About the programme

ACED, The Audience Centred Experience Design programme is a blueprint for change, co-designed by the Adeste Plus partnership using human centred design techniques adapted for an arts and cultural setting. It aims to address many common challenges of access and inclusion by developing an organisation's capacity to develop new ideas and services in direct response to their community, and especially to new audiences or participants.​

About Us

Adeste Plus is a project funded by the European Commission to trigger more innovative approaches to audience development and participatory practice. Many of the partners have been working together for a decade as a loose collective of organisations in Europe who champion a more people- and user-centred cultural sector. Adeste Plus is a project funded by the European Commission. The ACED process is one of the pivotal outputs of this project.

Developed in partnership

ACED was co-designed by the 15 Adeste Plus partners and has been road-tested with partner and other organisations and practitioners in 10 countries across Europe, over three years. Find out more here.

What problems are we trying to solve?

Europe has a rich cultural heritage and a bright creative future. But the benefits are not accessible to everyone, with a small minority of people enjoying the great majority of opportunities. This is a major challenge shared by countries throughout Europe. Meanwhile, some audiences are declining and not being replenished by younger audiences. Many cultural institutions are struggling with reductions in state funding and other economies in a post-COVID world. Staying relevant and sustainable in creative and ethical ways are also major challenges. They key is to work WITH our communities, our audiences, participants and stakeholders. We developed the Audience Centered Experience Design methodology to support cultural organisations to do this with confidence and flair. It means changing how we work but, by doing so, we believe we can overcome these challenges. We can ACED it!

Origins and background research

We adopted this model after carrying out Europe-wide research into the development of audience-centred practice in the cultural sector. We observed that many cultural organisations successful in attracting diverse audiences had instinctively adapted recognised innovation approaches and in particular design thinking to their engagement challenges to good effect.

We looked more closely at the conventions of human centred design, recognising its potential to tackle many obdurate challenges of audience development. We then developed a model which put the philosophy and selected practices of human centred design into the context of a cultural organisation. At the heart of ACED is an experience design cycle.

We then asked how these practices could be part of the way organisations work, everyday, just part of the "way we do things round here". We gradually added book-end preparation and legacy-planning processes. The idea here was to help organisations adopt human centred design as a way of solving audience challenges all the time, building people-audience considerations into how they plan. In short, we combined a simple a change management process with an adapted design approach to create a process blueprint for audience- or people-centred change.


The Adeste Plus ACED model is licensed for use under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International.

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