Key data findings from visual arts audiences in the South West


Image: Royal West of England Academy, one of the organisations that took part in the 'Understanding Audiences' Project in the South West.

12 visual arts organisations from across the South West took part in an audience benchmarking project delivered by Audiences South West in partnership with Turning Point South West.  Having delivered an initial series of training for Front of House staff in data capturing, each organisation piloted the use of the standard questionnaire as a model of practice.

The South West did extremely well in the amount of data captured and organisations involved, and the project revealed a great deal about who the audiences are, their demographics and some interesting possibilities for harnessing this information to enhance the delivery and promotion of visual art in the region. These are just a snapshot of the data statistics:

  • 70% female attendance to 30% male attendance
  • Age groups 45-54 & 55- 64 make up 43% of audiences
  • 44% of audiences ticked the self description box ‘Wealthy Achievers’
  • 60% of audiences spent between 1/2 hour and 1 1/2 hours at the venue
  • 50% had visited at least once in the last 12 months
  • 66% described themselves as knowledgeable about visual arts, and 40% were involved in the arts sector (either as artists, teachers, students or professionally)
  • 45% have bought contemporary art, and 41% would consider buying contemporary art

The South West is one of five regions delivering this project, which has been enabled by Audiences UK and the Arts Council England. The project seeks to determine how data captured can be sustained by visual arts organisations and what value that data has to individual organisations and to the sector as a benchmarking standard of engagement. A benchmarking report is being created by Audiences London to analyse and compare national visual arts audiences and will be available soon.