Audience Links Xchange Conference and Workshop, 20-24th February 2017, Stockholm.

One of the greatest challenges for cultural operators and institutions is to reach the broadest possible audience. There are both social and economic barriers. Urgency is a primary factor. Intercult, together with River//Cities, Riksteatern and partners from all over Europe, dedicates a week in February 2017 to the topic of Audience Engagement.

On Tuesday 21st February, there will be separate platform meetings: for CORNERS, a long-term EU funded project, initiated by Intercult and involving 11 countries, for Baltic Audience Links, an emerging regional network coordinated by River//Cities Foundation Platform and for R//C platform Board Members meeting.

On  Wednesday 22nd February will take place a public forum and conference Audience Links Xchange. It is going to feature experts and activists from Italy, Sweden, Spain, UK, Lithuania, Latvia and Poland, in a series of dynamic panels and interactive exchanges.

The conference will open a presentation and discussion lead by Chris Torch, Cristina da Milano, Alessandro Bollo and Alessandra Gariboldi, on Commissioned by the EU, and delivered in Jan 2017 Audience Development Study, titled: “How to place audiences at the center of cultural organisations”.

Also Jekaterina Lavrinec, Laimikis.Lt, Lithuania will deliver her findings from “Response and interim report Study on Audience Engagement in the Baltic Sea Region”.

A “conference” is going to be set up as a series of conversation clusters. Each session will begin in a one of three titles which are at the root of the AD Study: Audience by Habit, Audience by Choice, Audience by Surprise.
We have asked five different professionals and expert on each subject, to join us for each session, around a table. They will introduce themselves and reflect freely on the topic.
Remaining participants of the conferences will form round the table audience, which would take an active part in discussion. The moderator will facilitate the exchange.
By Audience by Habit we mean: established cultural consumers and educated visitors who regularly join in cultural activities. Can we find ways to deepen the experience for them? Can we maintain them even as we diversify our audiences and our programs? Will they follow? Can we attract them outside of their habits?
By Audience by Choice we mean: more critical and undependable audiences, who choose – carefully or not – from a wide variety of cultural experiences, irregularly and without apparent criteria. Can we find ways of diversifying their tastes and getting them to take more risk? Can we turn them into loyal audiences? Can we find more of them to increase our statistics?
By Audience by Surprise we mean: people who seldom are drawn to a cultural programme, who fulfilled their needs in more informal ways, who are marginalised for a variety of reasons from the publicly financed offer. Can we surprise them, draw their attention, even become relevant for them? Can we diversify our audiences by special invitations to target groups? Can we meet them in new places?

At the end of the day our moderators  will try to draw some conclusions followed by networking.
On Thursday 23rd February the event will continue with a public workshop at the House of Europe (Europahuset), during two inter-connected parts. European experts are going to lead practical workshops in Organizational Change and Stimulating Local Participation. The latter session, launched by the Baltic Audience Links, will explore the experiences of cultural organisations, with concrete examples from the Baltic Sea Region, that developed cultural formats for fostering local participatory processes. The Workshop targets professionals looking for tools and tips. It places Audience Engagement in an international context, based in practice.
Audience engagement is not just about increasing audience numbers. It is about accessibility and citizens’ participation, essential elements for a functioning democracy. The conference is meant to equip cultural operators and policymakers for future challenges to sustain public investment in culture.

The key point of the conference is going to be the first public presentation of “Audience Development: how to place audiences at the centre of cultural organisations”. A major study commissioned by the EU, recently completed by a consortium of four European organisations, including Fondazione Fitzcarraldo, Culture Action Europe, ECCOM and Intercult. The aim of the study is to provide successful approaches in the area of audience development from a European perspective, to be disseminated to cultural organisations and used as a basis for selection criteria in future calls launched by the Creative Europe programme.
The whole 22Feb conference was live streamed on the Intercult’s FB page, and the recording is now available to watch in 4 different parts on the link below:

Full Programme.

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