Building Arts Audiences

APAP and The Wallace Foundation support arts organizations' efforts to reach new audiences and deepen relationships with current audiences. Together, we are proud to share The Wallace Foundation's findings and resources on audience-building efforts with the performing arts field.

APAPNYC 2019 Building Audiences Artwork by Adam Kissick/APAP


What you’ll find here:

  • Best practices you can start using now

  • Small and Mid-Sized Presenters in the United States: Stories and Perspectives, a preliminary report

  • Case studies of success and failure in growing audiences

  • How you can engage more deeply with these resources

Small and Mid-Sized Presenters Resources

The Association of Performing Arts Professionals (APAP) is preparing to take the next steps around Small and Mid-Sized Presenters in the United States: Stories and Perspectives in our new report commissioned with support from the Wallace Foundation. This initial pilot study gives a first look at the realities of small and mid-sized presenters, and the shifts they are weathering.

Read the Report

Read the Inside Arts interview where the report's collaborators talk about the takeaways and next steps.

9 Effective Practices for Building Arts Audiences

The Wallace Foundation has identified nine practices that successful audience-building efforts have had in common. Review the nine practices and read more about them in the downloadable report, The Road to Results: Effective Practices for Building Arts Audiences

9 Effective Practices Infographic

  1. Recognize When Change Is Needed

  2. Identify the Target Audience that Fits

  3. Determine What Kinds of Barriers Need to be Removed

  4. Take Out the Guesswork

  5. Think Through the Relationship

  6. Provide Multiple Ways In

  7. Align the Organization Around the Strategy

  8. Build In Learning

  9. Prepare for Success

Focusing on one of the nine effective practices, this guide Taking Out the Guesswork: A Guide to Using Research to Build Arts Audiences, seeks to help arts organizations get over the hurdles of research. It details how to carry out the research effectively – in both low-cost and more elaborate ways – and how to bring together an organizational team to manage the work. This separate infographic summarizes the guide’s key points.

These principles emerged from case studies of ten arts organizations that undertook audience-building projects as part of the Wallace Excellence Awards initiative. You can read more examples of successes and challenges from the work of museums, opera companies, a theater and other institutions.

More Resources


Discussion Guides


Case Studies

Opportunities to Engage

5 Minutes to Shine: "Building Arts Audiences" Session

One of APAP|NYC’s most popular events, 5 Minutes to Shine (5MTS) showcases today’s most innovative engagement and audience-building work. 5MTS is an opportunity for artists, presenters, agents, and others to share their compelling story or idea in an exciting pecha kucha-format; one speaker will be selected to present their story at the annual APAP|NYC Awards Luncheon. Inspired by the Wallace Foundation’s Nine Effective Practices for Building Audiences in the Arts, this session highlights how to go from ideas to action.


Learn More

At APAP|NYC 2015, APAP and the Wallace Foundation hosted a professional development session on Welcoming New Audiences featuring participants from case studies. Listen to the audio recording to learn about their strategies, successes and setbacks.

Learn more about the vision behind the Building Arts Audience initiative, visit the Wallace Foundation website at

Inside Arts articles on Building Audiences

APAP has reported on the importance of building arts audiences, the tools and research needed to this and how the 5 Minutes to Shine competition brings forth new ideas.