EDA Round One Overview

In 2009, with support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the James Irvine Foundation, Dance/USA launched Round One of Engaging Dance Audiences (EDA), a $2.1 million pilot program that enables Dance/USA to analyze current dance-going activities, and its members to explore and research methods of engaging audiences for dance, learn from peers, and share the learning nationally.  

The Four Components

Round One of EDA consisted of four components, all of which were designed to result in learning that is shared with the full Dance/USA membership. In conjunction with Dance/USA staff, Suzanne Callahan of Callahan Consulting for the Arts managed the granting program and learning community (components 1 and 3); Alan Brown and Jennifer Novak of WolfBrown managed the research aspects (components 2 and 4).

1) Project Support. Out of a highly competitive two-phase process, nine Dance/USA members were funded to develop new or refine existing engagement practices and share their discoveries with the dance field. A total of $1,300,750 was distributed to the grantees to support their projects and operations, in addition to technical assistance. Project activities took place from January 2010 to June 30, 2011.

Download the Press Release
Read about the grantees, projects, and review process.

Report on the Call for Ideas, Callahan Consulting for the Arts (2009)
Download the Summary  |  Download the Full Report  |  Download the PowerPoint
This report reviews the 179 Call for Project Ideas submitted during the first phase of the application for project support. The review revealed the dance field’s existing practices, new thinking and future plans in audience engagement. It examines the geographic distribution, of organizations that applied; projects applied for; and themes or trends of interest.  It shows much consistency and some divergence among the Submissions in current activities, challenges, and future aspirations. 

2) Audience Engagement Research. Grantees conducted research on their own audience engagement. WolfBrown provided technical assistance to most of the grantees in designing and executing audience surveys. 

Summary Assessment of Grantees’ Engagement Practices, WolfBrown (2011)
Download the Report  |  Download the Technical Appendix
This reports on the results of the research and assessment work undertaken by the EDA grantees with WolfBrown in connection with their project support and is intended to help share lessons learned from that research with the dance field. This research utilized constructs measuring the impact of arts experiences first developed by WolfBrown, who provided technical assistance to the grantees.

The Survey of Current Audience Engagement Practices, WolfBrown (2009)
Download the Summary  |  Download the PowerPoint
The core goals of this survey were to provide a snapshot of current audience engagement practices occurring in the dance field, and to gather insights about the field’s philosophy towards audience engagement and thoughts on its future role to serve dance. The report covers: types of engagement activities undertaken; barriers faced; planning and responsibility for, and evaluation of, engagement programs; and perspectives on “audience engagement” and “audience development.” 

3) Learning Community. At its core, EDA is a learning initiative for Dance/USA members and the field. In this national learning community, the full membership was invited to join the grantees to share in the learning that emerged from projects through the use of social media, webinars, at meetings, through reports such as the ones referenced on this page, and in other ways. Learning was designed around themes that have relevance and importance to the field at large.

4) Additional Audience Research. Dance/USA commissioned WolfBrown to conduct a large-scale study on dance audiences. (2011)
Download the WolfBrown Report: How Dance Audiences EngageDownload the Appendix
The overall purpose of the study was to provide dance presenters and producers with new information that will help them more effectively engage their audiences.  Specific research questions explored in the study included:

  • What types of engagement and enrichment activities are likely to please different audience segments in terms of age, experience with dance, etc.?
  • How much preparatory work do audiences like to do before they attend dance performances?
  • How do dance audiences like to ‘process’ their experiences afterwards?
  • What engagement methods and practices are likely to attract the next generation of dance audiences?
  • How can dance presenters and producers optimally configure their audience engagement programs?
  • What role will technology play in the future of audience engagement?
  • How else are audience members involved in dance?
The study was conducted in the summer of 2010 with the help of 42 partners who sent a standardized survey to their dance ticket-buyers. The survey garnered over 7,000 responses.

Audience Engagement

The term “audience engagement” was defined in the guidelines. That definition is still evolving, and Dance/USA hopes that EDA will encourage and empower participants to contribute their own wisdom and experience.
Audience Engagement: Working Toward a Definition (2008)
Download the Full Report
In order to provide context for the design of EDA, in the fall of 2008, Dance/USA interviewed 25 of its members to develop an understanding of the field’s perception of the phrase “audience engagement.”  Dance/USA sought to illuminate both the ways in which the dance field is currently using engagement activities and themes that would contribute to a definition of “audience engagement.” Responses varied greatly among organizations and could even differ inside an organization when individuals from the artistic and management sides were interviewed.  

Go to the main EDA page.
Go to EDA Round Two.