With thanks to International Agatha Christie Festival for sharing their experiences of using the Impact & Insight Toolkit for the purpose of this case study, written by Heather Norman-Soderlind, Chair of the Board.
The International Agatha Christie Festival takes place annually across the English Riviera in South Devon with programmed activity through the year culminating in a 7-day Festival of literature and the arts in September. The Festival is designed to celebrate the life and legacy of best-selling novelist of all time, Agatha Christie, who was born in Torquay. The Festival attracts a worldwide audience of Christie fans as well as a broad and diverse range of UK-based and local residents of all ages who convene in the Bay to enjoy both cultural events and location, a designated UNESCO Global Geopark.
The Festival is a registered charity. It is core-funded by an Arts Council England National Lottery Project Grant alongside grants from a variety of other trusts and foundations. Proceeds from income generated by ticketing revenue are then invested into the production and delivery of a series of community-based arts projects which benefit harder-to-reach groups in the Bay.
Impact & Insight Toolkit
In 2021, for the first time, the Festival committed to using the Impact & Insight Toolkit to achieve a better understanding of the background, motivation and reactions across the audience which attended.
Use of the Toolkit was essential to us, not only because of our mandatory reporting obligations to ACE and other funders but to enable our small team to optimise design and delivery of future programmes to ensure we meet demand and sustain our vital income stream. Like other cultural organisations, we had been hit by COVID restrictions in 2020, forcing cancellation of the in-person programme and community programme; in 2021, we found ourselves in recovery and fortunately able to deliver our festival activities in full. Managing pandemic risk and audience health & safety was paramount, whilst measuring outcomes and participant satisfaction was crucial to planning for the future. One of the most useful questions in our surveys, designed through the Impact & Insight Toolkit, was the dimension,
Enthusiasm: ‘I would come to something like this again’
The advantages of using the Toolkit were legion. Firstly, the immediacy through which we captured feedback from live events; the vital collation of user background data, particularly postcode or country of origin, ethnicity, age and/or living with disability. Segmenting our audience so we could truly describe it – and identify gaps – was a massive plus towards improved programming and better marketing.
Our ability to define what the Toolkit describes as ‘Dimensions’ was a great asset too. Here we could identify the motivation of our audience and the value they placed on the festival as an addition to the cultural life of Torquay and the English Riviera – a vital insight since our ambition is to support the visitor and hospitality economy of our coastal location. We were able to create bespoke questions when we needed to; for example, when we ran a creative Masterclass for aspiring writers, we were able to learn more about what stage they were at with their writing and how the Festival might support them in future with their writing career. The Toolkit proved easy to set up, send out and analyse.
Using the Results
We have used the results in our reports to trustees, funders and partners. We have learnt where to place greater emphasis in 2022 to strengthen outreach to different audience segments and where to sustain what we already do well.
Thank you, Heather, for your valued contribution!
Featured Image: ‘Audience at Spanish Barn’, IACF 2021