BLOG 10th February 2021

What your audiences actually think

At thrive, we spent a good bit of 2020 surveying NI arts and culture organisations’ audiences. With After the Interval and Culture Beyond Covid, we wanted to provide current and concrete audience insights to NI organisations so they could plan better for the future.

You told us you found these insights invaluable. Our research helped to shed some light on when and how NI audiences would be ready to attend and book tickets again.

But there’s so much more useful information audiences could tell us about themselves; if only we’d ask…

In 2021, we are changing the audience conversation on to the really good stuff that organisations need to hear from their public.

We’ve moved on from long, multiple-pages surveys (for now!) and thought it would be magical to talk with audiences. Yes, actually talk. Directly. With them. Like you would do in the good auld days in your theatre lobby.

This will be the perfect opportunity to hear the things you’ve often wondered about. Why do they choose to spend their spare time on cultural activities when they could do something else? How can organisations like yours help them to face their daily challenges? How do they like to be talked to? Do they feel listened by arts and culture organisations? How’s their Granny doing? How’s the dog? What time do they eat dinner at? Do they like postcards? You get the gist, absolutely anything.

Is this real life? Or is this just fantasy?

Real. Life. We have partnered with Belfast City Council to run a year-long Audience Panel. Participating Belfast organisations helped us to recruit members of their audiences to take part. From now until December 2021, we’ll send these 833 audience members monthly short surveys and invite them to regular focus groups where we’ll discuss things like:

  • How can local arts and culture organisations address and alleviate their daily challenges?
  • What do audiences get out of their cultural experiences?
  • Why do they attend and participate?
  • Do they feel listened by their local arts and culture organisations?
  • What do they want to know about these organisations?

The topics of these conversations will be focused on the various elements of relationship building, to understand what makes audiences click and stick.

Although our panel has been recruited from Belfast organisations, their audiences could be from anywhere and overlap with yours. The insights we’ll gather will be as relevant to you as they will be to them. Whether you’re based in Derry~Londonderry, Omagh or Downpatrick, you’ll be able to use our findings to guide your next steps.

Because there is going to be a wealth of audience data coming out of this project, we want to create a specific mailing list for those who can’t get enough data. If you’re interested in this research, we’d love to send you monthly updates that will be filled with useful insights, cool facts, and how to turn all this knowledge into action.

Sign up to our Audience Panel newsletter

(This is not our regular thrive newsletter. We promise we won’t send you more than one update a month.)

The 2021 Audience Panel is supported by Belfast City Council.


Maurane Ramon

Head of Client Development

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