Training Courses

REACH: Strategic Audience Development 2018

26/09/2018 - 12/03/2019

Multiple (Birmingham & London),

Would you like to grow the audiences in your venue?

How about bring in people who have never been before?

Or diversify the types of people who regularly attend?

REACH: Strategic Audience Development is a workshop driven, project-based training programme for independent film exhibitors who want to learn from experts about how to strategically grow audiences.

The course is designed to help you deliver real change in the audiences for your cinema or film festival. Delivered by experts in audience development, you will learn effective strategies to grow and diversify audiences.

The course is delivered over seven months with one workshop in Birmingham in September 2018 and another in London in March 2019. This course is being partly funded by the BFI Film Audience Network.

Applications for this course are now closed. 


26/09/2018 - 12/03/2019




Multiple (Birmingham & London)

What does the course cover?

The programme has been designed especially for independent film exhibitors (including cinemas, film festivals and community screens), looking closely at:

  • How to understand, research and build audiences
  • Delivering practical projects that deliver clear results
  • Bringing new audiences to a wider range of films
  • Engaging audiences from diverse backgrounds
  • Encouraging public participation and inclusion
  • Making use of your resources to achieve goals

Programme structure

Module 1 – Audience Development Forum (26 – 28 September 2018, mac, Birmingham)

Three days of workshops, presentations and case studies will help participants develop a greater understanding of their organisation and the current cinema audience landscape. Participants will be encouraged to use pioneering and proven audience development success stories as the springboard for their own projects. This section is led by experts with a proven track record of working with venues facing all kinds of audience challenges and with high aspirations.

Module 2 – Pilot Projects (October 2018 – March 2019, in your venues)

Having designed an Audience Development Pilot Project, participants will be matched to an expert advisor to help them implement their plans.

Module 3 – Seminar Day and Exit Sessions (11 – 12 March 2019, Venue TBA, London)

Participants will present their projects to their peers, with feedback workshops and discussion groups formed from these findings. Participants will have a final advisory session with their matched advisor and case studies will be posted online.

Speakers (announced so far)

Catharine Des Forges

Director, Independent Cinema Office

Catharine has spent over 20 years working in the exhibition sector for a variety of organisations including the BFI and Arts Council England. She has worked as a freelance programmer and arts consultant and progammed for festivals and cinemas both in the UK and internationally. She has lectured on film at a number of UK universities and is a regular contributor to industry events and a frequent filmmaker Q&A host. Catharine founded the ICO in 2003 and has been its Director ever since.

David Sin

Head of Cinemas, Independent Cinema Office

Over the past 25 years, David has worked as a Programmer, Consultant and Distributor, on occasions two or three of these at the same time. From 1998-2002, he was Director of Cinema at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) where he programmed an award winning season of Japanese experimental film, increased admissions by 100% and also made a success of the ICA’s cutting edge distribution company; releasing over 40 films including Ring, A One and a Two and Kandahar. Whilst Head of Content at the British Film Institute, he co-produced a screening of Borderline staged at the Tate Modern Turbine Hall; and A Throw of Dice with a live orchestra in Trafalgar Square.

Gina M. Duncan

Associate Vice President, Cinema, Brooklyn Academy of Music

Since January 2017, Gina Duncan has served as the Associate Vice President, Cinema at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). She is responsible for providing strategic and artistic direction for BAM's first-run and repertory programs as well as its film festival, BAMcinemafest. She previously programmed for the Jacob Burns Film Center and Hot Docs Film Festival and currently serves as the Film Lab curator for SPACE on Ryder Farm, a working organic farm that offers self-determined residencies to artists and activists. Ms. Duncan is an award-winning producer with credits in film, television, and theater. She is currently producing The Evidence of Things Not Seen, a feature-length documentary from filmmaker and visual artist, Ja'Tovia Gary.

Sarah Boiling

Independent Consultant and former Deputy Director of the Audience Agency

Sarah Boiling started her career at Tyneside Cinema, and since then she has worked in senior marketing positions at many of the UK’s most innovative cultural organisations including Broadway, Tate, and the Barbican Centre. For the last eight years Sarah was Deputy Director of The Audience Agency (and its forerunner, Audiences London) where she led projects for clients including Film London, BFI and Into Film. She is now an independent consultant specialising in audience and organisational development, facilitation and training.

