RESOURCE: Deepening an Audience Relationship.

Many organizations want new audiences to not only walk through the door, but also experience their space in specific ways. Much has been written about moving audience interactions from transactions to relationships.

Organisations lay the groundwork for those relationships by thinking through how audiences will interact with their space/offer and develop programmes to fulfill their visions. By doing so, they create the kinds of resonant experiences that build emotional bonds between audience and organization.

For example theatre goers may see themselves as ‘lifelong learners’, with an appetite to be challenged, alongside the theatre valuing an ‘ensemble approach’, through ongoing conversation and collaboration among the company’s staff and practitioners. With that in mind, audience engagement may include a ‘public square’, a place where audience members and artists can interact and explore the meaning of the works on stage.

The transition to an ‘ensemble approach’ can be a fairly easy one for an organisation that has a long-held practice of discussing work being prepared for the stage. Nightly post-show discussions, special thematic events, online content including podcasts, videos, and blog posts, in which ensemble members share their observations and reflections about the productions are likely to prove popular with audiences.

The National History Museum was similarly inspired by its core values when developing a strategy to engage a new audience of young adults. The museum’s educational philosophy is that critical thinking does not require knowledge of specific topics. All that is necessary is thoughtful observation and discussion. Staff wanted to create an event for young, first-time visitors that engaged them with the museum’s collection in such a way. At the same time, they recognized what their target audience wanted—a social event with friends after work.

The solution – an evening event built around the idea of a contemporary take on a soiree.

By considering the relationship both the organisation and audience want with each other, an offer can be designed, that while doesn’t distract from or upstage the work presented, does extend the hand of collaboration and possibility, deepening the relationship as to bridge attendance gaps created now subscriptions or annual passes are no longer enough to encourage repeat visits.

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