What’s new in the International Journal of Arts Management: Jennifer Radbourne on audience metrics

In the IJAM, a team led by Jennifer Radbourne reports the findings of a fascinating study entitled “The Audience Experience: Measuring Quality in the Performing Arts.” 

We propose that the “quality” of an artistic performance can be defined by the individual audience member’s personal definition of quality based on her or his experience of the performance.

The Audience Experience:
Measuring Quality
in the Performing Arts

There’s some highly valuable insights from the group of focus groups that they conducted. For instance, Radbourne’s team probes the idea of knowledge and risk in watching a performance:

Non-attender A: “I was amazed the audience [was] raptured at the end . . . and I thought, what for? . . . I heard some people, when . . . we were in the queue going in, talking about him, so he’s obviously renowned. Clearly, I missed that.”

Non-attender B: “It’s just that thing of everyone sitting down and . . . that’s why I find live performance quite difficult. . . . When people started laughing . . . it’s, like, are they in the know? . . . Did they know the people, did they know stuff about the play? I mean, I don’t know anything about it . . . I didn’t know he wrote plays.” 

On risk:

Non-attender A: “You pay $50 [for a theatre ticket] – that’s a big night out for me . . . If I’m outlaying a lot of money, I want a guaranteed good night, and if it’s a band, then . . . that’s going to be a guarantee, but generally I wouldn’t take a punt on it for that amount of money.”

Non-attender B: “But that’s what live performance or theatre is. It’s not free – it’s a gamble.”

There’s plenty of other insights in the piece, which is published in the current edition of IJAM, with the following citation:

Jennifer Radbourne, Katya Johanson, Hilary Glow, Tabitha White (2009) The Audience Experience: Measuring Quality in the Performing Arts. International Journal of Arts Management 11(3), Spring 2009: 16-29

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