IJAM Volume 18 Number 1 (PDF)

ISSN/ISBN : 1480-8986
Pages : 98

Product: Journal

$53.00 CA


Cultural Audiences and Populations: New Challenges in the Realms of Creation and Participation

Danielle Bouder-Pailler, Université de Nantes

The limits of prevailing cultural models (particularly top-down supply models) have led to the need to invent new forms of cooperation among the different players, especially for cultural institutions. Ongoing structural changes have caused a profound shift in the relationship between artistic and cultural objects and consumers/spectators/visitors, both current and potential. The latter group can no longer be considered solely in terms of their traditional role. The growing role of digital technology in particular has turned these people into creators, distributors, experts, transmitters, mediators and active participants. The profound changes in what makes (or breaks) the links between culture(s) and individuals (considered in the plurality of their role) challenge our understanding of the complementarity between cultural democratization and cultural democracy and highlight the issue of cultural citizenship. Two issues are particularly noteworthy in the context of these mutations:

  • There seems to be continuity between the public reception of works legitimized by experts and direct public participation in creation. This raises questions about the processes that lead to the appropriation – as opposed to the avoidance – of cultural offerings and different categories of proximity (identity, relationship, role, etc.) to them. Questions are also raised about the roles attributed to culture: What new balances are being struck between the objectives of defending art, self-construction, social cohesion and economic issues? What is the role of the intrinsic and extrinsic value of culture?
  • New contributions (artistic, social, communicational, etc.) by the players involved – producer/distributor/consumer – have brought about a shift in the dichotomy between professionals and amateurs as well as in the role of cultural practices. These players are generating forms of creativity that can be highly innovative and that can bypass institutional players, mainly due to the increasing role of information and communication technology (ICT). They seek, in particular, to “bring into the loop” (based on Patrice Meyer-Bisch’s definition of culture as the “circulation of meaning”) audiences/citizens – especially the underprivileged – who have little contact with cultural offerings.

What new individual, collective and organizational mechanisms are at work in the interactive – or even iterative – relationships between (new) creators, providers, distributors, audiences and populations? What effect are the experiments that are generating new supply models and innovative forms of creativity having on the representations, modes of appropriation and contributions of audiences/populations? What new models of cultural mediation are being developed? What roles are being played by ICT and social networks in these processes? What are the internal and external managerial impacts of these developments at the global level? These are some of the questions addressed in this special issue of IJAM.

The seven articles selected for publication discuss three of the fundamental issues cited above.

Participation Issues

Three complementary articles discuss participation issues, each using case studies, since knowledge in this area is being developed based primarily on experimentation. “Interactive Design and Community Participation: The Case of Mullae Art Village,” by Hyunjoo Lee, adopts an external perspective, analyzing the conditions under which an innovative collaborative artistic project emerged within a community.

The next two articles adopt an internal perspective.

In “Breaking Down the Fourth Wall in Arts Management: The Implications of Engaging Users in Decision-Making,” Leila Jancovich analyzes the effects of participatory decision-making processes on the management of public cultural institutions. This contribution examines levers and barriers in implementing participatory decision-making practices in arts management.

Continuing with the internal perspective, and echoing some of the issues discussed in the preceding article, “Audience Participation in Cultural Projects: Bringing the Organization Back In,” by Alice Anberrée, Nicolas Aubouin, Emmanuel Coblence and Frédéric Kletz, analyzes the impact of participatory processes on the organization – the cultural institution. The transformation it generates – “activation” – appears to be similar to that which the presence of a spectator triggers for a work of art. What organizational interactions do or do not take place between the implementation of participatory elements and internal transformation? In fine, the question of organizational identity is raised.

The Role of ICT in the Relationships Between Museum Offerings and Their Audiences

Two articles examine this issue as it applies to museums, since these are undoubtedly the organizations most engaged in digital experimentation aimed at forging new relationships with their audiences. 

In “Web 2.0: Is the Museum–Visitor Relationship Being Redefined?” Mathilde Pulh and Rémi Mencarelli analyze the different roles now given to audiences in terms of communication, mediation and artistic creation through Web 2.0.

The next contribution, “Can Interactive Mediation Tools Bridge the Identity Gap Between the Public and the Art Museum?,” by Marta De Miguel De Blas, Dominique Bourgeon-Renault and Elodie Jarrier, also examines issues of organizational identity, specifically the importance of the identification process to the behaviour of individuals in relation to museums. The authors study the influence of interactive mediation tools on identification, presenting a perception of identity proximity of varying importance in individuals with regard to an art museum and audiences.

Relationships Between Culture and Vulnerable Population Groups

In “How Do the Underprivileged Access Culture?” Danielle Bouder-Pailler and Caroline Urbain address the links between culture and a specific segment of the population by focusing on the barriers to access and participation. The purpose of this study, based on the observation by professionals that it is difficult for them to fulfil their mandates of personal development and socialization through leisure and culture, was to explore how culture, received sociologically through leisure activities, is perceived by the disadvantaged and to better characterize their expectations to help make cultural offerings more closely align with those expectations.

Audience Renewal in a Competitive Context

he Company Profile in this issue is “How to Engage Audiences With Increasingly Eclectic Tastes: The Experience of TOHU, a Montreal Circus Arts Presenter.” Here, André Courchesne and Philippe Ravanas examine the same challenges in audience relationships, but in a different cultural field, by presenting the experience of a circus. They raise an interesting question: How can organizations in the field of live entertainment mobilize and rejuvenate audiences and develop eclectic tastes in a highly competitive context? This is a recurring issue for cultural players. Based on models developed in museums, the article presents the results of experiments related to loyalty levers (loyalty cards) and segmentation (ticket pricing strategies).