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24th August 2017 Bea Udeh

Taking on a challenge #ADA

ADA 2.0 Fellow, Kirsty Young, explains how she is putting in the agile experiment hours now to lay new welcoming ground for offsite audiences, as her gallery organisation is in the middle of a building expansion and renovation project.

There probably couldn’t have been a more challenging, yet appropriate time for me to be a fellow of the Audience Diversity Academy. I enjoy a challenge and I applied for it knowing full well what lay ahead.

My place of work – Site Gallery in Sheffield – has been around in various forms for almost 40 years. It is Sheffield’s leading contemporary art gallery, supporting artists specialising in moving image, new media and performance. Pioneering emerging art practices and ideas, the gallery works in partnership with local, regional and international collaborators to nurture artistic talent and support the development of contemporary art.

2017 is a year for significant change and development for us – the gallery closed to the public in March of this year, for 12-month expansion project. This expansion will see the gallery treble in size and is due to reopen in 2018.

Being closed is in some ways a challenge in itself; in addition to that, trebling in size equals ambitious targets for increasing audience numbers once we reopen. We are committed to achieving this target whilst also diversifying our audiences at the same time. We’re currently updating our Audience Development Plan to reflect this, using the Audience Agency’s Spectrum Segmentation system for the first time.

This context is providing vital opportunities for research and I will able to feed my learning from experiments I’m undertaking directly into this process. For example, I am working closely with our Participation Team, which is leading a programme of offsite activity for young people in Sheffield while we are closed, to run agile, simple experiments that we can learn from quickly. So far I’ve had one failed (well, abandoned) experiment and one that I consider to be a success, which I am going to re-try on a bigger scale in the next couple of months. I’m actually as happy with failed experiments as I am with successful ones – good job really!

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