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Id 124
Author Bonet, L., ; Calvano, G., ; Carnelli, L., ; Dupin-Meynard, F., ; Négrier, M.,
Title Be SpectACTive! Challenging Participation in Performing Arts

Bonet, L.; Calvano, G.; Carnelli, L.; Dupin-Meynard, F. and Négrier, M. (Eds.) (2018). Be SpectACTive! Challenging Participation in Performing Arts. Perugia: Editoria & Spettacolo.

Keywords Active spectatorship; Audience engagement; Performing arts; Europe; Action research
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Abstract Be SpectACTive! is a European project based on audience development, involving organisations working on active spectatorship in contemporary performing arts. Its members are European festivals, theatres, universities and research centres. During four years, the network implemented various actions willing to develop audiences and citizen participation in artistic choices and creation processes, including participatory programming groups, participative residencies, and digital participation. These projects were accompanied by an action research and several practical and theoretical exchanges, including international conferences. This book intends to share the Be SpectACTive! collective adventure, giving a voice to artistic directors, artists, participants and researchers who have been involved in the projects, describing, through case studies and reflections, their successes, limits and perspectives.

Metodology The main methodology adopted is Action-Research. The research team of the Be SpectACTive! project - formed by the University of Barcelona, the University of Montpellier, the CNRS and Fondazione Fitzcarraldo - has carried out an action research over 4 years (from 2014 to 2018) in the venues of the member festivals and theatre and dance organisations of Be SpectACTive! The research team adopted a wide range of techniques - close, regular, individual and collective contacts with relevant actors; interviews; questionnaires; informal exchanges; participant observation, etc. - to get insights on the participatory projects developed within the project. The researchers investigated the main programs developed by member performing arts organisations, such as: Participatory Programming (active spectators select the programming); Creative Residencies (based on the interaction among artists and groups of local audience, specifically targeted on to the topics of the shows to be produced); the Web Platform (an interactive web system shared by spectators and artists, allowing the former ones to follow the artists’ creative processes); the European Spectators Day (a format to foster the encounter between audiences and communities spread in different European cities through the use of online tools).

Findings The book reflects the many tensions that the introduction of a participative project generates in places, creators/artists, curators, producers, and in the spectators themselves. The polysemy of the term “participation” certainly opens to a broad spectrum of practices. On the one hand, some stakeholders only engage in a modest, if not non-existent, level of audience empowerment. On the other hand, some projects are totally based on the subversion of the classic relations between supply and demand (i.e. artistic sovereignty upon audiences expectations). The book shows the potential and limits that participatory instruments represented for artists, cultural institutions and audiences. In the conclusions, researchers analysed the challenges of participation in performing arts according to four different dimensions: organizational challenges; sociological challenges; the role of artists within participatory interactions; and the challenge of quality in participatory projects.
Open Access YES
Search Database Researcher knowledge
Technique Interview; Questionnaire; Participant observation
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