Reading Corner | Audience Development

This section is organised in reverse chronological order. Apart from individual publications and articles there are a few more general resources, you can find them below the list of articles in a separate section. Resources may also include publication series that are constantly growing (e.g. periodicals that are being updated continuously or receive additions).

Calm and collected Museums and galleries: the UK’s untapped wellbeing resource?

Art Fund (2019): Calm and collected Museums and galleries: the UK’s untapped wellbeing resource?. The research that informs this UK report shows that the British people are anxious about workload, financial situations, health issues and social isolation and that they struggle to find enough time to pursue activities that could contribute to their wellbeing, such as visiting museums and galleries. The results of two stages of research – a UK-wide representative survey, and a qualitative social study in which participants were encouraged to visit museums and galleries once a week with a National Art Pass and keep a diary of their activities – suggest that engaging with the nation’s art collections more frequently can help improve their wellbeing. It is an activity that can bring people together, and over time it can become part of an approach to life that people may find healthier and more balanced. Overall, both the quantitative survey and the qualitative social study suggest that museums and galleries are a significant untapped resource at our disposal that can help people achieve a greater sense of wellbeing when they take time out for themselves.

Social Media Toolkit for Cultural Managers

Chris Hogg (2018): Social Media Toolkit for Cultural Managers. Social media poses a challenge to all cultural and artistic institutions, no matter what the size. Keeping the world informed about what we do across four or five digital platforms is overwhelming, especially when resources are limited. Social media can feel like a never-ending performance, a never-ending search for more likes and shares and tweets and comments. The aim of this guide, made by ENCATC, is to find a way of developing audiences closer to the art. To bring people closer together and to learn the art of social media without it becoming exhausting.

Culture is Digital

UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (2018): Culture is Digital. The report focuses on the use of digital technology to drive our cultural sector’s global status and the engagement, diversity and well-being of audiences in the United Kingdom. Digital technology is breaking down the silos between the cultural sectors, blurring the lines between disciplines. Tech companies are collaborating with cultural organisations and practitioners to create new experiences for audiences, often exploring the boundaries of new technology at the same time.

HearMe – Bringing Youth and Museums Together - Museum Manual

Narodna galerija, Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Galerija Matice srpske, Innovación Social Emprendedores Sociales (2018): HearMe – Bringing Youth and Museums Together - Museum Manual. Manual on the project HearMe, which in essence is a new methodology of working with teenagers in museums. Its main product is the HearMe workshop, a set of tools that can be adapted to different museum environments and collections, and specific cultural and social dynamics. It incorporates several approaches, including a derivation of BRICKme, open art dialogue, gamification and design thinking.

Citizen engagement & education Learning kit for heritage civil society organisations

Višnja Kisic and Goran Tomka (2018): Citizen engagement & education Learning kit for heritage civil society organisations. For many Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), citizen engagement is the very essence of what they do. Quite simply, without citizen engagement, there is no civil society. However, CSOs increasingly go beyond their membership and immediate social circles and engage more and more citizens in their work. Without the engagement of a larger number of people, many projects cannot reach their desired goals. At the same time, engagement is impossible without learning. When citizens get involved in safeguarding, interpreting or presenting heritage, they inevitably learn a great deal about history, law, restoration techniques or interpretive methods.

SHARED DECISION-MAKING Tips, tools and case studies from Creative People and Places projects

Louise White for MB Associates (2017): SHARED DECISION-MAKING Tips, tools and case studies from Creative People and Places projects. This toolkit has been released by Creative People and Places after recognising the need of making art locally accessible. Shared decision-making involves shifting the balance of power from arts practitioners and organisations to include a spectrum of local voices: for example community members, local businesses and community organisations. It creates a space where different perspectives are valued. CPP Places have found that this results in a more meaningful, locally relevant programme that increases people’s engagement in the arts. Those who share in the decisions become invested in the art and spread the word, and local people see a stronger fit with their locality. They share pride and ownership of something that is ‘of’ and ‘with’ the community rather than just ‘for’ the community

