How to get into... Audience Development

How to get into... Audience Development

21st July 2020
How to get into... Audience Development - YPIA Blog
Written by Annick Sheffield | 21st July 2020

1. Name — Annick Sheffield

2. Job title / industry — Audience Development Manager / Orchestral music

3. Average starting salary — 26,000-30,000 per annum

4. What qualifications /experience do you need? — Project management and event management are both essential skills — creating project timelines, maintaining a budget, and evaluating a project’s success. It is also important to be approachable, friendly, and a good listener; I’ve found one of the qualities that has served me best in this role is being able to speak about the company and art form in a jargon-free and accessible manner.

5. In a nutshell, what is your job? — Building connections with audiences in a way that supports local communities and contributes to company growth.

6. Best part of the job? — The part of the job I enjoy the most is getting to work with such diverse groups of people: I may be on a call with a local city council in the morning, attending a freshers fair in the afternoon and organizing pre-concert events with musicians in the evening.

7. Downsides to the job? — One of the biggest challenges of the job is juggling a lot of different projects and timelines. It can be hard to know how to prioritise.

8. What does a typical day look like? — I usually spend the first part of the day replying to emails or on calls (thrilling, I know 😉). A large part of the job relies on regular communication so I usually try to call up partners at venues or schools where we have projects to catch up on progress or problem solve as well as meet with some of my colleagues in the Community & Education or Concerts Departments to talk about upcoming projects and concerts I can get involved in. In the afternoon, I’ll usually do a bit of creative work—designing flyers for a university partnership, putting together trivia for social media, or interviewing a musician for a Facebook post. Around once or twice a week I’ll be out of the office organizing a pre-concert event, meeting with a new partner, or doing outreach.

9. How did you get into Audience Development? — I started off working in the education department of an art museum, developing summer programmes and events for kids. I then worked at an arts consultancy and a London art fair before getting this job at the Orchestra. My project management experience as well as experience working with loads of different audiences were key to getting my current position.

10. What one piece of advice would you give to someone wanting to go into Audience Development? — Be flexible, creative, and curious. A lot of arts organisations are realizing that the way they’ve operated for the last decade won’t keep them alive in the one to come. They’re looking to build new partnerships and develop new ways of engaging diverse audiences. If you can critically and creatively approach these challenges, you will be a valuable member of the team.