Workshop focuses on the emotional impact of the arts

Published 1:09 pm Saturday, March 31, 2012

In mid-March I attended an Arts Midwest Arts Learning Exchange workshop on how arts organizations can measure the intrinsic impact of the arts.

Until now, arts organization have focused on tracking hard numbers like attendance numbers, ticket revenue, etc. As a result, we have gotten away from counting the emotional impact the arts can have on their viewer.

Workshop attendees were among the first to hear the results of a two-year, nationwide research study that looked at 18 theater companies that gathered 20,000 survey responses in an effort to increase the understanding of what seeing a piece of theatre actually does to someone emotionally, intellectually, and empathetically.

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According to researchers, the answers to these questions could shed new light on how arts and cultural organizations create public value, and could profoundly influence both policy and practice.

The value lies not only in the resulting data, but in the process of training audiences to characterize their reactions to a work of art — not just in terms of whether they liked it or not, but in terms of its impact on them.

Although we have yet to formally conduct similar surveys, the Austin Area Commission for the Arts is interested in measuring the intrinsic impact, and encourage all audience members to find time to discuss the events you see at the historic Paramount Theatre.

We have numerous events happening in April that we hope will have an impact. Matchbox Children’s Theatre will present “Baba Yaga and the Black Sunflower,” April 13-15.

On Wednesday, April 18 the Anthem of Angels tour will hit Austin featuring Seventh Day Slumber, Manic Drive and Ilia.

The following Sunday, April 22 the barbershop chorus Forte Milers will present their spring concert.

Events wrap up on Saturday, April 28 with My Sweet Patootie.