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Leading Change:
Audience Diversification in the Arts

How can arts and cultural organisations diversify their audiences?

We work with arts organisations, government, innovators and academics to explore this important question.

“This research is about the future we are all striving to achieve where the clearly apparent cultural diversity of our nation is represented through the inclusive and cosmopolitan nature of our arts.”

– Wesley Enoch AM, Indigenous playwright and theatre director, Chair Industry Advisory Group

What are the benefits of addressing this question?

Engaging more diverse audiences means that arts organisations will deliver value to a greater number of people, improve financial sustainability, and enable new and distinctive stories to be told or shown. 

Why is this important?

Attracting diverse audiences is a critical issue for the sustainability of the arts and cultural sectors. While most arts organisations (and policy and funding agencies) believe that diversifying audiences is a priority, change is slow and some parts of the arts sector appear to have trouble attracting audiences from a range of cultural backgrounds, geographic locations, age groups and disabilities.

How will we go about it?

Our research has identified that shifting the social profile of audiences requires organisational change across 8-steps rather than audience development programs. Phase one of work involves a 10-minute survey investigating the impact of organisational behaviour on the social profile of audiences and phase two a community of practice with sixteen Australian arts organisation.

What are we doing about it?

Deakin University researchers have been funded by the Australia Council for the Arts and the Ian Potter Foundation to research the impact of organisational practice on audience diversity. We are working with publicly funded Australian arts organisations who produce or program arts or cultural work.

How do we define audience diversity?

By ‘audience diversity’, we mean First Nations audiences, Deaf and Disabled audiences, and audiences from a range of cultural backgrounds, geographic locations, age groups, disabilities and sexuality and gender identities.

Photography: Kate Dyer

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