Book Review: Audience Development and Cultural Policy (Steven Hadley: Palgrave Macmillan, 2021)


  • Lizzie Ridley University of Leeds


audience development, cultural policy, arts marketing, cultural democracy, democratisation of culture


Steven Hadley’s Audience Development and Cultural Policy (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021) examines the positioning and practice of audience development since its emergence as a field. He debates the impact that a lack of clear policy direction, combined with the soft power exerted by the cultural management elite of the time, has had on it. He also examines the ongoing debate of whether audience development should be concerned with cultural democracy or the democratisation of culture. Hadley successfully argues that it is the cultural ‘tradition’ in which individuals within the cultural management elite are based that contribute to this binary. It is his description and analysis of both the academic and grey literature and, more importantly, interviews with those who were instrumental in the creation of audience development as a practice that fills an important void in the recording of its history. While his research directly concerns actors and literature within the English arts tradition, this is still an invaluable resource for anyone interested in audience development whether in practice or academia. Not only because it offers a broad insight into the contested nature of audience development, but also because of the suggestion of the impact an influential body of people in practice, can make on policy development.


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Bollo, Alessandro., Da Milano, Cristina., Gariboldi, Alessandra., et al. (2017). European Commission, Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture, Study on audience development: how to place audiences at the centre of cultural organisations: final report. Publications Office of the European Union. Available at:

Hadley, Steven (2017). European Commission final report: study on audience development – how to place audiences at the centre of cultural organisations. Cultural Trends, 26(3), 275-278.

Hayes, D. and Slater, A. (2010). ‘Rethinking the missionary position’ –the quest for sustainable audience development strategies. Managing Leisure, 7(1) 1-17.

Jancovich, Leila (2017). The Participation Myth. International Journal of Cultural Policy. 23(1), 107-121.

Kawashima, Nobuko (2000). Beyond the division of attenders vs. non-attenders: a study into audience development in policy and practice. Coventry: Centre for Cultural Studies, University of Warwick.

Walmsley, Ben (2019). Audience Engagement in the Performing Arts. A Critical Analysis, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan.




How to Cite

Ridley, L. (2023). Book Review: Audience Development and Cultural Policy (Steven Hadley: Palgrave Macmillan, 2021). Irish Journal of Arts Management and Cultural Policy, 10(1), 72–76. Retrieved from



Book Review