Enhancing Participation in the Arts in the EU. Challenges and Methods

Victoria Ateca-Amestoy, Victor Ginsburgh, Isidoro Mazza, John O'Hagan, Juan Prieto-Rodriguez (2017): Enhancing Participation in the Arts in the EU. Challenges and Methods. In this book, participation in the arts is analysed as a substantial contributory factor to European citizenship, and also as a tool for improving individual and societal wellbeing through educational and inclusive policies. It offers an up-to-date overview of ongoing research on the measurement and analysis of, and prospects for, traditional and new forms of cultural engagement in Europe. It describes and assesses available methods and participation in the arts and seeks to determine how and to what extent the various drivers, policies and barriers matter. This publication is the final output of the work done by the members of the EU Project “Assessing effective tools to enhance cultural participation,” which brought together social scientists and cultural practitioners in joint projects, conferences and seminars, to reflect on the current situation and the challenges faced by managers of cultural and arts institutions and cultural policy makers.

Crowdfunding - Reshaping the crowd’s engagement in culture

European Commission (prepared by Isabelle de Voldere and Kleitia Zeqo) (2017): Crowdfunding - Reshaping the crowd’s engagement in culture. The role of crowdfunding has increased in the European cultural and creative sector (CCS) over the past years. Digitisation, the financial crisis and a growing interest in engaging with the public have poplularised crowdfunding as a method of fundraising and community building for the CCS. This study maps and analyses how crowdfunding is currently being used for the benefit of cultural and creative activities, and evaluates to what extent barriers hamper the further integration of crowdfunding in the financing mix and broader practice of CCS actors. Looking into different crowdfunding models, it examines the benefits of such campaigns beyond the financial realm and explores the value of partnerships between different actors. Based on the analysis, the study puts forward recommendations to policy makers on what is needed for crowdfunding to further develop as a multi-purpose tool for CCS practices.

The study is accompanied by a website – – that has been developed as a European information hub on everything related to crowdfunding for culture. The website contains among others:

  • map of all crowdfunding platforms across Europe (including comparative information on the crowdfunding models being used, costs of use, etc.) that have a specific focus on the Cultural and Creative Sectors;
  • a repository of case studies that have been developed in the context of this study; and
  • an inventory of interesting events, news, tools and studies that relate to crowdfunding for the CCS.

Audience Development - How to place audiences at the centre of cultural organisations

Alessandro Bollo, Cristina Da Milano, Alessandra Gariboldi, Chris Torch (2017): Audience Development  - How to place  audiences at the centre of cultural organisations.Many culture makers have embraced the theme of Audience Development (AD) to gain new and larger audiences. But how can they be reached? And how can cultural institutions measure their efforts and success? This study aimed to provide answers to these questions by offering successful approaches and methods in the area of audience development as well as to equip cultural leaders with the means to make a convincing case for becoming more audience-centric internally, (towards boards of directors, communication and artistic departments, advisory committees and other decision structures) or externally (public authorities, patrons, friends schemes, sponsors, etc). It resulted in four guides, reports and a catalogue: Guide Part I – Tools of Audience Development: A Practical Guide for Cultural Operators | Guide Part II – Rules for Audience Development: Key recommendations | Final report | Catalogue of Case Studies

Steps towards a good audience practice

ADESTE (Audience DEveloper: Skills and Training in Europe) (2016): Steps towards a good audience practice - following the learnings of the ADESTE project: The collection of articles and reflections describes the ADESTE project and its related processes. Researchers, trainers and experts from the ADESTE team, participants in the training programmes, and external experts touch on a variety of aspects in the project and the generated learnings. This includes the project context, its aims, main actions and the consortium's overall vision on audience development. But also the main research findings and further developments that research in this field should take and the ADESTE training programme, its testing across Europe and their evaluation. The final articles draft some conclusions reflecting ADESTE’s main dimensions of work, cooperation and international exchange, organisational change, research and cultural policies.

