Audience and impact study:

Plymouth’s cultural sector

Overview and Context

Plymouth has a rich cultural infrastructure, with a wide variety of visual arts venues including the new Plymouth City Council-run museum, gallery and archive, The Box; independent gallery KARST (both of which receive NPO funding); the University of Plymouth’s Arts Institute incorporating The Levinsky Gallery, and Mirror, the gallery at Plymouth College of Art. There is a strong history of collaboration across the city and all these venues are currently working in partnership with Plymouth Culture (which supports the city’s cultural sector) to develop and deliver the final iteration of British Art Show 9 (BAS9) in 2022.

The Box commissioned a market study in 2016, to gain insight into its potential market, aiming to identify how many people might visit, who might visit, their interest in attending, key drivers for a visit and any potential barriers to visiting. This was carried out through desk research into the market at the time, followed by a population survey with 1,238 respondents from the South West, London, South East and Midlands.

In 2020, Plymouth Culture commissioned a further study to collect, analyse and present data relating to the arts and cultural sector in the city and ultimately inform the development of Plymouth’s new Culture Plan. This study particularly focused on NPO-funded organisations (note The Box was yet to open when the research was carried out) and incorporated information from the 2011 census.

Plymouth’s visual arts venues therefore have some data relating to their potential market. Most NPO-funded venues in the city also use a form of Audience Finder in their ongoing efforts to quantify and understand current audiences. However, there are gaps in the existing research, some of which is also becoming out of date.

Our work together on British Art Show 9 presents us with a compelling opportunity to address these issues.

What is the opportunity?

Plymouth’s visual arts venues and Plymouth Culture therefore seek to appoint a skilled and experienced consultant/consultancy to undertake the following:

• Desk research to analyse existing audience and impact studies and audience data capture methodologies to identify gaps in information and knowledge
• Additional primary or secondary research as required to fill those gaps, update information and  comprehensively:

– quantify current and potential audiences for culture in the city region, to allow us to set robust targets for market penetration and growth against an accurate baseline
– establish a demographic, behavioural and attitudinal profile of audiences, to inform efforts to increase engagement

The BAS9 partners will be working closely with Serio, University of Plymouth, to develop a shared framework for ongoing audience research and data capture across the city’s cultural organisations, beyond the current NPOs and in line with national best practice. This will look at new ways of capturing and measuring the economic and social value of culture. We will want to make sure that the work of this contract aligns with the stage two development to be undertaken by Serio.

Your proposal should include the following information:

• A brief summary of your understanding of this brief and the context for Plymouth visual arts venues and Plymouth Culture’s work
• How you will approach the commission and the methods you will use
• What you require from us and your approach to partnership working
• A summary of your relevant experience
• Profiles for your evaluation team members
• How you will manage the project
• Your ideas about how you will present the study findings to ensure they have traction and influence
• A budget for the commission

In addition, please provide copies (or links to) two of your recent and relevant reports or products. We would like the proposals to be a maximum of 10 pages.


The total budget is up to £20,000 (inc VAT). Please provide a budget breakdown against individual stages or tasks as outlined in your methodology.


Call for proposals opens – Tuesday 9th November 2021

Submission deadline – Tuesday 23rd November 2021

Interviews and appointment – w/c 29th November 2021

Completion of work – Friday 14th January 2022


For an informal chat please contact Hannah Harris or Kate Farmery

Proposals should be emailed to by 5pm Tuesday 23rd November