What do you know about your audience?

20 Feb 2012 in Artforms, Audience Development Blog, Dance & Drama, Festival, Film, Gaelic, Heritage, Music, Visual Arts & Crafts, Writing

My name is Sian and I like to hoard information.

Often or not people are surprised at how excited I get about statistics, data and research information. It’s a genuine excitement as well, I often refer to myself as a bit of an information geek. The reason why I love cold hard statistical evidence is because it can’t really lie, these are the facts that we cannot ignore. Although what saddens me is often it is ignored and sometimes overlooked as having any direct relevance, and in the really extreme cases can be manipulated to suit predetermined opinions.

Last year I worked on an evaluation for a new festival, I looked at and analysed their audience survey, which was completed by those attending the festival events and activities. As a result of the evaluation, and of course the success of the festival itself, it has now been able to secure additional funding to rerun the festival this year. The value of the audience survey is one which cannot really be matched by any other means of evaluation (although others might disagree). However when we are in the business or providing arts, cultural and creativity, the ultimate indicator of success is the audience experience, is it not? It is my belief that even if the art exhibited is not ‘understood’ or recieves, what we might consider to be, negative feedback, this is all helpful, useful and reliable information. If we were constantly praised for the work we do, then we would never develop, never grow, never seek to engage with new ideas and new audiences. It is much easier to address constructive criticism then it is to be told everything is perfect all the time.

I have had the opportunity of evaluating a number of organisations audience surveys now, and I am always on the look out to evaluate and analyse other’s audiences! If you engage audiences or customers in an arts, creative or cultural setting, and are interested in learning more from them, then the time has come to drop me a line.

If you are looking for audience survey design, implementation, evaluation and/or analysis then please contact me at HI-Arts (sian@hi-arts.co.uk).  

 I genuinely look forward to hearing from you!