Audience development and its blind spot: A quest for pleasure and play in the discussion of performing arts institutions

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The term ‘audience development’ addresses current dilemmas in publicly funded arts institutions. It is increasingly deployed in institutional practices in the Nordic countries, and the article provides a critical discussion of the term. The article argues that the discourse developing around audience development takes an organizational and institutionalized approach to performance culture that risks reducing dilemmas in performing arts institutions to questions of either marketing or social distinction. It overlooks a substantial body of knowledge of performance as a complex social and aesthetic phenomenon that it is necessary to acknowledge in order to properly engage with the challenges and potentials of the performing arts and their institutions. Three key logics from performance research are introduced to complement the audience development discourse with more nuanced language on how performance matters.

TidsskriftInternational Journal of Cultural Policy
Udgave nummer2
Sider (fra-til)200-218
Antal sider18
StatusUdgivet - mar. 2015


  • audience development
  • cultural policy
  • performing arts institutions
  • performance

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