new audience

The development of cultural audiences

the conquest of new audiences

alice wyseur

by Alice Wyseur

In 2003, the Courrier International newspaper had the headline " In search of a new audience. La musique classique, un genre en voie de disparition". This problem of developing audiences for culture affects many cultural players: theatres, operas, concert halls....

Indeed, a majority of potential audiences find access to culture difficult, either because the price is high, or because the performance codes are elitist, or because the programming seems outdated. 

The investigation into "Audiences for live classical musicThe study "The Music of the Future", conducted between 2012 and 2014 under the direction of sociologist Stéphane Dorin, reveals that the audience is over-educated compared to other musical genres (nearly 75% of listeners have a baccalaureate or higher, and more than 45% have a baccalaureate or higher), but also more affluent (the average salary of the audience in cinemas is around €5600 net per household).

However, over the last twenty years we have witnessed the emergence of new forms of cultural consumption. a real technological explosion (Internet, social media, smartphone, tablets) which has given rise to new modes of cultural consumption. There has also been a great evolution linked to the advent of digital in the tastes and practices of the public.

Thus, mastery of digital tools, and in particular of social media, is nowadays essential to the sustainability of the cultural scene and key to the development of cultural audiences.


Studies conducted by Olivier Donnat, a researcher at the Ministry of Culture, show that the new socio-cultural norm lies in "cultural eclecticism".

Gone are the days when the public, using culture as a means of distinction, glorified the consecrated arts and despised popular art.

The digital age, a world without borders, today mixes genres and blurs the dividing lines between different forms of expression and cultural genres. The ability to appreciate and claim different aesthetics is the prerogative of the "digital natives". This generation, natural and intensive Internet users who represent ¼ of the active population in France, is the core target for diversification, rejuvenation and, more broadly, the renewal of audiences. How to reach them?

In the age of social media, the art of conversation seems to take precedence over traditional communication. Social platforms are at their peak. Thus, with 34 million monthly active users in France (end of 2017). Facebook has become an essential point of contact for communicating with the public.

The major challenge for cultural structures is then to send the right message, at the right time, to the right person via the right communication channel - the wall that we pass every morning, gradually moving from the metro to the Facebook wall.



In his book Les Français face à la culture. Olivier Donnat shows how "eclecticism" has gradually replaced "cultural legitimacy". (Donnat, 1994).

Cultural legitimacy was the dominant legitimate culture, high culture in its consecrated avant-garde forms (Bourdieu, 1979). More generally, it was the "legitimate" practices and tastes, those potentially distinctive "rare" and "noble" choices in dominant cultural markets. Thus, visiting museums, going to the opera, listening to classical music, reading classical literature were practices defended by the bourgeoisie. Cultural legitimacy is defined by a cultivated dominant class.

In a society where cultural industries tend to favour the mixing of genres and blur the lines between different forms of expression and cultural genres, Olivier Donnat explains that legitimate culture has lost its power of distinction. Conversely, eclecticism would have become more valuable than the exercise of cultivated practices alone.

public development culture

2. Knowing the audiences of culture in order to develop them

To communicate the right message, at the right time, to the right person, it implies deploying means to get to know your audience: what are the cultural preferences of my audience? How old is he or she? How often does he or she visit my concert hall, theatre, museum? Do they book their tickets in advance or rather at the last minute? Do they live far from my venue? What does he buy on the online shop?.

In order to gather this information and thus gain a better understanding of its audience, Customer Relationship Management software exists. CDP (Customer Relationship Management) software exists.

There are two main purposes for using a CDP :

- Build audience loyalty by strengthening its relationship with its spectators and/or visitors, thanks to targeted and personalized communication.

- Conquering new audiences: it is now possible to address one's message to an audience similar to one's current audience.

It's up to you!

Apolline Locquet

Apolline Locquet

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Visual Solene crop

Solène Jimenez

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