Clare Wilford

Independent Press & PR Consultant

Clare is one of the UK's leading film, television and animation publicists, specialising in event and film festival PR. Clare gained over ten years' experience in arts marketing and PR at organisations including the Barbican Centre, London, Opera North in Leeds, and the Arnolfini in Bristol, before moving into Film PR in 1992. She has orchestrated press campaigns for the following festivals: Brief Encounters, Bristol; Borderlines Film Festival; the BFI London Film Festival and the Bradford International Film Festival. Clare was Associate Producer and Talent Manager for several Empire Magazine Film Awards, as well as Guest Speaker and Hospitality Co-ordinator for the Media Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival for three years. She has also freelanced for Premier PR and Corbett & Keene for over 10 years, handling press campaigns both at international festivals and in UK distribution.

Mike Tait

Cinema Youth Development Officer, Dundee Contemporary Arts

Mike’s role at DCA is to promote the very best in international film for young audiences aged between 3 and 19, and to increase audiences for these films. He produces the annual Discovery Film Festival (, develops year-round family-friendly screening programmes and supports schools and teachers in the development of film as a valuable resource across the curriculum. He also assists with the BFI film academy held at DCA, and coordinates the Discovery Young Ambassadors (DYAs), a team of young film programmers (aged 15-19) who are a key part of the festival creative team.

Sean Perkins

Freelance Research Consultant

Dr Sean Perkins has 16 years research experience in the screen sectors, including four years as Head of the Research and Statistics Unit at the BFI, where he was responsible for producing the Statistical Yearbook, official statistics releases and overseeing the Research and Statistics Fund. During this time he also oversaw projects such as Opening our Eyes (2011) a study of the cultural contribution of UK film and The Economic Impact of the UK Film Industry (2012). Sean was also a key contributor to the European Film Agency Research Network. Sean transferred to the BFI from the UK Film Council, where he developed the first comprehensive statistical reports on the UK film industry and contributed quantitative and qualitative research expertise to research projects on audience development, accessible cinema for sensory impaired audiences and the impact of local independent cinema.

Hardish Virk

Audience Development Consultant

Hardish Virk has over twenty-five years’ experience of delivering Marketing and PR campaigns for visual arts, dance, music, theatre, festivals, museums and heritage organisations. Hardish has also advised on developing Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic audiences whilst supporting organisations with the development of policy and strategy documents focusing on communications and diversity. Hardish has contributed to magazines including Arts Business and was the Guest Editor of JAM (Journal of Arts Marketing).

Jo Comino

Marketing Manager, Borderlines Film Festival

A member of staff since the 2009 Festival, Jo has tackled many film-related jobs: running the London Film-makers' Co-op Cinema, writing for City Limits, The Guardian and Sight & Sound, teaching, directing a documentary on Super 8 film-making for C4, researcher on Derek Jarman's The Last of England and a stint as one of the tecchies on the Flicks in the Sticks pilot.


This course has been run annually since 2015. Since running this course, 100% of participants have said:

  • attending REACH had a practical and positive impact on their working practices
  • they would recommend the course to others
  • they considered the course to be good value for money

”At the time I took part in the course I had little to no programming experience and was learning on the job; as the sole film programmer for a large arts venue the course was invaluable in helping me develop my skills early on; I was able to bring back tangible plans for better understanding our audiences, to examine and develop what we offer them…In the time since I was able to propose a new business model, using the audience development plan that I developed on REACH as a starting point, and we’ve seen an increase in audience figures to our film programme of 44% between then and now”

REACH 2016 participant

“I didn’t want it to end! It’s been a great motivator and provided me with a lot of support, especially as a new venue”

REACH 2016 participant

“I really recommend the course. We talked about so many different challenges & it’s really interesting that we came from such diverse organisations.”

REACH 2017 participant

“The course was really brilliant and the quality of the speakers really high – providing me with so many ideas and the confidence to implement them”

REACH 2017 participant


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Lucas House Hotel
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The Edgbaston Boutique Hotel
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ibis Birmingham Centre Irving Street Hotel
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Travelodge Birmingham Central Bull Ring
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Pentahotel Birmingham
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Radisson Blu Hotel, Birmingham
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The Rowton Hotel
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easyHotel Birmingham
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Hotel Indigo Birmingham
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Premier Inn Birmingham City Centre New St Station
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Macdonald Burlington Hotel
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Holiday Inn Express Birmingham – City Centre
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Jurys Inn Birmingham
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Park Regis Birmingham
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