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Creative Circle #2 – Turner Contemporary, Margate

Last month we held our second Creative Circle Day at our host organisation Turner Contemporary, in Margate.

We were privileged to be able to join Turner Contemporary on their second birthday, and so in addition to learning about the value and challenges of audience research, we had time for a quick cuppa and a look around the impressive new building that’s leading the regeneration efforts in Margate and the local region.

The day began with a joint presentation from our host organisations and producer pairings on the progress of their co-productions. We were then introduced to our guest speaker of the day, Anne Torreggiani from the Audience Agency, the national audience development agency for England, who launched us into our learning topic of the day; audience research.

Anne clearly demonstrated the value of audience research – knowing your audience is vital for any project or programme, no matter how big or small the project. She stressed, however, that audience research should be considered carefully. What will it show and how will it change what I’m going to do?

For those new to audience research, the value of intuition and anecdote was recognised; but knowing who your audience really is (and not just who you think it is) can provide a really valuable framework in which to try out change and measure success, helping with future artistic and strategic planning. Understanding your audience profile is also a valuable asset for any corporate sponsorship deal and it can build credibility with public and private funders.

We benefitted from a thorough grounding in some of the key data collection methods, leaving plenty of room for thought on how our producers and host organisations might monitor the artistic and cross-audience development that New Music Plus…UK aims to stimulate.

Danielle Rose (pictured left), our producer with Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery, gave some final words on the day.

“The guest speaker, Anne Torreggiani, and panel discussions [featuring Julia Payne (presenting on behalf of Phased & Confused), Sorcha Carey (Edinburgh Art Festival) and Bryony Bishop (Turner Contemporary)] were really informative and interesting. There is also such a diverse range of experience within the group amongst the twelve producers that whatever topics we cover, it feels like there’s so much we can learn from each other, which is one of the many benefits of being on this scheme. It was great to spend some time at Turner Contemporary on the organisation’s second birthday and get a sense of the community who support and enjoy it.”

As we’re almost half way through the NMP…UK programme, this event was a great time to reflect on progress and learnings so far. I asked Adam Milford from Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery what he had to say on his experience with the programme.

“As a Learning Officer at Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery, one of the most important factors in being involved with New Music Plus is the facility for music and sound to act as a conduit for learning. My role here is to engage a variety of groups with art and historic artefacts, and for the result of this engagement to ultimately encourage a better understanding of museums and galleries, and the work we do. With that in mind, the opportunity for us to work with Danielle on tailoring a series of concerts for pre-school children and adults has been really exciting, and has allowed us to explore our ethnographic collections in a completely different way. Having the opportunity to access some leading practitioners in the field of commissioning new music has been very rewarding, and it certainly feels like there is a really genuine support for the programme from The Hub and PRS for Music Foundation. This kind of work, particularly the mechanics of commissioning of new music and the organisation of concerts is totally new to me, and so my experiences so far have been very positive. I’m learning new things every day”.