The Audience Agency enters an era of innovation with a new Chair and merger
The Audience Agency welcomes Matt Locke as its new Chair, replacing Sheila Healey who was
Chair from January 2015. One of Matt’s first duties is to oversee a merger with innovation
agency Golant Media Ventures. This merger is one of a raft of enterprising moves signalling a
new strategic direction for the organisation.
The Audience Agency (TAA) was established as a new national alternative to regional audience
development agencies in 2012. Since then, the charity’s purpose and ambition have changed. It
is now recognised as much for offering unique audience insight and data as it is for transforming
engagement practice and giving the public a voice. TAA secured 4-year Sector Support
Organisation funding from the Arts Council this year, supporting the national database and
insight programme Audience Finder and enabling TAA to consolidate its position as a leading
agent for change in the cultural sector.
This change agenda is one of many reasons behind the merger with Golant Media Ventures, an
innovation agency for the creative, cultural, digital and public sectors. GMV will become part of
the enterprise subsidiary, The Audience Agency Services, and its CEO Patrick Towell will become
Executive Director of the trading company and Innovation Director of The Audience Agency
Patrick explains: “My vision for The Audience Agency and Golant Media Ventures merging is to remove the barriers to sharing innovations between the world of the arts, culture and heritage, the creative industries, digital economy and public sector. They are facing similar challenges, have many people in common and have much to learn from each other – and yet they struggle to translate innovations between them. Together, we can be the translators to help leaders and their teams through turbulent times and complex change. I’m excited by the opportunity to foster innovation across The Audience Agency group – and to lead its enterprise subsidiary to generate the profits and ventures that will enable it to thrive and deliver its charitable aims.
Golant Media Ventures has worked increasingly closely with The Audience Agency over the past few years on projects across strategy, change, design thinking and data-driven innovation. The organisations share a vision and a philosophy and have complementary experience and expertise. Together, they hope to advance the agenda for cultural organisations to transform the way they create both public and commercial value, ultimately increasing their relevance, reach and resilience. Matt Locke was selected as Chair to help drive the new strategy from the Board. Matt is an expert in new technology, media and the arts, having led innovation projects at the BBC and Channel 4, before starting Storythings, a digital content agency, in 2011. This has given him practical experience of how digital transformation impacts large organisations, and how new audience behaviours affect the commissioning, production, distribution and evaluation of culture.”
Matt discusses his shared passion for audience focus: “Understanding how new technologies
change our relationship with audiences has been a central part of my work, whether working on digital projects in the Arts in the 1990s, at the BBC and Channel 4 in the 2000s, or with our clients at Storythings. How we measure audiences and responsibly manage personal data is one of the most pressing issues facing the culture and media sector right now. I’m really excited to be joining The Audience Agency now, and helping them lead the debate about audiences and data.”
Anne Torreggiani, CEO of The Audience Agency comments: “Both Matt Locke and Golant Media
Ventures share The Audience Agency’s strong belief that the needs of audiences and
communities – everyone who holds a stake through their money, taxes, lottery tickets or
attention – should be at the centre of what the cultural sector does. Moreover, they share the sense that we’re at a crucial moment of change, when cultural organisations can and must embrace the habits of design thinking and evidence-based decision making, in combination with traditional notions of creativity and authorship. Their conviction that The Audience Agency has an important role to play here means a lot and having them on board will enable us to step squarely up to the challenge.”
Other changes at The Audience Agency include an organisational redesign appointment of a
Chief Technology Officer, who will join the executive team to lead the development of a
ground-breaking not-for-profit data platform model.