Spike Island

Spike Island becomes lead partner in audience study set to boost contemporary arts in the UK

Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the research is investigating what value the contemporary arts have to those who engage with them. It will look to define contemporary arts audiences and the challenges organisations face in encouraging people to engage with new or experimental art works.

The project, led by Professor Stephanie Pitts from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Music, is working with arts organisations across the UK to develop and test audience development strategies. Spike Island is to be a lead partner in the study.

It is now looking for additional contemporary arts organisations to join the study, which could help them attract new audiences.

The study, by the University of Sheffield's Performer and Audience Research Centre in collaboration with Newcastle University, aims to help arts organisations develop new strategies to recruit and retain new audience members.

The study will culminate in the production of a handbook, which will be freely shared with arts organisations across the country, with practical advice on implementing the findings in their own marketing, programming and audience development strategies.

Professor Pitts added: “Our project is looking to help contemporary artists in two ways: The first phase of the study will investigate the attitudes and experiences of existing and potential audiences at contemporary arts venues. The second phase will put these findings into action by working with arts organisations to help them attract new audiences.”

As part of the project, the University of Sheffield-led research team will be working with lead partners in the arts to recruit a large number of arts organisations in order to gain a detailed insight into their audiences and build a network of contemporary arts organisations across the country. Chosen to cover a diversity of cities, organisations and art forms, lead partners in the project are

  • Spike Island (Bristol)
  • Birmingham Contemporary Music Group
  • Bush Theatre (London)
  • Bluecoat (Liverpool)

Briefing sessions will be held within the next few months to launch the project in each city. Contemporary arts organisations that are interested in attending a launch event or contributing to the study can contact the research team via: sparc@sheffield.ac.uk

Additional information

For more information on the Sheffield Performer and Audience Research Centre at the University of Sheffield, please visit: http://sparc.dept.shef.ac.uk/

Download a copy of the press release