After relaxing funding conditions for NPOs in March 2020, Arts Council England has reinstated their requirements relating to Audience Finder reporting.
NPOs will be required to submit an Audience Finder Annual Report (and/or Show Stats Annual Summary, for touring companies) for the financial year 2020/21. This reporting period will cover performances/attendances during financial year 2020/21, and the Annual Report will be due in July 2021, to be submitted via Grantium.
Arts Council England understands that, due to the impact of COVID-19, it may not be possible for all NPOs to meet the Annual Report funding agreement conditions in full. For example, NPOs may submit an Annual Report that contains a lower audience sample size than usual, or only includes box office or survey data, rather than both.
An NPO’s funding will not be at risk if they do not reach the standard survey response target.
If you have concerns about your organisation’s ability to collect audience data, please speak to your Arts Council England relationship manager.
What does Arts Council England expect?
Both Arts Council England and The Audience Agency recognise that collecting audience data whilst social distancing measures are still in place may be challenging.
The guiding principle is that NPOs should make the effort to gather as much audience data as they can. Even where sample targets are not reached, data from all organisations will contribute to the national dataset, which will enable us to understand audience engagement at a national and regional level. This, in turn, will aid recovery plans and help us continue to make the case for the arts.
We, The Audience Agency, have gathered some useful resources here in this Knowledge Base, to help you consider our Recommended Data Collection Methodologies and learn about Undertaking Safe Data Collection in a post-lockdown scenario. You can view our guidance here.
Is the survey target still 380 responses?
Yes, the target is still 380 responses, but we (The Audience Agency and Arts Council England) understand that you may not be able to reach that target this year and, as stated, your funding will not be at risk as a result. The standard survey response target gives you an accurate picture of your audience over a whole year. From a statistical point of view, a sample of 380 responses is still the ideal, even if your annual audience figures are much smaller this year.
Collecting as much data as you reasonably can about your organisation's audiences can be helpful to you and will tell you more than collecting no data at all. When looking at your results, however, bear in mind that they will be indicative, rather than robust.
Ticketing data extractions from box office systems have continued as normal throughout lockdown, although there has been a hiatus in live events which will be represented in the data. Please remember that Audience Finder only extracts data from matured performances, so advanced sales for future performances will not be reflected in your dashboard until the performances have happened.
Are you selling or issuing free tickets for the first time?
Due to social distancing measures, many organisations are deploying timed-entry ticketing for the first time to manage capacity in their venue.
If your organisation is selling tickets (or issuing free tickets) through a compatible ticketing system, you might benefit from contributing data to Audience Finder.
Signing up for Audience Finder and Show Stats
We know that the effects of lockdown may have resulted in staffing changes at some organisations. Therefore, you may find yourself using The Audience Agency’s tools, Audience Finder and/or Show Stats, for the first time.
There are no limits to the numbers of users that can be connected to an Audience Finder organisation dashboard, or a Show Stats organisation account, so we recommend that you sign up using your own email address rather than sharing a colleague’s account.
This is particularly important if your organisation is a venue that hosts touring productions by companies who need to report on their productions via Show Stats, as notifications of production requests will be sent via email.
The Audience Agency’s Support Team offer free one-to-one In Practice Sessions for new users of Audience Finder and Show Stats, regardless of how long your organisation has been contributing data. These remote sessions last approximately one hour and will give you a basic introduction to Audience Finder and/or Show Stats and the reports you can access once you start submitting ticketing and/or survey data.