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Roy Kareem worked with us at Pervasive Media Studio and Watershed in 2022 as an Audience Development Associate as part of our The Future Is Collective project.  They supported freelancers, from within the Pervasive Media Studio and BFI Film Hub South West communities as well as the wider sector, whose creative practices include climate and community activism.

We asked Roy to reflect on his time spend with us and here's what he had to say...

Working on The Future is Collective programme has been an eye opening and enriching experience. 

The Pervasive Media Studio and the Watershed more generally were not spaces and networks that I had been involved with as a Bristol resident and I relished the idea of getting to be more plugged into them. 

Over the months I was working on The Future is Collective I got to speak with and interact with about 35 residents, either through one-on-one coaching sessions or virtual and in person workshops and talks.  

Throughout those different mediums of interaction, a few specifics around audience development became clear...

  • Everyone is doing better than they think they are when it comes to their work. They just don’t know it. Part of my job was therefore simply about reassurance and providing a space to reflect back the great way they were already developing their audiences. 

  • Measuring impact is really hard when it comes to the intersection of creative tech and community work – simple and reliable tools to measure social value are therefore really important and need to be spread as quickly as possible to creatives working in these spaces.

  • Inclusivity – you can’t know what people need until you ask. What does your audience, your participants want? How do they like to be communicated with? What lights them up? What turns them off? Test out all your assumptions and be prepared to adapt quickly. 

  • Which brings me to my next one - Iteration – having what I would call, a light, prototyping mindset when it comes to audience development is crucial. The intersection of creative technology, climate and community work is brand new so we can’t know exactly what will and won’t work. Being free to experiment with different types of audience engagement strategy and getting to expand what works and let go of what doesn’t is really, really important.  

  • Whatever you decide you need to be consistent.  

  • You need to be brave.

I’ve loved getting to meet and work with the people working at the Pervasive Media Studio over the last few months and can’t overstate what an amazing crucible it seems to be for fostering creative talent in the city. 

Roy Kareem Brown was an Audience Development Associate on Watershed's The Future is Collective programme, supported by Arts Council England.