaviours that take place. These are the
overt, outward signs of organisational culture. But hidden beneath them are underlying
beliefs and assumptions, and ‘the way we see things is determined by what we know or
what we believe’ (John Berger, 1984). The mental models we create of people are active –
they shape how we act because they affect what we see. These mental models can be
simple generalisations such as ‘people are untrustworthy’, or they can be complex
theories. But they tend to be internally consistent, and stable – resistant to change. They
are simplifications of the real world, and stories that run through our minds that
determine how we act.
So perhaps it’s time for change. In fact, to retain relevance to the communities we serve,
arts organisations need to change – or they will die. We need to change the way we
behave and what we assume – in other words, our culture and mental models.
There are different levels of organisational change that can be implemented:
• Developmental change – improving current activities.
• Transitional change – replacing old activity with new.
• Transformational change – changing beliefs and making a leap of faith.
Engendering culture change requires an awareness of a vision for the organisation. Know
what you want, know where you are, and then align everything with the vision: change
behaviours, systems and attitudes, track progress, work with what works and learn from
and discard what doesn’t. To set about changing culture and mental models, you must
first expose and challenge the paradigm – the way things are done. Powerful advocacy is
required to activate and legitimise dissent.
Even when we’ve changed our organisations’ cultures, some exogenous barriers will
remain. Removing the barriers these lead to can’t just be done through audience
development or marketing. It needs social change. And this is where social exclusion
activity kicks in . . .
Michael Ballé (1994) Managing with Systems Thinking, Maidenhead: McGraw Hill
John Berger (1984) Ways of Seeing, London: BBC/Pelican
David Firth (1999) Smart Things to Know About Change, Oxford: Capstone Publishing
Mike Hudson (1999) Managing without Profit, London: Penguin
Gerry Johnson (1987) Strategic Change and the Management Process, Oxford: Blackwell
Gerry Johnson (1992) ‘Managing strategic change: strategy, culture and action’ in Long
Range Planning, vol. 25, no.1 (February)
Michael Lissack and Johan Roos (1999) The Next Common Sense: Mastering Corporate
Complexity Through Coherence, London: Nicholas Brealey
Peter Senge (1990) The Fifth Discipline: The Arts and Practice of the Learning Organisation,
London: Century Business
DEVELOPING A CULTURALLY DIVERSE AUDIENCE
Philly Desai, George Matheson and Ron McAllister
Philly Desai reported the findings of a qualitative research project funded by the Arts Council of England
which examined ethnic minority attitudes to the arts.
The objective of the research was to understand more about the attitudes to and arts
experiences of ethnic minority audiences. The triggers and barriers to attendance were
investigated, with a view to identifying audience development strategies. The
methodology used was qualitative, involving focus groups.
Definitions of arts
Asked to define the arts, the mainstream art forms were found to be top of mind for
these audiences. Various Black, Asian and Chinese arts were also mentioned, although
these were not always seen as ‘arts’ – more as ‘cultural and social’ activity. Occasionally
activities like night-clubbing, deejaying and dancing to music were also defined as ‘arts’.
Attitudes to mainstream arts
Participants in the research could be classified in three groups in terms of their attitudes
to the arts: enthusiasts, experimenters and avoiders. The predominant image held of arts
attenders was of white middle/upper-class people aged over 35, intellectual and ‘arty’,
speaking in ‘posh accents’ and dressed in dinner jackets, ball gowns or suits. There were
reports of negative experiences and expectations – parallels drawn with ‘a Dalmatian with
five black spots’, and recollections of feeling ‘why am I seeing this?’ and ‘sitting there
miserably’ thinking ‘it’s just a load of noise, innit?’ One person said, ‘I tried to like it, but
it is boring’. Factors found to influence attendance included personal recommendation,
special occasions and local publicity; and most favoured were events that are relevant,
familiar and participatory.
Attitudes to Black, Asian and Chinese Arts
Attitudes to mainstream arts and to Black, Asian and Chinese Arts do not correlate,
suggesting that ethnic minority audiences are not alienated from arts per se, rather from a
particular version of ‘the arts’. There is clear demand for a range of arts activities and a
creative energy exists.
Black, Asian and Chinese Arts are seen as providing cultural continuity, and create pride
and ownership in the communities. They are felt to relate to ‘our experience’, and
provide deeper satisfactions and a safe space for self-criticism.
Community-based events are favoured, including religious and cultural festivals which
engender feelings of participation and belonging. Social events, at which the arts are part
of a wider social experience and enable active participation, are seen as blurring the line
between performer and audience. Formal arts events are often organised by private
promoters. They tend to feature classical artists, film stars or singers, comedians and
musicians, and dramas. The younger generation is into British Black/Asian dramas, and
Black musical cultures.
There is a need to raise awareness of the mainstream arts, and to shift imagery associated
with it. Programming has to be considered, with changes to the product and the context;
and opportunities should be created to develop the audience’s understanding and allow
for interaction. To develop Black, Asian and Chinese Arts, it is important to develop
local talent and make links with community organisations. Resources and marketing
back-up should be provided, and help given to support mainstream programming as well
as develop new product.
George Matheson and Ron McAllister explained how the Hudawi Cultural Centre and Lawrence
Batley Theatre have been seeking to break down the barriers that prevent culturally diverse groups
attending both venues.
The Hudawi Cultural Centre and Lawrence Batley Theatre have been involved in a
partnership which aims to overcome barriers to African Caribbean audiences attending
both venues. The two organisations have a shared marketplace. Huddersfield, Leeds,
Bradford and Sheffield are all within easy reach, and Black audiences are known to attend
a wide range of events, and will travel if they are keen to see the event. The total Black
population in a 30-minute drive time is nearly 23,000.
A report into the potential of the venues’ marketplace recommended a sub-regional
approach to extend the catchment area. It suggested the development of closer
relationships between venues and existing attenders to increase loyalty and frequency of
attendance and to develop crossover attendance. It also recommended communicating
the features of the venues, and communicating a strong promoter identity for the
Hudawi, using local Black promoters. Endorsement of the venues and usage by Black
attenders should be communicated through visual image and text.
Following these recommendations, the partnership started to experiment with a wide
range of promotions, including companies of excellence, issue-based work, comedy and
participatory work. The organisations appointed a dedicated marketing assistant for the
partnership, and regular meetings of the partnership, involving key community and
outreach personnel, were set up. A piece of print capturing the mood of the events and
venues was produced; data collection was improved; and regular youth arts workshops
were set up.
The joint promotions in the first and second phases for the project produced promising
Sakoba Dance 144 / 39%
Who Sen’ Me 71 / 50%
Othello 1340 / 50%
Russell Peters, supported by Felicity Ethnic and Rudi Lickwood 363 / 87%
Spirit of Carnival project 30 participants + 62 / 35% (box office + invited guests)
In Defence of Jezebel 178 / 52%
Makinde (Tiata Fahodzi) 435 / 54%
Several principles are important for working together in the future. A strategic approach
to partnership is key, including an effective Community Outreach strategy and joint
programming. We will strengthen regional links, and take a long-term approach to
planning, including a three-year funded post. It is essential that we learn from our
mistakes, but are not afraid to experiment. And we will build trust in the partnership, by
believing it can work.
USING MONITORING AND EVALUATION TO IMPROVE PRACTICE
Mark Dobson and Tracy Cochrane
Case study 1: a project involving Northern Ballet Theatre (NBT) and Leeds Grand Theatre. The aim
of this project was to attract new attenders to NBT performances in Leeds. Well planned, monitoring
and evaluation was built in at every stage, right from the start, says Tracy Cochrane.
Leeds Grand Theatre is a 1,500-seat receiving venue, with a beautiful, traditional
auditorium for musicals, comedy and music, and dance, particularly ballet. It is also home
to Opera North. NBT is one of the country’s leading, large-scale touring companies. It
tours nationally six months a year, and is based in Leeds. The company visits The Grand
two or three times a year, and the Alhambra in Bradford (ten miles away) once a year.
Ballet in the Park is a large free NBT performance, funded and promoted by Leeds
Leisure Services (LSS), which takes place in a tent in Leeds every year. It is one of a
number of free LLS events, which include Opera in the Park, Party in the Park and
Classical Fantasia. LLS see these events as an end in themselves – meeting social
objectives, and part of their provision for the community. They don’t see the
performance as a first step in encouraging people to more involvement with the arts.
This was frustrating. Ballet in the Park seemed to offer a real opportunity for audience
development, but one we’d never managed to capitalise on.
There is a big demand for tickets – 4,000 are available, limited to two for each applicant.
In 1998 LLS, for the first time, asked ticket applicants to complete a short questionnaire
when applying for tickets. They gathered name and address details, and previous
attendance at NBT, theatres in Leeds and other arts and leisure events. LLS wanted to
know who was attending – were they achieving their social objectives? Also, they asked if
people would like to receive details of future events and offers. This information was
seized enthusiastically by NBT and West Yorkshire Arts Marketing (WYAM). So we had
a pool of 2,000 ticket applicants to do something with when NBT received New
Audiences funding for a project.
A project was conceived in which WYAM were to act as project managers and hands-on
deliverers of the project. NBT marketing department and The Grand were to manage the
marketing, box office and front-of-house activity. There were three specific aims:
• To target people who had not seen NBT in a theatre in the previous 12 months and
to encourage them to attend a performance.
• To target types of people not known for their ballet attendance and to research
potential barriers to attendance among these groups.
• To feed into a regional overview of audiences for ballet, through the use of
WYAM, NBT and The Grand were keen to see what the market potential was, hoping to
bring in new attenders, keen to start looking at access issues. WYAM was also keen to
pilot a methodology that could be rolled out on other projects.
A five-phase process
Broadly, there were five phases to the project:
1. The data collected by Leeds Leisure Services were analysed and profiled using MOSAIC
We wanted to know whether the Ballet in the Park attenders were NBT’s regular, core
audience, or whether the event attracted a totally new group of people who never crossed
over to see them in theatre. Initial analysis of the LSS data was encouraging: only 14%
had seen NBT perform in a theatre in the previous 12 months and about half had neither
seen NBT nor been to the Grand in the previous year, which suggested a pool of people
with good potential, but we still knew very little about who they were. The first problem
was duplicate names and addresses! The policy of limiting applicants to two tickets was
clearly not working, and we had to removed a lot of duplicates by hand, leaving only 500
people to work with. Using the MOSAIC lifestyle profiling software package, which
categorises individuals and households into 12 ‘groups’ and 52 ‘types’, we profiled NBT
attenders at The Grand, and compared them with the Ballet in the Park attenders.
Analysis showed broad similarities (same types of people, though not necessarily the
same people), but fewer high income families and country dwellers attended Ballet in the
Park and more low-rise council flat dwellers attend the Park. This suggests that the same
types of people go to Ballet in the Park as go to theatre, but many of them don’t actually
cross over to the theatre. Also, Ballet in the Park is a good access point for lower income
groups, who do not generally attend theatre and ballet.
2. A series of direct mail campaigns, coupled with a Test Drive promotion, were used to invite new
attenders to an NBT performance at the Grand
Working only with the people who hadn’t seen NBT in theatre before or visited The
Grand in the last year, we divided the pool of people into three groups, according to
MOSAIC code. Three different campaigns took place around the June 1999
performances of ‘Dracula’, structured to enable monitoring of take-up. One of the
campaigns included non-dominant types of ballet attender and included lower income
groups. This group was sent a Test Drive letter and offered pair of free tickets.
3. Research was conducted and the results evaluated
All rated enjoyment as good or excellent and 89% said they would consider coming
again: the remaining 11% said no or possibly – giving reasons relating to cost. Regarding
the data, we thought we were mailing people who hadn’t been to NBT or The Grand in
the last year, but 31% had seen NBT in theatre before and a minority were frequent
attenders; 86% had visited The Grand before. Nevertheless, for around 70% it was their
first experience of NBT in a theatre.
4. A follow-up campaign with further offers was run
These were integral to the overall project, as Test Drive is an ongoing and long-term
process. The campaigns took place around NBT’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ at The Grand in
November 1999. The people who had been included in the Test Drive were divided into
two groups on the basis of information given in feedback questionnaires. Test Drivers
for whom ‘Dracula’ was their first experience of NBT in a theatre were sent an offer of
up to four tickets at £5 each. The offer was made on the assumption that new attenders
to an art form often have friends who have not attended before, and this is a way of
spreading the initial impact of Test Drive. Seventeen people took up the offer (68
attenders) – a 68% response. The remaining Test Drivers (who had seen NBT in theatre
before) were sent an offer of two tickets for £5 each. Twenty-eight people took up the
offer (56 attenders) – 46% response.
5. Qualitative telephone research was conducted with the Test Drive attenders who hadn’t responded to
the follow-up offer
Telephone research was conducted to explore reactions to the offer and potential
barriers to attendance. We’d got them this far – was it just price? This element of the
research was planned from the start, as on the questionnaire we asked if people were
prepared to help with further research. People were generally positive about being
contacted, and the phone call acted as a prompt for some of them to book. Feedback on
NBT was very positive, although some had had difficulty getting through by phone to
The Grand’s box office. Others cited cost of tickets as a factor. This appears to be the
only real barrier, although it may be a smokescreen for other factors. All were interested
in receiving future information and offers. Yet again, there were data issues though.
Some people had not received the offer letter, and other discrepancies had crept in too.
Final evaluation – was the project a success, and what did we learn?
Our objectives were fulfilled: well over 200 people responded to an offer, many of them
new attenders, and lots of goodwill was created. Test Drivers are continuing to be
followed up and are continuing to attend. We have learnt more about MOSAIC – and
are still learning about its most effective uses.
In terms of pricing, the project produced evidence that this is an issue for some, despite
concession structures. The evidence has fed into a wider debate about access funding to
enable organisations to offer sustainable pricing policies that are accessible to broader
sectors of community.
The numbers of new attenders are one measure of success, but equally valuable were
testing methodology and the knowledge gained, which will inform future work. We have
a clear picture of what worked, what didn’t, why not, and what we’d do differently. The
structure of the project meant we were able to identify problems and issues as they arose.
We learnt a huge amount, but we were we disappointed – it was a very frustrating
project. The quality of the data was a major problem. It is so basic, but such a significant
issue – duplicates, accuracy of information, out of date by the time we got it. The success
of a project is dictated by the quality of the list, not the quality of the product or
creativity of the offer. Also, there were small numbers on some elements of the
campaign, so it’s hard to draw statistically reliable conclusions. Finally, there were shared
objectives and close partnership between WYAM, NBT and The Grand; but LLS had
different objectives. It has not collected data since then, and is unwilling to let anyone
else do it.
Despite this, Ballet in the Park offers potential for audience development, and we hope
to run a future project.
Case study 2: Mark Dobson described a project in which a Northern Stage tour of ‘A Clockwork
Orange’ was extended to MacRobert Arts Centre, Stirling, to attract young non-attenders; and new
audiences at Sunderland Empire were encouraged through a nightclub promotion.
A marketing campaign and interactive workshop were used to promote ‘A Clockwork
Orange’ in Stirling. Another campaign took place in Sunderland, drawing people to
Sunderland Empire from nightclubs in the town via a live performance event inspired by
the production, and devised by Creative Arts students with Northern Stage.
MacRobert Arts Centre, Stirling
The project had three objectives:
1. To build on the tour to include cross-border visits to a Scottish venue
The tour was extended to include a revisit to the MacRobert to continue our close
working relations with this Scottish venue. The company played five performances
and hosted one Malchicks interactive workshop. The response from the venue about
the production and the audience development work was very positive. The
MacRobert Arts Centre said, ‘It brought in large numbers of our target audience and
greatly assisted our attempts to encourage young people to use the MacRobert. The
feedback from our audience and in particular teachers has been incredibly positive.’
2. To build on the relationship with MacRobert staff and their audiences
Staff from the MacRobert visited Newcastle to see the production one month in
advance of its tour to Scotland. Northern Stage staff visited Stirling twice to plan,
devise and monitor new audience campaigns targeting non-traditional young
attenders and film attenders to the production. ‘This show was brilliant in every
artistic way. It pounded at the mind from the moment it started and the audience en
masse was left breathless and deeply moved at both the interval and after the applause
at the end,’ said a Scottish Arts Council independent adviser.
3. To provide a free Malchicks for 100 people in advance of the show
The Malchicks was delivered to 80 young people mainly drawn from performing arts
courses. Evaluation forms were issued to each participant and the feedback from the
students and their lecturers was positive.
The targets for the project were to attract 300 new attenders and to get 100 film
attenders to cross over into live performance:
• Target audience group 1: 300 young attenders aged 16–24 years
Specially tailored print was distributed by hit squads on campus and in the town with
ticket prices at £3.50. This returned an audience of 686 (46.2% of the total audience).
• Target audience group 2: 100 film attenders to cross over to live performance
A specially devised direct mail to established film attenders, identifying links to
theatre production, returned 104 bookings.
What did we learn?
• It is important to dedicate time to collaborate on marketing ideas based on
knowledge of the product and understanding of the market.
• The Malchicks could have been attended by a greater and more diverse number if
there had been more lead time for the company to work with schools and to engage
with community groups.
• The large take-up of the target audience reduced the overall ticket yield to £3.66, the
lowest on the tour (the highest was £8.30).
• The MacRobert staff have tracked the new audience and many have returned to see
films and to use the facility generally.
Sunderland Empire Theatre
The project aimed to create a performance for 2,500 clubbers; to attract 300 of them to
the Empire Theatre; and in total to attract 1,000 new attenders to the Empire Theatre. It
had six broad objectives:
1. To build on the developing relationship with the City and the people of Sunderland
The project was a discrete but integral component of the wide-ranging activity, which
made up the Sunderland residency supported by various partners.
2. To devise a brand new art form project
‘Hammered’ was created and performed by performing arts university students as a
bold, new, interactive live intervention. It complemented their course work and
enhanced performance skills.
