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The research carried out by 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 developer

  • the practices of audience engagement, co-design and co-creation processes and how they challenge hierarchies, dominant narratives, power relations

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

The final output will be a handbook documenting the emerging practices and models of audience engagement and the social impact analysis.



The research adopts an action research methodology, based on a co-design principle. The researchers will interact with the other actors in a progressive co-production of knowledge tied to their concrete experiences.

An actual mutual learning among academics, the audience developers, the artistic directors, the project managers, the artists and the communities. The sharing and revision of the research plan itself will be constantly shared and agreed with the partners. 


The first step of research explores meanings, ideas, languages, practices in relation to audience engagement.
  • the collection of data shared by each partner concerning their specific context of intervention, organizational aspects, previous experiences of co-design and co-creation
  • participants observation during the project meetings organized, in order to share experiences and views on audience development and engagement
  • in depth interviews and working sessions conducted with participatory methodologies


The second step facilitates the translation of the shared knowledge elaborated in the first step into action and to produce a progressive comprehension of the practices. 
  • elaboration of tools to map and incrementally systematize the practices and methodologies implemented by the partners
  • in-depth case study “Gender Bender – Cassero” with a participatory observation of the overall process of audience engagement and through other qualitative tools such as focus group 
  • 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 promotes 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


Nothing for us without us. What does it mean "working with communities"?

Pep talks in the first International Meeting Lab! From 22th to 25th of April 2021 all partners came together in the International...