Advertisement

Understanding Audiences: A Critical Review of Audience Research

  • Ben WalmsleyEmail author
Chapter
  • 234 Downloads
Part of the New Directions in Cultural Policy Research book series (NDCPR)

Abstract

This chapter provides a critical overview of the existing literature on audience research and audience engagement. It surveys the seminal contributions to the rapidly emerging field of audience studies and classifies its recurrent themes into the following categories: the pacification of audiences; power, elitism and class; cultural policy, participation and co-creation; immersive performance; performance venues, spaces and places; performance as ritual; reception theory and semiotics; research methodologies; the audience experience; value and impact research; young audiences; arts marketing and management; audience engagement and enrichment. The aim of this taxonomy is to inform a new paradigm for audience studies in the context of the performing arts.

References

  1. Alston, A. 2016. Beyond immersive theatre: Aesthetics, politics and productive participation. London, Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arts and Humanities Research Council. 2013. Cultural Value Project [Internet]. London, Arts and Humanities Research Council. Available from: http://www.ahrc.ac.uk/Funded-Research/Funded-themes-and-programmes/Cultural-Value-Project/Pages/default.aspx [Accessed 25 June].
  3. Auslander, P. 2008. Liveness: Performance in a mediatized culture. 2nd ed. Oxon, Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barker, M. 2006. I have seen the future and it is not here yet …; or, on being ambitious for audience research. The Communication Review, 9(2), pp. 123–141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Barker, M. and Mathijs, E. 2016. Introduction: The World Hobbit Project. Participations [Online], 13(2), pp. 158–174.Google Scholar
  6. Barrett, M. 2015. Diversity and social engagement: Cultivating a working class theatre audience. In: ENCACT (ed.) The ecology of culture: Community engagement, co-creation, cross-fertilization. Lecce, ENCACT, pp. 47–61.Google Scholar
  7. Baxter, L., O’Reilly, D. and Carnegie, E. 2013. Innovative methods of inquiry into arts engagement. In: Radbourne, J., Glow, H. and Johanson, K. (eds.) The audience experience: A critical analysis of audiences in the performing arts. Bristol, Intellect, pp. 113–128.Google Scholar
  8. Ben Chaim, D. 1984. Distance in the theatre: The aesthetics of audience response. London, Ann Arbor.Google Scholar
  9. Bennett, S. 1997. Theatre audiences: A theory of production and reception. 2nd ed. London, Routledge.Google Scholar
  10. Berlyne, D. E. 1971. Aesthetics and psychobiology. New York, Appleton.Google Scholar
  11. Blau, H. 1990. The audience. Baltimore, The John Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Bleeker, M. and Germano, I. 2014. Perceiving and believing: An enactive approach to spectatorship. Theatre Journal, 66, pp. 363–383.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Bourdieu, P. 1991. The love of art: European art museums and their public. Stanford, CA, Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Bourriaud, N. 2002. Relational aesthetics. Dijon, Les Presses du Réel.Google Scholar
  15. Brand, G., Sloboda, J., Saul, B. and Hathaway, M. 2012. The reciprocal relationship between jazz musicians and audiences in live performances: A pilot qualitative study. Psychology of Music, 40(5), pp. 634–651.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Brown, A. 2013. All the world’s a stage: Venues and settings, and their role in shaping patterns of arts participation. In: Radbourne, J., Glow, H. and Johanson, K. (eds.) The audience experience: A critical analysis of audiences in the performing arts. Bristol, Intellect, pp. 49–66.Google Scholar
  17. Brown, A. S. 2006. An architecture of value. Grantmakers in the Arts Reader, 17(1), pp. 18–25.Google Scholar
  18. Brown, A. S. and Novak, J. L. 2007. Assessing the intrinsic impacts of a live performance. San Francisco, WolfBrown.Google Scholar
  19. Brown, A. S. and Ratzkin, R. 2011. Making sense of audience engagement: A critical assessment of efforts by nonprofit arts organizations to engage audiences and visitors in deeper and more impactful arts experiences. San Francisco, The San Francisco Foundation.Google Scholar
  20. Brown, D. 2011. The 21st century venue. In: Walmsley, B. (ed.) Key issues in the arts and entertainment industry. Oxford, Goodfellow, pp. 103–121.Google Scholar
  21. Burland, K. and Pitts, S. 2012. Rules and expectations of jazz gigs. Social Semiotics, 22(5), pp. 523–543.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Butsch, R. 2008. The citizen audience: Crowds, publics, and individuals. New York, Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Colbert, F. 2011. Management of the arts. In: Towse, R. (ed.) A handbook of cultural economics. 2nd ed. Cheltenham, Edward Elgar, pp. 261–265.Google Scholar
