Community Engagement and Building Audiences for Dance

Lessons from the CAC on Engaging Young African American Audiences

"Hair & Other Stories," courtesy Urban Bush Women, (c) Hayim Heron

“Hair & Other Stories,” courtesy Urban Bush Women, (c) Hayim Heron

The Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) has, with support from The Wallace Foundation, worked to engage young African American audiences in New Orleans by launching educational and social programs that promote lively interactions between performing artists and the community. The project focused on engaging audiences for Urban Bush Women’s Hair & Other Stories. This project is part of the Wallace Foundation’s Building Audiences for Sustainability initiative.

What did they learn? Here are some takeaways from a recent webinar featuring these two organizations:

  • Collaborations and partnerships are a must when deepening relationships with audiences.
  • Be strategic and intentional when engaging audiences.
  • Ongoing programs don’t appeal as much as special events or exclusives.
  • People don’t just want to sit in the audience. They want to participate, and socialize pre- and post-show. Participatory and celebratory events and activities are most successful.
  • Make your audience feel invited, included, and welcome. Consistently, informally and formally, invite your audiences.

Watch the webinar!
Hear Neil Barclay, former director & CEO, Contemporary Arts Center (CAC), and Stephanie McKee-Anderson, executive/artistic director, Junebug Productions, share what they learned about their target audiences and expand on these lessons in the course of this audience-building project.

Interested in more resources on building audiences? Find free case studies, reports, videos and more on The Wallace Foundation website here.


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