Category: Audiences

Open Up Museums For Everyone Launches

A new website and series of useful free resources created by the ‘Open Up: Museums for everyone’ project have now launched.

The project and resulting resources were designed to help all size museums to increase the diversity of their visitors to make real and lasting change in the museum sector.

Co-created with twelve pioneering museums, the new resources can be downloaded in PDF and are available in English and Welsh. There is:

  • A practical guide to support museums to increase the diversity of their visitors
  • An introduction to the guide
  • Case studies from participating museums
  • A sign up for museums across the UK to get involved, offer their own advice and expertise and receive further project news

Open Up began in 2017 at the initiation of the Association of Independent Museums and as a partnership between AIM, Arts Council England, Heritage Lottery Fund, Museums Association, Museums Galleries Scotland, National Museums Northern Ireland and the Welsh Government.


Audience of the Future Challenge launched

In 2017 the “Industrial Strategy – Building a Britain fit for the future” White Paper was published. The Industrial Strategy included a number of valuable opportunities for the Creative Industries including a £33M fund for Audience of the Future Challenge.

Immersive technologies such as virtual, augmented and mixed reality are changing how we experience the world around us – from entertainment and art to shops and classrooms. The challenge is to bring creative businesses, researchers and technologists together to create striking new experiences that are accessible to the general public. This can create the next generation of products, services and experiences that will capture the world’s attention and position the UK as the global leader in the creative and commercial implementation of immersive technologies.

On 21 May 2018 the first wave of activity was launched. This focuses on a £16m Audience of the Future Demonstrators programme to explore the immersive future of the Creative Industries by supporting new large-scale immersive experiences in key sectors of the Creative Industries and testing them with a mass audience. Also included is the launch of a £1m early-stage Audience of the Future: Design Foundations competition, focused on understanding the future user, delivering vital insight into audience perceptions and behaviours.

For further information see here.

The Audience of the Future Challenge is run by Innovate UK, an agency of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. More information is available here.

Applications for this first phase will close on 1 August 2018.



Marketing 101 – reaching your audiences effectively

10am-4pm 14th March 2018
Lancashire Conservation Studios, Preston

Places still available

Don’t know where to start with marketing? Learn how to create a strategic marketing plan and select the right channels to reach the audiences you need in this practical, hands-on workshop with museum marketing specialist Marge Ainsley.

By the end of the workshop participants will:

  • Understand what ‘marketing’ really means
  • Know how to identify target audiences, and how data insight can help
  • Develop clear objectives for marketing activities
  • Know how to write an actionable marketing plan (that doesn’t sit on a shelf!)
  • Gain tips and advice for reaching audiences ‘on a shoestring’
  • Understand how to measure the success of marketing activity
  • Leave with further resources and toolkits to continue learning.

This workshop is designed specifically for:

  • Museum staff who are new to marketing
  • Anyone who would like a refresher on the basics.

The workshop will be delivered by Marge Ainsley, a consultant with extensive experience in marketing and audience development. She has worked in the cultural sector for over 15 years and was previously voted one of the 50 best freelancers in the UK by national marketing magazine, The Drum.

To book a place follow this link:

Innovative Approach to Families in Galleries

Four contemporary art galleries in the North bring in new family visitors with innovative approach

Evaluation shows new approach, funded by Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Fund, brings in 123,000 visitors but lessons are also learnt 

Four contemporary art galleries in the North of England have successfully brought in thousands of ‘under represented’ new visitors by commissioning special exhibitions aimed at a family audience and using an innovative communication approach, their new evaluation shows.

The Gymnasium Gallery in Berwick, Central Art Gallery in Ashton-under-Lyne, Towneley Hall in Burnley and the DLI Museum and Art Gallery in Durham worked together to create the Generation Tour which visited the galleries between September 2014 and September 2016. 

The Tour used a research-based approach to audience development and commissioned artists to develop four brand new hands-on contemporary art exhibitions designed to appeal to families. 

Lucy Jenkins, Art Curator for Durham County Council, said “This has been a very successful project with rich learning along the way that we can build on. We hope others in the culture sector can also gain something from our discoveries.” 

