Audience Development Programme celebration

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On Thursday a gathering was held at the Irish Times Building with graduates past and present from the three years of the Audience Development Programme.  Fintan O’Toole, Literary Editor of the Irish Times spoke to the graduates about the value to society of the work that they do and Martin Drury, Strategic Development Director at the Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon, sopke in praise of the graduates.  A good time was had by all.   The Audience Development Programme was initiated by Arts Audiences and The Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon and is facilitated by Irish Times Training and accredited by the University of Ulster.  It enables senior venue and festival managers to develop skills and strategies to deepen their relationships with audiences and increase attendance at arts events.   Graduates of the course receive an Advanced Certificate in Management Practice from the University of Ulster.  In all forty two individuals will graduate from the programme.   Commenting on the positive feedback from graduates of the programme, many of whom have formed a nationwide network of Arts Marketing managers who meet regularly to share information and participate in training and other initiatives together, Orlaith MacBride, Director of The Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon said: “The Arts Council recognises the strategic importance of audience management and all of the arts managers who have participated in the Audience Development Programme have demonstrated commitment to putting audiences at the heart of planning for their organisations.  Participants in the training have included representatives from venues and festivals from Donegal to Kerry and Dublin to Galway.  We would like to compliment all of those who have graduated from the Audience Development Programme. They are critical to the development of audiences for the arts in Ireland. By undertaking this programme they have demonstrated an interest in active engagement with audiences which will be of huge benefit to the venues and festivals they manage.   Major credit is due to all who have participated in the programme for their hard work and commitment.”   Commenting on her experience of the Audience Development Programme, Niamh Honer, Marketing Manager of the Civic Theatre in Tallaght said: “The Civic Theatre has participated in both the Audience Development Programme and the Google mentoring scheme which Arts Audiences runs. We saw a 70% increase in unique visitors to our website last year, compared to the same period in 2012.   The know-how we have developed by participating in both initiatives has been invaluable to us, providing us with up-to-date skills which are helping us to meet the challenges of this constantly evolving digital landscape.”   Al Russell, Marketing Manager of The Ark, the Children’s Cultural Centre, who completed the programme in 2013 and spoke at the event on behalf of the graduates, said: “The Audience Development Programme was an opportunity for personal and institutional learning for The Ark, and has been invaluable in that respect. The course provided a framework within which we could look strategically at how we were engaging with audiences and make decisions about our marketing. The course provided us with a framework in which we could create a plan for audience development and we are beginning to see the fruits of this approach pay off in increased audiences, and better use of resources. I am also really pleased to have developed a network of friends and mentors from the course; relationships and friendships which are invaluable really.”


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