The journal Cultural Trends has launched a double special issue exploring 'Audience data and research: perspectives from scholarship, policy, management and practice'. The special issue looks at different aspects of audience research and includes a significant amount of work that draws on Audience Finder data, exploring and demonstrating how this dataset can be useful for academic research.

In the summer of 2018, The Audience Agency opened up its Audience Finder data set to a select group of academic researchers drawn from a number of fields including cultural policy, arts marketing, cultural studies and biological sciences. The aim was to encourage an interdisciplinary approach to uncovering greater potential insights and applications as yet unharnessed from the largest set of aggregated data on cultural engagement anywhere in the world.

Edited by Dr Steven Hadley (Universities of Sheffield and Hull), Dr Katya Johanson (Deakin University) and Dr Ben Walmsley (University of Leeds and Co-Director, alongside Audience Agency CEO Anne Torregiani, of the Centre for Cultural Value), the special issue is a landmark achievement in the field, bringing together a wide range of researchers from both academia and the cultural sector.

As the journal editors state,

"Our stated aim in the call for papers was to provide a forum to showcase and bring together the highest quality contributions of, between and beyond established disciplines to explore the potential complementarity of evolving approaches to audience research and to provide an in-depth opportunity for investigating innovative methods. We hoped to explicate the emerging academic field of audience studies and showcase new research across the myriad fields that contribute to audience scholarship. Our ultimate aim was to offer a crucible of thinking and re-thinking about how society understands the impact of arts and culture on audiences."

The full editorial, ‘Reflections on audience data and research’ is freely accessible to all readers here, as are two of the articles written using Audience Finder Data:

The coming crisis of cultural engagement? Measurement, methods, and the nuances of niche activities by Laurie Hanquinet, Dave O’Brien and Mark Taylor

Spontaneity and planning in arts attendance: insights from qualitative interviews and the Audience Finder database by Sarah Price, Rachel Perry, Oliver Mantell, James Trinder and Stephanie Pitts

Explore the issue | Special Issue: Audience data and research: perspectives from scholarship, policy, management and practice

The special issue will be launched at the Audience Research in the Arts conference on 3 July.