Audience Engagement and Participation
Description: This course embraces the fact that the relationship between arts organizations and their audiences is changing. The arts organization developed during or prior to the 20th century must meet the expectations of a 21st century patron. To do so, the industrial age models of artistic delivery are adapting to a technology-infused, social landscape. The relationship is no longer paternal. Increasingly arts organizations are serving “prosumers” in a climate where patrons come to arts events armed with (or at least an ability the ability to bring) an expertise to the experience previously unattainable without degrees in the field. In addition, studies have demonstrated that the process of attending an artistic event begins much earlier and extends much later than the actual event itself – a process ignored by most arts organizations. Finally, arts organizations are increasingly recognizing their role in their community has shifted from that of a delivery vehicle of material from a position of expert to that of a community member and co-creator of the current and future artistic enterprise in their patrons’ cultural landscape. Organized in a self-curated, seminar format, the course provides the student with an immersion into history, frameworks, theories and practices of creating audience engagement and / or active participation programs. Discussion will also address the need in the 21st century for cultivating a shift in an organization culture to fully embrace this change in audience relationships. As the field is adapting quickly to new audience demands, the course will focus on current leaders in the engagement field as they develop and analyze the various forces that created each unique program.
Learning Outcomes: • Understand the shifting relationship between arts organizations and audiences including the social, technologic, economic, and cultural practices that frame the current changes. • Account the trends in the US in both consumption and participation in the arts • Be able to compare and contrast theories of both online and live forms of audience engagement and participation • Understand how organization systems and structures can either support or diminish long term engagement success • Create a rudimentary audience engagement program for an organization • Evaluate the path from institution through artistic creation to distribution into audience engagement, attendance and participation • Understand the evaluation frameworks for successful engagement and their relationship to overall organization success.