The public’s participation rate in performing arts has historically been low in many parts of the globe. The recent Arts Participation and Consumption Survey indicated that ‘lack of interest’ was the dominant reason for Hong Kong’s lack of participation in the arts, and that education had a tremendous impact on the population’s involvement in the arts. These data clearly demonstrate the significance of arts education as a driver to develop future audiences.
In Hong Kong, the nine major performing arts organizations (MPAOs) that are funded by the Hong Kong SAR Government share the role of shaping the performing arts landscape, and they advocate the development of performing arts through active engagement in outreach and education. Some key questions arising from the development of outreach and education include: What are the underlying ideologies of these outreach engagements? Do outreach and education engagements impact audience-building or increase audience size? This study aims to investigate the interplay between outreach engagement and audience development within the MPAOs through the lens of Kawashima’s (2000) conceptual framework of audience development. In addition to documentary analysis and fieldwork, the researcher purposively selected and interviewed the cultural leaders from these organizations. The findings of this study indicate that while outreach and education engagement by performing arts organizations may help achieve various educational goals, its direct impact on ticket selling is not easily quantifiable and may only occur in the long run. This study was concluded by a proposed conceptual framework on outreach and education in non-profit performing arts institutions which have embedded three dimensions, namely cognitive and affection, ethical and behavioural dimension. This study sheds new light on the future policymaking in arts and culture and the development of outreach and education in non-profit performing arts institutions, with far-reaching implications for other non-profit cultural organizations across the world.