New Approaches NOW – From Museum Education to Audience Engagement

Finnish Association for Museum Education Peedali (2016): New Approaches NOW – From Museum Education to Audience Engagement. The publication presents relevant themes discussed during the international seminar of the same name held in Helsinki, Finland in May 2015. It contains a collection of solutions and ideas on audiences and audience engagement as it is shifting from the "traditional" matter of museum education to the museum as a whole in response to new societal demands. The authors of this publication come from the USA, the UK, Ireland, Sweden and Finland. Additionally, the publication contains case studies of the museums that received the Peedali Annual Award in Museum Pedagogy between 2006 and 2014 for inspiration in audience development.

Nordic Inspiration - Fresh Approaches to Museum Learning

NAME and MID (Museum Communicators in Denmark) (2015): Nordic Inspiration - Fresh Approaches to Museum Learning: The publication was created by five national museum associations of museum education and communication professionals from Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Iceland and Norway. It presents a selection of projects from these regions that have been recognised on the national and international level. "The publication aims to inspire museum professionals and other educational staff in museums and similar cultural (heritage) institutions which are striving to engage their audiences." The diverse projects are presented in four categories: Audience Development, Community & Collaboration, Schools & Education and Museum Development. The categories depict the active and theoretical work of museum professionals in the Nordic regions in great detail to support others in acting similarly. In the section on "Audience Development" projects that created methods for and together with specific audience groups are presented. Through role-plays, mobile apps and other different approaches, the museums approached, engaged with and connected to various audiences.

Building an open community: a new opportunity for scholarly projects

Julien Dorra (2015): Building an open community: a new opportunity for scholarly projects: In this article Julien Dorra, whose brainchild was "Museomix", explains open communities, their strengths, importance and how to build them. He elucidates how open communities, especially through the internet, can become global networks that help create and grow projects. In the article Dorra gives advice on how to build these communities and what to keep in mind when developing ideas with them. Opportunities arise for museums when thinking about projects and new approaches to develop them with an engaged community.

Study: Learning in Museums and Young People

NEMO/The Learning Museum Working Group (2015): Learning in Museums and Young People: The study focuses on museums' informal and non-formal learning opportunities for teens (young people or young adults aged 14-25). It starts with the definition of a "Basic Framework" and the context of the study, introducing important issues and with regard to these the more-than-ever important role of museums.
In the following 4 sections several topics are discussed: the relation between museums and young people in view of motivations and methodologies to improve and increase access and engagement, the role of museums in the digital era and use of new technologies, the challenges of social exclusion and the multifaceted concept of accessibility and disadvantage referred to young people with disabilities.
In order to give specific references to the EU context, all themes are introduced in connection to the Europe 2020 priorities, targets and flagship initiatives.

Mapping of practices in the EU Member States on participatory governance of cultural heritage

EENC - European Expert Network on Culture (prepared by Alessandra Gariboldi, Bernadette Lynch, Margherita Sani and Jasper Visser) (2015): Mapping of practices in the EU Member States on participatory governance of cultural heritage to support the OMC (Open Method of Coordination) working group under the same name (Work Plan for Culture 2015-2018): The document analyses a variety of examples reflecting several nuances of participation of citizens and communities in the cultural heritage sector. It presents some final considerations based on case studies as well as on a literature review. The aim of the report is to provide a solid basis for discussion and reflection for the OMC working group and also to identify and present the challenges and future possibilities with regard to public policies on engaging communities, local population, cultural institutions and stakeholders in evaluating and managing cultural heritage on one hand, and with regard to the development of multilevel and multi-stakeholder governance frameworks for the management of cultural heritage resources on the other.