3. To present work in an innovative context
‘Hammered’ was presented at the Palace Nightclub which had never previously
hosted live performance work, and was observed by over 2,500 clubbers.
4. To reach people from a range of social and economic backgrounds
‘Hammered’ was observed (participated in!) by 2,500 clubbers and the production at
the Empire was seen by 1,682 new customers (82% of total audience). The vouchers
redeemed from the nightclub promotional event totalled 45 attenders. At least 56%
of the audience was under the age of 25 – and a large proportion of top-price ticket
purchases were young people.
5. To pilot specific audience initiatives to attract first-time attenders
Specialised print with price incentives was distributed by a hit squad on the streets,
on campus, in bars and nightclubs.
6. To monitor and evaluate the effect of the project as a model to be replicated
The Empire staff have monitored continuing activity of new attenders and to date
10% of the total bookers have rebooked for other events, mainly comedy and live
music. The project is regarded as a model of practice within the profession. It is
highlighted in the TMA Annual Report; it is included as a case study in marketing
and new audience seminars; and it was presented at the TMA Annual Conference in
What did we learn?
• New audiences can be attracted to theatres if the product and promotional campaign
is matched and the company has the time and resources to commit to make
relationships with people over a range of activities.
• Northern Stage’s visit to the Empire was a culmination of a six-month residency in
which we contacted local youth and community groups, secondary schools, university
students and the public – the range of activities enabled us to engage with more
diverse contacts and to attract new attenders to the show.
• To challenge the assumption that all clubbers are young and a target for hard-hitting
contemporary live theatre. We observed a mixed-age crowd and strong loyalty to
clubbing – an attitude that did not flexibly cross over to participating with other
• ‘Hammered’, created by the performing arts students, was a bold attempt at an
intervention made possible by the lead-up time and the strong relationship between
the creative team at Northern Stage and the lectures at the University.
• Few sites and public places were keen to host the performance intervention and the
Palace Nightclub took some persuading. They were, however, pleased with the
results and the contact with the company (staff went to see the show) and may be
more favourably disposed to such events in the future.
Thoughts on monitoring and evaluation
You can only monitor and evaluate if you build it into the project planning from the
start. The following ground rules are key:
1. Identify what success will look like – before you start.
2. Good project management is critical: identify someone to keep an eye on things.
3. Be honest about everything!
4. Pay attention to detail throughout.
5. Remember you have the right to fail, as long as you know why!
In practice, bear the following in mind:
• KISS – keep it simple, stupid! This is not rocket science. You are not changing the
• Set appropriate targets e.g. Stirling, young non-attenders, not pensioners!
• Achievability We thought it was realistic to play to 2,500 people in clubs in Sunderland
and to get 300 to the theatre.
• Monitorability We did think about how we would monitor this in advance, what
devices we would give out and who to and how the venues could capture
information – very different organisations, very different staff, so we made the
monitoring objectives simple. We didn’t try to get too flashy
• Organisational fit Building on existing relationships and thinking about the future.
Stirling had taken ‘Animal Farm’ previously; there is a long history of community
work in the City of Sunderland.
• Time scale We started work in August for performances in Stirling in October (too
late!) and for nightclub performances in Sunderland and performances at the Empire
Theatre at end of November.
• The right to fail Things change – and a lot changed here. We couldn’t find nightclubs
to work with (hadn’t done our homework in advance). The students panicked about
their performances in the clubs – working with volunteers (risky) almost didn’t
happen. Always write it down, so someone has a record of change – what it was,
when it happened and why it happened
You get better with practice, honest.
ROAR – UNDERSTANDING YOUNG CONSUMERS
Graham Fowles explained how ROAR, a youth research project conducted by a consortium which
includes the Guardian, has generated valuable results which have direct relevance to the arts.
ROAR is now in its fifth year. As a piece of research, it has allowed us to segment the
youth market – a far from homogenous group of consumers – and allowed us to identify
those sub-groups of most interest to individual businesses and advertisers. ROAR has
sought to go beyond standard demographics to gain a full understanding of the various
‘tribes’ that comprise the universe of 15–24 year olds. The Guardian has used ROAR to
guide our own marketing and product development – and consequently what we want to
take from the study in the future.
The Guardian and the market
In terms of overall readership, the Guardian does not dominate the quality press
marketplace, but it is always punching above its weight – the brand is in many ways
bigger than the product. It has dominance of a number of key topics editorially: we’d like
to think that we have the best arts coverage in the quality press and that our readers
specifically value us for that. But what we are not is the richest player in the quality press
– we do not have unlimited funds to plough into research – so when we spend money we
have to get the best possible value from it.
Guardian readers are ‘free thinkers’. They tend to be well educated, are likely to be in full-
time work, and are very well represented in the media industry, in education, in the arts
and in the public sector. And in terms of age, the vast majority of Guardian readers tend
to be aged between their mid-20s and their mid-50s: older readers are not our forte. So if
our typical readers are professionals in their 30s or 40s, why direct resources at
researching the 15–24-year-old market?
Changing media landscape
Understanding the youth market fulfils two objectives for us. Firstly, we gain an
understanding of our next generation of potential readers – even if in terms of revenue
they are not the most important group to us at present. Secondly, young people make
excellent technological barometers – they are the earliest adopters of new technology and
offer us a glimpse of the future.
Our traditional business – the provision of news – is under attack: 24 hours TV news and
the Internet deliver news far more immediately than a newspaper which is printed
overnight and distributed the following morning. Now people can have the headlines
delivered straight to their WAP phone or palm pilot at any time of the day – how people
choose to use these new technologies is of paramount importance to us as a newspaper.
Since we first surveyed the Internet on ROAR in 1996, it has proved a useful indicator of
the rate of growth we could expect in the larger population and the types of people most
likely to use or be excluded from it. As a consequence, newspapers have become more
feature led in content – and research can help to guide us to those areas and topics that
will find the most resonance with potential readers.
We know from surveys such as the National Readership Survey that quality newspaper
reading habits tend to crystallise in the mid- to late 20s – so we use ROAR to identify
entry points to our newspaper for young people. We use it to predict what is likely to
happen next in the media market and how to develop our market initiatives and product
portfolio in order to respond to that change.
What exactly is ROAR?
ROAR – or Right of Admission Reserved – was started in 1995 in response to the dearth
of good quality research data on the 15–24-year-old market. Surveys such as Youth TGI
and NRS are good at telling us what products young people consume and what media
they consume – but less good at telling us how they came to adopt those consumption
habits in the first place.
The role of ROAR has been to use a programme of qualitative and quantitative research
to fill in the gaps in our understanding. ROAR has been able to ask questions that other
surveys can’t and has proved flexible enough to turn around results when they are still
topical, such as elections, ad campaigns and cultural trends including music and fashion.
The aim of ROAR has never been to capture detailed product consumption data, but
rather to identify trends, define style leaders and find out what is culturally important to
young people. So ROAR has never been about defining what is average about young
people, but rather that it should actively identify those people that are of the most
interest to marketers – and especially marketers in media and the arts.
The ROAR consortium
One of the most enjoyable and sometimes frustrating aspects of running ROAR is that
the project is a partnership between ourselves and five other media organisations. All
have been involved with the project since its inception five years ago. The six members
all represent different types of media, which means that our relationships can remain
largely non-competitive and we can pool our expertise. So ROAR, the consortium,
comprises an advertising agency, a TV station, a cinema sales house, consumer
magazines, national newspapers and a radio station.
Although the consortium members have very different commercial aims, we have
enough common shared goals to make the co-funding of ROAR a workable proposition.
The media owners all have a vested interest in recruiting young consumers – although of
course they have different relative values to each company. Emap, for example, has a
number of titles that are aimed exclusively at this audience – FHM, Mixmag, J17 and The
Face. For the Guardian and Channel 4, 15–24 year olds are only a small proportion of our
audience. All members of the consortium are involved in trading advertising space – as
either buyers and sellers. While ROAR is not strictly used as a media trading currency it
gives all the members hugely useful data for either valuing their own media space or
targeting potential consumers in other media. Ad agency BMP OMD uses ROAR to
direct the strategy on a number of its youth-orientated brands – their roster includes
Sony, Adidas, Budweiser and Pepsi.
Benefits of collaboration
Without a doubt we learn from each other on the ROAR consortium – apart from
sharing our understanding of our own media specialisms, different members of the
consortium understand different aspects of youth culture. Kiss knows which
developments in music we should be watching out for and researching, while Carlton is
experts at predicting which films will prove popular with young people.
We are also able to share much of the analysis of the data that ROAR produces – there
are always bugs that need ironing out on quantitative research results, and because we
work as a team, we can work them out once rather than duplicating the work. We also
use a common system of cluster analysis on ROAR – which I’ll talk more about later –
and this allows us to develop a common language for talking about different typologies
of young people.
Not least of all, we benefit from sharing the costs of the survey. None of the member
companies could justify the expense of ROAR on their own. In terms of funding, all
participants contribute a sixth of the costs of the study, with a budget agreed for the
forthcoming financial year. The ROAR committee then decides on the next 12 months’
More than the sum of the parts
ROAR is essentially a number of waves of quantitative research every year and a number
of qualitative projects. However, by ensuring that the results of one part feed into the
methodology of the other, ROAR is more than the sum of its parts. When our
researchers meet and interview young people, the issues that are important to them are
fed into the next quantitative study. In the other direction, qualitative interviews allow us
to understand the results we get in the quantitative studies. If a brand starts to research
more negatively, we can ask people why that might be in the next round of quantitative
ROAR uses a panel of 1,000 respondents on each wave of research who are recruited
face to face by RSGB, in order to confirm their basic demographic details and to apply a
common-sense check that they are the person they say they are. Each wave is then based
on a postal questionnaire.
The panel is weighted by age and region to reflect the known composition of the 15–24-
year-old universe – and at least once a year RSGB will have to go out into the field to
recruit new panellists, replacing those that we lose track of, and also those who graduate
from our study by virtue of celebrating their 25th birthday. Whenever a panellist is first
recruited onto the survey they are asked a battery of lifestyle questions that are then used
to segment the youth population into one of eight clusters.
We use the panel approach for two reasons – firstly, if managed properly it is a very cost-
effective way of researching the market, and secondly, it provides us with a flexible
means of analysing the market. We can track trends over time and we can also cross-
tabulate the results of questions that were not on the same wave of research. Of course,
this only works if the panel is relatively stable.
Maintaining the panel
Young people are notoriously geographically mobile which makes them rather difficult to
keep track of. They can also exercise their choice of non-cooperation at any point, so
encouraging them to keep participating in a research project is a challenging brief in
itself. The way we do this is essentially to enthuse the panel about the project, to give
them a sense of involvement. Of course, we use incentives such as holidays as prizes, but
more importantly we position ROAR as a club in which panellists are members.
We do this in two ways. Firstly, when panellists are first recruited onto the study the
researchers are briefed to sell participation as an opportunity, rather than begging for a
favour: the brands of the consortium companies have a certain kudos among our target
audience. Secondly, we feed back results to the panel after every wave of research. It
would be unreasonable to expect anyone to carry on filling the questionnaires if they
never found out how they compared to their peers and if they never had any idea what
happened to their answers after they are sent back to the researchers.
Unlike the quantitative work, where a consistent pattern of methodology has proved to
be effective, our qualitative work tends to be more experimental, using a variety of
methodologies. Different types of research techniques are useful for different types of
research. Groups are useful for stimulating discussions about topics such as brands and
advertising, and in-depth one-to-one interviews are useful when discussing personal
beliefs. We use the same lifestyle questions as we do for our quantitative work when
recruiting qualitative respondents, so that we can link the results to our cluster group
Our last major piece of qualitative research was carried out last year, when we carried out
50 in-depth interviews with respondents in their bedrooms. The aim was to discuss those
objects and brands of most importance to young people – and their own personal space
seemed the most appropriate place to do this. ROAR has always sought to find new ways
of researching a topic area, so if we are looking at lager or drinks, we might ask about a
brand’s advertising and where people were most likely to drink it – at home, in a club or
out on a session, for example.
Segmenting the youth market
The 15–24-year-old market is far from homogenous – there are a wide range of opinions
and life experiences to be found among this group. ROAR has set out to segment the
market in a meaningful way.
Demographics are of little help because social grade and geography are in the majority of
cases determined by our respondents’ parents. Additionally, given that so many of this
age group are in full-time education, looked at through the lens of standard
demographics they all look the same. Therefore we have used a lifestyle cluster analysis
to segment the market, so that sub-groups of the 15–24-year-old population are created
on the basis of common attitudes and beliefs rather than social background. This is by
far the most effective way of identifying communities of interest.
Certain demographics are of course thrown up by the cluster groups – groups that are
the most culturally literate tend to be well educated and consequently tend to come from
middle-class households. However, the element of self-selection is important. If the most
important element of someone’s life is clubbing, then as a marketer that is far more
important than their parents’ social background. It is their overall outlook on life that
dictates which group they belong to.
There are eight ROAR clusters:
1. Casual Geezers – Clubbing on a Saturday night, definitely going to Ibiza this summer,
last summer had invested in a Ralph Lauren shirt, no doubt coming to the next
Uncovered series on Sky 1.
2. Cooling Britannias – This group emerged in the heady days of Brit Pop. They know
how to enjoy themselves, but are not slave to fashion. You’ll find them in an All Bar
One on a Saturday night – and a few may have gone to the recent Oasis gigs for old
3. Corporate Clubbers – This group has been with us from the start – the music may have
changed over the years, but the live-for-the-weekend spirit is still alive and well. This
group is here to party.
4. Gill and Ted – This group tend to be at the younger end of the age range, with
entertainment focused in their bedrooms – TV, computers, hi-fi and Playstation rule.
If you can’t sell a new brand of crisps to this group, you’re going to be in trouble.
5. New Modernists – These are often graduates, highly culturally literate, and look towards
creative careers. Literate, ironic and naturally Guardian readers.
6. Modern Moralists – Religious belief plays a large part in the lives of this group. Least
likely to be out disappointing their parents, they take their studies seriously and look
to settle down with a steady job.
7. Playsafe Careerists – This group have got money on the brain and are keen to get into
their first job. Many have vocational qualifications. This group can quite happily exist
in a cultural desert with a few mates and the odd pint of beer for company.
8. Style Surfers – Perhaps not quite at the cutting edge of contemporary fashion and
culture but certainly not far behind. Worth watching if you want to know when to
ditch your current wardrobe.
Targeting theatre/exhibition goers
What do young people actually do with their time? Well, visiting friends is the most
regular form of entertainment; and shopping is the next most popular form of
entertainment – be it for clothes or music – with book reading featuring quite highly.
Some of you may be concerned about where the arts figure on this chart, particularly
theatre – although ROAR can give you some pointers about which segments of the
youth market offers you the most promising prospects.
All 15–24 year olds are not the same – and by segmenting the population by our cluster
groups we can see which are the most likely to go to theatre or exhibitions. The New
Modernists are more than three times more likely to indulge themselves with a little
culture than the Casual Geezers – ROAR allows you to make sensible decisions when
setting realistic goals within this universe. If you’re looking to appeal to this whole
demographic, you have to be realistic about what you can potentially sell them – you
could realistically market Chekhov to New Modernists and perhaps Style Surfers – but
you’re going to have you’re work cut out with the Casual Geezers.
Areas of expertise
It is interesting to ask young people what they think their own areas of expertise are –
and we can see that as a group they are experts in entertainment, with music, TV and
films topping the list. As a generation they appear pretty confident that they know what
sex is all about, while only a relatively low profile claim to know much about drugs. That
said, they are still more confident about their narcotic knowledge than they are about
their knowledge of art or religion.
A correspondence map offers us another way of looking at the areas of expertise –
segmenting the population by cluster group. The map has two axes – horizontal, from
‘Cerebral’ to ‘Material’; and vertical, from ‘Exploring’ and ‘Conforming’. At the ‘Material’
side of the map, the clusters tend to express themselves through consumption – alcohol,
music, fashion and drugs – while at the other end of the scale are more conceptual areas
– religion and politics. In the ‘Exploring’ half of the map are areas like art and the
Internet, while sport and TV fall into the ‘Conforming’ side at the top. We can then see
the positions of our cluster groups relative to each other. For the Guardian it is quite clear
which cluster is of most value to us as a target audience, because the New Modernists
have such a clear market position. If I worked for the Sun or the Mirror I would doubtless
be focusing my attention on the top right of the map – the Corporate Clubbers and
Cerebral Cool Brittanias Material
Gill and Ted
Trust in organisations
The ROAR generation is the most media-literate generation ever, and this in itself
provides a complex range of issues for the marketer to deal with. While young people are
sceptical about advertising, and might engage with it as though it were some kind of
game, it is nevertheless commercial brands that generate the highest levels of trust within
young people. Nine out of the top ten trusted organisations are commercial brands – the
BBC being the odd one out. Levels of trust for state apparatus such as education and
health are very low, as is trust in the government itself. So, while in some senses this
makes rather depressing reading, it does demonstrate that if carefully managed it is quite
possible to sell to this audience while simultaneously developing trust.
Given that this audience can easily separate what an advertising message would like them
to do – buy a pair of shoes or go to a movie – from the form of the advertising itself,
advertisers have to tread very carefully. A new campaign in youth-orientated style press
will not instantly re-position a brand. When we talked about examples of sponsorship
with the panel, we found out that they thought the Lilt sponsorship of the Notting Hill
carnival was simply cynical and it did nothing for the brand.
The ROAR generation have a sense of humour and are able to consume media ironically
– the Ferroro Roche ad always researches well on the panel. That said, it would be a
brave advertiser who took a similar approach with a higher investment brand, such as
fashion or hi-fi. Some companies consistently seem to have the knack of producing
advertising that works for this generation – Guinness stands out as a brand that makes
very few mistakes and the current French Connection work is going down well.
