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The action-research carried out by the research group of the University of Bologna contributes to the experimentation, action and observation, sedimentation of new practices, methodologies and tools of audience engagement and consists of:

  • the analysis of the entire project process to identify key dimensions of planning and implementing an adaptive, reflexive, place-based and intersectional methodology of audience engagement based on co-design and co-creation;
  • identification of key challenges, learnings and changes through quantitative and qualitative data collection, departing from the lived experiences of all the components of the project (communities, dancemakers, audience developers and artistic directors) with specific attention on:
    •  the capacity-and-community-building process throughout the project regarding the roles and relationships between audience developers, artistic directors, artists, and communities;
    • the practices of audience engagement, co-design and co-creation processes and how they challenge hierarchies, relationships, and roles based on dominant narratives and power relations.


Final outputs

The handbook “Building communities through artistic practices” documenting the whole project process: relationships established; lived experiences of the communities; learnings and changes regarding all actors of the project; emerging practices; innovative models of audience engagement. Besides the handbook, the reasearch team and British Council wrote the recommendations document for cultural operators and policymakers. 

RESEARCH - step by step


As a first step, we collected data to define the context of the project and its activities.

In particular, according to the action research approach, we activated a space of collective reflection and sharing around ideas of audience development and practices already developed by partners, as well as questions and views around key dimensions of the project: “community” and “co-creation.”

In this part of the research, we implemented working sessions to elaborate impact scenarios and indicators to measure social impact through the ‘theory of change’ (TOC) approach.


The second step facilitated the translation of the shared knowledge elaborated in the first step into action and produced a progressive comprehension of the practices.

This step consists of:

  • elaboration of tools to map and incrementally systematize the practices and methodologies implemented by the partners 
  • extension and continuation of the research through participant observation and data collection throughout the project


The third step promoted a space for critical reflexivity, translating the actions into the sedimentation of the knowledge.
  • sharing of lived experiences as a collective contribution to the final handbook
  • the systematization and elaboration of data for the handbook and the social impact analysis
  • dissemination activities

RESEARCH - updates

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