“We embarked on this project because family audiences were under represented in our venues. This was a missed opportunity, not only in terms of visitor numbers but because contemporary art can enrich the lives of families and encourage a lifelong appreciation and interest.” 

“We were delighted that the Generation Tour was so successful. More than 123,000 came to see the exhibitions. Nearly 1,500 filled out questionnaires that showed 83% were visiting as families and the average approval score was 8.7 out of 10.”

“We were especially pleased to see that 14% of those visiting had never set foot in an art exhibition before – getting visitors to try a completely new cultural genre is not an easy thing to do.”

To achieve these results, family focus groups were used and previous research applied to find out what the barriers were to families visiting and what they wanted from a visit. The clearest message was that contemporary art galleries were perceived as ‘hands off’ places where curious, noisy children would not be welcome. Many found the terminology used in marketing off-putting too – even the use of the word ‘art’ was a turn off for many.

The Generation Tour responded to this with exhibitions that were very much hands on, colourful marketing literature that was instantly recognisable as ‘for families’ and training for staff to ensure a warm welcome for this audience.

For all their mainstream appeal, the exhibitions didn’t compromise on artistic quality. Generation AIR by Spacecadets created ambient, breathing inflatables inspired by the human body; Generation NOISE by Owl Project offered huge wooden interactive sound machines; The Tree, The Caterpillar and The Butterfly by Aether and Hemera invited families to bring a nature garden to life using Xbox Kinect technology and Musical Chairs by Hellicar and Lewis offered the chance to compose a changing soundscape by joining hands with other humans. They successfully brought in many families but not everything went to plan.

“We learnt there was a tricky balance between showing families that contemporary art galleries could be hands on but also getting the message across that it was not exactly the same environment as a playground.” said Lucy Jenkins. ” When you’re encouraging people to interact with artworks you need to make sure they are really robust otherwise things can stop working and it causes stress for front of house staff”. 

“We’re now looking at our next steps and would like to commission new exhibitions. Funding permitting, these will use interpretation, exhibit robustness and staff training to help families interact with exhibitions in a way that’s both enjoyable for them and sustainable for the art offer.”

“With this learning we’re confident we can deepen the engagement for families further still and continue to play our part in turning around the perception that contemporary art galleries are not for families.” 

An infographic overview of the Generation Tour is available here and the full length evaluation here. Video interviews with families who attended the exhibitions are also available here.

Diversifying Museum Visitors

Within an increasingly diverse society how might UK museums grow attendance and engagement?

How do we move beyond talk to action in increasing diversity, inclusion and equity to start to make real and lasting change in the museums sector?

Diversifying Museum Visitors is a ground breaking project designed to help museums increase the diversity of their visitors. 

The key focus of the project will be on providing tools and guidance to help museums make long-term change.  The sector has been talking about diversity for so long. Diversifying Museum Visitors provides a great opportunity to address and breakdown barriers.  To help people take a first step and then the next, to make a meaningful, lasting, real change.

                What are the factors for success?

                What practical steps can museums take to improve visitor diversity?

                What do we need to change and influence both internally and externally?

The literature and practice review (underway at the moment) is highlighting that there is a complex interplay of factors which affect diversity and inclusion within museums.  The project team will therefore consider all of the protected characteristics, but will place a particular emphasis on socio-economics as a key, cross-cutting influence on engagement.

The project steering group is led by the Association of Independent Museums (AIM) together with the Museums Association and four other organisations who are funding the project – Arts Council England, the Museums Archives and Libraries Division of the Welsh Government, Museums Galleries Scotland and National Museums Northern Ireland. 

Get involved

AIM has appointed a trio of consultants – Julie Aldridge, Mel Larsen and Pam Jarvis – to lead on this project and they are now looking for people across the UK museums sector to get involved.

Help us to make a difference by informing the creation of a suite of tools and guidance that works well for a broad mix of museums (of different types, size, geographical locations etc.)