Credible brand extension
National newspapers are often agonising about whether they should launch financial
products such as credit cards and wonder whether or not their audience would accept the
new offering. The ROAR panel seem to have an excellent grasp of a given brand’s
potential. Looking at Marks & Spencer, they believe that banking services are a good idea
while a radio station is not. The Ministry of Sound brand, on the other hand, would be
highly credible for further music and fashion products, but deeply untrustworthy as a
As a general rule this audience has good understanding of brands and their value – both
in terms of their possibilities and their limitations. I’m not sure that any previous
generation would have had any opinions on these issues at all.
The search for authenticity
Although the clusters all have very different aspirations and outlooks on life, one
common theme that they all share is a quest for authenticity. They all share a suspicion
that people are trying to sell them products or experiences that are, in some sense, not
real. Consequently, either materially or idealistically, there is a search for that which is
perceived to be real. Qualitative research suggests that this generation is wary of being
sold suspect goods by a more cynical older adult population.
Fragmentation of the youth experience
This wariness is probably caused by a feeling that thirtysomethings are attempting to
appropriate their culture. As more and more people delay settling down and having
children, there are more people who can re-live aspects of their youth, but with the
money to adopt brands that they could never have afforded when they were aged 15–24.
In London we have an army of late 20s and early 30s people working in the new media
sector, dressed in combat trousers and Nikes. So while people of my age mess around
living the youth they never had, many people whom ROAR has studied are putting their
own ‘youth experience’ on hold – student loans are putting more pressure on people to
take their studies more seriously. ROAR has also shown that peer groups are increasingly
more important than celebrities when people are making decisions about their own
lifestyle. People are increasingly more likely to look to their friends for ideas and advice
about issues such as fashion, rather than want to emulate bands or TV presenters.
This means that there are fewer heroes – there doesn’t seem to be a David Bowie or a
John Lennon for the current crop of 15–24 year olds. They are more likely to talk about
real people that they know rather than citing media stars. And this fragmentation of the
cultural world extends to their spiritual and moral beliefs too. It is quite common for
young people to believe in elements of Eastern religions, New Age beliefs and elements
of science fiction. But it is rare to find young people who subscribe wholeheartedly to
one system of belief, be it Christianity or Marxism.
Fragmentation of media
Just to make the job of marketing to this audience even more difficult, in addition to the
fragmentation of the cultural youth experience, there is a current fragmentation of the
media landscape. As people can pick and choose their beliefs, they can also pick and
choose their media – an entire generation of young people do not all sit down to watch
‘Top of the Pops’ any more.
The boundaries between media as entertainment and as a communication tool are now
blurred. The proliferation of mobile phones and the Internet mean that young people
never need be alone – even if they are at home on their own. Mass media is no longer an
instruction manual – telling young people what is in and what is not. Mass media is now
a starting point for personal discovery – a source book to dip in and out of. ROAR is
able to demonstrate the extent to which young people are now able to construct their
own personal, media and communication universes.
Making use of ROAR
ROAR has been used by the Guardian to guide our marketing and product development.
We have used ROAR to determine why young people read newspapers, and found that
the main reason for reading a newspaper (apart from the main headline) is the listings
sections. The Guide is now a crucial part of our Saturday package and, for many readers,
reason enough to buy the newspaper. The listings and editorial have given us a credibility
in areas such as film and music that other quality titles could not hope to match.
The strength of the Guide – as an extension of the Guardian brand – has been the way in
which we have been able to use it as a template for other Guardian products. We have
published the Guardian Festival Guide – an essential survival tool for anyone braving the
elements at places such as Reading and Womad, and the Edinburgh Guide is published to
coincide with the festival and give people their first opportunity to sample a Guardian
Promotion and sponsorship
The editorial authority that the Guide affords us in certain areas means that our
sponsorship of Glastonbury is credible and that when we make music-based promotions,
they are not out of place in a national newspaper. Our strength in the youth market also
has enabled us to recruit a number of student brand mangers to promote our sales in and
around universities. Our student brand managers – who are usually second-year
undergraduates – work with us in the central marketing department to create
promotions, run discount schemes and ensure that we have distribution in key areas.
Given that normal Guardian conditions apply – long hours and no money – we would not
be able to run the scheme if the brand were not credible for a young audience.
The wider communications context
Our ultimate goal is to introduce people to our core brand – the Guardian. And we want
them to understand our core controlling idea – that the Guardian is an independently
owned newspaper that is written for free thinkers. The main thrust of our advertising is
not aimed at the youth generation, but at a wider group of adults who, we believe, will
value the product and the ideals of the brand. Our activity in the youth market must
work in concert with our overall brand goals and we believe that the understanding that
ROAR has given us of the youth market has allowed us to do this – by increasing the
number of entry points they have to the newspaper.
HOW MUCH? AT SHEFFIELD THEATRES
Angela Galvin explained both the mechanics and the achievements of the How Much? project, an
audience development scheme aimed at developing new young theatre audiences in Sheffield.
From September 1998 to December 1999, Sheffield Theatres has been involved in a
project that takes a holistic approach to development. Funded by the Arts Council of
England’s New Audiences scheme, the project was aimed at 16–24 year olds. It offered
low-price tickets (initially at £3.50) to this group for 21 specially selected productions,
and promoted them through new and existing channels. In addition, a new play, ‘23:59’
was commissioned and staged, bearing witness to Sheffield Theatres’ willingness to try
out new things and take risks.
Sheffield is an ideal place to run a scheme of this sort. The fourth largest city in England,
it is the most economically polarised. It has a high proportion in lower ACORN groups,
but its Hallam constituency has the highest proportion of professionals of any
constituency in the UK. It also has a higher proportion of 16–24 year olds than the
national average, including 50,000 at university. However, it has a lower proportion of
young theatre-goers than the national average. At September 1998, the core audience
contained 7% young people against TGI indication of 16%. Sheffield Theatres itself is in
a good position to run an integrated price/programming/promotion project, as it
controls all three across a range of auditoria in the city.
Research has now been completed on the project, based on 1,000 young attenders, 554
non-attenders and 15 ‘gatekeepers’, plus 32,000 box office records.
The research, which was jointly undertaken by the universities of Sheffield and Hallam,
concludes that ‘the results endorse the original marketing plan of the How Much?
project, which incorporated price, product and promotion changes’. Thirty-two thousand
tickets were sold, 29% of them to first-time attenders.
• Price The research found that over half of young people spend over £45 each week
on ‘nights out’; a few spent more than £100, but a significant number spent less than
£20. Thus the price of tickets, at £3.50, was generally acceptable, although theatre
expenditure is subject to more scrutiny than other leisure pursuits. One said, ‘I
wouldn’t argue with paying £3.50 for a night’s entertainment.’ And another said, ‘The
How Much? scheme is excellent as it’s not a waste of money if you don’t enjoy the
• Programming Although young people tend to be ‘conservative risk-takers’, there was
no evidence of ‘dumbing down’ being important for this audience. Although
performances with well-known TV faces were popular, when young people were
asked what they would have been prepared to pay more to see, the list included
‘Astor-Tango’, ‘NDT2’, ‘Angels in America’ and ‘The Winter’s Tale’ (Shakespeare in
Russian with surtitles!). One said, ‘I brought someone who hadn’t been to the theatre
before and she was really taken aback, like WOW, WOW . . . and she knew the play’.
• Promotion Having money to support trial and error meant that a range of promotional
vehicles could be used, and the responses of the 16–24 year olds compared with all
attenders. The figures revealed that word of mouth is by far the most effective form
of promotion, cited by 37%, but the season brochure was effective for 18%, and the
special ‘How Much?’ print by 15%. Flyers were effective with 13%, but other media
used were effective with only 6% or less.
In the light of the research, Sheffield Theatres will be continuing a programming strand
for young people and research into pricing policies. More efforts will be made to
influence word of mouth, and we will be affirming our role in community development
and social inclusion initiatives. Overall, young audiences have stayed with us, and we are
now focusing on relationship building, but we will also be investigating the response of
our core audience to our attempts to bring in young people. There has been some
feedback that older audiences have felt squeezed out by the project, and there have been
issues with ‘theatre etiquette’, such as mobile phones.
The How Much? research report is available from Sheffield Theatres
CHANGE THROUGH PARTNERSHIP
Paul Kaynes and Sarah Ogle
Paul Kaynes explained how Birmingham Arts Marketing is working to develop audiences among specific
African Caribbean and South Asian communities in Birmingham
Birmingham Arts Marketing (BAM) is an audience development agency, representing a
consortium of 34 arts organisations. Its mission is to expand the range and numbers of
people attending and participating in the arts in Birmingham, and thus it runs audience
development projects which are all encompassing rather than solely marketing focused.
The population of Birmingham shows some distinct differences from the UK averages,
with a significantly higher percentage of South Asian residents, and also a higher African
Caribbean population. The city has been witnessing a cultural shift in recent years, with
the rise of ‘Bollywood’ and an increase in attendance at mainstream cinema, as well as
MegaMela and ArtsFest.
With a view to developing audiences among specific African Caribbean and South Asian
communities in Birmingham, and to creating a strong foundation for the establishment
of enduring relationships between communities and participating arts organisations, a
long-term audience development project called ‘Right Up Your Street’ has been
launched. Funded by the Arts Council of England New Audiences Programme, the
project is based on the principle of networking, and has set out to test the effectiveness
of network marketing within specific communities.
The process so far has involved the recruitment of ‘Ambassadors’ to work on behalf of
the arts organisations involved in the project with the target communities, and the
recruitment of ‘panels’ from the communities, with whom relationships are being built.
The organisations and communities involved include:
• The Drum African Caribbean; New Town residents; students/low
waged/unemployed; and local artists
• Fierce Festival South Asian; gay and lesbian
• mac South Asian; Hindu; youth
• The Rep South Asian; wide age range; wide range of professional
• SAMPAD Bangladeshi; male; adult
• Symphony Hall African Caribbean; arts workers
• Ikon Gallery South Asian; women; Ladywood residents
The project is ongoing but, so far, initial contacts have been made with specific
communities; committed teams from these communities have been created and key
decision-makers identified. Various specific developments are taking place: for example,
SAMPAD is considering the timing of Bengali drama; Symphony Hall is to showcase
black work from the community to appear in a foyer exhibition; and The Drum has
employed its Ambassador and is setting up a system to monitor attenders.
But interestingly, the key achievements overall are internal to the organisations involved,
in that an attitudinal shift is taking place. There is training for all involved, leading to
organisational change – particularly in the culture of the organisations. BAM has ended
up pursuing a very different goal than originally envisaged, having concluded that
audience development only happens when real organisational change takes place. For
audience development activity to succeed, the conditions need to be right.
Sarah Ogle explained how the culture of The Rep is changing, following its experience of ‘Right Up Your
The Rep is at the forefront of British theatre. It has an impressive creative history of
regional, national and international work, and its mission is ‘to lead, not follow’. It
produces over 20 new productions each year, and is the only venue outside London with
a space – The Door – dedicated to new writing.
Birmingham is a culturally diverse city, which is not reflected in The Rep’s audiences.
When the organisation entered the Stabilisation programme in 1998, a commitment was
made to recognise the creative potential of diversity by extending links with communities
to develop the audience profile to be more representative of the immediate catchment
area. This also reflected a recommendation of the Boyden report, which stated that a
theatre should ‘aspire to being an active community resource rather than a passive vessel
for a minority interest’. In his view ‘a strong commitment to cultural diversity in all its
forms must remain a major priority’. The Rep recognised the need to change, and had a
willingness to change. ‘Right Up Your Street’ provided the opportunity to change.
A diverse mix of key target communities was identified, although forming a panel with
representatives from these communities did pose problems. Nonetheless, at the first
meeting of the panel, members of different South Asian communities came to a meeting
to discuss South Asian culture and identity, and access to and experience of the arts. The
panel was introduced to The Rep and told about its commitment to South Asian work
and audiences, before attending a performance in The Door. The partnerships were
developed through a backstage tour and a production in the main house. The panel then
gave an enlightening evaluation of its experiences.
Following this experience, a South Asian communities development worker started to
work with the education and marketing departments in relation to a production of ‘The
Ramayana’. This is one of the world’s oldest stories, which is essentially Hindu, but has
resonance for other South Asian communities. The production was to be a world
premiere directed by The Rep’s associate director, Indhu Rubasingham, and with a multi-
cultural cast. The role of the development worker was to act as an adviser, Ambassador
and liaison within South Asian communities and relevant departments of The Rep. A
second panel was established, which followed a similar format to the one established in
‘Right Up Your Street’. The two panels came together, with enthusiasm and commitment
for the project, and offered feedback, advice, support and encouragement. There was a
sense of partnership.
The process of change has been an interesting one. Firstly, we have come to understand
the importance of information and dialogue – of both talking and listening. We have also
had to take action, relating to our print, scheduling, front of house, box office and
programming. Change has been for all – from box office to boardroom. Everyone has a
deeper understanding of ‘equality of opportunity’, and its implications for activities such
as casting and other recruitment.
But it doesn’t stop here. There is an ongoing need for change; for talking and listening.
We will continue to involve the panels in education and marketing work, and will be
touring ‘The Ramayana’ nationally and internationally, offering a resource of good
INVISIBLE BEHIND THE BARRIERS
Paddy Masefield explained why disabled people are important members of arts audiences, and suggested
ten steps for breaking down the barriers that deter or prevent disabled people from having more
involvement in the arts.
Disabled people form the largest invisible body in the United Kingdom. For some years
speakers like me have hammered out the dry statistics that disabled people account for 1
in 8 of our society, or more than 14% of the population. However, recent research by the
DSS following the introduction of the Disability Discrimination Act reveals that around
20% of the adult population – about 11.7 million people – are covered by the provisions
of that Act and therefore need to be classified as disabled people. Most researchers
estimate that that figure is likely to increase in future years. So how can you conceal more
than 11.5 million people?
Interestingly, people involved in the arts, who traditionally think of themselves as vaguely
‘right on’, liberal idealists, are one of the most guilty parties. My own organisation, JOB
2000, estimates that in the entire arts industry of more than 650,000 people, only 1 in
1,000 is a disabled person. In parts of the media, the situation is probably even worse. A
wonderfully challenging conference a few years ago, arguing for inclusive education for
disabled children, called itself simply ‘Invisible Children’ because the average disabled
child watching television might well think they were the only disabled child in the world
as they would find no reflection of themselves in children’s television programming.
Why bother with disabled people?
Despite the demands for access from the Disability Discrimination Act and despite
current government, arts and social thinking on the rights of disabled people, some old
viewpoints are still pretty deeply entrenched.
• They are more trouble than they are worth.
• They offend other members of the audience.
• Surely you haven’t forgotten they are a fire hazard!
• They never seem to thank us when we make special arrangements for them.
• They block up the car parking and drop-off points.
• They don’t seem to enjoy the experience of taking part in the arts.
• They object to ‘reasonable’ requests that they be accompanied by a ‘normal’ person.
• Then they object to paying for two tickets!
• In fact guide dogs are the only good thing about disabled people!
All those attitudes and comments have been heard by disabled people only too regularly
in the last decade. And given that they couldn’t even get in to more than three-quarters
of the arts buildings in the country, it is little surprise to discover that disabled people are
hardly ever to be found among your audiences, and never even comprise one-fifth of the
Its all too easy for non-disabled people to feel that a disabled person hammering on
about barriers and invisibility is delivering a moral or political tirade in which you have
suddenly become the victims. I want to make sure that doesn’t happen through two
approaches. The first is to point out that nowhere else in the population can you find an
almost untapped 20% on whom to focus your most appropriate marketing techniques.
And if the doom and gloom trends tell us that attendance figures for many of the
performing arts are dropping nationwide, then perhaps from self-interest you need
disabled people, every bit as much as we need you.
The second approach might be called the ‘put away your pencils and paper’ technique. I
promise not to deliver a dry list of right and wrong words that you should use around
disability nor draw up some politically correct code of behaviour for you when dealing
with disability. As a retired dramatist I would like to tell you some stories, give you some
explanations and leave you to decide how the plot turns out.
A long history
The most obvious reason that a number of people admit to feeling uncomfortable
around disability issues and disabled people is the simple fact that they have so rarely
spent any time in their company. Disabled people, until the last decade, have been largely
excluded from mainstream education, public transport, meaningful employment, the
leisure industry, the economy, the majority of shops, most catering establishments and
marriage! In short, the situation has not been very different from the apartheid of South
Africa. How on earth could such a situation have arisen? Well, I would like to take you
back almost as far as recorded history.
Maybe the Bible. You have only to turn to Leviticus, the third book of the Old
Testament, to find a legacy that did not allow (and I quote) ‘the blind man, or a lame, or
he that hath a flat nose, or anything superfluous, or a man that is broken footed or
broken handed, or crooked backed, or a dwarf, or hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy,
or scabbed’ to approach the altar or ‘to offer the bread of his God!’ That is a staggeringly
inclusive list to make sure that not even one of us should slip in by mistake.
Through most mythology and historic legend, disabled people have been stereotyped as
the villains and perpetrators of evil. You have only to think of the ogres, the hunchbacks,
the dwarves, the Cyclops, the witches, the Gorgons, right through to the Captain Hooks,
the Long John Silvers, Hunchbacks of Notre Dame and Richard III. Shakespeare even
ascribed Othello’s aberrant behaviour more to his epilepsy than to his class or colour.
Perhaps you feel I am a few millennia out of date! Eight years ago at a human rights
conference in Helsinki I met a young German lawyer who gave me this true story.
