Audience Development

Audience Development is at the heart of this project and Without Walls is investing in each ATN Festival to design and deliver strategic Audience Development initiatives that will help increase, track, enhance & evidence the engagement and enjoyment of outdoor performing arts shows in their region.


Without Walls is working closely with The Audience Agency to get advice and support around audience development activity, and to evaluate the engagement targets over 3 years.

During the first two years of the project, the festivals have collectively decided to focus their efforts on the following activities:

  • The development of an Ambassador Scheme
  • Presenting Artists Workshops
  • A ‘Tea Tent’ in which to serve refreshments and offer additional activities to families to make the offer more appropriate to the needs of these audiences
  • Fieldworkers to undertake questionnaires/ surveys with audiences
  • Essential equipment to capture data from the audiences attending

Summer in Southside, Birmingham Hippodrome 2013


A look at our audience development initiatives from 2014


Working with Libraries

During a successful pilot project in 2013, Birmingham Hippodrome worked in partnership with Arts Connect and ASCEL (Association of School and Education Librarians) to develop a new Library Ambassador Scheme for the West Midlands region, by initiating new partnerships with three library services. Libraries in each of these areas became cultural hubs, providing access to Hippodrome Plus activities for their communities. In 2014, 14 libraries were involved in the Library Ambassador Scheme. A brand identity was also created for the project “I Spy Culture”, and a logo, marketing materials and dedicated web page on the Birmingham Hippodrome website was established.

Engaging Young People

The Ambassador Coordinator held a poster workshop in which some of the ambassadors were involved – for those who wanted to learn a skill and develop creative marketing skills. They were offered training in why posters are designed in a certain way to develop audiences and to maintain brand awareness. They were then supported to design a poster for specific events taking place during the festival. These enabled them to design something which spoke to their peers, which was also useful for developing ambassador relationships as they could see what goes on behind the scenes.

School Engagement

Out There, Great Yarmouth held a Schools day which included workshops and performances at the Drill House. Four schools were invited per a day for free and they saw 2 shows and did 2 workshops. Southpaw Dance Company were there for the whole week before the festival, so the schools saw an extract from Faust along with Le Navet Bete’s Rumpus and Coco loco and the circus skills workshops.

Engaging Local Communities

LeftCoast arranged vintage buses to take families and residents of Blackpool Coastal Housing to Fleetwood for Spare Parts Festival. Actors were employed to build up expectation for the festival. It was most successful with an organised community group, which works with young people and families out of school hours, who would not have attended if the bus was not available.

Enhancing the Family Experience

SO Festival in Skegness organised artists workshops with several companies including Mimbre and Southpaw Dance Company. These workshops attracted lots of young kids and teenagers. SO Festival also had a Family Space which was constantly busy, with doodle boards, people asking questions, traditional games. It was staffed with people who could signpost things, provide information but mostly facilitate playing the games. This space became an easy anchor point for families in the heart of the festival site.

Involving Young People

The Fuse Ambassadors have been working with the festival staff to help shape Fuse and enabled them to bring the youth perspective to Fuse and enhance the experience for young people. The Ambassadors have also been involved in ArtsLab to help them create their own networks and meet local artists.

Youth Engagement

The focus this year was on attracting young people because the city has the highest young people population in the country. However, Bradford is not seen as a destination for young people as they tend to go to Leeds. So, the festivals in Bradford have as one of the objectives trying to establish Bradford to go as a destination rather than Leeds for young people. As part of this year’s activity, Bradford Festival’s Young Ambassadors invited festivalgoers, and primarily young people, into a camper van for tea and cake in return for feedback.

Developing Creative Ways to collect Audience Feedback

Digital Funfair was commission by Freedom Festival and was essentially a tent full of games generating lots of laughter which drew people in. Within this, an artist created an audience survey the results of which were broadcast across field, which was very popular with audiences. This event within the festival was targeted at younger people but attracted a wider demographic than expected all day, including families but by evening more young people were enjoying the activity as well as older people.

Community Engagement

Community activity and consultation was very extensive for Appetite, as it is a Creative People and Places project. Appetite ran a number of family workshops in the lead up to their events (e.g. Audiences were invited to make costumes and gifts inspired by Walk The Plank’s Fire Garden). In addition to this, the Appetite team met with over a dozen community groups across the city to discuss projects and possible collaborations.


Find out about the effects of our work by visiting the IMPACT section.