  24. Conner, L. 2004. Who gets to tell the meaning? Building audience enrichment. GIA Reader [Online], 15(1).Google Scholar
  25. Conner, L. 2013. Audience engagement and the role of arts talk in the digital era. New York, Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Csikszentmihalyi, M. 1988. The flow experience and its significance for human psychology. In: Csikszentmihalyi, M. and Csikszentmihalyi, I. S. (eds.) Optimal experience: Psychological studies of flow in consciousness. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, pp. 15–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Dearn, L. K. and Pitts, S. E. 2017. (Un)popular music and young audiences: Exploring the classical chamber music concert from the perspective of young adult listeners. Journal of Popular Music Education, 1(1), pp. 43–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. De Marinis, M. 1987. Dramaturgy of the spectator. The Drama Review, 31(2), pp. 100–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Ehrenreich, B. 2007. Dancing in the streets: A history of collective joy. London, Granta.Google Scholar
  30. Fisher, J. W. 2003. Audience participation in the eighteenth-century London theatre In: Kattwinkel, S. (ed.) Audience participation: Essays on inclusion in performance. Westport, CT, Praeger, pp. 55–69.Google Scholar
  31. Freshwater, H. 2009. Theatre & audience. London, Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Glow, H. 2013. Challenging cultural authority: A case study in participative audience engagement. In: Radbourne, J., Glow, H. and Johanson, K. (eds.) The audience experience: A critical analysis of audiences in the performing arts. Bristol, Intellect, pp. 35–48.Google Scholar
  33. Golden, L. 1973. The purgation theory of catharsis. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 31(4), pp. 473–491.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hall, E. 2010. Greek tragedy: Suffering under the sun. Oxford, Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Heim, C. L. 2012. ‘Argue with us!’: Audience co-creation through post-performance discussions. New Theatre Quarterly, 28(2), pp. 189–197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Heim, C. 2016. Audience as performer: The changing role of theatre audiences in the Twenty-First Century. London and New York, Routledge.Google Scholar
  37. Jancovich, L. 2011. Great art for everyone? Engagement and participation policy in the arts. Cultural Trends, 20(3–4), pp. 271–279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kattwinkel, S. 2003. Introduction. In: Kattwinkel, S. (ed.) Audience participation: Essays on inclusion in performance. Westport, CT, Praeger, pp. ix–xviii.Google Scholar
  39. Keaney, E. and Oskala, A. 2007. The golden age of the arts? Taking Part survey findings on older people and the arts. Cultural Trends, 16(4), pp. 323–355.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Knowles, R. 2010. Theatre and interculturalism. London, Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Kolesch, D., Schütz, T. and Nikoleit, S. (eds.) 2019. Staging spectators in immersive performance. Oxon and New York, Routledge.Google Scholar
  42. Konijn, E. A. 1999. Spotlight on spectators: Emotions in the theatre. Discourse Processes, 28(2), pp. 169–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Machon, J. 2013. Immersive theatres: Intimacy and immediacy in contemporary performance. London, Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. McCarthy, K. F., Ondaatje, E. H., Zakaras, L. and Brooks, A. 2004. Gifts of the muse: Reframing the debate about the benefits of the arts. Santa Monica, CA, RAND.Google Scholar
  45. McConachie, B. 2008. Engaging audiences: A cognitive approach to spectating in the theatre. New York, Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. O’Brien, D., Brook, O. and Taylor, M. 2018. Panic! Social class, taste and inequalities in the creative industries. London, Arts and Humanities Research Council.Google Scholar
  47. O’Toole, J., Adams, R.-J., Anderson, M., Burton, B. and Ewing, R. (eds.) 2014. Young audiences, theatre and the cultural conversation. Dordrecht, Springer.Google Scholar
  48. Piber, M. and Chiaravalloti, F. 2011. Ethical implications of methodological settings in arts management research: The case of performance evaluation. The Journal of Arts Management, Law, and Society, 41, pp. 240–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Pitts, S. E. 2005. What makes an audience? Investigating the roles and experiences of listeners at a chamber music festival. Music and Letters, 86(2), pp. 257–269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Popovici, V. 1984. Is the stage-audience relationship a form of dialogue? Poetics, 13(1–2), pp. 111–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Radbourne, J. 2013. Converging with audiences. In: Radbourne, J., Glow, H. and Johanson, K. (eds.) The audience experience: A critical analysis of audiences in the performing arts. Bristol, Intellect, pp. 143–158.Google Scholar
