Diversification Begins with a Theory of Change

Diversification begins with a Theory of Change – a specific type of methodology for planning, participation, and evaluation. We ask ourselves, what is the change we want to see and how can we move toward the goal of audience diversification effectively? If we want meaningful change to happen, we have to build out a long-term strategy that will need ongoing revision and critical assessment. Thus, the ArtsBoston Audience Lab Logic Model was created with guidance from consultant, Hedda Rublin, Senior Project Manager at Technical Development Corporation.

The Logic Model was the first critical step in the launch of the Audience Lab. After a successful Pilot in which we were able to create a predictive model that effectively identified prospective audiences of color with a high likelihood of arts attendance, we recognized that the ultimate goal of the Audience Lab is not just audience diversification, but real systemic change at the organizational level. Additionally, we also recognized the need for the participating organizations in the Audience Lab to come to the same conclusion. After the first pass at creating the Logic Model, we gathered the cohort together to get their buy-in of the ultimate goal and to impress upon them that diversification is a slow and incremental process that takes time and collective efforts to achieve.

Perhaps one of the best parts of this process was watching the cohort members’ initial discomfort of taking ownership of their complicity in the lack of audiences of color attending their performances and events. Before moving forward, we had to collectively recognize that we contribute to this issue ourselves, much like how ArtsBoston came to the realization that the limitations of the ArtsBoston Audience Initiative. While the Audience Initiative is a strong prospective tool of existing audiences, those audiences are not particularly diverse either by race, age, or income. The Audience Lab was born out of our desire to champion inclusion and find new tools and strategies to engage all audiences. From there, we were able to clearly define the problem, and build out a set of strategies, outputs, and outcomes toward the goal of systemic change throughout the Boston arts and culture sector.


The Problem: Greater Boston is racially divided. Local arts and culture organizations contribute to this problem by serving audiences that are not reflective of the region’s population. Organizations which are committed to retaining and attracting more people of color in their audiences face structural and organizational challenges in their ability to pursue this goal.

The Goal: Participating arts and culture organizations will invest and achieve success in engaging and retaining more audiences of color.

The change we want to see will be a final impact ten or more years down-the-line. The Audience Lab strives for sector-wide change and a commitment to audience diversification; improved trust from our audiences for a better experience for them and strong participation; and an ArtsBoston that provides a range of support for the sector around issues of Audience Diversification and Cultural Competency.


Victoria George is the ArtsBoston Audience Lab Director and founder of the Network for Arts Administrators of Color. When she’s not making change happen, she can sometimes be seen acting her heart out on greater Boston stages. She’s also still dreaming of a tap duet with Gene Kelly.

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