Since December 2014, Be SpectACTive! is a large-scale European cooperation project – co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union – which operates in performing arts through artistic productions and participatory practices aimed at involving the citizens and spectators in creative and organizative processes. Its members are European festivals, theatres, cultural organisations, universities and a research center.
In the new edition, Be SpectACTive! is a peer-learning network confirming its character of being a production oriented and action research project.
Starting in December 2018, it continues to work on audience engagement, fostering the experimentation in the European arena through the following actions: the production of 15 new theatre and dance shows; the creation of 50 local groups of active spectators involved in co-programming and co-managing activities (1500 participants will select more than 350 shows in 4 years); the European Art Commissioners, a site-specific project connecting 8 local communities with the aim to commission artistic works; 4 European Spectators Day, a community based event connecting citizens through facebook; the implementation of the research project evaluating the different effects of the practices activated and 4 International Conference dedicated to the dissemination.
Be SpectACTive! in its first edition (2014-2018) was a moment of creation of a sense of awareness among the cultural organizations and their citizens/spectators and artists. The second edition (2018-2022) of Be SpectACTive! intends to foster this notion and strongly create creative processes of experimentation across cities and countries in the idea of a more inclusive and trans-cultural Europe and a stronger relationship between citizens and artists across the European continent.
Key word is audience engagement, a term used to highlight the dimensions of involvement in the arts of the spectators and the citizens. In Be SpectACTive! communities of spectators/citizens play an active role expressing their willing and interests. Taking part in co-programming, co-managing and co-commissioning activities, they are involved in co-creation spaces and in experimentation of new ways of artistic production, with the aim to promote the exchange between artists, professionals, and citizens.
live show productions
Be SpectACTive! produces 15 new theatre/dance shows, involving young and innovative European artists or groups that are supported in the entire cycle of production, from the research period to the touring phase. They are divided in small, medium and large productions. The companies/artists involved are carefully chosen through a common assessment expressed by the artistic directors of theatres and festivals of the project. Thanks to the artistic residencies’ programme, the creative process is nourished by the interactions with the local communities, fostering the exchange between artists, spectators and professionals
Co-programming and co-managing activities
Be SpectACTive! improves its participatory way of programming, starting from the creation of about 50 new local groups of active spectators with more than 1.500 active participants in 4 years (including the new groups created by the associated partners). The local groups work all year long to select part of the artistic programming of the different theatre/festival involved in the network. All around Europe people are empowered, their opinions taken into account, their suggestions carefully followed. The result is an average of 4 shows for more than 350 shows selected by the active spectators in 4 years.
The activity of co-programming, in some pilot venues, will be also extended to a proper process of co-managing in which the general management of a festival or a theatre season, can be shadowed by active spectators. The main aim is to experiment new forms of democratic engagement at different organizational levels.
European art commissioners
European Art Commissioners is a site-specific project finalized to create a strong connection between the artists, the professionals and the citizens of local communities through co-commissioning practices. Every year, 2 communities in 2 cities of the network, will work together for commissioning an art piece, that could be a performance/show/exhibition. 8 will be the communities involved (4 art works in 4 years), in the following European cities: Sansepolcro (IT), Zagreb (HR), Sibiu (RO), Prague (CZ), Kortrijk (BE), Wien (AT), Dublin (IE), Nitra (SK).
European Spectators Day - new edition
European Spectators Day is a community based event that connects the local groups of active spectators and the citizens despite the distances and the cultural gaps, through the social media channels. The event takes physically – and simultaneously – place in all the venues of the cultural organisations involved: all the participants are linked through facebook in order for people to connect both offline (in their locations) and online (all together). During the meeting people discuss their experiences as spectators in the performing arts field, starting from common topics.
To enhance the interaction between audiences (professionals, spectators, stakeholders), the European Spectator Day will be commissioned to a digital artist who will elaborate an art format for fostering the meeting between the local groups of spectators.
The research activities aim at a better understanding of how participatory activities impact on the venues and how to enlarge the analysis at regional level. The research team develops the right tools to be shared among artistic partners, to collect not only qualitative data, but also quantitative ones, to understand how the process activated affects the venues, the staff involved, the audiences, the artists. The way of working is Action Research, which should help artistic partners to better understand the impact of their activities and to set valuable KPIs to make the most of the impacts of the process. The research wants to provide a clear analysis of what a participatory approach and an active involvement of spectators imply.
Be SpectACTive! International Conferences:
Each year is held at least a public international conference to discuss the topic of audience engagement, comparing studies and experiences. International experts are invited. The methodology applied by the researchers is disseminated and new organisations, wishing to improve their strategies of active spectatorship, take part in the discussion.
Cultural Policies in Europe: A participatory Turn?
International Conference organized as part of the second edition of the project Be SpectACTive!
► 21st and 22nd of May 2019, Université de Montpellier (France)
Bâtiment 1 – Rue de l’École Mage – Montpellier
Breaking the Fourth Wall: Proactive Audiences in the Performing ArtsThe publication of this book is a collaboration between KUNNSKAPSVERKET, the Be SpectACTive! project, the University of Barcelona and the University of Montpellier. Download the book: Breaking the Fourth Wall: Proactive Audiences in the Performing Arts
Challenging Participation in Performing ArtsEdited by Lluís Bonet, Giada Calvano, Luisella Carnelli, Félix Dupin-Meynard and Emmanuel Négrier. Download the book: Challenging Participation in Performing Arts