Creative Convergence: Enhancing impact in regional theatre for young people

Project details

With a focus on regional Victoria, the Creative Convergence project aims to understand and enhance the personal, affective and social impact of contemporary theatre for youth audiences by developing social media strategies and knowledge networks.

Across the regional arts ecology, where youth are often marginalised or lacking in creative opportunities, the project involves theatre companies, performing arts venues, advocacy organisations, and state government in research methodologies that harness the agency of young people, the live theatre experience, and their creative convergence with social media.

Guided by partner priorities, this four-year project is building a complex, longitudinal study informed by international best practice in the area of theatre for young people. Outcomes include academic and industry publications, survey and mapping tools, and industry reports that transferknowledge about theatre impact in regional communities to the national and international context.

In the first two years of the project, fieldwork activities have included workshops in schools, observation of theatre education programs and theatre performances aimed at young people, and interviews with teachers, young people and theatre makers, as well as the development of digital tools to provide context for our qualitative findings.

The Digital Studio has provided support for building data storage plans and for mapping and documenting qualitative and quantitative data in ways that are suitable for wider dissemination.

Project partners

Arena Theatre Company; ARTHUR: A Theatre Company; Bell Shakespeare Company; Creative Victoria; Geelong Performing Arts Centre; HotHouse Theatre; Melbourne Theatre Company; Regional Arts Victoria; Theatre Network Australia.


Creative Convergence blog

Circuit mapping tool

Conceived in response to partner requests to visualise and analyse touring in Victoria. Circuit is an innovative and visually engaging tool representing mainstage and education shows, workshops and residencies presented by theatre companies in Victoria.

Created with Septi Rito Tombe, a Masters of Information Technology student, in partnership with Social & Cultural Informatics Platform (SCIP) and the Digital Studio, the data in Circuit is drawn from the AusStage database, substantially expanded and corrected with data gathered directly from our partners. In development is an audience-mapping function, drawn entirely from archival records held by our partners. The tool can be searched by venue, location, show, company and school, and filtered by the household income and percentage of under-18s in the area. Connecting lines trace the direction and density of touring performances.

Circuit has proved to be a fascinating and thought-provoking data analytics tool which has expanded understanding of geographical and temporal impact for our partners. We hope to continue expanding and refining this tool into the future.

Visit the Circuit

Project team

Professor Rachel Fensham, School of Culture and Communication, Chief Investigator

Associate Professor Paul Rae, School of Culture and Communication, Chief Investigator

Dr Jennifer Beckett, School of Culture and Communication, Chief Investigator

Jeremy Rice, Melbourne Theatre Company, Chief Investigator

Christopher McDermott, Creative Victoria, Partner Investigator

Christian Leavesley, Arena Theatre Company, Partner Investigator

Abbie Trott, School of Culture and Communication, PhD Candidate

Dr Megan Upton, School of Culture and Communication, Research Assistant/Project Manager
(November 2016 - December 2017)

Dr Megan Upton / Mr Nat Cutter / Dr Lynne Kent (Research Assistant) - Project Manager