Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Performance and Cultural Industries


Audience Experience and Engagement


In this section:

Research Mission

The Audience Experience and Engagement research group takes an interdisciplinary approach to investigating how audiences engage with and are engaged by a range of theatre forms, performance and the arts. We are interested in how active modes of engagement such as co-production and co-creation herald a departure from traditional forms of spectatorship and signal a new dialogic relationship between artists, arts organisations and audiences. In order to study these emerging forms of engagement, we draw on and develop a wide variety of creative and anthropological research methods that can reveal audience embodiment, experience and agency, and provide insights into how artists and arts organisations design meaningful and memorable experiences for their audiences and communities.

For further information contact: Ben Walmsley b.walmsley@leeds.ac.uk

The research group is currently managing the new International Network for Audience Research in the Performing Arts, which aims to bring together artists, academics, practitioners and audiences to discuss and debate new ways of understanding the audience experience.

For information on past and future events and to sign up to this network, please visit the International Network for Audience Research in the Performing Arts


First image, Staging China, courtesy of Malcolm Johnson
Second and third image, Audience Research Network symposium, Simon & Simon Photography

Group Members

Academic Staff:

Dr Anna Fenemore, Associate Professor in Contemporary Theatre and Performance
Dr Leila Jancovich, Lecturer in Cultural and Creative Industries
Dr Kara McKechnie, Lecturer in Dramaturgy and Literary Management
Dr Joslin McKinney, Associate Professor in Scenography
Dr Scott Palmer, Lecturer in Scenography
Dr Ben Walmsley, Associate Professor in Audience Engagement

PhD researchers:

Alison Andrews Know Your Place: the relationship between artists and audiences in site specific-performance
Yun Cheng – Outreach and education as an audience development strategy
Emma Gee The Death of the Director?: the role of the director in participative practice
Kathryn Graham – Scenographic Light: Towards an Understanding of Expressive light in Performance
Gillian Knox – Appropriating the ‘real’: utilising documentary and verbatim strategies to create fictional performance.
Sarah LittleModes of consumption as production and the agency and empowerment of audiences as creative partners in urban arts practices
Clare Martynski – Exploring the role of the arts and culture in catalysing action towards a sustainable future
Duncan Marwick – Revealing Responsiveness
Emma McDowell – Can a reconceptualisation of the audience/artist exchange within the contemporary live theatre experience help to better understand its role as a cultural practice?
Xristina Penna – Scenography, cognitive science and collective making processes
Sarah Reynolds – Exploring how regional arts centres are valued and perceived by key stakeholders, including: arts centre staff; arts centre funders; audiences; and the community
Anahi Ravagnani – How can audience engagement projects be meaningful, promote cultural and social inclusion and establish real bonds between institutions and audiences?
Jaroslava Tomanova – Understanding cultural policy transfer: the case of the Czech Republic
Agnieszka Wlazel – Facilitating audience engagement with(in) the arts through digital technology
Fan Wu – Understanding Chinese theatre audiences

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