According to German law, non-disabled people even have a right to damages if they
meet disabled persons in their hotel during their vacation! The district court of
Flemsburg decided that a travel agency had to pay damages to its clients because they
were confronted with disabled people in their hotel restaurant. The court reasoned as
follows: ‘The plaintiffs and their children could not enjoy their meals without being
disturbed. The inescapable view of “the disabled” in a small room during meals caused
disgust and insistently reminded the plaintiffs of the “possibility of human misfortune”.
Such experiences do not belong to a typical vacation!’
Ah yes, wrong country. Well, closer to home in 1995, the TV play ‘Skallagrigg’ won a
BAFTA award for drama. Detailed research by the Broadcasting Standards Council
produced the following memorable quotes:
1. From an able-bodied woman in London: ‘To me, the disabled are not people like
your brother or your sons. It’s someone in a wheelchair probably dribbling. I just
can’t see it ever being right that they should be on national television, which after all
is about communication.’
2. From a wheelchair user: ‘I love my life as a disabled person, but society won’t accept
3. From a blind woman in Glasgow: ‘If you saw more disabled people on television,
maybe people would be a bit more sympathetic and not so frightened.’
Perhaps we are getting a little nearer home, but those comments were, after all, made
about a piece of fiction.
So let’s take an example from our own arts industry, with one last true story from a
senior arts and disability consultant, engaging in discussion with a highly experienced
personnel officer of a major arts organisation in this country, talking about the
employment of disabled people in her organisation. The discussion centred on an Equal
Opportunities approach to the interviewing of disabled candidates, and was recognising
that it would not be appropriate to conduct the interview on the basis of the impairment
of the candidates! The personnel officer responded that this was fine with her if, for
example, the candidate was a wheelchair user. But if the candidate had an invisible
impairment, the personnel officer was concerned, as she wanted to be able to ask about
it. ‘Because if I can’t see the impairment then I shall leap to the worst conclusion, and I
shall start thinking, oh, it must be a mental illness, and if the candidate has a mental
illness, perhaps they will be on medication, and if they are on medication, perhaps they
may forget to take it, and if they forget to take it, who knows whether they might turn
out to be an axe murderer!’
Little wonder then that historically, with very few exceptions, disabled people have
(sometimes literally) been locked in the closet. The year 1981 is still perceived as a year of
enormous breakthrough because it was designated United Nations Year of the Disabled
People. But even now in the Year of the Artist, even though we have long banished the
Shakespearean tradition of men playing the parts of women, and we have equally firmly
set our sights against white actors blacking up, disabled characters are still usually
represented by non-disabled actors.
Maybe I could remind you of Daniel Day Lewis’s portrayal of Christie Brown in ‘My Left
Foot’, a portrayal that most people with cerebral palsy found somewhere between
hysterical and humiliating, while the film world gave it an Oscar. And even more recently
one of the highest grossing films of all time, ‘Forrest Gump’, had Tom Hanks offering
the most improbable portrayal of a person with learning disabilities, again rewarded with
an Oscar. On our own domestic television, whether it is ‘Peak Practice’ or ‘Panorama’, if
disabled people are not the villains then they have usually been made the ‘tragic but
brave’ victims of charity support or the object of a voyeurism that would be quite
unacceptable in either gender or race terms. Despite my own 40 years in the arts industry
I still find it staggering that whenever I see myself represented on TV (that is to say, the
character is a man in a wheelchair) nine times out of ten he is suicidal, an alcoholic or (if
you watch ‘Morse’) a murderer!
New buildings, new start?
This is the truth as seen by a wonderful Manchester poet Sue Napolitano, in whose
memory we recently launched the first Sue Napolitano Disabled Writers Award of
I don’t want to live in bungalow land,
On the outer edges of the urban sprawl,
In a place designed for people-like-us
Kept safely separate, away from it all.
I want to live in the pulse-hot thick-of-it,
Where the nights jive, where the streets hum
Amongst people and politics, struggles and upheaval,
I’m a dangerous woman, and my time has come.
And if you think Sue was not thinking of the arts, one of her Manchester poems started:
The municipal might of Victorian architecture
No need for a sign saying
CRIPPLES KEEP OUT
When triumphal stone flights
Lead the way to
The art gallery
The committee meeting.
Enough of old history, let’s accept that six years of Lottery funding and a billion pounds
of expenditure have begun to produce accessible arts buildings. And for me as a former
Lottery Arts Board Member it’s fairly exciting to be sitting here in the Lowry Centre.
Down the road at Liverpool, the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts starts in
September the first foundation course solely for disabled people regardless of their
previous exclusion from formal education, to access the possibility of a professional arts
career. What’s more, the course will be largely taught by disabled people and will have a
serious component of disability arts history on its curriculum. So some people are of
course already dismantling the barriers.
To empower you to do that, I’d like to focus now on ten quick steps for action. (If you
like a good dance you can call it ‘the demolition Quickstep’), and just in case you think
there’s a growing feeling in the room of ‘them’ and ‘us’ let me tell you what we have in
common. It is extremely unlikely that any one of you will go back to your hotel tonight
and wake up tomorrow having changed your colour; it is equally unlikely that you will
wake up tomorrow having changed your gender. Yet it is totally possible that at any stage
in your life you might, like me, wake up to find that you have become a disabled person.
(Indeed, if only due to the ageing process, it’s actually highly probable.) So I love the
North American acronym that celebrates our togetherness by defining you as TABs –
which stands for Temporarily Able Bodied! So in a mood of togetherness, here are ten
major steps to barrier dismantling:
Recognise the need to change. Recognise how deeply rooted the problem is in terms of
history, culture, prejudice, ignorance and fear. Long-standing barriers take long-standing
action to dismantle. Disability equality training is the starting point. But disability equality
training, like a puppy at Christmas, is not just for now, while we feel good, but a regular
essential for all employees – even disabled employees – and especially including board
Recognise that 99% of Equal Opportunities policies currently in place are not being
observed with regard to disability; in respect of the placement of advertising information;
in respect of interviews; in respect of training; in respect of monitoring; in respect of
Sling the grappling irons of your mind at language. Of course it’s complex and fast
changing, because the disability movement in this country is so recent and is still doing
much of its own thinking out loud. But language is not a question of some irrelevant and
intellectual dispute about political correctness. It is the fundamental measure of whether
one understands disability. The key to all understanding of disability language comes
from the politics of disabled people when they reject the ‘medical/charity model’ and
advocate their own ‘social model’. In the past, disability was defined by the medical
profession and their supporters, the large charities, who expressed all notions of disability
in negative terms. That is to say, I might still be described as someone who cannot walk,
who cannot read properly, who is brain damaged and who is sometimes incontinent. All
those statements may be true, but they are hardly the label any one of us would wish to
carry when sitting on the Arts Council’s Lottery Board, or chairing the Year of the
Artists’ think tank. The social model explains that it is society that disables us, if it fails to
provide ramps for my chair where there are steps, access to public transport for me, and
all my reading material in large print, in other words so that I can enjoy the same access
that everyone else in this room shares. This will also help you to deal with the pedantic
philosopher who may say, ‘I wear spectacles. Does that make me a disabled person?’ The
answer from the social model is ‘no’, providing that your spectacles overcome your visual
Once one has grasped the simplicity of the social model, it becomes clear why we choose
to call ourselves disabled people, and not people with disabilities or people with
impairments. And language is significant because it creates images. So I, for instance, am
not ‘wheelchair-bound’ any more than a stockbroker is ‘pinstripe-suit bound’. And what I
happen to be is a wheelchair user. Because for me that is no more ‘hellish, tragic, or brave’
than being a car user, provided that society caters for me. If the roads to Manchester had
all stopped at Cheadle Hulme, then you too would be as furious, tired and dirty after
ploughing across miles of fields as I feel when my wheelchair is unable to access the
House of Commons, my local dance classes, a brass band rehearsal room, a pub or a
The one other specific of language I would like to touch on, as it sometimes causes
confusion, is the definition ‘disability arts’. Disability arts are those arts made by disabled
people usually for presentation to disabled people, and being informed by the experience
of being disabled. Their importance for me is that they are the arts where disabled people
can explore and share their own artistic self-perception, after being excluded for so much
of history. You might say that they are an arts greenhouse or an arts engine room, to start
a motor for disabled people who may then want to move into the larger field of ‘arts and
disability’ which embraces everything that is not disability arts.
Physical access is clearly fundamental. And the Arts Lottery has not only led to the
creation of physical access in every new building it has funded, but also to an access of
attitudes. However, it is worth remembering that the Arts Lottery was the only one of
the five good causes to have a disabled person on its board when its criteria were drawn
up; and had it not been for that good fortune, £1 billion of public money might well
have perpetuated the barriers of history. In very many of the areas I am talking about, it
is not enough to assume that one has a complete understanding because one has visited
one accessible building or attended one seminar on access. There have been examples,
even within Arts Council Lottery funded buildings, of theatres with almost perfect
wheelchair access but not the slightest consideration for those who are blind or vision
impaired. And access can be as much about the size of print, about the installation of
minicoms, speaking lifts, tactile mapping, induction loops and signed performances as it
is about ramps or accessible toilets.
The book Barrier-Free Design by James Holmes-Siedle is an excellent starting point, and
the many organisations that now assist in detailed access audits are essential follow-ups.
But ultimately access is about a state of mind and above all else it is about marketing. If
this conference fails to advertise its accessibility it will have no disabled attenders. The
sort of detailed access guide that is now put out on behalf of London Theatres is as
essential as stressing on your websites what the merits are, as well as any deficiencies in,
the accessibility of your building.
Attitudes. The fact that so few of the tiny number of disabled people that make it
through to tertiary education survive to the end of their courses is largely due to a lack of
supportive attitudes or what we could negatively call ‘institutional denial of access’.
Disabled people do not want charity and they certainly do not want patronising. But
many of us have extremely sore heads from living permanently under a glass ceiling.
Appropriate attitudes usually come from appropriate experience. So to understand
disability issues, it is essential to spend time with disabled people.
Differences! The shared label of ‘disability’ encompasses an extraordinarily wide range of
human beings. It takes time and sensitivity, having learnt what we have in common, to
understand the differences. For example, although the national symbol of disability and
access is the wheelchair logo, there are probably only half a million wheelchair users in
this country. This compares with more than eight million people who self-define
themselves as hearing impaired. But only a small percentage of these use British Sign
Language, not only because this may be dependent on whether they were born deaf or
acquired hearing impairment later in life but also because media such as television have
been so defensive in refusing to introduce more signing.
The umbrella of disability includes those with mobility impairments, sensory
impairments, learning disabilities, people who choose to call themselves ‘survivors’ of the
mental health system and those with hidden disabilities. However, those involved with
deaf culture, and deaf arts in particular, sometimes prefer to opt out of the disability
camp and under the umbrella of being a minority language. In marketing terms, deaf art
has a reputation for selling itself like a pop music underworld, almost without promotion.
But survivors and learning disabled people – two totally different categories – both
manufacture stunning arts product, but can experience great prejudice from those who
cannot even accept that they make art, let alone that that art is the quickest
understanding to the world they live in.
What there is to be learnt needs to be learnt directly from disabled people and not from
charities or collections of non-disabled people who claim to speak on their behalf. An
excellent starting point for many arts organisations may be your local disability arts forum
or coalition of disabled people. Manchester and the North West are blessed with an
abundance of such organisations. But they don’t exist in every part of the country.
Most local authorities should have access departments, but whether they are staffed by
disabled people may require investigation. Many groups of learning disabled people have
formed their own theatre companies and so may be extraordinarily sophisticated when it
comes to understanding the theatre product that you may be marketing.
A number of interesting publications have arisen from the Lottery Arts Building boom
and the need to ensure that disabled people’s views were represented to the architects.
The best of these is a publication called Free For All, produced by Sadler’s Wells in
London, which explains at some length how complex it is to understand the access
requirements of the whole family of disabled people. I would have thought that all
marketing departments might find it extremely worth while to set up their own
equivalent of a disability focus group, the members of which could not only provide the
key to unlocking access solutions but also be the most obvious people to use as safari
guides in seeking out those invisible disabled people throughout society.
And it is worth reminding ourselves that disabled people are everywhere and everyone.
Disabled people come in all age groups, in all genders and in all colours; they even come
in several political parties. So while manufacturing new marketing tools to access this
new market, do not forget to use all your existing tools as well and do not throw your
existing priorities out of the window. It is every bit as much a priority to ensure that
disabled young people are given an introduction to the arts as it is a priority for all young
people. And one continual observation from my own experience as a disabled person is
that where you create access for disabled people, many non-disabled people will follow
with great delight. On a crowded railway station, I can sometimes look like the Pied
Piper, the assumption being that if a wheelchair user can find his way or be assisted to
wherever it is I am going, then the same will be true for parents with pushchairs, elderly
people with luggage and even those loaded down with Harvey Nichols shopping bags.
And if disabled people are everywhere in real life, it is equally important that they are
represented everywhere in the world of our arts organisations. Arts Lottery funding
focused on the issue that access to stages, galleries, studios and dressing rooms was even
more crucial than more access to auditoria. But it is rare to find disabled people
physically included in all the units that use those different spaces. Disabled board
members may be as much a key to the acquisition of disabled people in your audiences as
would be the welcoming sight of disabled people actually employed in the visible areas
such as catering, reception and front-of-house in your organisations.
Employment. There can be no doubt that the most critical area to make disabled people
visible is the art form itself. It is, after all, the most extraordinary vanishing trick that
history has thrown up to reduce 1 in 5 of the population to a mere 1 in 1,000 when it
comes to employment as artists. And yet the paradox is that if we want to bring about
real change in the understanding of disability issues and the positive representation of the
rights of disabled people, our priority should be to use every facet and form of the arts as
the appropriate platform on which to start to tell our stories and paint our pictures.
In marketing terms it is a given truth that audiences expect to find themselves in some
way portrayed and included in the product they are being asked to experience. In this we
are the same as Black and Asian audiences who are clearly less interested in a solely white
and solely one-dimensional representation of society.
It may represent a huge challenge even for an experienced arts marketer to change the
entire arts industry through the employment of disabled people. But if you do not bring
your lateral skills to this puzzle then I suspect you will not achieve your goal of that
magical extra 20% audience. It is not just somebody else’s problem, such as an Arts
Council or a Regional Arts Board; it is actually an issue of self-interest which along the
way will deepen, enrich and make even more multicoloured the dazzling art forms that
are the reason we commit ourselves to a lifetime in the arts.
And if you find yourselves in this argument, then remember that all disabled portrayal
must be represented by disabled people because it is not just Long John Silver’s leg tied
up behind his back that is offensive. Of more concern is the issue that the portrayal may
be dishonest, inexperienced and misleading; while the really exciting issue is the one we
would call in the theatre ‘integrated casting’. If Shakespeare did not specify that either the
third servant or the first Duke of Norfolk had to be played by non-disabled people then
the likelihood is that 1 in 5 of them should in fact have been portrayed by disabled
people. And while we live in a society where disabled students at art college are told not
to paint their wheelchairs or their disability as this offends the historic approach to the
‘Body Beautiful’, and some BBC viewers write in to complain that the programme they
have been watching should have included a warning that disabled people would appear in
it, we all have a duty to replace prejudice with truth, the casting of villains with positive
role models, and the blanks on our canvases with fully formed flesh of every kind.
But how? How today? How now? How do we start? Why not with the earliest possible
introduction of existing disability product into your buildings and your schedules?
Candoco, the dance company performing here next month, GRAEAE, New Breed
(from Manchester), Heart and Soul, Strathcona – all theatre companies – the ‘Defiance’
art exhibition, the National Disability Arts Forum’s various touring projects, Survivors
Poetry, the signed song of Caroline Parker, the poetry of Sue Napolitano, Fast Forward
video makers, Adam Reynolds’ Sculpture, and many others are stunning, challenging, a
celebration, a story, a truth, an alternative that cries out to be placed on our stages, hung
on our walls, assimilated in our minds, stored in our memories, tasted on our tongues.
Take these ten steps, faltering at first and then, like a wheelchair, gathering speed, and I
guarantee you success. There is a momentum in society and social thinking. There is a
legal act that requires it. There is a disability economy to be tapped. There is that whole
vast new audience waiting to be welcomed, dazzled, captivated and turned into season
ticket holders. So go out and sell! Oh and by the way, you may change the way the world
works and think at the same time. It can’t be bad, can it?
Anne Millman’s recent book, Prove It! A Practical Guide to Market Research, is a step-by-step
guide to research method. She explained the main themes of the book.
There are many practical uses for your research data. Depending upon your
organisational needs and the objectives of your research programme, these will include
one or more of the following four key areas:
1. Organisational planning and development.
2. Product planning.
3. Marketing planning.
4. Promotional planning.
There is one important additional benefit: at a time of reduction in funding, and
competition for both private and public sources of support, detailed knowledge of your
audiences can be an important weapon in the battle for survival.
Where do I start?
At the beginning of any research programme it is vital to take the time to work out your
objectives. These should be in two stages:
• Stage one: business objectives
A business objective is a clear definition of what you aim to achieve as a result of the
research process. Whether you are undertaking the work yourself, or commissioning
someone else, you must start with a very explicit set of objectives.
• Stage two: research objectives
A research objective is a clear definition of what you want to find out during the research
process. Research objectives will be defined by your business objectives. As with
business objectives, research objectives should be clearly understood and simple. You
should also resist the temptation to set too many research objectives, confining yourself
to perhaps four or five.
What methods are available, and how do I choose?
Different research methods have different applications, and no single method will answer
all of your questions. Your business and research objectives will dictate which method(s)
• Desk research: analysis of records collected in your organisation. This may be done, for
example, to analyse past trends in order to inform future plans, to help set realistic
objectives for the future, or to compare achievements with national, regional and
• Secondary research: reference to information already available elsewhere. After you have
undertaken some desk research, it makes sense to find out if there is any other
information readily available that will provide you with a wider picture of your
current and potential markets. Again, this process might take some time, but only in
the most sophisticated areas will it cost you any money.
