One of the major benefits of an audience-centred cultural institution is that the knowledge of being observed in any capacity can compel people to approach their work with a higher level of care and detail than if they had only themselves to perform for. Although this can lead to people become nervous and self-critical in fear of the judgment of others, potentially damaging their performance, it can also be a motivating factor for individuals to work harder at a particular task in order to ensure that only their best possible work is presented to their audience. Receiving feedback is another aspect of the creator-audience relationship that can have a profound impact on performance, providing creators with constructive advice on ways to improve their work and highlighting additional areas in which they might like to focus.
Another major benefit to having audiences view one’s work is the potential that this creates for “repeat customers”. This can be as simple as earning a fanbase – fan loyalty means that fans will always buy the music their favorite artist produces, or always see the movies their favorite actor stars in – or instituting membership programs in service industries such as libraries, museums, and theatres.
Audiences are becoming increasingly important in our modern digital area due to the ease and speed with which we can create, reproduce and share information. Even when we are in our own homes, we spend considerable chunks of time interacting with others through social media and other online platforms, both as creators and as audience members. Debbie Chachra touches on this relationship in her article “Why I Am Not a Maker” (2015), in which she defends the activities of audiences as being just as important – in spite of frequently being less visible – as that of makers. While making things is a valuable and necessary process for the functioning of society, valuing makers over audiences tends to devalue the contribution that audiences make. Chachra suggests that we ought to equally emphasize the role of educators; who, although they are not necessarily the originators of any particular thing, are responsible for analyzing and critiquing things, generally with the end goal of improving upon the original – or, in Chachra’s terminology, “fixing” things.
Engaging with audiences is almost unavoidable, and we need to be able to turn this to our advantage, drawing inspiration and developing skills from those interactions and experiences.