Audience Development class

Sessions on audience development principles and tools

The concern about the sustainability of photographic legacies, archives and collections lies at the very core of this project. To be able to address this concern we must first try to answer a very basic question: who cares about them and why?

Professionals of photographic legacy management (PLM) need to constantly keep in mind the answer to this question. Its implications determine the decision-making at different levels: whether your collection is of interest to the local communities for emotional reasons, or if it is mainly researchers of a given discipline who care and use your archive, or if the legacy you manage is an inspiration for young photographers and artists… the management strategies must differ accordingly.

It is here where an audience development approach can be very helpful. Audience development helps understand that each photographic archive has its own communities of interest, that should be considered as critical partners to assure the whole process remains relevant and meaningful.

Keeping all this in mind, the team from the University of Deusto was in charge of designing a set of training sessions on audience development principles and tools and delivering them as part of the Workshop. A well tested methodology, based on the design thinking approach, was used to assure the engagement of the participants in a collaborative process, including both individual reflection and collective contrast.

The goal of these sessions was not only to make them familiar with the concepts and tools of audience development, but also to help them apply those to their personal project of PLM. Hence, individual tasks were demanded between the sessions and the contents should be considered when writing the final valorization plan.

The sessions were structured as follows:

  • Class 1. Audience development and your project (3 May 2021). After a general introduction to audience development and to the methodology, participants were invited to reflect on who their target audiences are and empathise with them.
  • Class 2. Defining your audience development challenge (10 May 2021). Once information about audiences had been gathered, it was time to refine and focus on a particular need.
  • Class 3. Imagining solutions to your AD challenge (31 May 2021). The phase of ideation helped the participants generate a wide array of diverse ideas as a response to the challenge.
  • Class 4. Defining your AD prototype (8 June 2021). After selecting and validating some of the ideas of the previous stage, a minimum viable experience needs to be formulated.

This methodology has a proven potential to contribute to an organisational change on cultural institutions in order to make them more human-centred, and improving their relationships with audiences and communities. However, here it was applied to a learning-by-doing process in which participants of the Workshop benefitted from being able to try the tools, test and prototype, as part of their overall training in photographic legacy management.

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