• Quantitative research: self-completion surveys, postal surveys. Quantitative research enables
you to gather statistically valid data about your current visitors: for example, who
they are, where they come from, how they find out about you, how often they visit,
where else they visit. This can be useful to help you identify gaps in your current
visitor profile, and can support approaches to sponsors and funders.
• Combined research: face-to-face surveys, telephone surveys. This is used to obtain factual data
and attitudinal information, from visitors and non-visitors, particularly those in
scattered population areas. If you are using a research agency to undertake the
interviews then there is a minimum of organisation involved: you simply agree the
questionnaire and the interviewees with them, and leave it alone. If you are planning
to conduct this research using your own staff, students, or volunteers, then it needs
• Formal qualitative research: focus group discussions and depth interviews commissioned from an
agency. It takes a considerable amount of training and skill to undertake qualitative
research, and it is important that you commission appropriately qualified people. This
is a technique used to provide data that is right in insight, understanding, explanation
and depth of information, but which cannot be justified statistically. Focus group
discussions are of approximately 90 minutes’ duration, consisting of small, specially
selected groups of people, facilitated by a moderator; depth interviews are of
approximately 45 minutes’ duration, conducted one to one by a trained moderator.
• Informal qualitative research: visitor panel and informal groups, visitor books and comment cards,
tours, talks and observation, mystery shopping. Although any major programme of
qualitative research should be commissioned from a professional researcher, these
methods, conducted on a more informal basis, can keep you in touch with your
visitors’ views and attitudes.
Choosing a consultant or agency
The working relationship should be one of partnership rather than consultant and client.
You can use the following eight key criteria to help you when you are selecting a
consultant or research agency:
1. Track record of experience in your sector.
2. Good references from your sector.
3. Creative response to your brief.
4. Flexibility and helpfulness when developing the brief.
5. Willingness to involve you during the process.
6. Knowledge of wider cultural and market trends.
7. Engagement with and enthusiasm for your own museum and research project.
8. Evidence that you will be provided with practical, actionable results that are
interpreted in a way that you can understand.
Anne Roberts, Rob Macpherson and Samantha Orrell
Anne Roberts unveiled evidence to debunk the myths and legends about youth arts attendance, and
suggests that efforts to attract ‘young people’ to the arts are unlikely to meet with great success.
Many arts organisations feel they’re failing to develop young audiences – that there are
spring-loaded barriers: they come down once and spring right back up again. Perhaps it’s
time to unpick some misconceptions about young people: to inject a note of realism into
expectations and fight for organisations’ rights to say ‘no!’ to developing youth audiences.
Myth no. 1: There aren’t enough young people attending the arts
It could be argued that the arts is not underachieving with the under 24s to the extent
that is sometimes feels it is … A bigger concern might be considered to be the over 65s.
Who says the arts are not attracting enough young people, and how many would be
Age range: % population vs % audience
15-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65+
Myth no. 2: Young people are a priority target segment
Young people don’t really comprise a target segment at all. A 14-year-old schoolboy may
have little in common with a 20-year-old female student and often will not respond to
the same product or promotional mechanism. Consider these quotes taken from
• ‘Anyone over 20 is old’ (pub’n’clubber 16–18).
• ‘I don’t want to be in a youth club’ (trendy early 20s).
• ‘I don’t want to be around those stuck-up students’ (17-year-old office assistant).
• ‘I wouldn’t want to be anywhere my brother or sister would go – he’s 18 and she’s
14’ (16 year old, Dunstable).
• ‘We don’t want over 18s at our venues’ (16-year-old school leaver, Birmingham).
Myth no. 3: Young people don’t have any money
Young people find the money for things they have a value for. The problem is that any
price would be too much for many arts events, because many young people do not want
what we are offering.
• ‘£15 is okay for a club night’ (16 year old).
• ‘I regularly pay £30 for a club night.’
• ‘I’d expect to pay around £30 at the pub in an evening’ (21 year old).
• ‘My football seats are around £15–£20’ (21 year old).
Myth no. 4: Cheap tickets are the solution to young arts attendance
Young people are articulate at reading the ‘discount’ signs. They do not want to have
tickets ‘dumped’ on them and discounted tickets often equate for them with a low value
• ‘You know you only get discounts for events they can’t sell.’
• ‘Cheap tickets are always for things we don’t want to see.’
• ‘You couldn’t pay me to go to some things – like modern dance. I wouldn’t mind
cheap seats for the “Rocky Horror Show” or something.’
Myth no. 5: Young people are broad minded
Generally speaking, most young people tend to be conservative thinkers often because
they lack confidence to do things on their own.
• ‘I don’t want to do that – because I’ve never done it before and I don’t think I’d like
• ‘My friends think I’m weird liking dance – they think all dancers are queer, even
though they know that’s not PC.’
• ‘I’d be interested as long as all my friends want to go too.’
Myth no. 6: Young people are more interested in experimental arts than old
Often we try to target young people for contemporary dance, physical theatre and new
music. The evidence shows that more traditional art forms (musicals and well-known
plays) are more successful at attracting young people.
• ‘I wish they would offer us discounts for “Cats”, or “Miss Saigon”, or other big
• ‘If I was given the money, I’d choose music first, then comedy, then ballet.’
• ‘I’d go for anything I hadn’t experienced before’ (pensioner).
Myth no. 7: If we don’t get young people now, then our audience will die out
Audiences are declining, but not as much as they would be if we were not recruiting new
attenders. Not all audiences were once young audiences! There is evidently a life-stage
• ‘I hate classical music. I’m into clubs and music and stuff. I won’t be into it until I’m
40, then I’ll come. I’m 17 and I’m going to do all the things young people do, and
then I’ll think about classical music.’
Myth no. 8: Young people are more easily communicated with through the
The Internet is a huge growth area for young people, but they are even now more reliably
targeted through other media. Most have access through places of work or education but
are unable to use the service for their leisure needs. Around 20% have access at home.
Myth no. 9: Young people like bright, colourful, busy print
There is evidence that they are even less tolerant of fussy, highly coloured/designed print
than older people; they are impatient to get to the real message.
• ‘There’s too much going on here.’
• ‘Why do people always think that young people want upside-down images and text
over the top – you can’t read it.’
• ‘I like the Arts Theatre’s print. It’s clean and crisp and you know what’s going on.’
Myth no. 10: Young people like the live experience
Many young people are easily embarrassed, and the fear of embarrassment sometimes
detracts from the live experience.
• ‘I saw someone fall off the stage at the theatre – it was so embarrassing.’
• ‘You can’t guarantee that it will be as good as the performance, I prefer to buy the
• ‘What if they forget their steps – it would be awful.’
Myth no. 11: The arts are relevant to young people
They can be, but generally the arts have a bad reputation with young people: they find
• ‘I’ve lived here all my life, but it isn’t my history they’re portraying on stage – it isn’t
people like me or my friends or family. What has it to do with my life?’
• ‘I liked “Trainspotting” and “Shopping and Fucking”: it hit my jugular – drugs, sex,
material possessions, irreverence. It’s what our lives are about.’
• ‘I’ve got nothing in common with those who go to arts events …’
• ‘They’re sad bastards, those people.’
• ‘They’re rich people who don’t have anything better to do with their money.’
• ‘They’re just old people showing off.’
• ‘I don’t want to be anywhere where old people go – most arts places are full of old
Myth no. 12: Young people have a short attention span
No, they don’t, they are just intolerant of being bored.
• ‘There is never enough information for you to judge whether you want it or not.’
• ‘Don’t assume that we can’t read.’
Myth no. 13: Young people hate the arts
No, they don’t, it’s just that our definition of the arts is very limited. Every person
indulges in some kind of creative activity. Perhaps we needs to stop making value
judgements about what is good and what isn’t, and what constitutes ‘art’ and what
• ‘I love paintings, I just hate galleries – you can’t talk, or eat, or lean against the walls.’
• ‘I get a real kick out of dancing in clubs. Why isn’t that as good as your ballet or
• ‘I was taken to the panto when I was little. I loved it. Does that count?’
There is considerable political pressure to deliver the arts to this hostile and declining
market. But developing a young market requires a relevant ‘product’, organisational
focus, commitment and resources. So do we just give up, and:
• provide information to those who are receptive?
• sell to ease the edges of the best marketplace?
• focus, commitment and realism – hand over control?
Or should we work with a different marketplace, and JUST SAY NO?
• Arts Strategy Consultation: Southwark Borough Council
• Needs Analysis for Dunstable: South Beds District Council
• Audience Research: The Junction, Cambridge (Erica Littlewood)
• Smart Card Research: Birmingham Arts Marketing
• Members Research: Stage Pass (Youth and Music)
• New Moves & First Steps – Qualitative Evaluation: Rambert
• Young People & Arts Attendance: Arts Theatre, Cambridge (Young Direction)
• Needs Analysis for Stamford: South Kesteven District Council
• Nothing By Chance – Investigating Risk: Warwick
• Arts Audiences in the East of England: APU/ETA
• NOP Internet Research
Samantha Orrell described a scheme at the Royal National Theatre, designed to
to address the under-representation of under 26 year olds in its audiences.
Free access to the National Theatre (NT) was provided to 100 young people, giving them
a forum to meet, exchange views, and an opportunity to use theatre as a social activity.
The scheme, NT100, was also used to test the hypothesis that repeated visits increase
understanding and appreciation of theatre. The aim was to foster ongoing relationships
and encourage peer-to-peer marketing.
Recruiting the group
The target market comprised young people in Greater London, with an emphasis on the
South Bank and areas of deprivation. We were aiming for one-third in full-time
education, one-third waged and one-third unemployed; 50/50 male/female; and from
varied ethnic backgrounds, with 10% non-white. Every effort was made to accommodate
applicants with disabilities. A large number of contacts were made to generate sufficient
participants from the target segments of the market. Publicity materials were developed
to attract applicants to the scheme, These departed in style from the NT’s regular output.
The selection of participants was made on the basis of the criteria defining the target
audience. Those who had visited more than once in the last two years did not qualify.
A wide range of events was programmed for the group, including an introductory
evening, backstage tour and a range of productions. Participants could choose any of the
shows, but they were asked to bring a party of their friends and/or members of their
family who had never been to the National before.
Over the course of the programme, attendance declined. Most apologised for lack of
attendance, giving time constraints, and work/exam commitments as reasons. There was
a significant drop-off after the lengthy summer break. Since the end of the programme, a
further two offers have been made to NT100 participants, and 90 tickets have been
requested by 35 members.
Other information has been generated through quantitative and qualitative research,
which was planned into the project. Questionnaires were issued after each event, and
focus groups took place halfway through and at the end of the project. Some were
prepared for this, but it was difficult to get feedback from others. The mechanism for
collection of feedback clearly needs to be designed so that it does not detract from the
enjoyment of the experience.
Individual responses to the different shows varied enormously:
On ‘Summerfolk’ ‘Amazing, astute, social comment, ‘It was far too long
accurate portrayals of society and considering the main theme
human nature. Very literary and was the banality of the
ironic, the play within a play worked bourgeoisie. It could have
well.’ come out with a stronger
impact in a shorter time.’
On ‘Honk the Ugly ‘Fun, witty, classical, beautiful, ‘Colourful, comforting,
Duckling’ entertaining.’ ordinary, children’s
Response to the whole experience, however, was uniform. Young people spoke of the
awkwardness of the first visit; difficulties finding the door and not knowing anyone in
the foyer. The lack of publicity aimed at young people was remarked upon, and some
asked why we don’t distribute more flyers. They also wanted more shows on the
Terraces, more fast food, young casts, friendly prices, and shows in their territories –
student unions, music venues, etc. They also want a time and space for socialising after
shows – a place to hang out. It had been our intention to offer practical drama work as
part of the NT100 experience, but most were more interested in watching than doing.
One of the most successful sub-groups in terms of attendance was a group of homeless
young people from Centrepoint. They were usually accompanied by a group leader, and it
was obviously important that these young people had a mentor they trusted who could
persuade them to try things.
An advisory group had been set up comprising theatre staff from a range of different
departments, and this was used in an experiment to introduce mentors from the NT –
meaning that the group had been introduced to enthusiastic people who would act as
‘friendly faces’ in the building. This worked well at first, but it proved difficult to sustain
with fluctuating numbers and large commitment from staff.
Originally participants were meant to attend events on their own, but early on
participants began to ask for tickets for friends. After the first two visits we gave them
the opportunity to bring a friend, and 112 further young people were introduced to the
National Theatre by NT100. Bringing one guest at a time was more popular than
organising a group, which naturally involved more effort. Asking them to organise
groups was less successful than we had hoped. Many found it too much effort to
As for the forum for young people, we wanted to provide a forum for NT100 members
to meet and exchange their views. Participants wanted to socialise with other members,
but is was tricky to organise pre- and post-performance events. We were unable to
provide a regular meeting point, but we needed an identifiable space where younger
audiences felt at home. We also need to programme events around shorter plays – or on
NT100 was a rewarding experience, both for participants and NT. Thirty-five per cent of
members stayed the whole course, and some have already come back to the National on
their own and visited other theatres. Many have expressed a wish to continue their
association with the National. From our experience we believe we have identified the key
features that will encourage young people coming to the National for the first time to
become regular theatre-goers:
• Affordable tickets.
• Regular visits.
• Offers to attend on particular dates.
• A supporting programme of events and talks to promote understanding.
• An opportunity to talk and socialise.
• Named contacts at the theatre.
In addition, we have found that young people form marginalised constituencies need
additional support structures such as an appropriate adult mentor, additional targeted
development programmes prior to seeing plays, and travel and other costs.
To follow on from NT100, we are establishing a priority ticket scheme for young people
aged 15–26, with top-price tickets to designated performances for £5. A £5 membership
fee will be charged, as an investment in their commitment (which will be waived in cases
of special need). We will also be developing ‘hang out’ areas front-of-house, and will
approach other arts organisations to arrange linked activities outside NT. This will be a
three-year scheme, with a target of 250 members in year 1. We will work closely with
community partners, and will continue attitudinal research. Success will be measured by
numbers joining the scheme and number of visits.
Rob Macpherson described how a project involving the National Theatre, Warwick Arts Centre and
Milton Keynes Theatre succeeded in getting closer to young, first-time theatre attenders.
This project took place in November/December 1999, based around Patrick Marber’s
hard-hitting black comedy ‘Closer’, directed by Paddy Cunneen. Its objectives were to:
• widen access to NT’s regional touring productions
• attract 3,150 new, first-time attenders between 16 and 26 years old
• provide affordable tickets for young people
• support new attenders’ first visits
• explore the impact of new technologies in marketing and feedback among the target
• involve young people in the promotion of the scheme.
There were seven performances in a 535 seat theatre, with a total capacity of 3,745
tickets. The target was 1,050 attenders (i.e. about one-third), and target groups were
young people aged 16–26, including those in formal education, those on low incomes,
those active in the arts and those starting professional careers. We aimed also to
maximise ethnic diversity and disabled representation.
A special first-timer offer was designed, offering best available tickets for just £3.
Promotion 1 involved print, direct mail, sales displays, magazine listings, telesales
reminders, bulk print distribution and handbilling/exit leafleting. Promotion 2 involved
advocates and youth representatives, direct selling, wage packet slipping, email
distribution, radio advertisements, an ‘underground’ campaign and a website.
Contacts were made through youth and community groups such as the Prince’s Trust,
the Careers Service, Coventry Social Service and youth clubs. Other contacts were made
with young professionals through organisations which included West Midlands Fire
Service, AXA Assurance, Barclays, Powergen and Marconi, as well as solicitors,
accountancy firms, beauty salons/hairdressers, design studios, IT consultancies,
architects and computer suppliers. Arts and education contacts were made through other
organisations, including Depot Studios, local secondary schools, Belgrade Theatre
Coventry, Playbox Theatre Warwick, universities of Coventry and Warwick, and
A wide range of measures were taken, revealing the following booking patterns:
• Number of £3 tickets sold (as % of target) 791 (75%)
• Number of actual bookers (i.e. new masterfiles) 371
• Average number of tickets sold per booker 2.13
• Number of groups 14
• Group tickets sold (as % of overall attendance) 170 (21.5%)
• Tickets sold to individual bookers (as % of overall attendance) 621 (78.5%)
• First-time bookers 67%
Further information was generated about the demographics of attenders:
• Gender Male: 37.5% Female: 62.5%
• Age 16–18: 35% 19–26: 65%
• Occupation Employed: 34.5% / Unemployed: 4.5% / Full-time education: 61%
The predominant source of information was word of mouth (51%), followed by picked-
up postcard (28%); 89% felt welcomed at the venue, and 61% cited ‘can’t afford it’ as the
reason for not attending more often. When asked ‘Has this experience made you more or
less likely to attend again?’, 82% said more likely.
The website promotion involved 16,000 postcards, 2,000 stickers, on-line prompts and
search-engine registration. There were 412 hits and 346 unique visits. Average daily hits
were 6, and 169 hits were made once the play opened.
Video documentation was developed and carried out mainly by students from Depot
Studios Coventry, a film and media training base for young people. In addition, written
exit surveys were conducted. A range of follow-up activity is planned, including:
• thank-you letters sent pre-Christmas to all first-timer £3 buyers
• prompt to visit website until January
• spring season diary, explaining variety at WAC
• follow-up special ticket offer for two January shows: VTOL’s ‘Without Trace’ and
Out of Joint’s ‘Some Explicit Polaroids’ (Ravenhill).
WHY TECHNOLOGY CREATES MORE BARRIERS THAN IT PULLS
Bill Thompson explained why new technologies can set up barriers to the arts, and looked at ways to ‘do
it well’ with the technology.
