Image: Tate Modern

Audience development body wins £3.27m funding

Geraldine Kendall, 08.03.2012
ACE funds consortium to deliver new three-year programme
Arts Council England (ACE) has awarded £3.27m to a consortium of two audience development agencies, Audiences London and the Manchester-based All About Audiences, to deliver the first strand of its Understanding Audiences programme.

Understanding Audiences aims to develop national approaches to collecting, sharing and applying audience data in order to help arts and culture bodies better understand current and potential audiences.

Plans for the scheme include a national database of arts attendees, an online analytics system and a DIY audience focus toolkit. The programme is part of the arts council’s £7.5m Audience Focus Fund.

Anne Torregiani, head of Audiences London, said of the bid: “We aimed not only to preserve the legacy and strengths of the audience development agency network but to work in a unified way to present ambitious new ways of working with arts and cultural organisations to extend and maximise relationships with audiences and participants.”

Audience development agencies in England were dealt a blow last year when they lost out on national portfolio funding from ACE.

Since then, audience development bodies across England have been in talks to merge into one national agency, provisionally called Audiences Plus. The agency would operate via regional hubs and aims to be sustainable without regular core funding.

Audiences London and Audiences South West have already agreed to merge into a single hub to deliver audience development services in the southern region, and further associates are due to be appointed shortly to cover other regions.

In addition, All About Audiences has confirmed that it will manage a contract from Warwickshire County Council previously delivered by Audiences Central.

All About Audiences CEO Ivan Wadeson said of the ACE funding: “The journey to work together and to work nationally started before these funds were announced but to have secured this commission is a strong endorsement of our new approach.”