The Learning Diaries | From Participant to Attender

Supporting participants to become independent attenders...

Recently, I’ve been involved in a research project with The Greenwich Dance & Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance Partnership, which has looked at how community groups that participate in dance classes with the two organisations might increase their independent attendance to dance performances as audience members. We worked with a group of five to 11 year olds and their parents in Bellingham, and another group of older Vietnamese women from Woolwich.

In initial workshops we looked at their existing attitudes and any barriers they face in attending live dance shows. The groups then attended shows at the Southbank Centre and Sadler’s Wells respectively, plus we got to go along too to get a sense of the whole experience, pre, during and after. Through post-show discussions and interviews we explored their experiences and asked what might increase their attendance in the future.

Whilst the needs and interests of these groups are very specific to this project, some of the findings that arose reflect what we know more broadly about family audiences, older people and those for whom English is not a first language:

  • For families: shows ideally need to be short, easily accessible transport wise and interactive, and parents need plenty of information in advance about cost and age-appropriateness, and generally signposting to suitable events.
  • For the older Vietnamese ladies: cost is also a factor, as well as language barriers in understanding transport systems and preferring to go as a group, as the social experience was also very important to them.

Katie Windsor, Consultant - Learning & Participation