Events: Research

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Jo Cunningham: If we were initiating a new event, that was to link with an exhibition for example, we would firstly think who is the event for, why are we hosting the event, which audience do we want to attract. Is it a new audience? Is it something that we don’t regularly so, or is it a tried and tested kind of event that we know is going to be popular so we’re going to get a lot of people come to it.Â
Doris Pearce: It’s really important to do as much research as you can, without getting carried away with it. You’re not the curator, you don’t need to know everyone’s dates and everyone’s philosophies. But it’s a really good idea to have a read around a subject. There’s books available on everything. What I tend to do is meet with a curators as early as possible. They are the show; they know exactly what’s going on.
Jo Cunningham: We can be inspired by other people’s exhibitions and the type of events that other galleries put on. There are no new ideas, well, there are, but a lot of ideas are recycled so we’re inspired when we go to their shows and see their collections. So we do that whenever we go we’re never off duty.
Doris Pearce: It’s definitely the best part of the job, to be in the gallery and to be given the permission to put on some dance or just to have someone give a quirky or irreverent talk on a bit of artwork that’s you think is fantastic, or not fantastic, it’s just so great to be able to use that space creatively or to come out of universities or classrooms.
Rachel Moss: There’s a lot of logistics and risk assessments to be done. Contextually it’s much more exciting because the performance takes place in front of the artworks and that’s really special, I think for the dancers and for the audience.Â
Doris Pearce: Thinking about where the events are going on, is the space booked, it’s a really fundamental one, but it’s so easy to overlook.
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The problem with our art form: it’s so ephemeral, and catching performances can be so difficult… the important thing is what happens at the moment of performance, for the people who made the effort to be there: it lives with them.

Judith Weir, Composer

Pick up an event leaflet from your local gallery or museum or check out their website and see what events they offer. The Learning Department organises the events programme which might include art workshops or story-telling sessions for families; lectures, talks and performances for adults; practical workshops and youth groups for young people and study days for schools. Events allow audiences to explore something in more detail and participate. Select an event that interests you, go to see it and analyse it answering these questions.

Who do you think would be interested in the event?

  • Who is the target audience?
  • How does the type of event reflect this?

Why is the event taking place at the venue?

  • What is the purpose of the event?
  • Does it relate to an exhibition that’s on or how does it respond to the collection?

Was it a success?

  • Was the event well attended?
  • How could you judge whether the audience like the event?
  • How smooth-running and professional was the event?
  • How could it have been improved? What would you have done differently?