Building New Audiences


Understanding Audiences for the Contemporary Arts (2014 - 2015)

In October 2014 we began an exciting new collaboration with Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, funded by the University of Sheffield’s Innovation, Impact and Knowledge Exchange (IIKE) scheme, on a project to investigate audience attitudes and experiences in relation to the contemporary arts. We established a network of contemporary arts organisations in Birmingham who shared similar challenges in audience development, and encouraged exchange of ideas and opportunities across different art forms. We also undertook interviews and ‘audience exchange’ visits with audience members in Birmingham, yielding rich insight on people’s routes into the contemporary arts, and the expectations they bring to their arts consumption. This project led to a successful AHRC application and our nationwide phase of research began in May 2017. Reports and resources from the pilot study are now available and more information about the national UACA project can be found here.

The Cultural Value Project (2014)

The Cultural Value project is now completed and the report submitted to the Arts and Humanities Research Council is available in full here, and also forms part of the Cultural Value overview report written by Geoffrey Crossick and Patrycja Kaszynska (available here). Headline findings from our ‘Dropping in and dropping out’ studies included the strong relationship between social fit and musical satisfaction in ensemble participation, and the uncertainty felt by new audience members about their readiness to experience art forms in the same way as regular attenders. Further publications from the project are also available, including an article in the International Journal of Community Music

Investigating Audiences of the Future (2012 - 2013)

Investigating the audiences of the future became a new venture for SPARC with a project supported by University of Sheffield Arts Enterprise funding: Stephanie Pitts researched the impact of the Music in the Community workshops run in three Sheffield primary schools by Polly Ives and musicians from Ensemble 360 at Music in the Round. Research assistant support has come mainly from Katy Robinson, then an MA Psychology of Music student and later research assistant on the Cultural Value project, who observed and participated in workshops throughout the year; Fraser Wilson, MA graduate of the music department, and Michael Bonshor, PhD student, also contributed, with Michael bravely taking on the challenge of transcribing focus group interviews with seven year olds and questionnaires including some brilliant drawings of musicians!