Finding an audience who will support your art

When you’re in the creative throes of making art, the audience is rarely topmost in your mind. Whether it’s the work itself as creation or response, the role it plays in your community or your portfolio thinking about finding an eventual audience can be equal parts intimidating and inspiring.

Your audience might feel like the great unknown. Its size and inclinations can feel like a huge amorphous blob, hovering just out of sight. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by this it’s time to take a step back and try to think of this blob as an eminently knowable mass of interested, open-minded and supportive people – your ideal audience.

Defining your ideal target

Trying to define your ideal target audience without knowing why you’re doing it is a little bit like grocery shopping when you’re hungry. Everything looks great, you can’t make up your mind and you end up with a basket of disparate ingredients that don’t quite work together. Your target needs to be as real and specific as possible because when you’re trying to attract everyone, you’re marketing inevitably ends up either disappointingly bland or overly complicated.

Your ideal target is someone who is:

  • Reachable

Your target needs to be accessible to you and your marketing. They need to be connected or networked in a way that you can tap into.

  • On-track

An on-track target is one whose financial support, advocacy or loyalty will stand you instead of over the long term. For an artist, a target who will continue to support and follow your work is far more important than one that is simply transactional. Consider the type of target who will follow your journey, engage with your work and build your profile — they may not be the same people who buy a ticket to a one-off show.

  • Catalytic

A catalytic target is one who causes an action or outcome that you want. They’re capable of 1a. Paying for the product or service or 1b. Supporting you with a philanthropic gift and 2. Influencing others to do likewise.

  • Reckonable

To understand and learn from your marketing efforts, your target should be measurable or more practically, reckonable. You should be able to either know or take a fair guess at how your marketing has worked to achieve an outcome. Ideally, you might be able to informally quiz them or use a proxy like Facebook measuring tools or email open rates to try and get a more complete picture on how you’ve gone.

Getting eyes on your target

There’s a school of thought out there that marketing is half science and half art. While that might be nothing more than a cliche, it is time to get a little bit crafty and pull out a pencil. The important part of sketching a ‘pen portrait’ is turning off the analytical part of your brain and tuning into the empathetic, creative part. Using our ACF Pen to Portrait Template you can find here take a few minutes to get under the skin of your ideal target. Give them a past, motivations and behaviours that bring them alive to you and your collaborators. This imaginative exercise is great for making sure you haven’t cut any corners in defining your target – after all, it’s hard to draw someone “of any age who likes theatre and music and stuff”.


With your target persona right in front of you, it’s time to bring it all together. Locating the natural habitat of your persona will be informed by the psychographic traits (the softer aspects about their goals, their pain points and their motivations), the demographic traits (age, location, income) and their behaviour (use of technology, social habits). By lining these points up against what you know of the marketing platforms available to you, you’ll find some great matches and some channels you can easily eliminate. For example, if your target audience is uncomfortable with technology, very wealthy and wants an exclusive experience, inviting them to a live YouTube program announcement may not be the best idea. On the other hand, it might be a great opportunity to secure an interview in a niche publication.

Using the pen portrait

Creating a target persona often takes several goes. The important thing is to have a crack at getting yourself into the head of your audience. Here you’ll find the ACF Pen to Portrait Template developed specifically for our ACF campaigner to use when thinking about their targets. Grab a friend, sit down and spend twenty minutes drawing these quick pen portraits. Come back to them in a few days, and ask yourself if they still feel true – if not keep on going! A good persona can make a big difference, so it’s definitely worth it.

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