The data shows that audiences for Outdoor Arts are local, drawn from their immediate hinterland. Profiles vary across the country, looking very different in coastal locations, rural settings, urban areas and so on. This evidence supports the idea that Outdoor Arts has the power to amplify a sense of community, and to change people’s perceptions of a place.
Some of the events featured in this report have used Audience Finder to explore these impacts in more depth, with a majority of their audiences reporting an increased sense of belonging, social connection and pride in their place. What also shines through is the value of Outdoor Arts as a celebratory and convivial experience. Social factors are important reasons for attending, with the majority of people wanting “to be entertained” and attending in larger groups than is typical across the arts. Still, though, people rate the quality of their experience itself very highly.
The Outdoor Arts events included here are of different scales, but taken together they attract high numbers of audiences, many of whom don’t often take part in other state-supported or commercial cultural activity. The festivals present a rich mixture of different experiences, created in a range of ways by artists from various disciplines. Many directly involve their community as volunteers and creative participants. This range and adaptability may help to explain why Outdoor Arts are particularly effective at engaging audiences in such diverse settings.
Over 6 months, The Audience Agency has been supporting 10 magnificent action-research projects as they ask how (or if) digital technology can bring communities and archives closer together.
Has the shift to working from home moved the goal posts for local arts attendance? Oliver Mantell has been considering the evidence of attendance at live arts events.