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All about audiences

30th September 2016

What is The Insider?

The Insider is a ground breaking collaboration exploring a new model of audience relationship building. It uses personalised, targeted communications and experiences to persuade people to engage with culture and try new things. Involving nine Newcastle and Gateshead based cultural organisations, who are part of NewcastleGateshead Cultural Venues, it was born out of an innovative research and development project that set out to test the proof of concept for a citywide data-sharing initiative for cultural organisations.

Iain Watson, Chief Executive of Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums CEO lead of NGCV’s Audience Development Group said, “We’re at a really exciting phase of this project. The Insider is a pioneering new approach to arts marketing, which has sparked interest across the globe. The unique spirit of collaboration and trust that underpin the NGCV network make it possible to explore new ways to develop and engage more audiences for arts and cultural activity.”

The Insider is a special email list that members can sign up to here  to receive what’s on information, events and offers from across the different venues. Subscribers receive a monthly e-digest along with offers and recommendations through bespoke campaigns, targeting specific audience segments. The membership is currently at around 13,000 individuals, recruited via email invitations from the venues own databases.

What did we learn from The Unusual Suspects?

The Insider is building on research from NGCV’s The Unusual Suspects project, which wasfunded by The Digital R&D Fund for the Arts and developed in partnership with research partner Morris Hargreaves McIntyre (MHM) and technology partner Tariff Street, (now rebranded Human Software). The project is underpinned by an audience segmentation model called ‘Culture Segments’, developed by MHM. The model segments people into eight different categories, which suggests how best to communicate and engage individuals more effectively and more deeply, because it’s based upon their own cultural values and beliefs about the role culture plays in their lives.

The Unusual Suspects pilot established a shared approach to audience development with collaborators and partners, not competitors. Most marketing and communications are directed to the ‘usual suspects’ who attend regularly.

This project demonstrated that the strategic use of shared audience data can help to encourage lapsed attenders to return and for these ‘unusual suspects’ to engage with new organisations, venues and artforms. It delivered proof of concept for a system that makes shared audience data a practical reality. It generated interest among arts marketing professionals and senior arts leaders across the world and has been inspiring other projects and sparking conversations in other regions, cities and between other cultural consortia.

Where are we now?

The Insider is entering a new phase, taken forward by the NGCV consortium and has received funding for the next two years from Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. The aspirations are two-fold:

  • to grow its membership and enrich more people’s lives through culture, generating increased visits and revenue for the partner organisations
  • to develop a new model of practice that can be replicated

The funding has made it possible to recruit a part-time Marketing Manager to provide leadership, project management and marketing expertise to drive the project forward. Arts marketing professional Nina Byrne was appointed in July, and is working with the steering group and wider audience development group to develop and deliver this phase of the project.

Building The Insider brand

Since July, work has been going on to develop a robust and audience-focused business model. A visioning workshop with the organisations’ marketing leads and branding experts is giving a new focus to its vision and brand.

Internal and external research is providing valuable insights. Organisational motivations and aspirations have been explored through questionnaires and discussion to ensure synergy among the partners, while a workshop with MHM has cemented the role Culture Segments plays in increasing audience reach. Research with members will provide feedback on its effectiveness and inform future development. A re-launch and fresh recruitment drive is planned for January 2017.

Sheryl McGregor, Communications Manager, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums and Chair of NGCV’s Audience Development Group said, “The collaborative nature of this project means we have a huge amount of skills and experience between us. This not only gives us a great chance of success in helping to attract new audiences to our venues but also in getting more people across the region involved in culture.”

Sharing audience data is increasingly likely to play a role in the future of arts marketing and has already been identified by Arts Council England as an area of future interest. The Insider is an ongoing research project that aspires to develop new audiences and create opportunities for more individuals to have enjoyable encounters and even life-changing experiences with culture.


If you’re not already signed up, you can click on this link to join The Insider

Please email Nina Byrne, The Insider Marketing Manager with any enquiries about the project.

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