Australian arts organizations do little to diversify white, middle-class audiences, study finds | Culture

With audience profiles still stubbornly white, middle-class and middle-aged, most of Australia’s arts and cultural organizations have done little to expand and diversify their audience base in recent years, a study has found.

Recovery from Covid-19 may have further shrunk the population, according to a joint study led by Deakin University.

Of the 184 Australian cultural organizations surveyed, and 1,011 individual responses from those working in arts institutions, more than half of respondents admitted to making little or no changes to their programming or outreach programs to attract audiences from different cultures, age groups, geographic locations and gender identities.

In general, arts festivals, museums and galleries, opera companies and orchestras are very resistant to identifying new target audiences and adjusting programs to appeal to them. The study did not identify any specific companies.

The Sydney Opera House, Australia’s premier state theater and dance institutions, arts festivals and state and national museums and galleries, along with many smaller regional organisations, were captured in the research.

Led by Hilary Clough, Professor of Arts and Cultural Management at Deakin University, when it came to programming and exhibitions capable of capturing new audiences, 55% of organizations fell into the “avoidant” category – that is, ignoring or resisting change and preferring to alienate existing audiences.

Clow says most companies have recognized the need to broaden their audience base to capture a diverse population, which for many is „talking the talk but not walking the talk”.

„Those are locally focused conversations,” Clough said. „If a company is really going to take audience diversity seriously, they need to stop having fascinating conversations in their boardrooms and start focusing externally on the company.”

READ  Robert Pattinson stars in ads for new Dior icons menswear line - WWD

A recent traversal of major arts organization boards by the Guardian found that while gender equality was evident in most, traditional art forms such as opera and orchestra still had boards made up of white people.

However, several leading institutions have established First Nations advisory boards, including the National Gallery of Australia, the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art, and the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Earlier this year, Melbourne Theater Company became the first major arts organization to create an ad hoc panel of culturally and age-diverse artists to act as an advisory board to program decision-makers.

„If companies are going to diversify their audience, one of the things they need to do is diversify their workforce,” Closet said.

„Positions in an arts organization should be diverse. But it doesn’t have to be. There’s no evidence that putting someone from a minority or diverse background in any kind of leadership position will immediately lead to new audiences.

Avoid past newsletter advertising

Clough said there was evidence that „avoidant” behavior to diversify audiences was more noticeable among companies that depended on a loyal subscriber base, sites that were severely eroded by the start of the pandemic in 2020.

„What happens is that a company becomes very poorly informed about the demographics of people who buy their subscription passes. They have a high level of knowledge about their existing audience, but it doesn’t help them understand who isn’t.

„I think a lot of companies set themselves up to grow their existing audience, maybe at the expense of thinking about investing in new audiences, new knowledge, new ideas and new programming.”

Clough said it’s hard to ignore the role Covid has played in entrenched behavior and risk-averse programming.

„Post-Covid, many companies saw it as an opportunity to further build and strengthen their relationships with their existing audiences,” he said.

Academics from Edith Cowan University and the University of Sheffield, England, and Wesley Enoch, Australia Council board member and director of theater and festivals, also contributed to the research.

In the second phase of the project, 11 selected organisations, including the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Theater Company, Melbourne’s Rising Festival and the Adelaide Festival Centre, will work with a team of transformation experts to develop resources to attract new audiences.

Dodaj komentarz

Twój adres e-mail nie zostanie opublikowany. Wymagane pola są oznaczone *