As European governments face a variety of challenges to generate growth in the current global economy, the erstwhile model of the state-funded museum is unfortunately no longer sustainable. One could even argue that the concept of the publicly-funded museum was a utopian European concept of the last century. This radical change from ideology to business, when thinking about audiences as one of the ‘survival tools’ for institutions, is creating a significant divide between leading museums with compelling ‘brand names’ such as Tate or Pompidou, and smaller, more vulnerable regional institutions.
Institutions will have to transform themselves and think very differently: they will still need to apply for funding, but rather than pitching for the entire amount to public organisations and funding bodies, they’ll also have to find alternatives to get closer to the private sector and to local, national and international corporations. One of the keys to this is audience engagement, which – when done successfully – allows access to sponsorship and funding from both the public and the private sectors.
The report addresses the importance of audience engagement in the present, and attempts to outline the factors that are accelerating important changes. Much of the literature on the subject to date has been directed at the manner and methods with which institutions should engage audiences. Though we acknowledge the evolvement of these new approaches, the focus of our report are the motivations for successful institutions to shift most of their resources to developing and growing their audiences, as well as examining some of the impact this has had on the role of curators and the way shows are now presented.
Please click on the following link to download a complimentary digital copy in pdf.
de Oliveira, N.: Audience Engagement: Why Ideology Became Business, by Art Institutions of the 21st Century for Alaska Editions, London, 2018
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