Skip to main content Skip to site map (in footer)

Three major new commissions announced through Arts Council England’s Audience focus fund

  • Date: 27 February 2012
  • Area: National

The Arts Council has today announced the first commissions from its £7.5 million Audience focus fund, including two awards to significant new consortia.

The fund, which launched in November 2011, aims to achieve the Arts Council's goal of encouraging more people to attend and participate in the arts by helping arts organisations better understand, retain and expand their audiences.

The commissions have been awarded to three large-scale, exciting and ambitious programmes, each of which covers one of the objectives of the fund: Understanding audiences, Collaborative 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.

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.

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.

Alan Davey, Chief Executive, Arts Council England said:

'The Audience focus fund is representative of the Arts Council's new approach in working alongside organisations with the skills and expertise to deliver specialist programmes and services that have a real impact on how the arts in England work.

'I'm sure these commissions will significantly increase the reach of work produced by our outstanding arts organisations, improve experiences for audiences and help attract those that don't regularly take part in the arts.'

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.