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Many culture makers have embraced the theme of Audience Development (AD); we all want audiences, preferably large and enthusiastic ones. But how can we demonstrate to our investors that we have taken the task seriously? How do we measure our efforts? This meticulous study undertaken by the European Commission, looks at examples from the diverse European cultural landscape, providing innovative approaches and methods in the area of AD and tools for cultural leaders looking at make a convincing case, within their organisations, for a transition to an audience-centric approach.

Is participation the ’new black’ in audience development strategies?

Niels Righolt from the Danish Centre for Arts and Interculture focused on what cultural institutions are like and on their relationship with citizens. If cultural institutions are to achieve the aim of making culture and the arts relevant to citizens, he argued, a change of mentality is necessary.

This means rethinking the way institutions work in view of new technologies and urban growth, using culture as an engine for social innovation, and at the same time changing the use of buildings and spaces and creating a space for dialogue among citizens, while rethinking formats.

New Wolsey Theatre is based in Ipswich and is an independent not-for-profit organisation. They are funded by Arts Council England as one of its National Portfolio Organisations and receive local funding from Ipswich Borough Council and Suffolk County Council as well as other project funding from a variety of sources. New Wolsey Theatre is a mid-scale theatre with a mixed performance programme that combines in-house with touring productions. It has a diverse audience, a strong commitment to access and reaching parts of the community not normally engaged in the arts. This is complemented by a strong business model based on a policy of maximising earned income, especially through ticket sales, and innovative funding. Ipswich is a town with 127.000 population, a mix of ‘rural bliss’, ‘gentrified areas’ new build family housing and older working class areas. Fans of the local football club Ipswich Town are known as the ‘Tractor Boy’ indicating how the town has historically been perceived (tractors are farm vehicles).

In 2011 the city of Antwerp united different city collections in its new city museum, the MAS. Both the cultural policies and urban planning policies since the 1990s explain the creation of the MAS. In 1997, three of Antwerp’s city museums did not manage to attract national funding because of their shabby conditions of conservation. Hence, the Antwerp city council had to take a decision either to renovate these museums or to close them. Instead of renovating each museum, the city decided to create a brand-new city museum for the old collections in the old port area of Antwerp, which would add to the urban renewal of this run-down quarter.