Building Arts Audiences - Wallace Studies Series

Bob Harlow, Thomas Alfieri, Aaron Dalton and Anne Field (2015): Building Arts Audiences - Wallace Studies Series: Since 2006 the Wallace Excellence Award recognises art organisations for their efforts in building audiences. The series consists of eleven publications presenting evidence, numbers and relevant data and information on different issues in developing audiences. From the use of research, to how to overcome stereotypes to the inclusion of groups that often feel left out, the examples provide insights and concrete facts that can serve as an inspiration and help to art organisations in various sectors for audience building.

Study Results: Museums - Citizens and Sustainable Solutions

Danish Agency for Culture (2015): Museums - Citizens and Sustainable Solutions: The publication discusses particapatory and sustainable projects in Danish museums. Since sustainability is a core task for museums the Danish Agency for Culture chose to present the results of the National User Survey 2014 in the light of a sustainability perspective. "This is based on a complex understanding of sustainability, which includes many different parameters. With the publication the agency presents results, experiences and challenges that have been identified by means of the User Survey over the last six years."

Building Community: Who / How / Why

Nina Simon (2015): Building Community: Who / How / Why: At the 2015 conference of the American Alliance of Museums, Nina Simon explored what community building means for museums and how to approach it. She summarised her talk in a blog post. As a first step towards community building she suggests to ask who a museum wants to engage with and eventually how a community of people who share the same interests or views can be build. She draws from her work at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History and continues by building a stronger case for all museums.

Report: Making Meaningful Connections

James Irvine Foundation and Helicon (written by Alexis Frasz, Marcy Hinand and Holly Sidford) (2014): Making Meaningful Connections: The 15-page report connects knowledge collected by arts organisations in the state of California, US about audience development, particularly in the face of changing demographics. It shares the common characteristics of arts organisations that successfully and continuously engage diverse audiences, paired with infographics that summarise their findings and suggestions. The aim is to serve as an outline of a framework that arts organisations can adjust according to their audiences and their structures. Furthermore the report includes a brief on the strategies that lead to a sustained involvement of diverse audiences with arts organisations.

LEM Report 6: Audience research as an essential part of building a new permanent exhibition - Stories from the field

Bart Distelmans, Sam Groves, Kristiina Huttunen, Sanna Kattelus and Pauliina Kinanen (2013): LEM Report 6: Audience research as an essential part of building a new permanent exhibition - Stories from the field: Three museums - Forssa Museum in Forssa (Finland), the Gallo-Roman Museum in Tongeren (Belgium) and the Riverside Museum in Glasgow (UK) - share their experiences and approaches to audience research. It also shows how the research results were applied to the museums' work when developing their new exhibitions. General conclusions drawn from the three examples round out the publication. The report is one of seven published within the framework of the EU funded project LEM – The Learning Museum. LEM became a NEMO Working Group in 2014 that fosters a network of museums and cultural heritage organisations, particularly in the educational sector, towards the public and within the organisations themselves.

LEM Report 3: Measuring Museum Impact

Alessandro Bollo (2013): LEM Report 3: Measuring Museum Impact: Within the EU funded project LEM - The Learning Museum Working Group 3 concentrated on audience research, learning styles and visitors relation management. In this report the tools to measure the success or the failure of initiatives undertaken to build audiences and improve the quality of the museum visit are discussed. The aim of the handbook is to serve as a guide for impact studies, as well as an instrument for raising awareness, among policymakers, of the importance of approaching museum impact issues in a broad and holistic manner. Through case studies an international overview of museum impacts research with particular attention to economic, socio-cultural and environmental effects is presented and reviewed. This created practical references and resources to anyone interested in measuring societal, economic and cultural impact. The report is one of seven reports that were published within the framework of the EU funded project LEM – The Learning Museum. LEM became a NEMO Working Group that fosters a network of museums and cultural heritage organisations, particularly in the educational sector, towards the public and within the organisations themselves.

