How has the public’s relationship with the arts changed over recent years – how do we now consume the arts?
This synopsis of research by Dr Gretchen Larsen, lecturer in marketing at Bradford University School of Management, tested a framework depicting the relationship between the consumer’s self-concept, the symbolic properties of music and the consumption context. It looks at how people’s relationship with the arts has changed over time, from passive consumers to whom arts marketers presented information, to a more participatory audience, with a mixed range of motives for attending. Her work has focused on the consumption of live music, particularly at festivals and she was part of a team that gained ESRC funding to run a seminar series on ‘Rethinking Arts Marketing’
Conclusions and Implications
Widening our understanding of what constitutes consumption, from the decision-making process to the circle of consumption requires a more detailed and richer understanding of our consumers. This is of fundamental importance if we are going to work with our consumers to co-create a valuable experience. This requires a new way of thinking about the roles of audiences and consumers; it is no longer appropriate to consider them as passive recipients of artistic offerings; we need to understand our consumers, get involved with them and get involved with them to discover ways of co-creating a valuable consumption experience that is ultimately rewarding for the consumer, the artist and the organisation.
In order to know the consumer better and the kind of experiences they are having or seeking, we must move beyond descriptive quantitative surveys and conduct studies of enquiry. Surveys have their place, but at a policy and practitioner level, there is a crying need for qualitative research which provides detailed understanding of our consumers.