At a public art workshop sponsored by the New England Foundation for the Arts, Catherine D’Ignazio, Assistant Professor, Emerson College, suggested that in addition to crafting the art or art experience, the audience must also be designed.

Whether performance or art objects, the environment and context matters to the art consumers. And careful thought can enable the optimal experience for viewers to engage and process what they see, hear, feel, and experience.

I like the term, “designing the audience.” It connotes some creativity, imagination, or reflection that is worthwhile. I am not the only one who agrees designing the audience is important. It is so important that it warrants learning about the audience, designing appropriate publicity information, and gathering data on the results of those efforts. So says Bob Harlow, author of recent document Taking Out the Guesswork: A Guide to Using Research to Build Arts Audiences.

One organization that does a great job at designing an audience is Juventas New Music Ensemble. From programming to feedback, Juventas gives time, intelligence, and creativity to draw an audience from outside of typical channels. Though they exist for the purpose of “nurturing and showcasing the music-making of today’s most brilliant emerging composers,” they select themes that are relevant to more than just new music appreciators. They also mix and match music with other forms of art and performance.

For the 2018-2019 concert season, Juventas selected an overarching theme that probes the “American Ideals of opportunity, rights, liberty and equality resulting in four concerts:

  • This Land is Your Land: Saturday (November 3, 2018)
  • Freedom of Speech: Saturday, February 9, 2019
  • Voices of America: Saturday, April 13, 2019
  • Pride: Hand in Hand: Saturday, June 1, 2019