The Popularity of Museum Galleries

Aaron Broadley, Sarah Jenkins, and Dr Jenny Lisk (October 2013): The Popularity of Museum Galleries: The evaluation, conducted in the UK, evaluated visitor experiences and preferences about display themes and galleries in museums with mixed collections. It assesses the relative popularity of different galleries within these museums and explores audience profiles for different galleries compared to museums as a whole. The evaluation also looked at the reasons why particular galleries are popular with their dominant audiences and identified opportunities to present and market natural sciences to a greater effect.

A Matter of Choice? Arts Participation Patterns of Americans with Disabilities

US National Endowment for the Arts (2012): A Matter of Choice? Arts Participation Patterns of Disabled Americans: In the United States nearly 28 million adults have some type of disability. Their needs factor into their arts participation. The National Endowment for the Arts (NAE) drew several findings from a long-running study on the arts-participation patterns among people with disabilities. The presented results offer several insights on how adults with disabilities engage with the arts. The findings are on the latest Arts Data Profile from the NEA. The web-only feature includes a summary brief, arts participation tables, technical information, and additional information about Americans with disabilities.

Audience building and the future Creative Europe Programme

EENC - European Expert Network on Culture (prepared by Anne Bamford and Michael Wimmer) (January 2012): Audience building and the future Creative Europe Programme: The short report was created in preparation for the Creative Europe programme, which started in 2013. It presents trends and examples of audience building from different cultural sectors and offers recommendations and norms to European institutions on how to foster audience building on a European level and how to identify any flaws in the current methods. An analysis of 28 case studies from different member states of the EU rounds up the study. One of the main findings suggested a need for audience development due to decreasing participation in cultural institutions.

European Audiences: 2020 and Beyond

European Commission (2012): European Audiences: 2020 and Beyond: Audience development is a strategic, dynamic and interactive process of making the arts widely accessible. It aims at engaging individuals and communities in experiencing, enjoying, participating in and valuing the arts through various means available today for cultural operators, from digital tools to volunteering, from co-creation to partnerships. The publication shares examples from various cultural creators and operators that are active across Europe and served as a basis for the Creative Europe Programme.

Older People's Learning in 2012: A Survey

NIACE (Stephen McNair) (2012): Older People's Learning in 2012: A survey: The NIACE report presents a survey of older people in Great Britain, which was carried out in spring 2012. It examined their learning: what they learned, where, when and why, and with what benefits. It also explored whether, and how far, current patterns might be changed. This follows a similar survey from 2005, and furthermore reveals some significant changes since then, especially in the role of employment, in the location of learning, and the role of computing and online learning. The report raises further questions about society's expectation of and response to a growing number of retirees and individual thoughts about the meaning and purpose of life.

Connecting:// arts audiences online

Australia Council for the Arts (2011): Connecting:// arts audiences online: Herein the extensive research of the Australia Council for the Arts about the use of the internet to build audience engagement is presented as a basis for further developments and considerations. The goal was to understand the role of different online channels in dissemination, use, presentation and sharing of information and content. The research results provide an evidence base supporting a confident approach to digital tools, platforms and technology and the audience's interest in these.

Children Visiting Museums - Investing in the Audience of the Future

Nederlandse Museumvereniging/Netherlands Museums Association (November 2011): Children Visiting Museums - Investing in the Audience of the Future: The publication focuses on various ways to increase children and youth participation in museums. Free admissions and transportation remain obsolete in enhancing participation among children. Gaining the attention of the audience through social networking can encourage participation and interest,. Providing informal learning techniques and a structured programme can engage interest in museums, particularly with children. The findings are based on studies which were conducted in the Netherlands.

