An action research project to evaluate the impact on audiences of a programme of pop up dance performances in partnership with 8 London Boroughs.
'Meet me far from gravity' was commissioned by a group of 8 London Boroughs working together as the Central Arts Partnership (CAP). It was an improvised pop up dance piece performed at 13 site specific locations across London. CAP acts as a development partnership for arts and creative activities across central London with the aim to encourage new and innovative pieces of work. Research and evaluation was carried out by Audiences London in partnership with the dance company Bottlefed.
Site specific and ‘pop up’ events have become programmed increasingly by cultural organisations as they have looked to develop their offer and find new ways to develop interest in the arts. With this shift away from traditional venues and settings there has become a need to understand the impact that this type of work has on audiences and to assess whether it widens engagement with the arts.
There is an assumption that the public are becoming more aware of, and open to, these types of approaches, either through ticketed and publicised events or ‘surprise’ performances. However, very little work has currently being carried out to actually evaluate this.
For ‘Meet me far from gravity’ we developed a programme of pop up dance performances with evaluation at the core. The focus was on understanding the impact on audiences without comprising the artistic experience. Audiences London worked with the dance company, Bottlefed from the start of the process. This enabled feedback mechanisms to be embedded within the overall audience experience.
Through the outputs of this project we wanted to inform two key areas. Firstly we wanted to evaluate the success of the particular dance piece that was performed in ‘Meet me far from gravity’. Secondly we wanted to build our understanding of the wider issues surrounding evaluation in this area. Specifically, we wanted to understand:
- The dynamics of how passers-by reacted to the ‘surprise’ performance.
- How to quantify audience sizes at these types of events.
- How to gauge what audience members thought of the performance and the value of the intervention to them.
- Whether this approach widens engagement from the traditional performing arts audience profile.
- What we can learn from the overall process of developing a piece in this way.
- We explore how performance and evaluation skills can be combined in a creative way to inform arts practice and research in the sector.
You can download the full evaluation report of this project below. The report is also supported by two online resources which are referred to throughout the report:
This project is supported by Arts Council England as part of their Grants for the Arts fund.