I’m in Kannsas City for a TCG gathering about audience engagement that has sort of morphed into a gathering about working across institutional lines. Now this is a topic I’m thoroughly interested in, but not quite what I expected. It’ll probably be great, but one thing I’d been hoping to do here was get some input on a definition of audience engagement I’ve been working on. Since that may no longer fit in here in KC, I’m posting it here in 2amt for comments.
Audience Engagement refers to an unruly grouping of lore and practice in the making and framing of art which aims both to attract people (perhaps more people, a greater diversity of people, or people with particular things in common) to experience a work of art and to deepen their experiences leading them to remember it more fully, derive greater value from it, or commit more fully to advancing the agenda of the work.
Popular practices within the grouping include instances of communication with the audience in advance of the core artistic experience intended to better prepare them, characteristics of the art itself which are intended to make it more engaging, and communication with the audience after the experience intended to reinforce the artistic experience.
Audience Engagement further refers to the outcome of the audience’s journey through this arc of experiences. Audience members who gain and retain a powerful emotional and intellectual set of responses to the work of art are said to have been successfully engaged.
The dual nature of Audience Engagement – both ‘Get them there’ and ‘Make them care’ – contains a seed of inherent conflict inside arts institutions since those two goals are often assigned to different departments who respond to different metrics and often view each other as fierce internal rivals for institutional resources and respect. Given that conflict, the focus on cohort building here in KC makes good sense.
Self ordained chaplain of the American theatre.