Researching audiences at outdoor events and festivals
The toolkit and guidelines for audiences at outdoor events and festival aim to provide a framework to measuring and evidencing the impact of an outdoor event. The guidelines provide practical advice for audience research at un-ticketed cultural festivals and other events in the following sections: research principles, data collection methods, evidencing success, estimating audience size, questionnaires and surveys, working with volunteers and assessing economic impact.
Let’s face it, capturing insight about audiences at any free event, let alone one in an outdoor setting, can be a challenge. Apart from anything else, it seems to run counter to what outdoor arts is about – incongruous in an
experience where audiences and participants are free to come and go as they please, to dip in and out on
their own terms. But art for free, in and around the places we live, work and visit, makes an increasingly
important contribution to our sense of wellbeing. If we are to be able to demonstrate that impact, we
need evidence. We also need to know whether or not we are meeting and exceeding public expectations.
If we don’t ask, and don’t do so meaningfully and rigorously, we run the risk of making the wrong
assumptions, believing our own myths, and losing that vital connection with community.