The technologies we are all being encouraged to use are like the touch panel on the
copier, providing a very limited communications channel between the audience and the
arts organisation or artist. Photocopiers are not stupid, or at least they don’t need to be
stupid. But they do need better ways of figuring out what people want them to do.
Marketing the arts is like being a photocopier. You don’t know very much at all about
what people mean by their actions but you still have to try to do your best in the
Computers getting in the way
We are all encouraged to see technology as the solution to a problem. In the arts, ICTs
(information and communications technologies) are presented as the way to develop
advertising and marketing strategies, to enhance sales and provide customers or potential
customers with the information they need, and even to create and display the arts. Digital
art, online galleries and virtual performances are all happening, albeit in a rudimentary
and experimental form. But it is not at all clear that any of this technology is either
necessary, desirable or effective. It may be that, like many small businesses with their
unvisited websites, the arts world has bought into a revolution that it does not want or
need to be part of.
It may be that technology – a convenient shorthand for the whole range of digital
information and communications technologies that underpins the Western economy and
is rapidly being introduced into all areas of our daily lives – creates far more barriers to
the arts for current or potential audiences. And if this is so, we need to consider what, if
anything, can be done about it.
Let’s look at the various stages that a person has to go through to transform themselves
into an audience member:
• Finding out what’s on.
• Buying a ticket.
• Getting there and getting in.
• Experiencing the arts.
• Thinking about it afterwards (and telling other people).
• Doing it again.
We need to consider the range of technologies and their various uses:
We must ask whether technology is inherently alienating and intimidating, or whether it’s
just our current practice that creates problems. And we have to consider whether
technology creates new barriers or simply rearranges existing barriers, or both. Or
perhaps (it’s possible) neither.
Thinking about technology
Computers are now widely used internally within most arts organisations, so that many
administrative tasks are now routinely done on a networked PC. Bookkeeping, accounts
and grant management are also done using spreadsheets, accounts packages and so on.
Marketing materials are prepared and occasionally even delivered electronically. Audience
development uses databases, statistical analysis and other tools. Computer-based ticketing
systems now support box office, telephone, kiosk and online sales. Websites are used for
promotion, information and sales. The creative use of new technologies in the arts is also
important. Some artists use technologies to create works that are then exhibited or
performed in the real world. Others create wholly digital arts.
What can we infer from this? That ICT is everywhere or about to be everywhere? Let’s
look to the future. I see five big trends:
CAIUS: the key to the future
Every piece of hardware you use will have a processor embedded in it, giving it the
capability to be part of the network. The software we run will be able to make decisions
on our behalf, giving it a limited agency. Alt programs will work together, and
interoperability will be taken for granted. The network will be ubiquitous. And, finally,
new things will emerge from the combination of all these factors, and serendipity will
provide us with new things to do and play with.
What barriers could exist?
Becoming an audience (or an audience member, for most arts events other than those
running on the Edinburgh Fringe) is a complicated process. First there is the stage of
finding out what is going on – what events or exhibitions or performances are available,
where, when and at what cost. Then there is the acquisition of a ticket or other
permission to attend. After that comes the journey and the entrance to the venue. And
finally there is the experience itself, the transcendental moment of being an audience
member. A range of technologies can mediate all aspects of the process, from the trivial
(having a printed leaflet that was prepared using a word processor) to the sublime
(ticketless ticketing via WAP phones).
Most technology is currently invisible to the audience, although this is starting to change.
At the moment the main problem is the telephone effect: the fact that effort goes into
producing websites and technology-based initiatives which are then inaccessible to those
who do not use the Internet/computers/kiosks. Like the early days of telephone polling,
where the views of the poor were under-represented to the point where Dewey was
expected to win the 1932 US presidential election, so the new marketing tools do not
reach many potential attenders.
Think how technology has changed our experience of shopping:
• The corner shop circa 1930 (with home delivery by bike).
• The supermarket circa 1990.
• The online store circa 2000 (with home delivery by van).
And for each let’s consider the user experience. A range of customer-based criteria can
be used to assess the good, bad and indifferent aspects of all three:
• Flexibility – to the end of the process.
• The intelligent interpolation of desires.
• How much work is done by the customer and how much is done by the supplier.
• How errors are handled.
• How overcapacity is handled.
• How convenient is the delivery/fulfilment process.
But consider it from the supplier point of view: they’re interested in low cost, low
overhead, high volume, high profit (even on low profit margin) – and the two are not
compatible. Now think about online ticketing, or keyboard-based phone ticketing. Are
we really making life easier for our audiences? What’s wrong with online ticketing today?
And how could it be improved?
Arts marketing is about creating awareness and desire. We hope that the fulfilment of
that desire will be straightforward (but that’s not guaranteed). In what ways are marketing
strategies being determined by technology? Does the use of technology help? For
example, if you buy in mailing lists then you only ever reach people who end up on
mailing lists. And if you put up a website then you only ever reach people who use the
Internet. And if you send flash-based e-cards promoting your work then you annoy even
them. We cannot do it without the technology. Is there a way to do it well with the
The barriers of experience
I want to think about this sideways, so let’s now consider the artwork itself. I don’t want
to look too deeply at the fact that much digital art is also deliberately avant-garde and
that the barriers here could be inside the head of the artist rather than a consequence of
the technologies used per se. Instead I want to think of the ways we interact with digital
arts presented, as most are today, on a screen.
We can see that new technologies and new tools are widely used within the creative
process, and there are a growing number of purely digital works of art out there.
Architects were probably the first creative professionals to embrace new technologies
fully, and the growing power and sophistication of computer-aided drawing and design
tools can be traced to their ever-increasing demands for more powerful and usable
Few authors now work without the aid of a word processor. And visual artists have also
embraced the technology, largely as a publishing or distribution arena, rather than a direct
substitute for paint or marble. There are also many multimedia artists trying to create in
ways that incorporate new technologies – some of the best-known practitioners are with
us for the conference. However, even the best of these works preserve the distinction
between artist and viewer/reader/consumer.
Last summer I was in Hastings and I visited a multimedia installation at the Hastings
Gallery. It was an interesting work which was rather spoiled for me by the fact that the
main form of presentation was through three large monitors embedded in 2m plinths.
The screens simply did not work, because they resolutely refused to disappear from view.
For the arts themselves, the next stage is to move online into a virtual performance space
and perhaps to allow the viewer to enter the work and be part of it. There are some
experiments with this, and places like the ICA New Media Centre try to do interesting
work, but they have not yet reached the point where performance is the same online as in
the real world. We are some way from immersive virtual realities, and performing plays in
3D virtual worlds like Ultima Online, or dance work in Quake, is still bleeding edge
rather than leading edge. Even the online galleries lack the quality of engagement that art
really requires to be effective. This happens because the screen is a barrier to experience,
not a carrier of emotional charge and human engagement. It limits the information
available, in the way that the photocopier gets limited information about what its human
user wants it to do.
There are two ways to use a screen: it can be a window onto a remote experience but
there we need full-screen full-motion and enough polygons a second to approach reality1.
Or it can be a palimpsest, a manuscript that is erased and overwritten. That’s what
happens when we use a word processor or display still images of art on our screens – and
it is always less satisfying than having a physical object that is somehow permanently
inscribed with the product of the creative process (a book or a painting or a sketch or a
score or even a CD or a piece of hewn rock).
We are used to the screen as window – it is called television and it works for passive
reception of programmed experience. But I’m not sure we’ll ever get used to the screen
as palimpsest, however good the resolution and flicker-free it gets. I suspect that our
brains are hardwired to enjoy and engage with marked physical objects. And if that’s so,
then the real future of technology is not the creation of ‘digital artworks’ but of ‘digital
art’ – art that is created through but not of technology. After all, we use a wide range of
1This is a reference to game playing computers, where every image is made up of a large number of small triangles, squares,
pentagons, etc. Looking at the human visual system as if it was just a graphics processor leads to the conclusion that ‘reality is fifty
thousand polygons a second’.
tools to create our art, but we do not need to leave them on show. Few galleries feel they
have to display paintbrush and palette beside the works on their walls.
Building invisible tools
Finally, since we’ve been remarkably negative about the technologies we’re all using, I
want to pose a question: can we design technologies that would not create barriers?
After all, the relationship between technology and the arts is not all one way. In fact it is
probably never just one way – the relationship is much more like that between mind and
body, between physical illness and mental processes. Catching a cold isn’t about having a
cold virus in your bloodstream – the cold virus is always there, but sometimes your
internal states (mental and physical) mean that the virus levels rise or fall. Sometimes the
virus levels rise and you don’t get symptoms. Sometimes – like before a big meeting or
performance – one can decide to become ill, and develop real symptoms and a ‘real’
illness without any observable change in virus activity. Go figure.
So it is with technologies. If we look at the tools available to arts organisations we can
unpick the history of any one of them and what will emerge is that it is the interaction
between the two realms that really matters. It is not – and has never been – the case that
the IT industry builds stuff and businesses or artists take it and use it. So it should be
possible to influence the future development of technologies and tools.
Good technologies, like magic, are invisible. We grow accustomed to them and they
disappear from view. Perhaps the distance we feel from screens and keyboards is just a
stage in our technological evolution, but even so I fear it is too late for us to change.
Information and communications technologies – the computer, the Net and the phone -
will always be ‘out there’, separate from our creative instincts and processes because we
did not grow up with them. It is partly because of this that we feel a sense of triumph at
having mastered this alien technology and will always want to make the technology
visible, either in the artwork or as part of its exhibition, performance or experience.
Perhaps our children will be free of this urge, because to them the computer may
disappear from view in the creative process in the same ways as the brush or chisel or
guitar or stage simply ceases to exist to the artist who is using it. After all, the real goal is
not to make better use of technology, but to make the technology invisible. Once that is
done we can get on building audiences for the wonderful art that will be created with the
help of this same technology.
TEARING DOWN INTERNAL BARRIERS
Helene Toogood described the Art Ambassadors Project at the Laing Art Gallery, Tyne & Wear
Museums, and explored the idea of an audience-focused culture. She examined the flexible approach that
was adopted when working with the target audience of 16–25 year olds.
Tyne & Wear Museums is a major regional museum and art gallery service. It is a local
authority service jointly funded by the five metropolitan district councils in the county of
Tyne & Wear: Newcastle upon Tyne, Gateshead, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and
Sunderland. Our mission is to help people determine their place in the world, and
understand their identities, so enhancing their self-respect and their respect for others.
The Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne, is one of ten venues that make up Tyne &
Wear Museums (TWM). TWM also includes the Discovery Museum and the Hancock
Museum, Newcastle upon Tyne, Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead, Stephenson Railway
Museum and Segedunum Roman Fort in North Tyneside, Arbeia Roman Fort, and
South Shields Museum & Art Gallery in South Tyneside, Monkwearmouth Station
Museum and Sunderland Museum & Art Gallery in Sunderland.
The Laing Art Gallery is the city art gallery for Newcastle upon Tyne and is located in the
heart of the city centre. It is named after Alexander Laing, a local wine and spirit
merchant, who had made his fortune from the city and wanted to give something back to
its people by donating money towards the establishment of an art gallery. It opened in
1904, but was unusual in that it had no collection! This was built up gradually and over
the years. Its aim has always been to build up a collection of contemporary paintings,
with particular emphasis on local artists and scenes. It now has a very large collection of
work with 1,000 oil paintings, 4,000 watercolours, 5,000 prints and 7,000 items forming
the decorative arts collection. A new extension opened in 1996, increasing gallery space,
and improving access to the building. The Laing Art Gallery, as for most of Tyne &
Wear Museums’ venues, does not charge an entry fee.
The background to Art Ambassadors
Tyne & Wear Museums has a long-standing commitment to facilitating community-
orientated activities. It repeatedly demonstrates this commitment to really ‘putting people
at the centre of museums’ through the very many schemes that take place at Tyne &
Wear Museums, all working towards the same aims ultimately, but from different
directions. This is because we would not and could not exist without our audience, our
visitors, and as a publicly funded organisation, it is important that we ensure that it is
open to all – we hold the collections in trust for everyone to enjoy.
The Laing Art Gallery itself has run a successful outreach programme for over five years.
The central purpose of the outreach programme is to increase communication,
interaction and exchange skills and ideas between members of the public, artists and the
art gallery. It seeks to break down misconceptions about the ‘elitist’ visual arts and
galleries, to increase general understanding and confidence with the arts, and to make the
visual arts relevant for everyone.
The Laing targets outreach work at groups who do not normally visit the gallery for
whatever reason and has involved people from all sections of the local community in
visual arts projects that they would not normally access. This has included a number of
participatory arts projects linked to exhibitions in the gallery, in activities from digital
imaging to drama. For example, exhibition and outreach work was undertaken in
response to ‘Tap, Ruffle and Shave: an installation to meddle with’ by Richard Layzell in
the summer of 1998. Volunteers from the New Ideas, New Choices group at Skills for
People took part. Together with artists Richard Layzell and Steve Jones, the group
designed and built a permanent multi-sensory room at their centre. The participants, who
communicated in ways other than words, explored a variety of sensory experiences. The
room reflects many aspects of their personalities, in the colours, objects and sensations
In recent years, members of the public have been invited behind the scenes to choose
their favourite artworks and objects for displays. This has involved residents from Byker,
under 5s and members of the Chinese community, to mention but a few. They have
provided their interpretation of these items and have been encouraged to develop their
creative skills in designing and producing their own material for exhibition. ‘From the
Vaults’, as the series is known, is now on its 12th episode.
Art Ambassadors – plans
It is from this background that plans were drawn up in 1998 by the Laing Art Gallery for
a new project called Art Ambassadors. This was an innovative audience development
project, supported by Tyne & Wear Museums and the Arts Council of England’s New
Audiences Programme. It also received funding from Tyne & Wear Museums’ Corporate
Club, North East Museums Service (NEMS), Northern Arts, the Museums & Galleries
Commission and the Sir James Knott Trust. The project received a total of £22,000.
The scheme was devised following a ‘Potential Visitors Motivation’ survey, which in
1998 had demonstrated that non-visitors to the gallery are predominantly males, young
people aged 14–25 and socio-economic groupings C1, C2 and D. Not much was known
about this target audience, other than that young people are extremely difficult to target.
Desk research was undertaken and the findings showed that low youth attendance
applies to galleries nationally. There is a fall in attendance of young adults immediately
after statutory school age (J. Harland, 1995, Arts in their View). The reasons for this
include: shortage of money, removal of compulsion, lack of encouragement and stimulus
from teachers, a search for self-identity, and a need to grow and develop through the
anti-institutional rebellious stage (as above). However, there is a rise with 18–20 year
olds. Harland states that many young people come to the arts at a later age when they can
do so of their own will and choice. In terms of awareness and perceptions of art and art
galleries, personal contact is more immediate and effective than a flier (H. O’Riain, 1997,
Old Objects in Glass Cages). Galleries can be viewed by young people and youth workers as
remote, and staff as unapproachable (S. Selwood et al., 1995, An Enquiry into Young People
and Art Galleries). It’s a question of image: visiting galleries is not ‘cool’ (O’Riain) – the
perception that ‘it’s not for them’.
The aims of the project were:
• To test perceptions about reasons for non-attendance and to break down barriers
between young people and the visual arts experience.
• To test various methods of communication with new audiences and establish
methodologies for feedback and evaluation.
• To inform gallery policy on programming, outreach and customer care.
• To develop the Laing’s audience base.
• To instil confidence and encourage new visitors to make return visits.
The scheme we designed was a six-month pilot initiative which ran from November 1998
until May 1999. A team of three Ambassadors was appointed in November 1999, which
consisted of myself as project co-ordinator, and two Ambassadors who worked part-
time. Our brief was to make contact proactively with groups of young people aged 16–25
from Tyne & Wear and to introduce them to the gallery and the visual arts through a
tailor-made visit to the Laing. Particular emphasis was given to those who might be
categorised as ‘socially excluded’ – interpreted to be anyone who did not visit the gallery
through disadvantage, disability, lack of opportunity or interest.
Art Ambassadors – in practice
In putting together the project brief, it had been anticipated that the project would be
based solely around the idea of a tailored visit for a group of young people. The
Ambassadors were to host visits at the Laing from Tuesdays to Sundays, within normal
gallery opening hours, running nine visits per week over a 40-week period – a total of
360 visits over the duration of the project. It had been calculated that each visit would
involve a group of approximately ten people, so the Ambassadors would work with an
estimated 3,600 people overall!
We were allotted a period of two weeks as lead-in time to begin proactively making
contact with groups, with visits starting after the two-week period. A leaflet and poster
were produced as promotional materials for the project to be distributed among youth
groups and organisations, and places where young people might visit.
But as we progressed, a number of factors led us to offer a greater diversity of activities,
and to adopt a highly flexible and responsive approach:
• More lead-in time was needed to build trust and establish relationships with groups
and their leaders.
• The time scales to which groups worked and we worked differed: activities for youth
groups are planned on average several weeks or months in advance as part of a long-
• Most youth groups meet during the evening and were unable to visit during normal
gallery opening hours.
• Age limits are arbitrary and exclude people. Young people are often part of groups
with wider age remits, e.g. 11–16, 14–25.
• Young people did not want a structured experience ‘like school’ – youth groups
operate on an open-access, user-led basis.
• Many organisations work with individuals, not formal groups.
Fortunately the aims and structure of the project were not so inflexible that they could
not be adapted. Also, the project was also a pilot – part research and part practice –
which allowed us to explore different ways of working with young people and the visual
arts. We were able to respond to group needs and concerns quickly and thereby provide a
more effective service while operational. As an organisation, we accepted that we were
unable to achieve what was anticipated in terms of numbers and that a qualitative
approach rather than quantitative was needed and would be of value. This applied to the
Ambassadors team: we changed our hours of work to suit the youth groups and
frequently worked evenings. Ultimately, the key to our success was personal contact and
adopting a flexible approach – working evenings, working beyond the gallery and
meeting young people on their terms rather than ours, designing activities and events
following the principles of youth work.
