AMA’s Audience Diversity Academy (ADA) launched in 2016 with a focus on exploring ways to build new and diverse audiences, using the word diversity in its broadest sense.  

Subsidised through Arts Council England, ADA ran annually until 2020, with 5 cohorts completing the programme. ADA developed 125 people from 89 organisations, from across the arts, culture and heritage sector. It combined webinars with peer learning, practical experiments, mentoring, and a day conference.  

The learning from ADA was captured by participants to share in the form of vlogs and blogs. You can find this legacy on AMAculturehive

IA Symposium panel discussion speakers

Past Participants

Participants took part either as a single or joint applicant for ADA. With limited space available on the programme, the application process made sure that the most impact could be delivered and that participants were committed to making change.  

Joint applications had the benefit of influencing organisations at a deeper level, by embedding learning in more than one internal point of contact.  

“Taking little steps can help you achieve the big ideas.” 

Natalie Rowan, Assistant Head of Communication, Museum of London Docklands 

Almost 90 organisations have taken part over the years. Organisations who have taken part previously include:  

  • Ilkley Literature Festival 
  • South East Dance 
  • Museum of London Docklands 
  • Hull Truck Theatre 
  • Opera North 
  • Culture Coventry 
  • Suffolk Libraries 

Hear from previous participants

[Maddie speaks to camera]

Everybody now is thinking a lot more about diversity in everything that they do, not just in certain areas. And we have had small changes like our imagery on our website is now much more consciously diverse and then we have had artist call-outs. We have had the greatest number of applications from diverse backgrounds that we have ever had, I have been here three years and I can say that really confidently which is fantastic.

And the online conferences and seminars have just been, you know, really inspiring. I have really appreciated the variety of different voices that we have got to hear from.


[Thanh speaks to camera]

Being a fellow of the Audience Diversity Academy has really helped me in terms of all the Action Learning, the peer action learning, the workshops and mentoring to support me and my organisation in our diversification for audience work.



As well as peer-learning sessions, ADA participants attended 5 webinars that supported their learning and focused on aspects of reaching diverse audiences successfully. Each single participant, or joint participant pair, were matched with a mentor who provided 1:1 support and advice.  

Participants were tasked with completing three practical experiments over the course of ADA, and bringing their learning back to the group to share with peers. In addition, this learning was to be captured and published more widely online. Participants could also attend AMA’s Inclusivity & Audiences Day, to further consolidate their learning.  


AMA’s ADA helped 89 organisations during 5 years. Over 500 blogs and vlogs were shared while the programme was active, and the legacy of this can be found on AMAculturehive

We’ve had the greatest number of applications from diverse backgrounds that we’ve ever had. I’ve been here three years and I can say that really confidently, which is fantastic

Maddie Wilson. Programme Co-Ordinator, South East Dance 
Talk being given at the Symposium


Pauline Bailey

Pauline Bailey Headshot

Pauline Bailey has worked in the arts and cultural sector for over 30 years as a visual artist, mentor and coach, working with a wide range of socially engaged groups.   

Sarah Boiling

Sarah Boiling Headshot

Sarah Boiling is a freelance consultant specialising in audience and organisational development. Her career has included senior roles at some of the UK’s most innovative cultural organisations, and she was Deputy Director at The Audience Agency for eight years.  

Sara Devine

Sara Devine Headshot

Sara Devine is the Director of Visitor Experience and Engagement at Brooklyn Museum at the Brooklyn Museum.  

Rachel Grossman

Rachel Grossman Headshot

Rachel is a co-founder of dog & pony dc, with whom she’s co-created nearly 20 new plays and interactive experiences. Rachel is responsible for launching Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company’s “connectivity” initiative and served as the first Connectivity Director.   

Mel Larsen

Photo of Mel Larsen

Mel Larsen is an experienced marketing strategist, business coach and trainer, having worked in the arts, culture and business sectors for over thirty years.