At 35 I became one of the youngest CEO’s of a major centre for art, film and media in the UK and one of the few in the country to have come from a predominantly marketing and communications background. With this in mind, I have always been conscious of and passionate about data and the usage of data to drive decision making, not always on its own; data mixed with instinct can be a powerful force also. Having previously worked in the world of commercial marketing, I know how powerful a tool data is for income generation and product development. This is something I wanted to embed within our organisation here at QUAD.
When QUAD opened in 2008, we faced a significant challenge in regards to audience development, as for many of our services we were starting largely from an audience of zero, because they simply had not existed in the form we were presenting them prior to opening.
In 2008 data was scarce and expensive. We went through a significant period of synergising existing desk research, some of which was out of date (e.g. census data) and most of which was non-specific to our aims and objectives. We commissioned new qualitative and quantitative data surveys to gain a broad, but detailed analysis of our audience opportunity. We also took part in a number of cross venue audience research projects, including work with comparative venues in Nottingham (Broadway) and Leicester (Phoenix). These gave us all valuable insights into our audiences, but also flagged up that each of our audiences had significant nuances and very little crossover.
The difference Audience Finder has made
Audience Finder for me is one of the most exciting and potentially powerful forces in Arts Marketing that has ever existed. We live in a world of ‘big data’ which is used as much to frighten as it is to develop. Previously the arts have sat outside of this world whilst commercial entities have driven forward. Our audiences are and always will be, our most powerful asset and without them we are nothing. Audience Finder has given us as organisations the power to understand and reach them in ways we hadn’t previously understood.
Before Audience Finder our data was often hidden behind box offices only to be revealed once a year when surveys were collated and analysed. Now, through live box office data analysis, self-confessed data geeks, can view anonymised audience data 24/7 for 365 days a year. This enables us to be fleet of foot when it comes to opportunities; when a conversation is to be had with stakeholders we can reference and interpret the data which is up to date and powerful, rather than distant and vague. The fact this service is FREE is even more impressive.
The robustness of the data is crucial to us using it to make DDD (data driven decisions), these are many and varied and are used in the context of board discussions, development of strategy and for making the case to funders and sponsors.
Audience Finder International
We are working with international partners to develop a number of sister projects and an international learning alliance, a forum to share good practice, insight and resources.
Evaluating a Salford cultural and education partnership which co-creates theatre with children and young people.
How The Audience Agency is innovating to help art galleries find out more about their visitors in a fun and interactive digital way.