In the macro area Proposal for political reforms of the Forum of Italian contemporary art in Prato, the table “quantity of audience vs quality of the proposal” has collected professionals from various museum and institutions to discuss the delicate balance between the quality of the exhibitions and the amount of the reached public and how to ensure the initiatives keep their experimental and qualitative vocation without losing the appeal to the general audience.

Why are not approachable the results of the public for contemporary art exhibitions in Italy to those obtained abroad? First of all it was underlined in the Italian system, the absence of any continuity of the proposal that ensures the loyalty of the audience and the creation of a specific identity of the cultural institution. Planning and long-term vision can develop an exhibition project not only tied to the simple period of the exhibition but also to following activities.

A model is HangarBicocca space that combines a two-year and easy understanding program, based on monographic exhibitions, with educational and promotional tools such as information wall, cultural mediators, educational program and workshops for kids. The result is excellent: more than 200,000 visitors only in 2013 with an annual increase continuously; It shows that the quality and continuity pays in the long term.

The organisation of an exhibition or a cultural event should be preceded by an analysis of the public, but this aspect is often overlooked by the institutions not only in quantitative terms (audience) but also qualitative one (community). The aim of the museum must be to impress the viewer anticipating his desires and create a unique experience that can encourage to return.

So public education becomes a necessary task by implementing educational programs and divulging tools, transforming the exhibition space into a creative center full of opportunities and confrontation.

Of course, in order to get the numbers took the commissions, it needs one hand alternating “blockbuster” exhibitions with experimental and qualitative products and the other working in an innovative and creative way on communication and marketing.

Finally, the working group underlined as the link with the territory and the ability to network between different artistic disciplines and between national and foreign institutions are necessary to widen the audience, loyalty it and to be competitive internationally.

Paola Sacconi



Cover image: © Loredana Longo, 2007

This post is also available in: Italian