Skip to main content

Building Arts Organizations That Build Audiences

This Wallace conference report looks at how to build successful and sustainable audience development practices.
March 2012
A white man and woman performers, performing on a stage, holding a baby in a park setting with tree in the back of them
  • Author(s)
  • Susan Parker
  • Publisher(s)
  • The Wallace Foundation
Page Count 17 pages


From sponsoring after-hours events for 20-somethings to finding “ambassadors” in ethnic communities, arts organizations are looking for successful ways to develop audiences. But what really works and—more importantly—what doesn’t? And how can past audience development successes be sustained? This report, documenting a June 2011 Wallace conference bringing together foundation-supported arts organizations groups with marketing experts, researchers and others, provides potential answers. 

Important steps, according to the report, include:

  • Understanding audiences through market research and developing strategies to “meet them where they are”
  • Involving the entire organization in audience-building efforts, including forging stronger bonds between the management and artistic sides of the house, allowing staff members greater autonomy, ensuring firm backing from the organization’s leadership and encouraging more collaboration among different departments
  • Creating a culture that embraces risk-taking and learning through small experiments, a strong and consistent vision from leaders, and encouraging people to take risks

Materials & Downloads

Now Viewing: Overview Next: Ideas In Practice
Share This


Sign up to receive our monthly email newsletter and news from Wallace.