Reports

Assessing The Intrinsic Impacts of a Live Performance

Alan Brown, with Jennifer L. Novak-Leonard

January 2007

The ”Assessing the Intrinsic Impacts of a Live Performance” study attempts to define and measure how audiences are transformed by a live performance. Its research design consisted of a pair of questionnaires—one administered in-venue just prior to curtain, and the other sent home with the respondent and mailed back.

The first questionnaire collected information about the audiences’ mental and emotional preparedness for the performance. The second questionnaire, related to the first by a control number, investigated a range of reactions to the specific performance, including captivation, intellectual stimulation, emotional resonance, spiritual value, aesthetic growth, and social bonding. Between January and May 2006, six presenters surveyed audiences at a total of 19 performances representing a cross-section of music, dance, and theatre presentations.

This report builds on recent literature to address several hypotheses:

  • The intrinsic impacts derived from attending a live performance can be measured.
  • Different types of performances create different sets of impacts.
  • An audience member’s “readiness-to-receive” the art affects the impacts received.

    The study develops a simple measurement tool to assess impact, provides an analytical framework for considering the results, and suggests how performing arts presenters might begin to use this information to select programs that create specific benefits for their constituents.

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