UACA methods

Project timeline

Pilot study

October 2014 - May 2015
Investigating engagement with the contemporary arts in Birmingham. Interviews with audience members and staff at contemporary arts organisations in the city, as well as ethnographic observation at contemporary arts events.

UACA launch

May 2017 - December 2017
Establishing partnerships with contemporary arts organisations in Bristol, Liverpool and London.

Audience research

January 2018 - September 2018
Interviews carried out with audience members for contemporary arts events in Bristol, Liverpool and London. Culminating in our UACA partners workshop and Open Space event (September 2018)

Action research and write-up

October 2018 - October 2019
Analysis of the audience research interviews. Launch of our national survey testing emergent findings outside the four case study cities. Audience development initiatives to be designed and implemented by arts organisation partners from each of the four cities, testing emergent findings from the interviews. Culminating in our Audience Research in the Arts conference (July 2018).

Pilot study methods

The research presented in this report was conducted through a collaboration between the Sheffield Performer and Audience Research Centre (SPARC) and the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (BCMG). Responding to the striking absence of research regarding audience crossovers between contemporary work in different art forms, the project has investigated who comes to the contemporary arts, what experiences they have, why these experiences are valuable to them (or not), and what strategies contemporary arts organisations are currently employing to develop relationships with audiences (extract from Pilot Study Report).

Read more about our pilot study methods.


National phase methods

In May 2017, the national phase of Understanding Audiences for the Contemporary Arts launched, expanding the research out to three more cities in the UK: Bristol, Liverpool and London.

Bristol: Spike Island (lead partner), Colston Hall, In Between Time, Mayk, Watershed

Liverpool: The Bluecoat (lead partner), Constellations, FACT, Liverpool Biennial, Unity Theatre

London: Bush Theatre (lead partner), The Albany, Artangel, Nonclassical, Sadler’s Wells

Read more about national phase methods.

Research ethics

All research methods employed in this project were approved by the University of Sheffield ethics committee. Participants gave informed consent before taking part in the project and their personal data has been stored and processed in accordance with the EU General Data Protection Regulation. Interview participants in the national phase were asked whether they would like to be given a pseudonym or whether we should use their first name; their wishes have been respected throughout.

Research method and codes

Audience interviews

  • Birmingham pilot study life history interviews - Bh00

  • Bristol UACA audience interviews - Br00

  • Liverpool UACA audience interviews - Lv00

  • London UACA audience interviews - Ld00

Audience exchanges

  • Pilot study audience exchanges - AX00

Organisational interviews

  • Birmingham organisational interviews n/a - named

National survey

  • Respondents to the national survey NS000C/A/P/I

  • C = complete

  • A = almost complete

  • P = partially complete

  • I = incomplete

Action research

  • Culture Feast evaluation surveys and interviews CF00