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7th March 2019 Bea Udeh

mAkE sOMe nOiSe #ADA

Installation view, Survey, Jerwood Space, London, 2018. Artworks by Rae-Yen Song and Frank Wasser © the artists. Photograph: Janie Airey

Claire Noakes is an ADA Fellow and has been working quietly to strategically increase the audience demographic visiting Art Fund venues.

We’re all familiar with the age-old saying ‘actions speak louder than words’ and it’s true, sitting in an office and hatching plans to grow our audience into a diverse and inclusive group of art lovers might make us feel good but doesn’t mean a lot until those plans are realised. However, once they are, it is worth making some noise about.

It is very well for a gallery, theatre or charity to be attracting new visitors and supporters who diversify their audience, but if we don’t publicly celebrate that progress, we’re missing an opportunity. Talking about change is not only important to make it explicit that access and inclusivity is an organisational concern, but it is also a way to maintain momentum; diversity breeds diversity; if I feel represented by an audience, I’m more likely to join it.

I think it’s a common concern that by pointing out progress, we will expose where we were failing before, but appearing to deny our failures has got to be worse, right?

So, on that note, here I am, making a little noise about some positive change at Art Fund…

A recent blog post by an ADA fellow, rightly criticised cultural venues for the assumption made that, at 27, we are all suddenly able to afford full price tickets. I’m sure we all wish it were true but reality’s a little different. For that reason, and as an aging twenty-something, I am pretty proud that the National Art Pass, once for ‘under 24s’, has now been extended to include all ‘under 30s’, to prevent entry fees acting as a barrier for young adults.

Not only is this going to help diversify museum audiences, and benefit the bank account, but will also help with mental health – as a recent report found, under-30s are twice as likely as other age groups, to visit a museum or gallery to de-stress.

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