Language can be deceptive.
When you say the word audience it is easy to see them as one body. In reality, any audience is composed of multiple segments that have very different needs and may be in your space for very different reasons.
Let's use an example:
Over the weekend, the first major Comic-Con convention of the year took place. If you wanted an example of what a true cultural event looks like, then you should have been in San Diego over the weekend.
The Comic-Con events are places where fans of video games, comics, etc. come together. I think it also gives us a look at the future of audience development.
The audience at Comic-Con are made up of cultures and sub cultures. You've got your fans of the Avenger movie, and your fans of the Avenger Comic, and the people who know the in-depth origins of all the Avenger heroes, and the people who are fans of the guys who do the ink on the Avengers comic.
Deeper and deeper levels of fandom, all served by one event.
Any one of these groups alone might not be enough to sustain the Comic-Con event, but when you add all those groups together - sort of like a layer cake - you get something special.
When I'm thinking about the audience I'm looking for at my day job, I think about it layers:
Layer 1 are the folks who may be fans of the subject matter of the play. I need a plan to reach them.
Layer 2 are the people who live in the local neighborhood.
Layer 3 are the people who are fans of the institution itself, no matter where they may live.
Layer 4 may be people who get their information from the traditional press, i.e. theatre critics and feature articles.
Those four layers together equal up to an audience that is large enough to accomplish the organization's goals.
They have different motivations for coming. Some come because they love the director or the actors. Others come because they see it as their way of supporting the neighborhood . . . it's a civic pride thing. I've got to be able to speak to all those different needs.
So do you.
If your audience feels stagnant, maybe that just means you need to add a new layer. Maybe you need to focus more on local/neighborhood marketing. Maybe you need to promote the values of your organization as much as you do the programming.
Those additional layers can lead to something special.