Impact Foundation was established in 2008 in Warsaw, Poland. It was organising artistic and educational events, inspiring active participation in cultural events and enhancing social integration. Impact co-organised a few important Warsaw artistic events. The distinguishing feature of our work is serious attitude to audience development given that artistic events are an important and attractive component of education. In 2009, Impact took care of the coordination and promotion of the 4-month TRANSFORMATIONS by the Vistula Festival. Over 500 artistic and educational events were organised with the total audience of over 150,000 people. Re:visions of art was Poland’s biggest review of the most interesting artistic projects from the circle of independent art. The Festival showcased several hundred artists and dozens of music, theatre, dance, film and visual events – throughout Warsaw reaching approximately 15,000 a time.
Since 2011, Impact promotes the audience development concept in Poland organising conferences, workshops and individually working with art organisations and institutions in Poland. We have published 3 books in Polish about audience development concept and tools including good practices from Polish organisations and launched free audience localizer tool lokalizator.rozwojwidowni.pl. Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage financially supports our activities disseminating audience development within Polish culture sector since 2011.
Between 2011-2016, the Impact Foundation worked with over 350 Polish institutions and organisations fostering audience development processes.
Foreign experts supporting our work in 2011-2016:
Paul Bogen (European Arts&Culture Managment, UK), Sarah Boiling (The Audiences Agency, UK), Rachel Van Riel (Opening the Book, UK), Christina Papsø Weber (ARKEN, DK), Mary Helen Young (British CCP, UK), Heather Maitland (Audience development and research consultant, UK), Paul Bourne (Artistic Director Menagerie Cambridge, UK).
Impact was responsible for the merit of the seminar organised in September 2013 by Polish CCP “Audience development for Creative Europe” - http://budowanie-publicznosci.pl/program-programme.
Impact is lecturing audience development at the Warsaw University.
In 2015 and 2016 we run a specially tailored programme Audience development for Wroclaw 2016 - European Capital of Culture, working closely with Wroclaw's major cultural institutions and organisations.
A diagnosis, which we’ve been providing since 2008, proved that culture organisations in Poland require specialist training in project management, organisation development strategy, promotion and marketing, as well as audience development and research tools. Based on our experience from the training we’ve been providing between 2011-2013 supporting Polish cultural institutions and organisations in audience development, we conclude that these institutions/organisations rarely take into account the size of the audience and the quality of relations with them. Standard promotion activities and the work of audience organisation departments (if they exist) with no link to the real needs of the audience is a common practice. The biggest challenge is to engage the directors of cultural institutions in the process of change, reorienting the organisation towards the audience. The participants of our project often repeated that their institutions are rigid, inflexible and lacking group cooperation. They also stressed the lack of strategic planning. Few institutions have a written vision, mission or development strategy. They lack marketing strategies, not to mention audience development plans. Most institutions and organisations are program- not audience-oriented. They lack knowledge and consequently precise data on the existing audience, which results in a poor definition of potential viewers.
In Poland there is a lot of training programs, yet most of them tackle very general issues concerning the functioning of the organisation, without taking into account the specific characters and missions of organizations. The program run by Impact Foundation promoting the methods and philosophy behind audience development (training, consulting, two publications on audience development with examples of good practices), are actually the only activities comprehensively supporting the processes of building audiences for the Polish cultural sector. The evaluation shows that in order to change the working standards in a given institution it is not enough to train just one employee. It is necessary to build a whole team and to negotiate common goals and priorities. Yet in order to achieve this a training of the whole team and the improvement of internal communication are required. Most of the entities realising cultural events (apart from those who take part in our training) lack substantial assistance in designing work aiming at gaining new audiences and keeping interest of the existing ones.
Agnieszka Wlazeł & Agata Etmanowicz