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Audience Spectrum in Action | Securing Funding for a Circus Festival



While working for a large performing arts venue in the South East (England) a unique opportunity to experiment with segmentation on a larger scale became available with a newly conceived contemporary circus festival. Ahead of any public campaign we wanted to make sure every plan we had, came back to the Audience Spectrum (AS) segments and to embed this language in our methodology.

Hence, when we applied for funding to Art Council England, we discussed the exact segments we wanted to target and why, providing a common narrative for everyone working on the project across fundraising, programming and marketing. The programme aligned to ensure all targeted segments had work that played to their greatest core characteristics.

Specifically for the funding application to Arts Council England, we ensured all sections in relation to our audiences used the language, segment structures and attributes of AS to describe who this work would support and ultimately who it was for.

This was most useful in sections such as public engagement where we outlined:

  • How the programme would meet the needs of our existing audiences within Frontline Families, with work that appealed to those segments attending our family theatre programme.
  • How our large outdoor participatory programme would hold resonance for the Experience Seekers.

While also acknowledging we could build audience from the following:

  • Commuterland Culturebuffs (12% of local population) who are keen-to-engage with less-widely attended genres such as contemporary dance and known to practice circus, with an expectation they would take part in workshops.
  • We outlined to ACE that our Trips and Treats audience (20%) prioritise their children’s interests and the social or educational aspects of culture. Readily engaging with circus, we expected them to be audience members and to take part in the educational trapeze workshops.
  • We were able to additionally highlight Dormitory Dependables (18% of current audiences) love for the outdoors and their desire to be entertained made them ideal to attend the free outdoor performances to encourage them to subsequently attend indoor events.

The AS segments allowed us to use a common language that was structured, understood, and could meet the needs of lots of varying groups within our community for a highly visual, and accessible circus programme. It also meant when it came to the evaluation and reporting we had clear statistics, segments, and figures to work with to show the direct impact of the work.


  • Within the first year the festival achieved attendance of over 3,500 and generated over £36.5k, with 33% of those audiences attending a performance for the first time.
  • The festival continued in this format until 2019 and has since grown into a larger outdoor season encompassing a range of outdoor arts.
  • From the festivals inception to 2019 much was achieved; audience attendance grew by 157% in four years, gaining national press coverage from 2017, launching world premieres, even the production of a short film which premiered 2019.
  • With 63 performances, 67 workshops and 1 short film generating 18.7k audience and workshop attendees.
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