I have written an essay on the problem with audience development, for The Association of Norwegian Theatres and Orchestras (Norsk teater- og orkesterforening, NTO). The paper is published in a book heralding their 50th anniversary.
I argue that an obsession with audiences has accompanied a decline in confidence in talking about and justifying the quality of artwork. The former replaces the latter as a way to legitimise organisations and funding. In this context audience development reflects both a crisis of art, and a crisis in how we think of the public – as incapable, in need of protection from challenging or difficult work.