Audience Development: a challenge in Europe. The point of view of students and practitioners

CONNECT aims at building bridges between higher education and the labour market of cultural practitioners on Audience Development -related issues, through the delivery of a Twin-Track training programme for both students and practitioners. But what topics should the course cover? How should it be structured? In other words, how can one best design a course that is relevant to both cultural practitioners working on the field and university students eager to join cultural organisations?

The need analysis carried out within CONNECT meant to answer these questions with the aim of guiding the design of the Twin-Track Programme. Therefore, CONNECT includes a Working Program devoted to research activities, namely designed as a detailed need analysis of the target groups, consisting of three main activities:

  • a detailed needs analysis of arts management post-graduate students;
  • a detailed needs analysis of practitioners in the cultural sector;
  • and a Survey of existing programmes of current practices on entrepreneurship education and audience development (an entrepreneurial approach is strictly linked to audience development practices).

The research was carried out at national levels by the different partners of the project so that, for the collection of data, each country was considered as a “national hub”. The data collected was eventually aggregated for both national and cross-national interpretation.

The data collection focused on 5 main countries, based on the geographical provenance of the partners of the consortium, namely: Denmark, Italy, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom.

The research analyzed over 130 higher-education courses, through 2 ad-hoc AD indicators with the aim of shedding light on the extent to which such courses covered AD-related issues. At the same time, the consortium interviews over 45 students enrolled at 19 different universities through Semi-structured in-depth interviews and Focus Group Interviews, exploring students’ views on AD as well as their expectations for a potential Audience Development-related course. Finally, CONNECT was able to reach out to over 620 cultural practitioners working across the 5 countries covered with a CAWI (Computer Assisted Web Interview) survey based on an online questionnaire, focusing on the practitioners’ understanding of AD as well as on the role of AD-related strategies within their cultural organisations.

The data collected are the starting ground for the design of the Twin-Track programme to be delivered starting from Autumn 2018. The training programme will feature a transnational team of researchers, teachers and trainers from higher education institutions and private cultural organisations and it will combine both formal and informal training, as well as digital resources.

What are the outcomes of the research activities? What did cultural practitioners and university students share? If you want to know more about the findings of the research activity, Click HERE.