The 1st Transnational Project Conference “The key to raising attention. Challenges and perspectives of audience development along the Danube” took place on 11-13 October 2017, at the magnificent Kodály Conference and Concert Centre in Pécs/Hungary – organized and hosted by the Zsolnay Heritage Management Nonprofit Ltd (PP7), in close cooperation with the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts Baden-Württemberg. The central topic of the Pécs conference was audience development which is considered as a challenge for several cultural and touristic institutions and organizations in the Danube region, especially when it comes to the needs of existing and potential audiences of cultural heritage. The conference was successfully concluded with having more than 160 participants arriving from 20 European countries representing numerous cultural and touristic organizations.
The organizers invited experts and practitioners to discuss concepts, best practices and role models of audience relationships from all over Europe, but mainly from the Danube area, including education, programming and marketing aspects. The conference started with a panel titled EUROPE focusing on European initiatives and on their audience presenting a wider level and approach to the main theme of the event. Before the next session, which was centered on the DANUBE, the floor was opened to Mr István Perger representing the European Commission in order to demonstrate the most relevant points and opportunities of the European Year of Cultural Heritage for 2018.
The creators of the conference programme brought together four different keywords and used them as pillars of the programme structure ensuring the participants to have a complex experience and knowledge exchange from various angles on audience development. The main pillars where the following: PEOPLE – HERITAGE – CITIES – INNOVATION. The first interactive workshop PEOPLE was concentrated on social involvement, on how to keep the „old” and find the „new” audience, how to involve and include people, whereas HERITAGE was focused on cultural heritage and the audience in the 21st century, rising the visibility of heritage sites in the framework of CultPlatForm_21 project, and making hidden attractions visible. The second day of the event started with the workshop CITIES, where a strong emphasis was put on former and future European Capitals of Culture discussing how to change the audience’s role: from spectator to active participant, what are the audience relations of and future concepts of a sustainable ECoC. The aim of the last workshop INNOVATION was to collect and share tools, technologies and creativity for audience development, including digitalization, contemporary artistic interventions and unusual ways of making the hidden visible.
The 1st Transnational Project Conference in Pécs created a perfect platform for knowledge transfer, networking/information exchange among project partners, external experts, stakeholders, national policy makers, administrations, scientists and practitioners to cooperate on cultural and touristic issues and to couple networking with learning interactions. The next Project Conferences will take place in Linz (2018) and Regensburg (2019). These events will shape the image of the Danube area as an innovative/contemporary cultural and touristic place with positive dynamic for participative culture and tourism policy making.