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Empowering Audiences to Measure Quality

Volume 7, Issue 2, November 2010

November 12, 201412 November 2014

Arts participation and engagement

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Based on in-depth interviews with marketing managers from four Australian performing arts organizations, this article proposes four key indicators of the quality of audience experience in the performing arts: knowledge transfer or learning, risk management, authenticity, and collective engagement.

The four indicators, which the authors group into their “Arts Audience Experience Index”, include the following elements:

  • Knowledge transfer or learning involves “contextual programming, visual enhancements, program information, pre-show or conductor talks or meet the director after-the-show talks”.
  • Risk management encompasses a “commitment to managing risk, through program knowledge, previews, comfort and accessibility, personalised communication, quality guarantee expectation, value for money”.
  • Authenticity involves elements such as the “capacity to achieve believability, meaning and representation”, “sincerity”, a match between promotional information and the performance, and the performers’ relationship with the audience.
  • Collective engagement includes meeting expectations of “social contact and inclusion”, such as appropriate “interaction or understanding between performers and audience”, “discussion after the performance”, and more.

The article argues that “deep feedback” (such as a facilitated, in-depth dialogue that allows for thoughtful, heartfelt input from audience members) can empower audiences to measure the quality of their experiences: “measurement of the audience’s sense of authentic experience, collective engagement, risk and knowledge requires feedback that is qualitative and thorough, and that encourages sustained reflection”. However, the paper also notes that “methods for soliciting deep feedback should vary from one company to another, depending on the target audience, company mission, and the status of each of the four quality indicators in relation to this mission”.

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