What took place?
Feedback from youth group members and leaders played a major part in the design of
activities, and informed regular strategic reviews. As a result of this, the project design
evolved as follows:
1. Outreach work
This became integral to the project and often took place during evenings, a time when
many youth groups meet as this is their only free time from education or work
commitments. They were initiated in response to requests from leaders and young
people, and in acknowledgement of the fact that more investment is needed to establish
trust and gain young people’s interest. We met young people on their own territory – at
youth and community centres – which played a significant part in encouraging them to
view the Laing and its staff as approachable. It meant that group members had a familiar
face to look out for if and when they visited the Laing. For some, it was their only point
of contact with the gallery and gallery staff.
It took the form of an informal introductory chat using information on the gallery to
raise awareness and stimulate discussion about their views on art, art galleries, and the
Laing, to practical sessions. The outreach pack included pictures of the gallery, postcards
of artwork, photos of other groups and activities they had done at the Laing. It helped us
in tackling the most frequently asked questions by young people and group leaders:
‘Where is the Laing?’ and ‘Are we allowed to visit?’ For many, not knowing the answers
had led to a negative view of the gallery. This also helped to allay anxiety about coming
into the building itself as they did not know what to expect.
Activities helped to challenge perceptions about art. Some felt that if they could do it,
then it could not be art. By asking them their views and what they wanted from us, we
were able to begin tackling the perception that there was nothing for them: ‘It’s not like
for young kids – it’s for people who like art’, ‘It’s boring and there is nothing to do’.
Personal contact was the single most effective method of communication with this target
audience; 75% of groups who met the Ambassadors at their bases subsequently booked a
visit to the gallery.
2. Drop-in activities
We learnt from our contact with youth workers and young people that in order to
encourage young people to use the gallery and to participate in visual arts activities, they
must be free to choose their own level of engagement. This supports the work of youth
services, which aim to develop the individual’s independence and confidence to form
opinions, develop skills and make choices about everything from jobs to culture. Drop-in
activities were held every weekend between February and April 1999. The activities
differed from week to week, and always offered the participant the opportunity to keep
what they had made. They were based in the heart of the gallery, not far from the main
entrance, and not ‘hidden’ in another room.
They were intended to offer an informal and less structured experience for individuals.
There was no pressure of an appointment and young people could come and go as they
pleased. However, the majority of participants were aged approximately 5–15, and came
across the activity during the course of their visit to the Laing.
3. Visits to the Laing Art Gallery
Diverse types of visits were also offered at the Laing for groups who did want to take
part. These included informal pre-visits to break the ice and allow young people time to
acclimatise, before deciding whether they wanted to take part in a workshop or activity.
Sometimes this took the form of a brief tour followed by a visit to the cafeteria. Each
visit was planned in response to group needs which were discussed with the group
members before hand. Groups participated in sessions on fashion, relating to the
permanent collection, and conflict using a temporary exhibition: John Keane’s ‘Conflicts
of Interest’. Drama and movement workshops were also conducted in response to
‘Representing the People’, an exhibition of contemporary Chinese portraiture. Sessions
also covered team-building exercises, literacy and communication skills, and even
orienteering! Visits were more successful where they had not been planned too rigidly,
and allowed for greater flexibility on the day, again leaving the level of participation and
amount of time spent up to the individual.
4. ‘Later …@ the Laing’ open evenings
On 10 and 18 March 1999 the Laing held two evenings of contemporary culture
designed specifically with young people in mind. These events attempted to bring the
gallery to life, but also to address the fact that many young people could not visit the
gallery during the day. The evenings were designed along the lines of youth work ‘best
practice’: open-access, user-led activities that left the level of participation up to the
individual. Different cultural activities, such as DJ-ing and body art, were set up around
the gallery, encouraging the young people to ‘colonise’ the building and at the same time
present an integrated cultural context for the visual art on the walls. Thirty-four per cent
of those who responded to questionnaires had never visited the gallery before; 637
people visited the gallery.
5. Creative consultancy
This is a method of consultancy that uses innovative and creative techniques to
encourage people to consider issues and express their thoughts on a particular subject. It
was especially effective when working with the young people encountered through the
Art Ambassadors’ scheme.
Focus groups had originally been proposed prior to the start of the project to gather
evaluation material from young people who had been involved in the Art Ambassadors
project. However, it became apparent that they were an inappropriate tool for use with
young people. The low take-up of visits to the Laing as originally offered highlighted the
need to find out more about the opinions of young people who had not visited the
gallery through the scheme and to explore the different methods of communicating with
It was undertaken in April 1999 to find out what young people who had previously not
visited the art gallery thought of the visual arts and art galleries, and to produce a video
resource for future work by gallery staff. It was an engaging and mutually beneficial way
of learning more about the target audience: the work took the form of participatory
creative arts workshops run by a team of five artists, and took place in three different
youth centres in the east end of Newcastle, introducing young people to a variety of art
forms as a means of:
• engaging directly with arts processes
• engaging directly with practising artists
• responding to examples of art as presented by the artists and created by themselves
• sharing information about the nature and place of art, and
• forming opinions about art.
The creative consultancy was designed to address a number of questions like ‘What is art
(and what is not art)?’, ‘Who makes art?’ and ‘Where do you find art?’ Each night, five
artists set up activities ranging from cartooning, graffiti boards, digital imaging with a
digicam, scanner and PC, to large-scale painting. Again, it followed principles adopted by
youth workers and clubs, that of open access and user-led activities. Young people could
sample whichever activities appealed to them and in their own time. They were free to
come and go as they pleased, and did not find the activities threatening or
The artists produced a brief report. In addition a video resource is being produced which
‘collages’ the comments and thoughts of the young people with images of the artworks
and sounds produced by participants. The video will be used as a stimulus for outreach
work, and will act as a peer advocacy tool with the young people as Art Ambassadors
themselves. We have also learnt a lot through commissioning the video, which will help
us to plan and budget more effectively for future video projects. The experience has also
helped us to understand where and how we might increase community participation in
the production processes.
6. Meetings with youth workers and training seminars
Group leaders control access to their groups, and their perceptions and attitudes towards
art, art galleries and the Laing impacted on the project before contact was even made
with young people themselves. Low awareness of the Laing meant that some leaders
were disinclined to use it now. Some had assumed that there was an admission charge.
Several asked permission to bring their groups. Others felt that they and their groups
were not represented in the collection.
Some leaders viewed the project itself in restrictive terms, that what they did had to be
‘arty’, and other ways of using the gallery did not exist. Others were unsure as to how to
use the gallery and/or art. Others were not keen to be involved on a one-off basis, and
wanted longer-term outreach work that would relate more to their programmes.
Meetings were held with group leaders to address these issues, and further inform the
project and future work. Two training seminars were organised to facilitate the use of the
gallery by youth workers and their groups. They were also intended to address
misconceptions and negative responses of group leaders. They were promoted as a
forum for consultation with group leaders, and to provide practical training to ‘demystify’
the visual arts.
The key to our success was personal contact and adopting a flexible approach. Working
directly with young people and meeting them on their own terms, rather than ours, has
helped to build trust with young people and youth workers, establishing foundations for
long-term relationships. Organising events where young people could take part in visual
arts activities on an open-access user-led basis, in line with youth work practice, has
helped to build confidence with the gallery and in young people themselves.
We established contact with a large number of groups and organisations, increased
awareness of the gallery with the target audience, and gathered a great deal of
information in a short time. This information includes a comprehensive database on 273
groups, an understanding of how most youth groups operate (from the time scales they
work to and the dynamics within groups) to the kind of activities that work well with
young people. The target audience of 16–25 year olds was particularly difficult to reach.
The Art Ambassadors project only served as an introductory experience for many young
people which may bear fruit in the long term, but at the same time it has created firm
foundations for further long-term work with this target audience. A great deal of time
has been spent building up trust with youth workers and groups, and it is clear that the
youth groups and organisations would like to see long-term working relationships
established between themselves and the gallery.
• A period of lead-in time of at least several months is needed to establish trust and
• Be aware of time scales – they may differ from yours. There is a danger of expecting
others to fit in with you!
• Projects establish expectations and relationships must be sustained. This can be
difficult even within a short time-span as there is a high turnover of youth workers
and also of young people. Many groups operate a rolling programme where members
move on to a different group later or leave once they have gained the skills they
needed to acquire.
• Age limits are arbitrary and exclude people. We accommodated groups who
approached us who wanted to take part in the scheme.
• Monitor a project such as this closely so you are able to adapt.
• Be flexible – the structured approach was not appropriate.
• Group numbers are often random, and members may decide not to turn up, which
means that some may view it as easier not to tackle this audience.
• Accept the value of a qualitative approach rather than quantitative. As an
organisation, we have learnt much that will inform future developments.
• There is no one formula for working with people.
Recommendations based on the project findings
• Consult group leaders and workers before designing a project, and to gain their
• Conduct desk research beforehand to discover lessons learnt previously in relation to
the target audience and the approaches that could be taken.
• It is more effective to work with all socially excluded groups. The existence of an age
limit could have excluded many people from visiting the Laing Art Gallery.
• Personal contact is the most effective means of communication and a tool for
ensuring that people feel at ease with the gallery. For it to be successful, it needs to
be very labour intensive, i.e. considerable staff time needs to be allocated to the job.
• Young people want activities to provide them with an interactive experience of the
visual arts. ‘Later … @ the Laing’ was particularly successful in achieving this
objective. Activities need to be user led, following youth work ethics.
• Adopt a long-term view to audience development. It is a slow process and needs
time. It needs to be part of a holistic approach to the whole gallery, and needs to be
fully coordinated between all departments within an organisation. The Art
Ambassadors scheme has established expectations, and young people have
questioned what the Laing can offer them in the future.
• Extend creative consultancy to other groups to raise awareness of the gallery and gain
more information on non-gallery visitors.
Beyond the project
At the Laing, information gathered during the project has been used to inform gallery
policy on programming, outreach and customer care. Follow-up work is continuing at
the Laing Art Gallery through the established outreach and education programmes.
Recent outreach projects for young people have included a project with girls’ groups in
Benwell and Scotswood, a Dodgy Clutch artists’ residency at the gallery, and a project
with young people from the Weston Spirit, Motiv8 and Inline – all groups contacted
through the Art Ambassadors.
Twenty-three groups have booked to take part in education activities at the gallery since
the project ended. Longer-term relationships are being established with a number of
groups as a direct result of the project. Contact is being maintained through regular mail-
outs and the video resource will be used in future work with new outreach groups.
The Art Ambassadors project has also informed Tyne & Wear Museums. Copies of the
full report have been circulated within TWM and at the Joint Museums Committee, and
also to regional and national bodies involved in museums and the arts. The Ambassadors
team made a significant contribution to the front-of-house review that took place in the
Laing and other Tyne & Wear Museums’ venues in 1999. Relationships are also being
sustained through additional work at TWM, across the whole service: ‘Objects of Desire’,
‘Making History’, ‘Tea Chest Challenge’.
TWM are also trying to ensure that young people are aware of the facilities on offer and
are continually monitoring the situation with opening hours. Trials have been held at
Sunderland. A proposal was submitted under year 2 of the Arts Council of England’s
New Audiences Programme. This was designed to build on the success of the initial
creative consultancy work commissioned. It was proposed to extend this to a range of
target audiences in the North East over a period of 12 months. Again, this would take
the form of participatory workshops facilitated by practising artists at groups’ bases or in
the gallery. A bid has also been submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund Access scheme
for an experimental period of late opening at the Laing.
Sarah Bedell has worked for a range of organisations, beginning in the education
department of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Society. After moving into marketing in
the Arts Council Touring Department, she combined education and marketing at the
ENO, moving into audience development. After completing an ACE bursary in
advanced marketing management, hosted by Warwick Arts Centre and WNO, Sarah has
worked in the RSC’s London office. She now works as a freelance consultant with a wide
variety of clients. Her interest in the role of evaluation for planning and audience
development initiatives was prompted by her involvement in reporting on the Arts
Council of England’s New Audiences Programme’s first year, and subsequent input into
the second and third years, in addition to ongoing projects. Sarah lives by the seaside
with a trombonist and their five cats.
Melanie Brooker is currently the Audience Relations Manager at the CBSO, with
responsibility for direct marketing, audience development and subscriptions. Having
completed an MA in European Cultural Policy and Administration at Warwick University
she worked for the early music ensemble Fiori Musicali before moving on to work for
the CBSO’s marketing department in 1998.
Alasdair Cant is an independent training consultant. With a background in education, he
subsequently worked as a training manager for Release, the National Drugs and Legal
Service and Westminster Social and Community Services. For the last three years he has
been working independently, providing training and consultancy across the UK and
Europe. Recent clients include Valleys Arts Marketing, Barts and the London NHS
Trust, St Martin in the Fields Social Care Unit and The Home Office. He has trained
widely in a range of management development areas including communication and
presentation, team building and the management of change. He specialises in helping
learners become ‘agents of change’ in their own organisations and also to work with
those who are reluctant to learn or to change. He is currently developing advanced skills
courses on facilitation and conflict resolution in the workplace.
Stephen Cashman is Chief Executive of Developing Audiences in the North – the
strategic arts marketing and audience development agency for the Northern region of
England. A music graduate and a Durham University Business School MBA, he has
worked in marketing posts for a range of organisations including the Bath Fringe
Festival, the Royal Opera House and Northern Sinfonia. Stephen has also been Senior
Lecturer in Arts Management at the University of Northumbria at Newcastle and an
independent consultant. Last year he was appointed Director of the TMA’s Kielder
Water Advanced Marketing Course. His MBA dissertation (which came second in the
Clerical Medical National MBA dissertation prize) considered the issue of managing
strategic change in arts organisations – particularly those relating to cultural change – and
forms the basis for many of the concepts and perceptions used in his breakout session
for this conference.
Tracy Cochrane is Marketing Manager with West Yorkshire Arts Marketing, part of the
national network of arts marketing agencies. She joined WYAM in 1998, originally as
Performing Arts Marketing Manager, and works with a wide range of performing and
visual arts organisations on marketing, research, training and audience development
projects. Before joining WYAM, she was Head of Marketing at the Victoria Theatre in
Halifax, and prior to this spent five years as Marketing Officer at Yorkshire Dance
Centre, one of the National Dance Agencies.
Philly Desai is an independent researcher specialising in social policy and
communications research. He has wide experience of conducting research among British
black and Asian communities, and his clients have included the Heath Education
Authority, the Home Office, the Armed Forces and many local authorities. He has
presented conference papers in the UK, Europe and Asia, and regularly runs training
courses on research methods and gaining the views of black and Asian communities. He
has a doctorate in sociology from the University of London, and is the Chair of the
Education Committee of the Association for Qualitative Research. In the field of the
arts, Philly has conducted two major studies exploring the experience and attitudes of
black, South Asian and Chinese people. The first was for the Museums and Galleries
Commission, looking at attitudes towards museums and galleries, and the second for the
Arts Council of England, exploring the needs and preferences of black, Asian and
Mark Dobson is Chief Executive of Tyneside Cinema, the regional film theatre in
Newcastle upon Tyne. He trained as a visual artist and has worked in arts management
for 14 years, ten of which he spent with Northern Stage at Newcastle Playhouse. He
joined Northern Stage as press and publicity officer and left (a very different
organisation) as its Director of Customer Relations. He is an AMA board member and is
also on the board of Developing Audiences in the North. He has also been a member of
the TMA’s Marketing Committee.
Graham Fowles worked for Oddbins, the wine retailer, after graduating in sociology
from the London School of Economics in 1990, before joining the Guardian as a sales
executive in 1992. Having gained experience in a range of advertising markets, Graham
joined the Guardian and Observer Advertisement Planning Department in 1995 and was
made Group Head in 1998. Responsible for the strategic use of media research to
support advertising sales, Graham has worked on the development of new research
initiatives and the in-depth analysis of standard industry data. In 2000 Graham was
appointed Project Manager of the Brand Research Unit, a new team formed to manage
the use of data and research across the whole of the Guardian and Observer. Based within
the Marketing Department, the Brand Research Unit has a brief to provide insight and
understanding of the Guardian and Observer’s key brands and markets, both offline and
online. The Brand Research Unit is currently working on a wide range of projects
including advertising strategy, brand tacking, product development and advertising
Angela Galvin has been Marketing and Development Director at Sheffield Theatres
since October 1996, running a department that performs the marketing, press, box office
and fundraising functions for three theatres (the Lyceum, Crucible and Studio) run as
one complex. As a member of the Theatres’ senior management team, Angela is also
heavily involved in strategic and business planning across the venues and represents the
Theatres on external bodies, including Arts Exchange – a project to promote South
Asian Arts across the region – and Sheffield Galleries and Museums Trust. Before
joining Sheffield Theatres, Angela was Head of Marketing and Membership at NCVO,
the ‘trade association’ for national and international charities. She has also worked in
broadcasting, photography and independent film, and has written a range of publications
on audience psychology, film and football.
Catherine Holden is Marketing Manager of the Tate Gallery. She is responsible for
marketing at both Tate Modern and Tate Britain, as well as supporting colleagues at Tate
Liverpool and Tate St Ives. The year 2000 has been a particularly busy one for Catherine
and her team, focusing on the high-profile launches of Tate Britain and Tate Modern, a
new brand identity for the organisation, the re-development of the gallery’s advertising,
re-design and expansion of print and re-launch of the highly successful Tate website
www.tate.org.uk. Catherine has worked in marketing for 12 years, first as brand manager
with the food company Ranks Hovis McDougall and then at the Royal National Theatre,
before moving to the Tate in 1994. She is a member of the Museums Association and in
1998 joined the board of the Arts Marketing Association.