Libraries and Museums in an Era of Participatory Culture

Deborah L. Mack (2011): Libraries and Museums in an Era of Participatory Culture: The report presents the sessions and discussions from the seminar of the same name, which was convened by the Salzburg Global Seminar in collaboration with the Washington-based Institute of Museum and Library Services. Accepting the notion of democratic access, placing a major emphasis on public value and impact, and embracing lifelong learning were key overarching messages that emerged from deliberations at the seminar. The session plunged fifty-eight library, museum, and cultural heritage leaders from thirty-one countries around the world into discussion, debate, and the development of a series of practical recommendations for ensuring maximum access to and engagement in museums and libraries, as they examined the meaning of 'participatory culture'.

Translations: experiments in dialogic representation of cultural diversity in three museum sound installations

Mary Hutchison and Lea Collins (2009): Translations: experiments in dialogic representation of cultural diversity in three museum sound installations: Using the example of three experimental museum sound installations, this paper discusses the translation into practice of the intention to make meaningful connections between diverse social positions and experiences. The authors use the term 'dialog' to theorise these interactive intentions and show them at work in the content, development processes and form of the sound installations. The discussion is set across the disciplines of museum studies and creative practice.


In the following paragraphs you will find general resources or series of publications.

Resource: Audience Development Bibliography

The Audience Development Bibliography is a collection of materials brought together within the framework of the EU project on Audience Development. It includes contents dealing with different issues in Audience Development and a glossary of key terms. Furthermore, the presentations from the final conferences of the ADESTE project (Audience DEveloper: Skills and Training in Europe) held in March 2016 are available for download. As the project develops the collection of materials will grow.

Resource: Ecsite

Ecsite is the European network of science centres and museums, linking science communication professionals in more than 350 organisations. Founded 20 years ago, Ecsite connects member institutions through projects and activities and facilitates the exchange of ideas and best practice on current issues to drive science engagement forward.

Resource: Interpretation Matters!

Interpretation Matters, funded by the Arts Council England, is about all aspects of written material found in galleries, including the text panels on the walls and printed booklets. Interpretation Matters wants to keep up an important discussion about written interpretation practice, with an active involvement of those that are part of the process: curators, artists, educators, professionals and most importantly, the viewer. As these interpretations provide context for the works on show, they should not go "under-the-radar", but instead be highlighted. Interpretation Matters offers different materials, activities and platforms for professionals in the field of gallery practice.

Resource: Museum and Society - Journal by University of Leicester

Eric Gable, Kate Hill et al.: Museum and Society: This is an international, interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal published by the University of Leicester. The journal covers a wide range of topics rooted in museums and cultural institutions concerned with the collection, exhibition and display of public culture. Apart from museums in society, management, conservation, collections, social inclusion, audience research, accessibility, education, politics and policies, history and heritage, and lastly reviews of books and temporary exhibitions are featured in the journal. Museum & Society is published three times a year (March, July, November) with occassional extra issues and is available for free to all individuals and institutions.

Resource: Museum 2.0 - Museums in a digital world

Nina Simon: Museum 2.0: The blog by Nina Simon, Executive director at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History and author of "The Participatory Museum", explores developments and ways in which philosophies of Web 2.0 can be applied in museums to make them more engaging, community-based, and vital elements of society. It discusses new approaches, illustrated through examples from Simon's own work experiences.

Resource: The Australian Museum Audience Research Unit

The Australian Museum Audience Research Unit undertakes a broad range of visitor research and evaluation projects. The objectives of the unit are to undertake and facilitate innovative research into visitor experiences and learning issues, as well as feed information into programme development, policy and planning. Research results are publicised and disseminated by the unit, which wants to serve as a networking hub linking the museum with other organisations, universities and research institutions that are undertaking research in complementary areas. The website includes reports on specific topics and resources for professional use.

Resource: Visitor Studies Association

Visitor Studies Association is a professional organisation focusing on all facets of the visitor experience in museums, zoos, nature centres, visitor centres, historic sites, parks and other informal learning settings. The VSA supports and conducts research, evaluation and dialogue to help cultural organisations better understand and enhance learning expereicnes in informal settings.