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23rd August 2017 Bea Udeh

The start of the journey. #ADA

Clare Sydney from HOME is a Fellow on the Audience Diversity Academy 2.0 and here shares with us her parenting tips for growing a new audience from data to people to teams.

If audience development was measured in life stages, I guess you could say that at just over two years old, here at HOME in Manchester we’re on our feet, but perhaps still toddling!

Another way of looking at it is that even after this relatively short lifespan, the wealth of audience data we have at our fingertips means that, theoretically at least, we should actually be well into wise old age by now! By evaluating specific events and through the Audience Finder programme, we’ve been able to build a detailed picture of who our audience are. Much more importantly, however, we can also clearly see who we’re not reaching and engaging and begin to develop strategies to rectify this.

Our audience data tells us many positive stories. Amongst other good news, our audience is truly multi-generational (although we definitely want to build our 14-25 audience, more on this in the next blog). Our audience is drawn from across the North West, is full of people who feel comfortable and confident enough to visit alone and we’re seeing a rising number of frequent bookers. But, in common with many venues across the country, the less positive side of the story is that proportion of BAME visitors to HOME, in particular Asian people, really doesn’t reflect the demographic profile of our city.

We’re conducting two audience diversity experiments at HOME. Both are focused on achieving organization-wide audience development objectives and the shared priorities of the marketing and film programming teams. For the first experiment, we have worked closely together to map an audience journey through our film programme, specifically targeting Manchester’s south Asian population.

The programme started with our weekend of films marking Partition in June, runs through a series of special events over the summer and will take us up to our major Not Just Bollywood season in the Autumn, and, hopefully, beyond.

It’s still relatively early days, but the results so far have been really encouraging. In the run up to Partition, we worked with a seventeen Asian community organisations, networks and groups to directly engage with information gatekeepers and those who could advocate directly with their communities and members about the weekend. We offered a range of free ‘taster’ tickets for first time visitors to several of the screenings. This was supported by a marketing & distribution campaign focused on target postcode areas and Asian media. The programming maintained our focus on independent, niche film-making, and included two Q&A’s with Director Anup Singh. Despite the fact that there was All the screenings and events exceeded audience targets and 35% of respondents to post-event questionnaires identified as Asian – a huge increase on our average quarterly Audience Finder result of 2-3%.

We followed up this successful weekend later last month with Sunday screening of Little Zizou, the exuberant Indian comedy, with a Q&A with director Sooni Taraporevala. The screening was promoted to all the networks we’d already built a relationship with, focusing on the comedy and music in the film and having collated contact data from the Partition event bookers we were now also able to communicate directly with many of them about the screening. The screening was a sell-out success. 26% of advance bookers had also attended a Partition event and 47% of post-screening questionnaire respondents identified as Asian, a fantastic result just two steps in to the project!

Our contact strategy continues, with regular update emails to the networks and groups to keep them up to speed with what’s coming up next and hand to hand distribution of a targeted flyer at the Manchester Mela. The marketing and film teams are now working closely together on the campaign for Not Just Bollywood, and will continue to build on the encouraging results the project has delivered so far.