Kate Sanderson

Working Title of PhD: Audience development in UK theatre: an exploration of contemporary practice


  • Abigail Gilmore
  • Emma Martin
  • Simon Parry

Overview of PhD

Over the last 20 years, UK theatres have evolved a practice of ‘audience development’. This encompasses elements of marketing, programming, education and participation. My PhD explores how and why this practice has developed, how it is manifested in the current operational activity and strategic planning of theatres in the UK and what ‘successful audience development’ is.


I have worked in theatre for most of my career, beginning with marketing roles in small-scale arts centres, spending 10 years as Communications Director of West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds and, since 2009, working as a Partner and Consultant with Indigo Ltd, a small arts consultancy.

I have worked with a wide range of clients, often writing and consulting on audience development planning and strategy. This has included The MAC Belfast, Sheffield Theatres, Theatre Royal Wakefield and a number of Arts Council England-funded Strategic Touring projects. Alongside my consultancy work, I have trained, coached and spoken at many events for the Arts Marketing Association and UK Theatre.

Having started my career as a marketer and become a ‘audience development’ specialist, my PhD is an opportunity to reflect on that journey, on the industry context and the current state of play of ‘audience development’.


Email: kate@katesanderson.co.uk

LinkedIn: Kate Sanderson