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25th February 2013 Sara Lock

Action research on effective public engagement

By: Erica Whyman


Is the way we communicate about culture doing more harm than good? This report looks at a piece of research performed across ten arts organisations in Newcastle and Gateshead, which tested theories about public engagement. It focuses on the Culture Window campaign, which encouraged families to try out new arts experiences.

I am a theatre director and I therefore have a lifelong interest in audiences. I was very impressed with Andy’s keynote [morning keynote – see above] because it  chimes with what we are trying to do at Northern Stage and also because it  fascinates me how we are trying to make sense of cultural experiences, especially in this century where audiences are more aware and more able to tell us what they like or don’t like about our work.

So I’m going to ask a couple of provocative questions. Then we are going to have a  look at a couple of case studies which I’ve led with extraordinary colleagues, some of  whom are here, who will put me right.

This is the question: Is the way we communicate about culture doing more harm than good?

I appreciate that this is a naughty question to make in this room, because you are all extraordinary people and in my experience, persuading people to come to the arts is  the hardest job and deeply demoralising so I salute you.

Published:2013

Smart tags: public engagement participation families experience engage engagement collaboration attendance action research

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