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Audience development

In many ways, this covers the same ground as learning.  However, if ‘learning’ is the objective, ‘audience development’ is the way we’ll get there.  Behind it is the principle of communication with your visitors, finding out about them and presenting a service that is suited to their particular needs and interests.  In this way ‘visitors’ change from being passive onlookers to ‘audiences’, actively engaged with your collections, services and facilities.  We have carried out Audience Development Plans for a range of organisations, often as a part of a bid for funds from bodies such as the Heritage Lottery Fund (see their guidelines).  An Audience Development Plan would include:

An internal assessment of your organisation’s ability to increase current audiences and attract new ones;
A description of the current audience context including local and regional demographics, generic audience features, competing visitor attractions and organisations which might offer support;
identification and definition of current and potential audiences including physical, cultural and intellectual access needs and learning styles, based on evidence gathered through research such as postal and online questionnaires and focus groups;
An Action Plan, which would describe the process of audience development over the next two or three years, including evaluation and monitoring processes to ensure sustainability.

Exemplar contracts

Gloucestershire Archives
Audience Development and Access audit.

Bournemouth University & Dorset History Centre (Archives) 
Audience Development and Access Plan for SW Tithe & Estate Maps Project, in partnership with Janet Bell, Access Consultant.

Teignmouth Museum
Audience Development Plan and Policy for major HLF project.

Athelstan Museum, Malmesbury
Audience Development Plan to prepare the Museum for HLF bid.

MLA South West
Advisors on the DfES-funded Museum Learning Initiative to develop new audiences in museums.