Audiences Europe Network

Audiences Europe Network   

The best thinkers, the most effective strategists, the most inspiring pioneers – Audiences Europe Network (AEN) is creating a European platform for senior cultural professionals to talk about all the things that motivate cultural audiences to attend – and enjoy creative experiences. Our events and resources offer an insight into the way things are done locally, set against the backdrop of our shared European cultural agenda.

It’s energising to visit a foreign town North or South - and realising that we all talk the same language, that we’re working to the same end. AEN is a European movement, a group of professional enthusiasts, people who want to learn and share, who value the power of ideas. We’re here to understand more about audiences and how to grow them.

Core Partners include:
Danish Centre for Arts and Interculture (Denmark), Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (Spain), European Centre for Cultural Organisation and Management (Italy), Norsk Publiksumsutvikling (Norway), Audiences Northern Ireland (United Kingdom), Rotterdam Festivals (Netherlands), Demos (Belgium), CultuurNet Vlaanderen (Belgium).

What We Do
Conferences, Seminars, Masterclasses, Training, Expert Witnesses, Guest Speakers, Professional Networking, Online community (+ LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook), Resources and Intelligence.

Do you want to know more about AEN?
Please contact Cynthia Dekker, , +31 (0) 10 433 25 11

From 2010 to 2012 AEN partners participated in the Extending the Margins programme. This programme aimed to facilitate sharing of knowledge and experience of cultural managers and exchange best practice. The knowledge acquired through this process enabled managers to engage more effectively with their target client groups, making arts and culture more accessible to the widest spectrum of the population.
What followed later was the Open All Areas project (from 2012 to 2014). Recently the closing conference took place in Rotterdam. Read everything about it below.
Retrospective final conference Open All Areas in Rotterdam
On June 2 Rotterdam Festivals organized the closing conference of the European exchange programme Open All Areas in Theater Zuidplein. Open All Areas is a program which seeks to find ways to overcome the barriers of cultural exclusion and create cultural access for all. The first meeting took place in Rotterdam at the end of 2012. From then on the six participating countries (Belgium, Denmark, Norway, the UK, Italy and Spain) organized meetings in their country where interesting examples were presented by cultural organizations working to reach socially or economically excluded groups. During the final conference, Rotterdam presented two more examples as last one in this sequence. Present were 47 cultural professionals, including 15 foreign guests.

Casestudy 1: Theater Zuidplein
The day started with a presentation by Doro Siepel, director of Theater Zuidplein, in which she talked about the vision and the operation of the theater. Theater Zuidplein is unique in its approach, where the Western concept of absolute quality is deliberately abandoned in favour of the focus on the participation of the public. The program, ticket prices and service are all designed to attract people with diverse backgrounds to the theatre. The entire focus lies precisely on those who would not normally visit the theatre.
Doro specifically mentioned a co-creation project Theater Zuidplein started last year with young female professionals aged 25 to 35 years. From conversations with the audience and an ensuing quantitative survey among 149 women it was found that there was a need for an event that would combine entrepreneurship, networking and culture. The theatre worked with 10 women from the target group and a young project manager to achieve such an event. Unfortunately, however, during the process it became apparent that the project could not be realized financially, which led to an early halt of this project. Despite this disappointing result, the project has been very useful to the theatre, says Doro. The target group turned out to be very involved, and the theatre has learned from the experience. Should a new co-creation project take place in the future, the theatre would do some things differently. For example, the target group would only have a say in part of the program rather than all of it, and a professional project manager with experience should be hired to manage the project. The full presentation can be viewed here.

Casestudy 2: Museum Rotterdam
The second case study was presented by Jacques Börger, Head of Communications at Museum Rotterdam and Neele Kistemaker of Muzus. Museum Rotterdam wants to recruit a broad-based audience group for its activities around the Story of Rotterdam and thereby achieve a doubling of the number of visitors. The aim is also that the visits are not a one-off, but that they lead to a commitment to the city and its museum. From all the people living in the Greater Rotterdam, the museum has selected five promising target groups on which it will focus in the coming years: the culture lovers, colorful brawlers, the suburban convenience seekers, active families and the urban omnivores.
The challenge for the museum is about how to connect with these groups. In this search they are supported by the agency Muzus, who has developed a visitors matrix for them. This matrix is based on in-depth research into the five groups, whereby selected people were asked to keep track of their daily life in a diary with an emphasis on how they spend their leisure time. This diary was supplemented by a series of pictures made by selected people. Based on the information from the diaries, the people of the five groups were again interviewed extensively. All this material together formed the basis for five personas. The matrix provides information how each persona can be reached, what elements the offer must contain and how a relationship can be developed that encourages repeat visits and word of mouth. One of the participants was also present at the presentation to tell about her experiences during the process. Sanka is a typical culture lover and recognized herself clearly in the description of this group. Click here to view the full presentation.

After the presentations of the two case studies it was time for a summary of the key lessons learned during the exchange program. Participants were divided into groups and were asked to think about the difficulties they encountered in the projects and what tips they could give other parties who intend to start projects. Then we tried to get a picture of the future. It emerged, among other things, that there is often a clash between social and artistic goals, that it can be difficult to find suitable partners and that reaching out and communicating with the target group can be difficult. Key findings were that cultural barriers can be different than imagined, that networking is very important for the effectiveness of the project and that working with new target groups can provide innovative ideas and thus can contribute to the value of a project. Tips that were provided included: Keep collecting data on the effectiveness of a project, research new qualitative indicators that measure the impact and share your knowledge about working with marginalized groups with others. Look here for a complete overview of the findings.

The day ended with a discussion led by Donatello Piras, co-author of the bestseller ‘Debating to win' and jury member of the Debate Price. Participants received propositions such as: Cultural institutions must leave the quality paradigm of Western culture and every cultural institution that does not reach the people in their own neighbourhood should be cut in their funding. Donatello divided the participants into against, for and jury groups. The for and against group were each asked to convince the jury about their opinion. Some had to put their own opinions aside which led them to have more understanding for another´s opinion. The debate was interrupted midway for a performance by singer Lyndon Hoyer, who is part of the talent coaching program Open Studio Islemunda from the Culture Scouts. Carolien Ruigrok then explained what the Culture Scouts do and how they operate.

Summaries of projects
The summaries of all case studies that have been handled during the program are found below:
Museum Rotterdam: the Visitors Matrix (Netherlands)
Theater Zuidplein: co-creation (Netherlands)
WIELS Centre for contemporary Arts (Belgium)
BXL NORD (Belgium)
Apropa Cultura (Spain)
Museum, a place for all (Spain)
Belfast Murals (Northern Ireland)
Hitchhikers (Northern Ireland)
The intercultural service of Biblioteche di Roma (Italy)
DIAMOND - Dialoguing Museum for a New Cultural Democracy (Italy)
Oslo Atlas (Norway)
In Copenhagen I Belong (Denmark)

A photo report of the conference can be found here.