Working Title: 

Performing Arts & Participation: A mixed research study of Be SpectACTive!: assessing the levels of social interaction and social cohesion between participants within the theatre workshop process

Key words:
Performing Arts, Participation, Interaction & Social Cohesion

My Research Objective:

  1. To evaluate the levels of social cohesion and interaction between participants within theatre workshop process

  2. To couch this research within the larger context of theories of spectatorship and Irish cultural policy    

Research Questions:  

  1. How to measure and evaluate the levels of social cohesion and social interaction between participants within the theatre workshop process? - did this project deliver on its mission statement?  - How?

  2. What do these findings suggest in terms of the ongoing relationship between the artist and workshop participants?

  3. How to contextualise Be SpectACTive! within the field of a) Theories of spectatorship b) Irish cultural policy?  

Key concepts:  

  1. Theories of spectatorship

  2. Democratisation & participation of art within Irish cultural policy

  3. Methodologies of measuring & evaluating social interaction & social cohesion


The tradition of participatory arts is couched within the theories of spectatorship that express itself in Irish cultural policy in terms of democratisation and access to culture. Theories of spectatorship refer to the historical repositioning of the actor - audience relationship to encourage; The Emancipated Spectator. The Be SpectACTive!’ project can be framed within this context and seen as demand for active participation in culture; from passive consumers to creators of cultures. This marks a shift from “sit-back-and-be-told culture” to “making-and-doing-culture.” (Alan S. Brown et al: 2011:3). This participatory shift comes about within the theatre workshop process where the artist works with participants to cultivate social interaction and social cohesion within the group. These two qualities of social interaction and social cohesion can be quantified. These insights can contribute to Be SpectACTive!’ in its larger self - evaluation project and has implications for the ongoing relationship between the artist and participants.

Research design:

  1. Mixed research: case study

  2. Qualitative & Quantitative surveys.

  3. Creative Diary: first person phenomenological account.

  4. Reading of relevant literature: theories of spectatorship, participation and democratisation of art within Irish cultural policy, social interaction and social cohesion

  5. Glossary of terms    


ca 1: Version 2: SCREENCAST Presentation: 29.04.19

 Reflection: The contrast between these two presentations is startling. It shows a process of continual refinement of the project in terms of; case studies, topics and literature review. December 2018 to April 2019 saw a progressive refinement of the research question, aim, rationale and case study, while the parameters of the inquiry became more specific. The first presentation was a overcomplicated proposal with three aspects; Theories of Spectatorship, Democratisation & Participation of Art within Irish Cultural Policy and Methodologies of Measuring & Evaluating Social Interaction & Social cohesion. The feedback that I was given was that this was tree proposals in one and as a result there was little specificity and practicality. For the second proposal I recorded a screencast. This presentation sets simple and achievable research questions answered by a realistic methodology, informed by specific literature. Yet this second presentation is 23 minutes approximately. The brief for this assignment is 10 minute max. This illustrates that the full clarity and simplicity of my final Outlandish Theatre case study proposal is yet to emerge. Currently there are gaps in the procedure of my pilot study and recruitment process. Additionally there are some gaps in the methodology which require a closer reading of the literature in order to ensure the right questions are asked within the interview. The final version of this presentation is due November 2019 and judging by the gradual refinement of the project thus far, I expect the next presentation to be clear and concise with ability to communicate its findings directly.