Advice & Support

How to develop audiences for independent cinemas

Want to expand your audience and bring new members of your community into your venue? Read our downloadable guide.

Unlike other artforms, cinema has always been a mass audience medium. But how do we stick to and expand on those egalitarian roots, so that everyone can access art in a context where its full impact can be felt?

We’ve created this guide because we think audience development is one of the most important, most undervalued aspects of the work of cinemas, film festivals and community screens. The cinemas that will continue to thrive are those that make an ongoing commitment to the audience they have, and reach out sincerely to include more people, especially those who have been historically excluded.

Audience development is the process your venue can use to walk this path. Independent cinemas aren’t just places to watch films, but are about encouraging a deeper appreciation of art, encountering ideas that expand your mind and participating in a dialogue with others. All of these goals are better served by encouraging the broadest possible range of people to participate in your venue as audience members. This guide gives you a framework to making that change, download it here:

An audience sit in a large cinema auditorium with red seats and walls. They face the screen whose bright light shines on their faces. White text over the image reads: The Independent Cinema Office Guide To How To Develop Audiences for Independent Cinemas

Included in this guide:

  • Planning for audience development
  • Understanding your current audience
  • Understanding your target audience
  • Approaches to audience development
  • Testing and adapting audience development strategies

This guide was written by Duncan Carson, Projects and Business Manager at the Independent Cinema Office, with consultancy from Megan Mitchell and Catherine Mugonyi.

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