– It’s not about giving audience what they want, but about being able to take more informed risk


Lisa Baxter is founder of The Experience Business and has developed a unique methodology to support artists in exploring how their purpose, practice and audience experience interrelate – and during the Panta Reis seminar on April 28th, you can get a taste!

Foto: Lars Opstad
Foto: Lars Opstad

How can the audience experience form the basis for new artistic processes and communication strategies?

The Performing Artist’s Audience Workbook is ground-breaking in the field because it brings together an audience-centred focus with the artistic sensibility to encourage a shift towards a deeper consideration of audiences.

Baxter has a long career in the arts and culture field as a facilitator, researcher, writer, trainer and speaker. She is known for collaborating with interdisciplinary teams and dissolving institutional silos to focus on the holistic art and cultural experience of those institutions.

More recently, work with Creative Scotland on re-imagining touring dance and drama, and an experiment with the Touring Network Highlands and Highlands exploring the potential for a ‘slow touring’ model, turned her attention to the work of artists.

Importantly, Creative Scotland – as a result of Lisa’s work – changed their funding application form, replacing an explanation of how artists would attract audiences with a question about the benefit of their work for audiences. Artists found this a difficult question to answer and Lisa was invited to develop a process to help them explore that.

As Baxter began to work with artists she increasingly understood why this was such a hard question for them. Because during their training, the emphasis was on skills development and creating their best work, with little or no consideration of audiences.

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– When I asked artists to talk about the benefit of their work they didn’t know how to answer. Why should they? No one talks about it or asks them about it, Baxter says.

Many had very little understanding of who their audience were, why they attended and what they derived from their experience. Whilst some artists maybe talked to one or two audience members at best after a performance to find out what they thought of it, this didn’t provide the insight required to understand how their work was experienced.

– Audience members have their own preferences and many know what they enjoy experiencing. Very few artists think about this dimension – how their specific artistic choices affect the audience experience of their performance. It’s not about giving audience what they want, but about being able to take more informed risk.

The Performing Artists Audience Workbook invites readers to think about audiences in different ways, to develop a deeper understanding of their motivations and arrive at a more authentic language with which to describe their work.

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Panta Rei will, together with Lisa Baxter and the seminar participants, explore artistic purpose and the audience experience through a series of powerful reflective and active exercises. Participants will get the opportunity to experience what 300 other artists have internationally, all of whom have found the experience transformative in some way.

How will you meet the Panta Rei dancers, who are already well known for bringing the dance out among a large proportion of the population?

– In experience design, we consider all the different dimensions at apply and how to leverage these to shape and deliver the experiential intention. There are many elements to consider when bringing your dance out into the public space. For some it can be a shock to see dancing in public, and it is not always positive, says Baxter and laughs.

About Baxter

“This has been really inspiring and meaningful for my practice and in further articulating my work.” Choreographer, Dansens Hus

“Lisa’s artist development process came at a very crucial stage in my project, and has genuinely shaped and inspired the future of my piece. Exploring and reflecting on my practice in a wholesome and authentic way really allowed me to nurture my early ideas and consider the true meaning and ethos of my work. I came away feeling confident and excited in articulating what experience I want my audience to have and why, which for me underpins the reason I create the work I do.” Performing Artist and Writer, UK

“Lisa is great with artists. She speaks our language. She understands where we are, where we need to be and wisely signposts how to get there. Her warm (dare I say it, ‘fun’) approach is underpinned by a strong philosophy, values, and, importantly, solid up-to-date theory. Looking for help to take your next bold steps in a world that needs you? Talk to Lisa.” Burn the Curtain Theatre Company – UK

Interested in attending the seminar?

Date: 28.04.22
Time: 09.00-15.00
Venue: Dansens Hus, studio stage

For registration send an e-mail to: silje@pantareidanseteater.com
Space is limited.