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The research carried out by the research group of the University of Bologna contributes to the experimentation, sedimentation and dissemination of new practices, methodologies and tools of audience engagement. It’s focused on three main level of analysis:

  • the cultural organizations and their capacity building process in relation to the role of audience developers, 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.

  • the value of  the cultural experience of the communities engaged in the artistic process.

The final output was an handbook documenting the whole project process, and related to it will contain relationships and roles; lived experiences; learnings and changes regarding all actors of the project; emerging practices; models of audience engagement. Besides the handbook, there will be a report on the social impact analysis based on qualitative and quantitative data. 




The research adopted an action research methodology, based on a co-design principle. The researchers interacted with the other actors in a progressive co-production of knowledge tied to their concrete experiences and based on an actual mutual learning among academics, audience developers, artistic directors, project managers, artists and the communities. The sharing and revision of the research plan itself was constantly shared and agreed with the partners. 


The first step of research explored meanings, ideas, languages, practices in relation to audience engagement:

Shared research planning, background investigation of community engagement and artistic co-creation practices; state of the art theoretical debate; in-depth interviews with the 10- cultural organizations involved; World Café to explore themes that emerged from the interviews and develop methodological proposals for community engagement and artistic co-creation; co-construction of impact scenarios and indicators (theory of change-TOC).

In the second part of the research collection of data (qualitative and quantitative) shared by each partner concerning their specific context of intervention, organizational aspects, and previous experiences of co-design and co-creation.

The methods used for the qualitative data collection:

  • participant observation during the project meetings, Summer Camp, Closing Lab, and partners’ festival to share experiences and views on audience development, engagement, and different phases of the project such as community dance practices, residencies of traveler artists, production, and the touring phase.
  • focus groups, in-depth interviews, and working sessions conducted online and offline with communities, audience developers, artists, and artistic directors using participatory methodologies to understand relationships and roles, lived experiences during the project; learnings, changes, and thoughts/perceptions on the future (experiences).


The methods used for the quantitative data collection: The quantitative data integrated with the qualitative data analysis will be inserted in the social impact report. Methods, tools, and protocols developed and used for this purpose by the research team consisted in an activity and attendance logbook, an observation grid for dancemakers, a periodical short questionnaire to collect feedback from participants, a tool for analysis and assessment of the production process (performances and festivals).


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. 
  • elaboration of tools to map and incrementally systematized the practices and methodologies implemented by the partners
  • collection of data along the process for the social impact analysis with the initial elaboration of scenarios of impacts and the use of quantitative and qualitative tools.


The final step promoted a process of critical reflexivity, translating the actions into the sedimentation of the knowledge in order to enhance new practices and foster social change. 
  • co-design sessions of the final handbook
  • the systematization of data for social impact analysis
  • dissemination activities


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