Audiences for Contemporary Dance: Key Issues Arising from a Major Study in Sheffield

   Elizabeth Owen
School of Leisure and Food Management, Sheffield Hallam University
Simon Shibli
Leisure Management Unit, University of Sheffield



There exists relatively little published data on the characteristics and motivations of contemporary dance audiences. National research conducted by the then Arts Council of Great Britain has taken two forms. Of these, only one, Shakespeare (1994) has been conducted on actual attenders of contemporary dance performances. However, a key finding of both types of national survey is that they reveal significant regional variations in participants and participation levels. Therefore an in-depth study of a sub-regional audience serves as an original and complementary analysis to the existing research. The importance of understanding the contemporary dance audience and communicating effectively with it is implied by the disturbing finding reported by Walshe (1992):