Audience(s)

A word at the top of many museum-workers agendas!

One of the main critiques of integrating postcolonial language and theoretical nuances is that these are “too complicated” and therefore won’t be interpretable by a general public audience. However, it’s worth remembering that publics are increasingly looking for stimulation, challenge and critical thinking, and that hitherto hidden histories are becoming increasingly popular. See The White Pube’s popular art criticism blog (with over 22k followers!), Tate’s ‘Walk Through British Art’ and Alice Procter’s ‘Uncomfortable Art Tours’ which sell-out within minutes every time.

Another point to remember is that culture and heritage institutions are currently facing a crisis of audience diversity. Staff and audiences are overwhelmingly white, and institutions are struggling to work out how to make themselves and their content relevant to a wider range of people. One way of doing this is to tell different narratives, that centre diverse perspectives, and focus on stories that matter to underrepresented audiences. Hiring practices also need to change to ensure that underrepresented groups are recruited not just as part of lower-level “diversity drives” on temporary contracts and lower salaries, but as senior consultants, strategists and content-creators.

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