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Defining arts audiences – a research approach for future business success

"The research looks at what they understood and how it made them feel."

A modern mindset, establishing that the arts management industry requires an entrepreneurial approach in terms of management and self-reflection, has led Deakin Business School (DBS) academics to undertake research projects on audience impact.

Associate Professor Hilary Glow, Director of the arts and cultural management program at DBS says that this research is one of the biggest contributions DBS has made to the arts sector.

‘This research looks at the impact of attending performing arts events on audiences, what they understood and how it made them feel – for instance did it increase a sense of belonging, or creative engagement or personal fulfilment?

‘The findings we gain from this are particularly valuable, as they help arts organisations better understand their audiences and the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns.’

DBS lecturer Anne Kershaw, says that understanding the ways in which the arts engage communities has also long gone under the radar.

‘Although local government is very active in putting together cultural policy, its role in promoting access to the arts is an untold and not yet researched aspect of the arts sector in Australia,’ she says.

‘Deakin Business School is about jobs of the future and industry engagement and this is one reason why DBS is attracting quite a lot of students from the local government arts management sector.’

It is also why Kershaw sees the future employment prospects of her students as especially bright.

‘Our students are coming to us at different stages of their careers and we aim to build up their management skills. While we work with them and with industry, we also wonder what the industry will be like in the future.

‘We are not talking about people who are straight out of high school. We are teaching people who are already burgeoning industry practitioners, with life skills and who are already on the path to a career in the arts sector.’ 

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