Mission-led charity The Audience Agency has merged with Culture24, an independent charity that previously helped arts and heritage members drive change within their own organisations.
The newly combined agency will offer a vital resource for the culture sector in the UK and further afield. Recently released research with stakeholder arts, museums and heritage organisations, as well as local authorities, has demonstrated the need to increase audience engagement while anticipating future changes in behaviour, taste and demand.
Findings also noted that while increasing income and securing funding are major challenges for organisations, many also want to provide support and stay relevant in their wider community; to address social justice, climate change and to stay on top of technological advancement.
“Merging with Culture24 is one of the most exciting aspects of our new model,” said Anne Anne Torreggiani, chief executive of The Audience Agency. “We’ve worked in partnership on a lot of projects so we already had a keen sense of shared values and how well we complement each other.
“Plus, between us, we’ve got a pretty awesome network in the UK and internationally. But our Boards challenged us to go further, to ‘make one plus one equal three’, to create an offer together that would more than double the value and impact we had on our own.
“For me, some of the highlights people can look forward to include fresh new research about digital change and opportunities to take part in action research following the Let’s Get Real learning blueprint. When people choose to work with us, they can expect to navigate an uncertain future with more confidence.”
The Audience Agency has since restructured and has developed its business model to encompass a new five-pillar programme of services, powered by an evidence-led and people-centred approach. The Culture24 team will take the reins on a digital pillar, while the other four pillars include participation and engagement, impact and evaluation, cultural and creative places, data and evidence for policy.
Both The Audience Agency and Culture24 were long-term recipients of funding from Arts Council England (ACE), which made the decision to drop both organisations from the Arts Council Portfolio earlier this year.
Redundancies were made following the funding cuts, but the new organisation will continue to provide services for Arts Council Wales and Creative Scotland.
“This is the perfect moment in our histories to join together the expertise and ambitions of our two organisations,” added Jane Finnis, consultant director for The Audience Agency and former CEO of Culture24. “Understanding how to meaningfully capitalise on the value of digital has never been more critical for our sector. Equity, inclusivity, climate change and environmental sustainability are major challenges our sector faces.
“We know that a key part of what is needed to meet these challenges is high levels of digital literacy, and confident digital leadership. Together, we can offer the sector a new generation of services, built on our shared learning, that will support the kind of positive change so urgently needed. This merger harnesses the expertise, knowledge, insight and relationships of both organisations.”