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The majority of cultural institutions find themselves facing the problem of how to hold on to their core audiences while attracting new — predominantly younger — audiences. So it is hardly surprising that audience development strategies are perhaps the most sought-after knowledge resource in the field of arts management today. In theoretical terms, audience development is based on a number of branches of interdisciplinary arts management Mandel : arts marketing, which takes a commercial approach; PR, which uses communication science to shape public awareness; arts dissemination and education, which often involve aspects of arts theory, social science, educational research and cultural policy; and research into arts participation, which tends to apply the methodologies of empirical social research.
Research projects into audience development are also regularly faced with the question of how to bring together the different theoretical concepts and research methodologies of the various disciplines in a constructive way. Research into arts participation provides the main empirical foundation for elaborating audience development strategies. By studying structures and effects and by providing a basis for cultural policy, it also plays an important role in arts management in countries such as Germany, where the state is largely responsible for cultural life.
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Reasons for the growing interest in audience development strategies in Germany Over recent years, German cultural institutions have increasingly been taking an interest in audience development. This seems to be the result of the interaction of a number of factors. Internationalisation The increasing internationalisation of the arts sector has opened up new outlooks for audiences in many countries, including Germany. A prominent example of this is Simon Rattle. When he was first appointed as principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic he overcame opposition on the part of the orchestra to set up a department for Education and Audience Development.
In so doing, he set an example for many other public arts institutions. Over the last five years, many public cultural institutions have created permanent positions for arts education and dissemination within their marketing departments. As a result, they are now making a more proactive contribution to arts education Centre for Cultural Research which also means to approach new visitor groups, especially young people, to get them involved.
Competition from the internet as a new cultural sphere The internet has become an alternative cultural sphere where many people spend a great deal of their time and where they can be both consumers and producers. It is not only a competitor for traditional arts centres but has also changed the way people interact with the arts. The role of traditional gatekeepers is very limited in Web 2.
New cultural offerings are established with direct support and direct feedback from their users. The type of non- hierarchical cultural communication that is normal online with its culture of participation, collective testing and creation is changing expectations in many areas, including in how cultural facilities are used. Cultural offerings outstrip demand Cultural offerings in Germany have increased sharply over the last 30 years, whereas demand has remained the same or — in certain sectors, such as spoken word theatre — it has actually declined.
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This means that the battle for audiences has intensified. Demographic change and migration Cultural institutions are finding themselves compelled to develop a different relationship with their audiences as a result of a decline in their traditional educated middle-class audience, waning interest among the younger generation and increasing numbers of people who have migrated to Germany from non-Western countries.
People from other countries have different concepts of art and culture and other ways of receiving it. Initial studies have shown that on average they have even less interest in traditional cultural offerings than the German population as a whole Centre for Cultural Research However, as successive generations grow older, this is no longer proving to be the case Reuband Public arts funding leads to growing pressure to justify programmes Even in a rather rich country like Germany, due to the high levels of debt, public spending on the arts is increasingly coming under the microscope.
Usage figures are a key factor when cultural institutions are applying for public funding. Paradigms relating to arts audiences and audience development strategies In international terms, it is clear that different countries have different social and political preconditions for audience development, so their strategies may vary widely. In the USA, professional audience development strategies were being developed as a result of the commercial necessity of generating income from ticket sales.
Audiences are the main funder of arts programs and institutions which is why arts organisations and projects are making every effort to retain their existing audiences as well as to attract new audiences in the long term c.
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Walker-Kuhne , i. In the UK, audience development was promoted by the cultural and social aims of New Labour in the s. The government required publicly funded arts institutes to cater to all sections of the population, particularly socially disadvantaged groups, and to provide a bridge to help them integrate more effectively into cultural and social life cf.
Kawashima , i. In Germany, there has traditionally been less focus on consumers and arts audiences when drawing up cultural programmes. This is largely down to the basic precept of cultural policy that artistic autonomy is paramount and that this should not be compromised by commercial considerations or audience wishes Mandel As a result, less popular high culture programmes tend to receive extensive public funding. However, over recent years German cultural institutions and cultural policies have begun to take a different view of their audiences.
Producer paradigm supply orientation The supply side, which dominated until the s, could also be called the producer paradigm. This holds the view that cultural offerings should intrinsically be the result of artistic motivation and remain largely unaffected by audience preferences and political influence. Art should not have to be useful or at the mercy of commercial interests. According to this view, art is good, true, beautiful and festive, in contrast to everyday life, politics and the banal entertainment sought out by the upper and lower classes. Today, some traditional high culture institutions still seem to be in the grip of the producer paradigm.
They tend to address their marketing to their core audience of loyal followers. In Germany, the traditional producer paradigm, which gives unlimited power to directors under the pretext of artistic freedom, continues to be supported by the potential for cultural power and cachet provided by an elite group made up of the educated middle classes and conservative arts reviewers. Customer paradigm consumer orientation However, some publicly funded cultural institutions are beginning to display a new attitude towards their audiences — an attitude that has long been an intrinsic element of private arts organisations.
This could be described as the customer paradigm. This has been triggered by dwindling public resources, the spread of a more commercial approach to arts management and the expansion of privately funded cultural offerings. Gradually the idea has taken hold that it is important to take the audience's interests into account when drawing up arts programmes, particularly if the aim is to attract new audiences rather than just the traditional cultured middle classes.
Blockbuster museum exhibitions of modern classics, productions of popular musicals in publicly funded theatres - these are signs of a change of direction.