  52. Radbourne, J., Glow, H. and Johanson, K. 2010. Measuring the intrinsic benefits of arts attendance. Cultural Trends, 19(4), pp. 307–324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Radbourne, J., Glow, H. and Johanson, K. (eds.) 2013. The audience experience: A critical analysis of audiences in the performing arts. Bristol, Intellect.Google Scholar
  54. Radbourne, J., Johanson, K., Glow, H. and White, T. 2009. The audience experience: measuring quality in the performing arts. International Journal of Arts Management, 11(3), pp. 16–29.Google Scholar
  55. Reason, M. 2008. Did you watch the man or did you watch the goose? Children’s responses to puppets in live theatre. New Theatre Quarterly, 24(4), pp. 337–354.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Reason, M. 2010. Asking the audience: Audience research and the experience of theatre. About Performance 10, pp. 15–34.Google Scholar
  57. Reason, M. 2019. A prison audience: Women prisoners, Shakespeare and spectatorship. Cultural Trends, 28(2–3), pp. 86–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Reinelt, J. G. 2014. What UK spectators know: Understanding how we come to value theatre. Theatre Journal, 66(3), pp. 337–361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Rentschler, R., Radbourne, J., Carr, R. and Rickard, J. 2001. Relationship marketing, audience retention and performing arts organisation viability. International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing, 7(2), pp. 118–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Reynolds, D. and Reason, M. (eds.) 2011. Kinesthetic empathy in creative and cultural practices. Bristol, Intellect.Google Scholar
  61. Sauter, W. 2000. The theatrical event: Dynamics of performance and perception. Iowa City, University of Iowa Press.Google Scholar
  62. Schechner, R. 2003. Performance theory. 2nd ed. London, Routledge.Google Scholar
  63. Schoenmakers, H. 1990. The spectator in the leading role: Developments in reception and audience research within theatre studies. In: Sauter, W. (ed.) New directions in theatre research. Stockholm and Copenhagen, Munksgaard, Nordic Theatre Studies, pp. 93–106.Google Scholar
  64. Sedgman, K. 2016. Locating the audience: How people found value in National Theatre Wales. Bristol, Intellect.Google Scholar
  65. Sedgman, K. 2017. Audience experience in an anti-expert age: A survey of theatre audience research. Theatre Research International, 42(3), pp. 307–322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Sedgman, K. 2018. The reasonable audience: Theatre etiquette, behaviour policing, and the live performance experience. London, Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Sedgman, K. Forthcoming. On rigour in theatre audience research. Contemporary Theatre Review. Google Scholar
  68. Silvia, P. J. 2005. Emotional responses to art: From collation and arousal to cognition and emotion. Review of General Psychology, 9(4), pp. 342–357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Turner, V. 1975. Dramas, fields, and metaphors: Symbolic action in human society. Ithaca and London, Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  70. Turner, V. 1982. From ritual to theatre: The human seriousness of play. New York, PAJ.Google Scholar
  71. Walmsley, B. 2011. Why people go to the theatre: A qualitative study of audience motivation. Journal of Customer Behaviour, 10(4), pp. 335–351.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Walmsley, B. 2013a. ‘A big part of my life’: A qualitative study of the impact of theatre. Arts Marketing: An International Journal, 3(1), pp. 73–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Walmsley, B. 2013b. Co-creating theatre: Authentic engagement or inter-legitimation? Cultural Trends, 22(2), pp. 108–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Walmsley, B. 2016. From arts marketing to audience enrichment: How digital engagement can deepen and democratize artistic exchange with audiences. Poetics, 58, pp. 66–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Walmsley, B. 2019. The death of arts marketing: A paradigm shift from consumption to enrichment. Arts and the Market, 9(1), pp. 32–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Walmsley, B. Forthcoming. Theatre fans: A typology of serious leisure seekers. In: Sedgman, K. (ed.) Theatre fandom. Iowa City, University of Iowa Press. Google Scholar
  77. White, G. 2013. Audience participation in theatre: Aesthetics of the invitation. Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. White, T. R. and Hede, A.-M. 2008. Using narrative inquiry to explore the impact of art on individuals. Journal of Arts Management, Law and Society, 38(1), pp. 19–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Wright, D. 2015. Understanding cultural taste: Sensation, skill and sensibility. London, Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School Performance Cultural IndustriesUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK

Personalised recommendations