How to Develop a Public Program

Design public programs which are meaningful cultural experiences for new and existing audiences.

Public programs are a core way that galleries and museums engage with audiences and attract new visitors. When done well, public programs can make the museum or gallery feel like a welcoming place for everyone, reaching community members who might not otherwise attend. Such programs can make a genuine impact on community members, making people feel, think or behave in new ways. They can also demonstrate to funders and decision-makers the vital contribution that galleries and museums make to a region’s cultural vibrancy and social cohesion.

This guide is designed to help you devise public programs in a way which:

  • Are driven by data about your existing and potential audiences
  • Furthers the vision of the organisation
  • Makes a genuine difference to visitors’ lives

This guide is based on a process which Museums & Galleries of NSW (M&G NSW) and BYP Group designed and trialed with four galleries in 2017 as part of the development of their public programs for touring exhibitions Soft Core and Tracey Moffatt & Gary Hillberg’s Montages: The Full Cut 1999–2015. These public programs were delivered as part of the Engaging Art initiative. The four galleries were overwhelmingly positive about the process, leading M&G NSW to develop this resource to share the steps with the wider sector.

This resource was written by freelance evaluation, research and writing consultant Jackie Bailey, Principle at BYP Group as part of Museums & Galleries of NSW’s Engaging Art initiative.

Find out more about Engaging Art.

Find out more about BYP Group.

Engaging Art has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.