Aurora Orchestra merging with a capacity audience in performances of Beethoven symphonies at London's Printworks

RPS Audience Fund

At the RPS, we are always pleased to partner with other organisations, deploying our skills, contacts and position to make great things happen for classical music.

In 2020, we devised the RPS Audience Fund to give classical music ensembles the means to devise fresh ways to attract, engage and retain new audiences. The funds for this one-off initiative were generously granted by the Rachel Baker Memorial Charity. It’s a particularly fitting initiative for us as the Philharmonic Society itself was – in essence – one of the first ever audience development initiatives in classical music: established in 1813 by a group of musicians who wanted to share their music with a wider public, seeking to rouse curiosity and patronage through regular concerts. Their endeavours not only built an audience but established a culture that others were then to emulate, that continues to this day.

Ensembles were invited to submit bold ideas for how they might entice new audiences to all that they do. Select recipients then received a share of the fund totalling £180,000 to enact their plans. The pandemic swiftly compelled them to think anew and adapt their original aspirations, but imagination and initiative shone through. The Fund has helped each ensemble test their strength and set in place enduring approaches to audience development that we hope other organisations may be inspired to draw from, and that audiences themselves will be intrigued to read about. Duly we asked each of them to account their progress, findings and outcomes on their own websites and social media. Click each ensemble name below, you can find out more about each one. Our sincere thanks to the Trustees of the Rachel Baker Memorial Charity for giving each group the agency to flex their creativity and bring fresh ideas to life. If you'd like to help us activate more initiatives like this and put your name to them, do get in touch: we'd love to talk further.

Aurora Orchestra
set out to build on their celebrated custom of memorising performances, experimenting with ways to make them immersive, so audiences can literally get amongst the players as they perform.

City of London Sinfonia
newly sought to involve audience members in each stage of the orchestra’s creative process, involving them in planning meetings, interactively in concerts, and evolving new feedback models afterwards.

London Sinfonietta
devised and delivered ‘Couch to Concert’, an initiative to entice absolute beginners to contemporary classical concerts, emulating the spirit of popular fitness regimes with listening challenges, training podcasts, and visual ‘route maps’ to complex works.

Scottish Ensemble
commissioned a series of filmmakers to collaborate with the musicians in developing a fresh filmic / cinematic language for classical music, highly distinct from streamed concert footage, to be shared online and through special screen and gallery partnerships.