The “three faces of time” in arts participation

An interesting post by Ben Eltham on his Cultural Policy blog. Venues in particular must face up to the challenge of becoming more than just a space to hire if they want to attract and retain the next generation of arts participants.

As institutions, they have a responsibility to work closely with performance-makers to change the nature of the audience experience, reflecting what audiences want and need today.

This may mean that younger audiences like the bar open later, sofa seating and table service; middle-aged audiences need help with child-care, earlier start times for performances and longer, more sociable intervals; more senior audiences prefer comfortable seating with good leg-room, well-lit aisles, and easy parking or transport options…

These are the concerns of the venue, not the artistic company, and if venues want to survive, they’ve got to step up to the post and show some real leadership on these challenging problems.

A Cultural Policy Blog

Andries van den Broek has a really cool new paper in Cultural Trends this year. It’s entitled “Arts participation and the three faces of time: A reflection on disentangling the impact of life stage, period and socialization on arts participation, exemplified by an analysis of the US arts audience

It’s a really neat way of thinking about the temporal aspects of culture, and completely original as far as I know (though van der Broek points out that analysis of generational cohorts goes back to Comte).

Here’s a taste of his argument:

This is the history of the arts participation of a fictitious character, Pete. At the end of 2013, he’ll be 50 years of age, which implies he was born in 1963. He is not particularly keen on visual arts or theatre, though he visits the odd exhibition and performance. He is more into rock concerts, but also attends the occasional classical music concert…

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