ADESTE project partners gathered at the Mercati di Traiano - Museo dei Fori Imperiali in Rome, Italy from 1-2 July 2014 for a focus group meeting. Among the 23 participants were representatives from the European partners institutions, ADESTE partners from India and the United States, Italian cultural operators and audience development experts.
The two-day agenda included updates on: the project's desktop research and interviews conducted with audience development educators, trainers and pracitioners; exchanges on the first findings from the focus groups organised at the national level by European ADESTE partners; and contributions from experts in Europe and beyond on audience development skills and competences, AD education and training, and examples of AD best practice.
This was the first time ADESTE project partners from the India Foundation for the Arts and LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) were in attendence. It was noted that unlike many European countries, both India and the United States are experiencing rapid demographic changes resulting in more diverse communities. Arts and cultural organisations are finding that their traditional programming, marketing and audience engagement policies needs to be revised to meet the desires and needs of their new and developing communities. Representatives from India and America also explained their intrepretations and shared their perspectives on audience development training and practice. This insight served to enhance previous ADESTE discussions on the skills and competences required of cultural professionals to develop successful audience engagement policies and how to design educational programmes in this field.
Switching from international to local, ADESTE project partners also took advantage of being in Rome to hear two presentations about successful and innovative audience development projects in Italy. First, Cristina Da Milano from ECCOM (European Centre for Cultural Organisations and Management) Idee per la cultura explained the Museum Mediators, a European project (2012-2014) that aims to develop a new training programme for museum professionals throughtout Europe. Next, Amanda Colletti and Gabriella Paolino from Zètema Profetto Cultural presented the project SANBA: Arte Pubblica e Cinema which brings the arts into Roman suburbs and involves local residents in the co-creation of public art projects.
These lively discussions were complimented by a study visit to MAXXI, the National Museum of XXI Century Arts, where ADESTE partners met with local cultural operators to gather fresh perspectives and ideas on audience development. Stefania Vannin, Head of the museum's Education Department introduced the museum and gave a guided tour. She also presented Narrazioni da Museo a Museo, a special project targeting specific audiences to involve them in multidisciplinary visits organised between two "dialoguing" museums in Rome.
ADESTE project partners will meet at the end of September 2014 in Lecce, Italy during the annual ARTLAB event.