Arts Nation

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:

  • Craft Club - National
    Volunteers share their passion for craft
  • 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
  • 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