What’s the story? #ADA
Tamsin Flower finds new ways of telling people's stories by the beat of a drum as part of her work with the renowned percussionist Evelyn Glennie. Part of her Fellowship at the Audience Diversity Academy.
Early into the Audience Diversity Academy (ADA) Fellowship, I have settled my attention on tapping into Evelyn’s audiences aged 15-25 yrs. I could hear my conversations with magic mentor, Rachel Grossman, returning to this target group for two reasons.
Firstly, they are the future legacy-keepers, the storytellers and curators of Evelyn’s music and archive collection.
Secondly, I identified a potential gap between the robust amount of younger adults engaging with Evelyn’s social media and website and the number attending live performances and ‘In-conversation’ events during 2018. This gap is still a relatively unknown frontier in terms of audience data. I do however, have a direct line to Evelyn’s collaborators who can give word-of-mouth accounts of who their audiences are and how they behave!
Following Rachel’s workshop ‘Working Scrappily’ I bashed out a plan for my first ‘experiment’ – to engage audiences aged 15-25 in the most direct, cost/time efficient way. The workshop brought me back to the genius of ‘play.’ Playful working or adaptable creativity produces the best ideas. We know this yet often ignore it in offices. The concept of ‘working scrappily’ without planning every detail or clinging to heavy expectations, gives ADA Fellows permission to employ trial and error and consequently witness the wins of risk-taking more quickly than UK work-culture might ordinarily allow.
The quickest way to reach Evelyn’s younger audiences is evidently, online. I instinctively felt that a conceptual crossover between live and digital was needed to make Scrappy Experiment no 1. relevant. The ‘destination Postcard’ – a visual indicator of success, introduced in the ‘Scrappy’ workshop, looked like a group of young people interacting enthusiastically and directly with Evelyn’s music making and creating a trail of online content about it post the event.
I know people value immediacy or at least the illusion of immediacy…as there’s something voyeuristic about it. This thinking resulted in a Surprise ‘Interactive Opportunity’ for the students of Homerton College, Cambridge and the family festival audiences attending the Cambridge college’s 250 year anniversary celebration, which as a Fellow, Evelyn happened to be already booked for. Collaborating with the college’s comms’ team on ‘intrigue’ posting/tweeting, informing students of a time, place and the invitation to participate in a unique ‘interactive opportunity’ was part of this. A hashtag, inferring the nature of the event was shared #BeatingBarriers with the instruction to set phones to fb live-feed.
The end of this story is that Evelyn delivered a superb interactive outreach session to a sizeable majority audience of families, children and a small cohort of undergraduate students. This was widely viewed and very positively engaged with on and offline. The experience has ‘drummed home’ to me the ease with which events happen if effective partnerships are in place. In terms of branding, reintroducing the online public to the facet of Evelyn that engages the next generation of sound creators, was realised. The company has a new collection of beautiful photo assets, featuring audience reactions and young audience interviews will be broadcast by the regional BBC station as part of a flagship Classical programme.
The result looked like a group of young people interacting enthusiastically and directly with Evelyn’s music making. But, and I have just enjoyed guffawing around this fact during my post-experiment check-in with Rachel, the desired group of 15-25 year olds were not very present!
Regardless, the experiment has set some big thought wheels in motion that are hurtling towards refined goals, approaches and, excitingly, a new process.