Building audiences is a top concern for arts organizations, yet there has been little hard evidence about what works. This series—based on the efforts of 54 arts organizations that received Wallace Excellence Awards from 2006 to 2012—seeks to help fill that gap.

  • The Road to Results distills nine evidence-based practices from the work.
  • Taking Out the Guesswork shows how to use market research in audience-building.
  • A set of individual case studies offers in-depth looks at the efforts of nine of the participating arts organizations.

 Points of Interest

  • The research found that the spur to an audience-building effort often came when an arts organization noticed a pattern of audience behavior that presented an opportunity or a challenge to its financial viability, artistic viability, or both.
    Study: Noticing audience behavior patterns can spur #arts organizations to undertake audience-building efforts.
  • Successful audience-building efforts occurred in arts organizations that identified the types of barriers keeping members of a target group away—from lack of time to a perception that they would feel out of place. The organizations then shaped their audience-building strategies accordingly.
    Study: To attract new audiences, #arts organizations first had to learn what was keeping people away.
  • Using audience research, the organizations in the study gained a clearer understanding of their target group’s interests, lifestyles, attitudes toward the arts, cultural involvement and opinions of their own institution.
    Study: Market research gave #arts orgs trying to build their audiences a clearer understanding of their target group.