“Not for the likes of you” – how to reach a broader audience

By Debbie Bayne, Consultant, Seamus Smyth, Morton Smyth Ltd, Maddy Morton, Morton Smyth Ltd, Mel Larsen, Consultant
Published 2004

This report is for organisations that want to attract a broad public, and are willing to go through a process of change to achieve it.

It focuses on what really makes the difference in audience development and tells you what you most need to do if you want to attract a wider audience.

The focus of ‘Not for the Likes of You’ has been on how a cultural organisation can become accessible to a broad general audience by changing its overall positioning and message, rather than just by implementing targeted audience development schemes or projects (which is not to say that that targeting specific groups was not part of the thinking – it was, but only where it was set in the context of a broader, more holistic approach).

People in the cultural sector sometimes worry that if they take access seriously, it will be hard work, it will all be very ‘worthy’ and their product will suffer as a result of a process of ‘dumbing down’. We can tell you that it isn’t like that.

We found that organisations that have repositioned to attract a broader audience are exciting to engage with – as a staff member, as an audience member, as whoever. So much so that staff tend to stay for a long time (and as consultants we often left wanting to go back and ask for a job!). Because they are great places to be.

And your experience is also that, far from suffering as a consequence of taking access seriously, your product gains new life, vibrancy and meaning. It connects with people in a new way, and so moves them as it was not able to do before.

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