Which competencies are needed for audience developers?

The ADESTE consortium met in Lecce, Italy on 24 and 25 September for the project’s third partner meeting and for a European focus group with external experts on audience development.

The objective of the meeting was to share an update on the project’s ongoing phase to define the professional profile of the audience developer, and prepare for the project’s next phase to design and test a training model for audience development professionals.

Organised alongside the ArtLab14 conference, this project meeting was also an opportunity to invite and engage with experts and cultural practitioners on the topic of audience development. The ADESTE partners involved ten external experts during a 2-day focus group to share and debate the main findings outlined by the consortium. Coming from Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom, this group of highly respected professionals were also asked to explain according to the context of their country how audience development is interpreted. Moreover, they provided successful audience development projects and practice in museums, urban landscapes, music events, theatre and more.

For the project’s outputs of the initial research phases, these were officially presented and discussed in Lecce. From February to June, project partners in seven European countries mapped training paths and practices related to audience development. The research, coordinated by Fondazione Fitzcarraldo, combined the mapping results with more than 30 interviews conducted with audience development researchers, academics, practitioners and policy makers representing more than nine countries in Europe and beyond, as well as collected input from the project’s third country partners in India and the United States: The Indian Foundation for the Arts and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

The culmination of this work, resulted in a strong understanding and new insight into the way audience development is taught and answering three key questions: which competencies for audience development do education and training providers take into consideration? What are the backgrounds of professionals working in this field? What could be the most effective training programme for professionals in this field?

For the project’s task to define the professional profile of the audience developer, led by the University of Deusto in Spain, the report’s list of competencies needed has already been particularly useful. Elaborated from qualitative data, this list served as a starting point for discussions in national focus groups which began in late June whose aim was to explore how audience development is interpreted and practiced in different national contexts. With the European audience developer profile almost complete, the project partners have started to use this along with the results from the research phase to design and test a training model to support cultural organisations and practitioners in having a greater impact on access to culture and cultural participation in Europe. The Audience Agency from UK is the ADESTE partner to lead this key-phase of innovative training development.

ADESTE project partners are scheduled to meet next in early 2015 to complete the design of the training programme that will be tested.