Arts Nation was the pilot programme for a planned major national programme to engage more people with the arts.
In 2010 and 2011, pilot projects were developed in partnership with Arts Council England.
The primary aims of the Arts Nation pilot programme were:
- to identify and test new models for engaging the audience groups Dinner and a show and Family and community focused
- to identify new ways of working collaboratively in order to increase engagement
- to develop tools and resources aimed at supporting arts organisations in engaging the target audiences.
Due to funding restraint, the full programme was unable to take place, however, the pilot produced learning of potential value to others seeking to develop engagement in the arts.
Each of the pilot projects was coordinated by an Arts Council England regional lead with the projects themselves being delivered by arts organisations or audience development agencies.
The findings of this study include learning arising from 12 of these projects and thematic learning derived from an analysis across all 12.
The 12 pilot projects included in this study were:
- Bringing data segmentation to life - National
Qualitative workshop with the segments
- Data surgeries, mystery shopping and qualitative workshops in the east - East
Use of patron data and secondary data sources, evaluating the visitor experience and qualitative research with the segments
- More reasons to visit - East Midlands
Libraries as cultural venues
- Craft Club - National
Volunteers share their passion for craft
- Author events in libraries - National
Authors events refreshed
- Capital culture/Discover arts close-up - North
Collaborative events in shopping centres
- Music to remember - London
Micro-website presents a themed orchestral offer
- Museums at night - National
Heritage venues present a fresh offer
- Time banking - London
Building engagement through volunteering
- Arts Nation, North - North East, North West, Yorkshire
New toolkits for reaching Dinner and a show and Family and community focused
- Arts Nation, West Midlands - West Midlands
New collaborative approaches to promotion
- Machine Dance - West Midlands
Collaboration with private sector setting events in unexpected settings
Four general themes emerged across the projects:
Improving market focus
Getting to grips with market research, involving users and designing programmes to fit the audience
Improving the offer
Presenting programmes in a new form, place or time with innovative promotion and a fresh feel
Power of collaboration
Working together with other arts, community or commercial organisations to achieve scale and position the arts offer
Building capacity to engage
Working in new ways to build capacity and understanding of how to extend engagement