Professional Empowerment Strategy
The Audience Development Professional Empowerment Strategy aimed at providing a model able to engage several people in the activities by the dance companies involved in the Clash! Project. For each partner, the purpose was to find a method to increase the involvement of the already existing audience and to support the development of a new public from their own territories. The strategy worked on offering tools and training for the spectator to allow the local community to participate more actively at the dance companies’ events, supporting the inclusion of the dance practices in their everyday life. In this sense, the team of scholars from the Sapienza University of Rome advised the partners on three possible actions to enable the involvement of the audience in their activities: a warm-up for the spectator; a lecture-performance; or a practical dance workshop. According to these premises, partners carried Internal National Seminars with the aim of preparing the activities and decide through team discussions how the next Clash! Audience Development Workshops should be delivered to specific target groups. 420People, coordinator of the Audience Development Activities, designed as supervisor of this research Petra Kašparpová, who led the partner in this process of investigation.
Audience Development Activities have been designed to respond to the following questions: How is dance performance ‘viewed’, ‘witnessed’ and ‘experienced’? What elements of a dance performance can be changed to vary audience experience? How can we re-engage the audience as an active participant in the creation of meaning? Is it possible to disengage the proscenium arch as a mechanism of passive viewing and re-define the theatre as a place of dialogue between audience and performance? One of the main problems encountered by the dance companies involved in the Clash! Project is that the language of contemporary dance seems to appear often as difficult or abstract to the audience. To its extent, partners want to test an Audience Development Strategy based on the involvement of spectators to get them closer to the possibilities of naming and understanding the so-called intangible heritage of contemporary choreographic dance pieces. The overall aim was to understand how to allow a general audience to have access to dance tacit knowledge. For this reason, Audience Development Activity foreseed the following specific tasks.
From autumn 2019, all partner organizations had the task to make a short audience development research. The aim was to receive measurable data, analyse similarities and variations in the contemporary dance field from the 5 different countries. By comparing the feedback from the public of the 5 distinct dance companies, the inquiry into the audience was based on a common discussion about relevant information that would be beneficial for the consecutive Audience Development Activities. All partners used the same structure of the questionnaire and distributed it either online to its community or live after their performances. Then, they analysed the outcomes and gathered new insights on who are their spectators and what are their expectations from a dance performance. This research supported the design of a specific Audience Development Strategy for each partner on which they based the development of Clash! Audience Development Workshops.
The main idea behind the Audience Development Professional Empowerment Strategy as part of Clash! project was to provide a guideline that would allow partners to approach specific activities individually while understanding the uniqueness of their own organization. Audience Development Workshops have been planned to be an integral testing activity on new and upgraded Audience Development Strategies for all partners. These events were supposed to take place from February till May 2020. Almost all the partners had their live workshops already scheduled, some of them also had the chance to make them happen, but unfortunately, because of the pandemic of COVID-19, others were forced to readapt them. Since the emergency and related restrictions proceeded individually in each country, by reflecting on the connections between communication and audience development strategy partners found during the Internal National Seminars on these themes, they choose to implement their Audience Development Strategy into online activities playing a common interactive action.
Each partner had to follow a simple structure for the whole process of research on the Audience Development Strategy (internal seminar, research, workshops, online actions). At the same time, they were encouraged to brainstorm and plan events thinking of potential risks and benefits for their specific organizations and related communities. The exchange among partners on internal and external feedback led the choice to schedule collateral activities for the Clash! Hybrid Festival. The strategy of sharing best practices from experienced Audience Development Activities has been a crucial approach to compare similarities and differences from the researches outcome. At the end of the project, Audience Development Activities and their results will be presented in a final conference as an important conclusion on what has been achieved on this issue thanks to the Clash! project.
Click down on a picture and discover how each
dance company developed its own Audience Development Strategy