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 cultural policies and insti- tutional practices in the Nordic countries, and the article provides a critical dis- cussion 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 a question of either marketing or social distinction. It overlooks a substantial body of knowledge of performance as a complex social and aesthetic phenome- non 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.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Cultural Policy
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)200-218
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015


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

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