Deadline for expressions of interest is 5pm, Friday 5th May 2017

Register your interest to share your experience as part of a pioneers group

Register your interest to explore the ideas further with a group of other museums

Register your interest to find out more about future stages of the project

Consultancy Opportunity: Viewpoint review, MDNW

Fee: £5,000
Start date: May/June 2017
Completion: December 2017

MDNW hold a regional licence until March 2018 with CRT for the use of Viewpoint devices and software at 69 museums across the North West that use them to capture audience feedback. Many museums have benefited from free audience data collection for at least six years.

We would like to commission a review of how effectively the devices are being used to capture and analyse visitor data and provide support for those who could make more of the technology in their museums.

We would also like to commission consultation with Viewpoint users to find a sustainable future for the programme post March 2018 when MDNW will cease to pay for the regional licence.

Contract – key tasks

  • To review the effective use of Viewpoint machines and software at relevant museums (including data capture, analysis, location in the museum and its visibility, knowledge and confidence of staff in using technology) and impact on audience development
  • To use information from the review to inform MDNW as to what practical and operational support museums would need going forward to improve the effective use of Viewpoint technology
  • To carry out consultation with Viewpoint users individually and/or via area museum networks to explore various licencing options for April 2018 onwards and report back to MDNW with recommendations
  • Liaise with CRT to discuss licence options for individual or consortia of museums with support from MDNW
  • To inform MDNW of devices that are not being or are not intended to be used by individual museums to enable us to redistribute where appropriate 

Budget and timescale
The programme will start in May/June 2017 and all work must be completed by December 2017. A report on the review of effective Viewpoint use, a report on consultation outcomes and recommendations of future licencing options will be expected at the end of the work.

The total budget is £5,000 (inclusive of VAT) and is to include all associated expenses.

To see the full brief please click Viewpoint Consult Brief 2017-18.

Future of Museums: Audiences

Wellcome Collection, London
Wednesday 29th March
£55.00 – £195.00

From the Museums Association:

How will our rapidly changing society affect the relationship that museums have with audiences in the future? Chaired by Tonya Nelson, head of UCL Museums and Collections, the event will look at the influence that demographic, technological and other trends will have on the needs of audiences, including families, young people, older visitors and those with disabilities. Speakers will discuss how museums can deepen their engagement with the public and have a greater impact on their lives.

Tonya Nelson, head of UCL Museums and Collections


– Jane Falkingham, director of the ESRC Centre for Population Change, University of Southampton, will shed light on future demographic trends.
– Anne Torreggiani, CEO, The Audience Agency, will talk about the audiences of the future.
– Maggie Appleton, chief executive, Royal Airforce Museum and board member of the Museums Association, will explore how museums can strike new relationships with audiences.

– Sebastian Crutch, neuropsychologist, UCL Dementia Research Centre
– Miranda Ballin
, ArtWorks, Artistic Director at Valleys Kids
– Sam Tatlow
, talent coordinator for talent agency Think Bigger
– Becki Morris
, a specialist in inclusion and representation of disabled people in museums and collections assistant at Warwickshire Heritage and Culture
– Laura Phillips
, head of learning and participation, British Museum, and member of the Age Friendly Museums Network
– Mark Miller
, Circuit programme leader and convenor of young people’s programmes, Tate Britain and Tate Modern
– Clare Haywood
, family programme producer, National Maritime Museums
– James Peto
, head of public programmes, Wellcome Collection

Registration will start at 0930 and the event will finish at 1700.

After the event the Museums Association is holding one of the launches for its new Museums Change Lives publication. All delegates are welcome to attend. This new publication is being launched at events throughout the UK in 2017.  Museums Change Lives is the MA’s flagship campaign to enhance the positive social impact that  museums can deliver working with their communities. The new publication features case studies from a range of museums demonstrating the difference they are making and advocates the value of museums to society.

Full timetable will be available in due course

To book your place online please click here

To download a booking form please click here

If you require an invoice please download and complete a booking form to send with a purchase order number.

Follow this event on Twitter: #MAMuseumsFuture

Audience Diversity Academy 2.0

From AMA:

The AMA is recruiting for participants to take part in Audience Diversity Academy 2.0 – the innovative online programme which supports professionals working in arts, culture and heritage organisations across England, to help diversify audiences.

