Theatrespace: accessing the cultural conversation

Year: 2013

Author: Ewing, Robyn, Stinson, Madonna, Fleming, Josephine

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This major ARC Linkage study (2008-2011) explored what attracts, engages and sustains the participation of young people aged between 14 and 30 as theatre audiences of major cultural providers and, conversely, what factors might exclude them. Investigators from the Universities of Melbourne, Sydney and Griffith partnered with 13 Industry partners.
There   were   two   main   research   strands   in   the   TheatreSpace   project:
i) individual case studies that were integrated  through  national  cross-case  analysis. We collected data by focusing on 21 performance events provided and selected by our partners. We worked integrally with each partner as co-researchers, providing them with detailed feedback.   
ii) a longitudinal   component   conducted   across   the   three   states.   Both strands involved qualitative   and   quantitative data  gathering  and  analysis.
Five major research findings and their implications will be briefly discussed:

- the real and perceived access young people have to major theatre providers on Australia's eastern seaboard;
- the role of schools and teachers in young people's responses to theatre;
- the factors that influence young people's experience of and responses to theatre performance;
- how young people engage with live theatre and what they particularly value
- factors that support or hinder young people's continued theatre attendance including theatre literacy and confidence.

The study reveals that   young   people   enjoy   a   range   of   complex   theatre   forms, bringing   to   the   theatre   experience   an   appreciation of theatre-going   as   a   social   and   communal   event.   It   underscores   the   importance   of   dialogue   and   effective   relationships between theatre companies, young people (both at school   and post‐schooling) and teachers.
The significance of the TheatreSpace findings to cultural policymakers, theatre programmers, theatre-makers, arts educators and curriculum   planners and to young and emerging theatre creative will also be explored.