Summing up A Suitcase of Methods

A Suitcase of Methods is going into its final phase, and it is time to look back and sum up what we have done and what we have learned.

We are ready with our report #17 Vulnerability & Relationship, which will be the second to last report in the project. Here you can get an overview of our surveys and projects and learn more about why our findings point at vulnerability and relationship as findamental values when working analytically with audiences and when trying to implement this knowledge in creative organizations.

Read the Danish version of our Report #17 (Sårbarhed og relation) here and the English version here.

Publikumsudvikling – om det komplekse begreb og den svære balance

[This post is in Danish as it introduces a Danish article]

Publikumsudvikling som begreb bliver mere og mere brugt og udbredt. Samtidig bliver den specifikke betydning tilsyneladende stadig mere uklar. Måske er det også derfor, at Birgitte Holt Nielsen fra den Jyske Opera i en aktuel artikel kalder begrebet for forfærdeligt. Derudover ligger der i ordet en lidt forældet forestilling om, at organisationerne ved mere og skal udvikle et publikum i en retning, så de lærer at holde af de produkter, organisationen tilbyder dem. Den tænkning har de fleste kulturorganisationer udviklet sig væk fra, og publikumsudvikling indbefatter nu ofte alt fra out reach-programmer og -initiativer til publikumsdata og publikumskontakt.

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I A Suitcase of Methods og på Det Kongelige Teater taler vi dog mere om publikumsfokuseret arbejde, hvilket understreger, at det handler om, at vi har publikum i tankerne, når vi arbejder med scenekunst. Ikke for at give dem præcis hvad de vil have, men for at øge vores forståelse for, hvem vores publikum er, og hvilke oplevelser vi giver dem, når de sidder i auditoriet eller på anden måde er i kontakt med teatret.

Iscene har i samarbejde med Applaus skrevet en artikel om publikumsudvikling, hvor jeg sammen med Michael Bojesen fra Malmö Opera og Birgitte Holt Nielsen fra Den Jyske Opera beskriver, hvordan vi på Det Kongelige Teater og i A Suitcase of Methods arbejder med begrebet. Find artiklen her

 

Reading Right Now #6: RethinkIMPACTS

– The evaluation of Aarhus as European Capital of Culture 2017

Evaluating cultural events is always challenging. But evaluating the impact of an entire year of cultural initiatives, performances, shows etc. can seem almost impossible. Nevertheless this is what the new report RethinkIMPACTS2017 aims to do, and therefore it is profoundly interesting for The Suitcase, and it is what we are ‘reading right now’.

Foto: Jan Kejser

Foto: Jan Kejser

The City of Aarhus was European Capital of Culture in 2017. Under the theme Rethink, Aarhus and 18 other municipalities in the Region of Central Denmark worked to develop and present a varied cultural program. This in itself is interesting and impressive, but for the Suitcase, the art of evaluating an enormous project like this is just as impressive.

The data collection and data analysis was carried out by a number of people, primarily from Aarhus University, and led by Associate Professors Hans-Peter Degn and Louise Ejgod Hansen.

The evaluation is very comprehensive, based on 5 years of data collection and analysis of interviews, surveys, document analysis etc. The report contains interesting reflections and results. However, if you are short on time, I would encourage you to jump straight to chapter 7, in which the authors reflect on and rethink their own methods. Here it becomes clear that many insights arising from a project of this size are applicable for and recognizable to small projects like The Suitcase of Methods as well.

The aim with the evaluation of Aarhus2017 was to work transdisciplinary and to develop new evaluation methods. The transdisciplinary approach worked well, but according to the evaluation, it was challenging to find time and money to support the development of new methods. The data therefore, is primarily collected though well known and tested methods. A project of this size would have benefitted from automatic, technological data collection for instance through an app. The self-evaluation thus points at an interesting and very typical dilemma: The need for new evaluation methods within the field of culture experiences and (in contrast) the obligation for accurate and well-established evaluations. In the Suitcase, we have seen how the methods we use affect our results as we have been privileged enough to have time to try out and experiment with different methods (however on a smaller scale, You can read our results our reports here) But cultural organizations are rarely in a situation where they are willing or able to potentially compromise the quality of the results in order to test a new method. Thus, if a large project such as Aarhus2017 should contain methodological innovation, it needs to be prioritized in terms of time, economy but also when it comes to the hours researchers will have to put into it.

On a different note, it was refreshing to see a very transparent and honest self-evaluation that seemed genuinely interested in communicating results but also leaning from the process of planning, carrying out and evaluating this project.

A side from these methodological reflections, the report also emphasize the importance of the support from and collaboration between various municipalities as well as between the involved institutions, companies and individuals. Furthermore, it was interesting to learn that politicians, officials, and sponsors have become more aware of the value of culture, as a result of this large event. However, this has not resulted in an increased economic support for cultural projects, which also is thought provoking.

From the Royal Danish Theatre’s own perspective, the project Aarhus2017 gave us the possibility to collaborate with Moesgaard Museum and use their beautiful venue as location for our staging of Røde Orm. This gave us the opportunity to reach a greater audience than usual from Jutland.

Read the entire report (the report is in Danish), and find more information about the different project of Aarhus2017 here.

 

Open house events – How many visitors are new?

The combination of open doors and information hunger involve a dilemma: When cultural institution open their doors to free events (partly) to attract new visitors, we struggle to identify who is in fact visiting us.

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The Royal Danish Theatre use transactional data (amongst other methods) to learn more about our customers and audiences, and these free events, don’t involve any transactions. We therefore carried out a simple survey to get in touch with our visitors on Culture Night and at an open rehearsal in the Opera. We wanted to answer the question Who is new? Read our reflections and results in the Report #16 Who is new.

Exploring our non-users

 – Who are you, and how can we be relevant to you?

These days The Suitcase and the Royal Danish Theatre is getting to know the people who do not usually watch our performances or spend time at one of our venues.

With help from YouGov we have selected people from culture segments that wouldn’t typically be interested in The Royal Danish Theatre (read more about our work with the segments here). We are carrying out focus groups in Copenhagen and in Funen (160 km from our venues) in order to get a better understanding of who this group of people is. What motivates them? What do they enjoy? What do they dream of? What are their traditions etc.?

We have carefully developed a question guide that should ensure that we get relevant, in depth, and accurate knowledge about this group of people. We already know many reasons why some people may hesitate to visit the Royal Danish Theatre (time, transportation, money to name the most prevalent ones). But we also know that this group find equal amounts of time and money as they prioritize other types of experiences. Our aim with this survey is to understand what motivates them and what practical and emotional factors are truly influencing their choices.

We have chosen to let YouGov moderate the conversations because we wanted to avoid that we (representing The Royal Danish Theatre) affected the conversation and thus the insight we could get out of it. We therefore work with a traditional setup that allows us to listen in on the conversations in order to make sure that all our questions are covered. This setup provides the needed distance to the participants while giving us privileged access to the content that is discussed.

We have already carried out groups in Copenhagen and next week we are heading to Funen. More details on the survey design and our learning will follow in report #16.

Reaching out with One One One

A case study on how the environment and context affect the audience experience

One Chair, one dancer, one audience. In the beginning of the summer The Royal Danish Theatre’s dance company Corpus presented choreographer Ioannis Mandafounis’ piece One One One in serveral different locations around Copenhagen (Mads Nørgaard store at Strøget, Ofelia Plads, the courtyard at Kunsthal Charlottenborg, and the hospital Riget). The Suitcase tagged along for two of the performances in order to explore how the different surroundings and framings affect audiences reactions to this particular experience. Read our reflections in our Report # 15 Reaching out with One One One.