Fellows of the programme develop and conduct experiments with real audiences, identifying challenges and testing new ways of working. We use the word diversity in its broadest sense and are looking to recruit Fellows aiming to engage audiences of different ages, sexualities, genders, ethnicities and socio economic backgrounds.

The programme offers you the support of an international expert Mentor with one- to-one sessions, access to tailored online training to develop your skills, and the opportunity to take part in Action Learning Sets to learn from your peers.

If you want to build new relationships with diverse audiences and are committed to seeing audiences better reflect society you should apply for a place on the programme. You’re likely to have marketing, education, outreach, audience development or engagement in your job title.

The simple application form and further information can be found on the AMA website. The deadline for applications is 12pm on Friday 17 March.

“No one can afford to ignore diversity issues nowadays but many cultural organisations still struggle to think through and apply new practices. This programme will give many organisations the on-going, in-depth support they need to try new approaches, get great results and embed the learning into their organisation.”

Culture24 Digital Programme

Closing date tomorrow!

Do you want to work with Culture24 to engage audiences with your digital collection? 

Culture24, working in partnership with Museum Development North West, is looking to support staff in 10 museums in the North West to understand how to reach and engage adult audiences and communities of interest with digital content from and about collections. This programme has been made possible with ACE Resilience Funding.

We want to help museum professionals and volunteers understand how to make their content fit for purpose to meet audience needs and understand better what motivates (or doesn’t motivate) people to discover and visit museums on/offline.

We want to work with museums most in need of help and ensure individuals in those museums are able to embed new approaches and learning into their work once the project is over. Each museum will be paid a £200 honorarium to support participation.

Participants from each museum will work together as a group to identify/understand their target audience needs; create and publish fit-for-purpose digital content on Culture24’s and their own websites; reach out to and engage communities of interest via a range of channels then track and analyse usage and engagement using online analytics tools.

Interested? What you need to take part:

-A digitised collection
-To be an accredited museum
-To be near the beginning of your digital journey or to be in need of help and support with audience engagement via digital publishing
-To have a desire to experiment and explore the possibilities of your own collection via digital publishing and digital storytelling

Time to be able to take part:

  • To be able to attend two workshops over the 18 month period in a venue to be decided in the North West region (first workshop January 2017)
  • To have time to write and develop content (this will depend on the project / experiment we identify – according to capacity and need)
  • To be able to partake in occasional Skype surgeries, phonecalls, emails and webchats in order to develop projects and ideas
  • To be able to take part in user feedback as part of the evaluation of the project.

This would equate to approximately one day a month time commitment over the 18 months.

If you would like to be considered for the project, please fill in the brief questionnaire and return it to Kaye Hardyman, Museum Development Officer: by 5pm on Friday 11th November 2016. You must have support from a senior manager to participate in the programme (where appropriate). 

If you want more information on the programme before submitting your questionnaire contact Richard Moss, Editor at Culture24 Tel: 01273 523987

About Culture24 

Reaching and engaging audiences is central to Culture24’s work. We support museums to create and curate high quality digital content with the aim of building sustainable, engaged online audiences around subjects and within relevant communities of interest.

We help museum professionals understand how to make their content fit for purpose to meet audience needs. In the last year Culture24’s online publishing generated 3,651,509 page views and 2,187,550 user sessions from 1,829,107 users.

Knowing Your Audiences Workshop Four: New Audiences and Co-Creation

Thursday 10th November
The Bluecoat, Liverpool
10:00 – 15:30

This is the second of two related workshops in strand two of our Knowing Your Audiences programme looking at,Consultation and Engagement.

This session will focus on new audiences and co-creation. Delegates will gain an overview of the kinds of health and wellbeing programmes being delivered in museums. As well as understanding of how these relationships contribute to their organisations sustainability and resilience as well as its moral purpose. They will be given the opportunity to collaborate to create a Network to support Audience Development in the North West.

For more information contact Kaye Hardyman –

To book a place visit our eventbrite page.