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Arts Nation, West Midlands

  • Date: 14 August 2012
  • Artform: All
  • Area: Midlands
women cooking Arts Nation, West Midlands, Louisa Griffiths

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This project tested new ways of targeting the local community with innovative marketing and digital tools in order to increase public attendance and engagement with the arts. It also provided participating organisations and authorities with organisational support and services across a range of marketing and audience development areas.

Its legacies include: eight toolkits for approaches to engagement and a better understanding of the benefits and practicalities of adopting a joined-up approach to marketing and audience development across the Black Country.

The Arts Nation West Midlands (ANWM) pilot engagement ideas were generated by Audiences Central in consultation with the ANWM Steering Group which included local authorities, arts and cultural organisations from the Black Country.

Engagement activity included; the establishment of an arts café, arts shop, use of ad bikes, roving ambassadors, media projectors, digital Screens and treasure trails deployed in a series of inter-connected events.


Over 30,000 people were engaged during five months of activity. 95 arts and cultural organisations benefitted from some form of organisational support via the ANWM campaign. The ANWM business-to-business resource website received 2,280 unique visits over 14 months.

The Black Country's existing arts and cultural provision was widely promoted to new and existing audiences.

Audiences Central's marketing and audience development support for participating organisations has led to a demand for continued organisational support and networking opportunities across the region

There is now a better understanding of the value and practicalities of collaboration, sharing marketing resources and of developing a multiple-venue programme of activity for target groups.

The pilot approaches have informed the production of eight engagement toolkits including; arts cafe, arts shop, roving ambassadors, media projectors, digital screens, ad bikes and treasure trails.

Key learning

  • the impact of mass media marketing tools can be effectively targeted through key messages, hooks and calls to action and a focus on specific geographical locations
  • test new engagement approaches alongside established processes and tools
  • tailor organisational support closely to the immediate priorities of participating organisations to meet their needs and ensure maximum value
  • the targeted approaches were successful in engaging target groups. Future programmes should, as a priority, seek to identify and understand why their approach will be appropriate and effective
  • A lack of product for the target groups was addressed through a specially commissioned programme
  • A short-term, intensive initiative such as the Art Nation programme stimulates engagement however their needs to a programme of on-going activity to maintain that engagement; a legacy element