Paul Kaynes is Chief Executive of Birmingham Arts Marketing, a marketing and
audience development agency dedicated to expanding and enlarging the audience for the
arts in Birmingham and the surrounding urban area. He started his career in the North
East and moved to Birmingham to take up an Arts Council marketing traineeship. He
has worked as Head of Marketing at Midlands Arts Centre, Sales and Marketing Manager
at the Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham, Marketing Director of Warwick Arts Centre and
Head of Marketing at the RSC. He is Vice Chair of the TMA Marketing Committee, a
board member of Network – the association of audience development agencies – as well
as Motionhouse Dance Theatre. In his role at BAM he is also co-director of Birmingham
ArtsFest, an audience development project masquerading as a free weekend festival.
Sanjiv Lingayah is Research Manager and Head of Indicators at New Economics
Foundation (NEF). NEF is a leading international think tank pioneering work in the field
of quality of life. In his four years at the Foundation his main responsibilities have been
quantitative and qualitative research and training in alternative indicators. Sanjiv has been
part of the UK Round Table on Sustainable Development: Indicators subgroup and was
a delegate at the United Nations Fourth Expert Group Meeting on Indicators. Key
recent projects have included managing pilot work with the DETR setting out a menu of
indicators to measure local quality of life. Sanjiv is currently working in a school in
Southwark with pupils and teachers to devise ‘alternative’ performance indicators. Sanjiv
and NEF have used measurement to help make invisible impacts visible. In the field of
the arts this has included producing a report called Creative Accounting: Beyond the Bottom
Line (1996) and a social audit at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry. Sanjiv has recently
been part of an NEF team devising an evaluation methodology of Barclay’s SiteSavers
regeneration projects. The methodology measures the project’s impacts on trust and
social energy. The approach is laid out in a handbook called Prove It!
Rob Macpherson joined Warwick Arts Centre as Marketing Director in 1998. WAC is
the UK’s largest regional arts centre and presents over 1,400 performances annually to an
audience of around 250,000. With a small team he now markets the broadest range of
the highest quality arts and entertainment – theatre and dance, film and comedy, every
style of music, family and literature events, plus the Mead Gallery – all under one roof.
Having completed a music degree at the University of Bristol in 1990, Rob took a bold
step into the world of accountancy with Coopers & Lybrand, surviving for one year
before escaping to the London Philharmonic Orchestra. While completing the CIM
Diploma, he moved through the LPO’s marketing ranks until he was called by the
sweeter pastures of Birmingham. Here he remained for nearly four years as Marketing
Manager of the CBSO until joining the Warwick team.
Heather Maitland has worked for a wide range of arts organisations: from the smallest
of touring theatre companies to running the London end of the Royal Shakespeare
Company’s marketing operation and including both classical and contemporary dance.
She worked on audience and art form development with around 40 small-scale venues
and companies in the East of England while at Eastern Touring Agency. She spent over
two years at of Midlands Arts Marketing working with 60 arts organisations of all scales
on audience development, market research, business planning and marketing projects.
Heather has written A Guide to Audience Development, The Golden Guide: Marketing for
Touring, The Silver Guide: Marketing for Touring Companies with Few Resources all for the Arts
Council of England and, most recently, Is It Time for Plan B? for the Arts Marketing
Association. She now works as a freelance arts consultant and is a part-time lecturer on
the MA in European Cultural Policy and Administration at the University of Warwick.
Paddy Masefield was one of the earliest specialist RAB officers, joining Northern Arts
in 1967. Between 1969 and 1981 he was Artistic Director of two repertory theatres,
founding director of five young people’s theatre companies, and wrote 30 plays. By the
early 1980s Paddy had become one of the first specialist arts consultants in the UK,
leading development strategies for local authorities. In 1986, on contracting ME, Paddy
swapped his marathon-running shoes for a wheelchair, and has since concentrated on
issues of disability in the arts and media, especially employment, representation and
access. In the last ten years he has chaired the Employment Initiative for Disabled People
for the Arts Council of England as well as serving on its Arts Lottery board and touring
panel. He has been a member of the BFI’s National Forum, Central Television’s
Regional Advisory Council, WMAB, and chair of the editorial board of ‘FRAMED’ and
‘The World Beyond 2000’. Paddy is currently Chair of Year of the Artist’s think tank, a
member of the UK UNESCO Commission’s Culture Committee, board member of the
National Disability Arts Forum and of C/PLEX and Project Leader for JOB 2000.
Awarded the OBE for services to the arts, he is an honorary life member of the
Directors Guild of Great Britain.
George Mathenson studied social psychology at Bradford University before moving on
to work in venue arts and administration. As Director of the Hudawi Cultural Centre,
Huddersfield, George has had ten years’ experience as an arts administrator and venue
manager. George’s career included: Centre Manager for the 21 South Street Arts Centre
as well as Community Outreach and Marketing Manager for Reading Theatres. This also
included the Hexagon Theatre, Reading Town and Reading Arts Centre. He became
Associate Arts Producer at the Midland Arts Centre. He was Development Manager for
the Nottingham Black Arts Centre before becoming the freelance consultant on the
Cultural Diversity strategy for the Nottingham Playhouse. George moved on to
developing a programme for the Drum Arts Centre. He then became Director of the
Hudawi Cultural Centre in Huddersfield.
Sarah Mather worked for Cardiff Arts Marketing during her music degree at Cardiff
University. After graduating she worked for Lake District Summer Music before taking
up her current position with the CBSO as Marketing and Development Assistant.
Ron McAllister studied music at Glasgow University before moving to Cardiff for his
postgraduate diploma in theatre studies. He worked on community arts projects at
Glasgow Arts Centre for three years before moving to the South East in 1983 to head up
the Music & Festivals Department of South Hill Park Arts Centre, Bracknell. At South
Hill Park, Ron helped establish the new Wilde Theatre as a potent force, transforming
community arts activity and allowing high profile professional work to develop. Ron
commissioned new work, produced community musicals and operas in Bracknell and
promoted large-scale festivals each summer. In 1989 Ron moved to the Borders to open
the Maltings Arts Centre in Berwick upon Tweed, establishing a programme of
professional work and resident companies, which dovetailed with community and youth
theatre activity. Ron moved to Huddersfield to work on the final design and
development of the Lawrence Batley Theatre, where he has been Artistic Director since
it opened in 1994. The theatre is noted for its strong mid-scale professional programme
of drama, music, opera and dance and has a growing reputation for its imaginative
approach to community involvement through its latest venture called … wait for it …
Creative Citizens 2000!
Andrew McIntyre was born into a socialist, football-mad family in Middlesborough,
which has left him with a desire to live somewhere else, a season ticket at the Riverside
Stadium and a strong leaning towards the underdog. In fact, he has a fatal attraction to
difficult causes, trying to ban the bomb as CND’s National Youth Organiser, then urging
world peace at the United Nations Association. But a doomed attempt to make Camden
Council’s policies popular persuaded him to settle for the soft option of developing arts
audiences. Andrew is probably best known for devising Test Drive the Arts, persuading
over 30,000 first-timers to try arts events and converting over 10,000 into paying
customers. He has since created TelePrompt, a telemarketing programme that’s doubled
attendance among infrequents and made £3 for every £1 spent. At last, some success!
After eight years as Arts About Manchester’s Head of Research, Andrew has teamed up
with long-term collaborators Gerri Morris and Joanna Hargreaves. Together they have
formed the new audience and organisational development consultancy Morris
Hargreaves McIntyre, working for some of the UK’s most forward-thinking arts
organisations. He lives in Manchester with Helen, a primary school music teacher, and
two small sons who don’t yet support Manchester United.
Anne Millman is Co-Director of McCann Matthews Millman Ltd (MMM), the
management and marketing consultancy specialising in working with the arts, heritage
and voluntary sectors. After studying literature at the University of Newcastle on Tyne,
Anne went on to Oxford University in 1979 to undertake a research degree. By 1983 she
had completed her studies and, more by accident than design, moved to London to work
as a marketing officer for a small-scale contemporary dance company. After four years of
touring Anne went freelance, and in 1988 formed MMM with colleagues Roger McCann
and John Matthews. The company now has offices in Cardiff (where its headquarters are
based), Hampshire, London and the Netherlands. Its main areas of work cover policy
development; business and marketing planning; feasibility studies; market research;
training; and sales promotion. Anne’s current clients range from the Barbican Centre to
Hackney Museum; the BBC to Talawa Theatre Company; and the Family Policy Studies
Institute to the World Aid Foundation. She also has clients in the Slovak and Czech
republics, the Netherlands, Malaysia and North America. Anne is Chair of the board of
Adzido Pan African Dance ensemble, and a board member of the International Society
for the Performing Arts (ISPA).
Sarah Ogle decided that on stage was not the place to be following a degree in theatre
arts and English and a Student Union sabbatical year. Instead press and marketing
proved a winning combination, as she joined the Everyman Theatre in her home town of
Liverpool. Sarah continued to work in the North West, joining the Royal Exchange
Theatre in Manchester and then Blackpool Grand Theatre: two very valuable and
different experiences! She is currently Marketing Manager at Birmingham Repertory
Samantha Orrell joined the Royal National Theatre as its Individual Development
Executive. She then became the RNT’s Public Affairs Project Manager with
responsibility for the management of audience development schemes such as the NT See
A Play scheme. Prior to joining the National, Samantha was Project Manager at Shalit
Entertainment (Music Management), Administrator at New Peckham Varieties (Theatre
Company), Company Director at Sweet Chocolate Productions (Music Management) and
Design Assistant at Halcrow Fox & Associates. As well as producing various
productions, Samantha has also gained the IDM diploma in direct marketing and holds a
diploma in arts management, Roehampton Institute, 1994.
Anne Roberts is a marketing consultant and arts project manager who specialises in
market research and marketing/business planning. She has worked for a wide variety of
clients including the Royal Shakespeare Company, Plymouth Theatre Royal, Rambert
Dance Company, National Youth Orchestra, Birmingham Rep, Arts Council of England,
Scottish Arts Council, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, West Yorkshire Arts
Marketing, Warwick Arts Centre, Eastern Touring Agency, AMA, RADA and the
Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds.
Ken Robinson was voted ‘Business Speaker of the Year’ by more than 200 European
companies in 1999. He is a leading force in the UK in the development of creativity and
human resources and is an internationally recognised expert. His reputation is based on
his own groundbreaking research and leadership in creativity, education and training. He
speaks to audiences throughout the world on the changing needs of business, education
and organisations in the new global economies. In 1998 he was appointed by David
Blunkett to lead a major national inquiry for the UK government on creativity, education
and the economy. This inquiry brought together leading business people, scientists,
artists and educators. The resulting report, All Our Futures: Creativity Culture and Education
(The Robinson Report) was published by the Secretaries of State in July 1999. Ken
Robinson is currently Professor of Creativity at the University of Warwick Business
School. His recent work includes a major international report for the European
Commission on the social and economic importance of the arts to the development of
the European Union. He has extensive media experience both as a journalist with the
national press and broadcaster on television and radio.
Alex Saint is Chief Executive of Arts About Manchester which is a collaborative
network of 45 member arts organisations in Greater Manchester. AAM supports its
• acting as an advocate for collaborative audience development
• facilitating the network and sharing of information and ideas
• providing marketing intelligence and information
• delivering audience development projects
• providing tactical services.
Adrian Salmon has been with The Phone Room since its inception in 1997. As TPR’s
Account Manager, he has overseen some of their most successful telephone fundraising
campaigns, including those for the Royal Opera House, the Hallé Orchestra and
Symphony Hall, Birmingham. Adrian is also the company’s resident expert on the Data
Protection Act and has been chiefly responsible for ensuring compliance with the new
amendments in all TPR’s work. Besides his extensive knowledge of classical music he is
known for his uncanny memory for telephone numbers and appalling taste in puns.
Jessica Silvester graduated from the University of Warwick with an MA in European
Cultural Policy and Administration in 1996. She then worked for the City of Birmingham
Symphony Orchestra until March 2000, initially in the Development Department and
latterly as Trust & Membership Manager, responsible for the CBSO’s individual giving
and friends schemes and the administration of the CBSO Development Trust. She then
moved to London to work for The Performance Company, a film and TV company
which has just finished filming the National Theatre’s production of ‘The Merchant of
Venice’, directed by Trevor Nunn and Chris Hunt. She is now employed by Online
Classics, which brings the best possible audio-visual performances of opera, ballet, music
and theatre to the Internet.
Duncan Sones is the Chief Executive of Metier, the national training organisation of the
arts and entertainment industries. Metier is involved in a wide range of activities that are
designed to improve the sectors skills. Current projects under development include
online learning and guidance materials, the development of National Occupational
Standards and S/NVQs and the development of Researchbase, a comprehensive source
of labour market and skills information. Prior to joining Metier, Duncan was the
Business Development Manager at West Midlands Arts where his duties included
marketing advocacy, business planning and training – including managing Business in the
John Summers, formally Chief Executive of the Northern Sinfonia, was appointed
Chief Executive of the Hallé Concerts Society in May 1999. He studied the cello at
Trinity College of Music and after graduation worked as professional freelance cellist in
Scotland with the BBC, Scottish Ballet and Opera Associations. He moved to Newcastle
with his wife Jeanette Mountain on her appointment as principal cello of the northern
Sinfonia. While working as a freelance cellist with the orchestra he was appointed as
Tours Manager, then Administrator, Head of Administration and finally Chief Executive
in October 1989. He was most recently actively involved in all aspects of the proposed
new music centre, Gateshead, which is planned to open in 2002. He was a member of
the board of the Association of British Orchestras from 1991 with a social interest in
education and outreach matters and in 1995 was appointed chairman for a three-year
Bill Thompson is a writer and journalist. He has been online since 1986 and worked in
the computing industry for many years. After setting up Guardian Newspapers’ New
Media Lab he left to pursue a freelance career. From 1998 to 2000 he was the manager of
the website of the Regional Arts Boards of England and editor of the Dispatches email
newsletter. He built his first website in January 1994 and has since done work for the
Guardian, Comic Relief, Anne Campbell MP, Joan Ruddock MP, the Regional Arts
Boards of England and others. He writes for Internet Magazine, New Statesman, the
Guardian and other newspapers and magazines. He has written three books for children:
Your Own Website (1999), Your Own Chat Room (in press) and Homework Busters (in press).
He is the technical manager of the Nexus virtual think tank, a columnist for BBC Online
and a lecturer in new media at City University. He regularly appears on BBC radio and
television, including the World Service and News24. You can find him at
Roger Tomlinson is Head of Business Development – Europe for Tickets.com. Former
Chair of the Arts Marketing Association from 1996 to 1998, he was an independent
consultant for ten years before joining Tickets.com. He has written Boxing Clever and the
Box Office Marketing Guides, both published by the Arts Council of England; and JobWatch,
a guide to successful recruitment for arts marketing posts, and The Data Protection Guide,
both published by the Arts Marketing Association. He has specialised in customer care,
sales training and the development of the box office for marketing. He has run seminars
and training courses on these topics and has been a keynote speaker at major conferences
on the future of the box office and the development of ticket sales opportunities. He
served on the TMA Marketing Committee for many years and set up and directed their
Druidstone Course for its first six years. He is Chairman of the Centre for Performance
Helene Toogood began her career as an archaeologist working for Newcastle City Field
Archaeology Unit, and then York Archaeological Trust. In 1996, she began a masters
degree in heritage management at the Ironbridge Institute. As part of her training she
completed a placement for the National Trust’s Community Links Project in
Birmingham. This aimed to raise awareness of the National Trust among inner city
community groups and to break down barriers that existed. She went on to conduct
focus group research with community members towards a thesis on ‘The National Trust:
Image and Perceptions’. In 1998, Helene joined Tyne & Wear Museums as Project Co-
ordinator of Art Ambassadors, a pilot initiative funded through the Arts Council of
England’s New Audiences Programme. The project worked with young people to
introduce them to art and the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle. The project was highly
commended in the 1999 Gulbenkian awards in the category of most valuable community
work. Helene is now Project Officer of ‘Objects of Desire’, a Tyne & Wear Museums
Millennium project which is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. This has
encouraged more than 1,000 people to explore the collections and choose their favourite
objects for a touring exhibition.
Richard Whitehouse has worked in marketing for nearly fifteen years and began his
career in brand management for Vauxhall Motors. Having worked on four new car
launches, he moved into the arts and a cut of 98% in the marketing budget. He worked
first at English National Opera where he learnt that the principles of communicating
with a target audience are the same regardless of the product or industry (and also that
posters do come in smaller sizes than 48 sheets). This was followed by senior
management positions at Opera North and English National Ballet. Richard now works
as a marketing consultant and arts project manager, specialising in market research and
the application of market intelligence for audience development and planning purposes.
He has worked for a wide variety of clients including Bath Theatre Royal, English
National Opera, Arts Council of England, LIFT and London Philharmonic Orchestra.
Dianna Yach is co-founder and managing director of Ionann Management Consultants
Limited. She has a legal background and was formerly a lecturer in law at Queen Mary
College, University of London. With significant experience on equality and human rights
issues, Dianna has given numerous keynote addresses on the themes of accountability in
the criminal justice system and the importance of building confidence between police and
communities. She recently made a detailed submission to the Stephen Lawrence Murder
Inquiry. Dianna’s clients include The Home Office Charity Commission, Department for
Culture, Media and Sport, Police Services – England, Wales, Northern Ireland and
Ireland, British Council. As an adviser to the British Overseas Development
Administration (DFID) Dianna advised on training for stewards at marches and rallies
leading up to the South African elections in 1994. During the elections she was a
member of the Commonwealth Observer Group. Dianna demonstrates her personal
commitment to equality and social justice as Chair of the Camden Race Equality Council
and member of the Independent Advisory Group on Race and Diversity to the
Metropolitan Police Service Directorate of Racial and Violent Crime Taskforce.