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The Arts Council of England developed a definition that attempts to embrace this broad term:
"The term Audience Development describes activity which is undertaken specifically to meet the needs of existing and potential audiences and to help arts [and cultural] organisations to develop on-going relationships with audiences. It can include aspects of marketing, commissioning, programming, education, customer care and distribution." 
Emphasis is also placed on the strong relationship audience development has with marketing, as audience development is also involved with building market share. It also focuses on finding audiences outside the mainstream –i.e. “new audiences” or “audiences from socially excluded groups”. Audience development also reflects the relationship with audiences that develops over time with a focus on the long term.
As a process, audience development employs a range of marketing tools such as research, publicity, communication and customer relationship management. As an ethos, audience development places the audience at the heart of everything the organisation does.
Arts Council England. Audience development and marketing, and Grants for the Arts. January 2016. http://www.artscouncil.org.uk/sites/default/files/download-file/Audience_development_and_marketing_and_Grants_for_the_Arts_Jan2016.pdf
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