On 27 February 2012 we announced the first Audience focus commissions which have been awarded to three large-scale, exciting and ambitious programmes, each of which covers one of the objectives of the fund: Understanding audiencesCollaborative action and Best practice.

Understanding audiences

For the Understanding audiences part of the fund, the Arts Council has offered £3,268,000 over three years to Audiences Plus, a consortium of specialist audience development agencies led by All About Audiences and Audiences London.

This new national consortium, based in Manchester and London, will provide 1:1 support to organisations, as well as a number of innovative new tools and resources to help them better understand their current and potential audiences. These will include a national database of arts attendees, an online audience analytics system and a DIY audience focus toolkit.

Additional funds of £305,000 have been made available to The Audience Agency (previously known as Audiences London and All About Audiences) to deliver three more initiatives that will feed into the audience data framework.

 1. defining measures for digital engagement - £125,000

Developing a suite of metrics to measure digital engagement on websites and these metrics will be integrated into the national database. The published set of criteria will be shared in six months. The Audience Agency in partnership with Culture 24 will work with a range of organisations to understand how best the metrics can be applied in practice.

 2. integration of individual giving data - £85,000

 The Audience Agency are developing integrating data on donor giving habits into the broader audience database in order to establish individual's engagement with organisations.

 3. strategic planning tool for touring -  £95,000

Creating a national mapping tool modelled on CultureMap London using historical as well as new audience data combined with facility mapping to help touring companies plan tours effectively, identifying areas of demonstrable potential and need.

Useful resources

Audience development for touring organisations

For information sheets on box office data, wording around audience data for contracts, case studies and guidelines for audience data on venue-based tours visit the Audience of tour microsite.

Collaborative action

For the Collaborative action part of the fund, a consortium led by the Association of British Orchestras has been offered £1.1 million over three years to develop Family Friendly Arts a large scale national programme to increase levels of engagement by families and young people through. It will be run by a consortium of arts membership organisations from across the visual and performing arts sectors, including the Theatrical Management Association (TMA), Society of London Theatre (SOLT), Independent Theatre Council (ITC), Visual Arts and Galleries Association (VAGA) and Dance UK.

As part of the campaign, the consortium has commissioned new research into the key drivers for families' involvement in the arts and what the barriers are to engagement. This research will be delivered at the Family Friendly Arts conference taking place on 15 April 2013.

Best practice

For the Best practice part of the fund, the Arts Council has awarded the Arts Marketing Association (AMA) almost £900,000 over three years to develop a new national service to collate, share and implement efficient and effective arts marketing and audience development techniques.

The AMA is the professional development body for those working in arts marketing and audience development. It will work alongside a range of specialist agencies and consultants to help organisations find the best ways to attract both digital and live audiences.

Knowledge gained from all the programmes will be available to arts organisations, museums and libraries, local authorities and the wider cultural sector.

Around £2 million of funding remains for a second round of applications to the Audience focus fund. This will be used to address any needs the Arts Council identifies as not being fully addressed by the first round of commissions.  Details of how to apply for the second round will be announced later in the year.