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Edelman, J., Sorli, M., 2015.

Measuring the value of theatre for Tyneside audiences

Output Type:Journal article
Publication:Cultural Trends
Publisher:Informa UK Limited
Volume/Issue:24 (3)
Pagination:pp. 232-244

What values do theatre and dance hold for audience members? And how do these values differ between subsidised, amateur, and commercial performance? This paper addresses these questions through a survey of over 1800 spectators for theatre and dance in Tyneside in northeastern England, as well as a parallel set of focus groups, in the spring of 2014. These methods, which are designed for comprehensiveness and comparability, are being used across Europe by the Project on European Theatre Systems, a working group of theatre sociologists. Our research showed two sets of values which performances achieved; one was a common measure of performance quality, while the other described the values particular to subsidised work. This allows us to articulate both the general value of the arts and the particular values which subsidy (attempts to) facilitate. This has implications for both understandings of cultural value and for cultural policy, as the distinction between the two groups was not clean. We also found that amateur theatre participated in the same value system, but with an increased emphasis on loyalty and community cohesion. The paper concludes a methodological reflection on the use of quantitative methods in theatre studies.