Creative Convergence: Enhancing impact in regional theatre for young people

Researchers

  • 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)
  • Nat Cutter, School of Culture and Communication, Research Assistant/Project Manager
    (February 2018-present)

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 aims to involve 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 aims to build a complex, longitudinal study informed by international best practice in the area of theatre for young people.

Alongside our partners, researchers on the project will deliver new methods of evaluating theatre for young people, and conceptualize and implement a creative and digital media strategy for enhanced audience engagement in dispersed locations over time. Outcomes include academic and industry publications, collaborative networks delivering transferable knowledge about theatre impact to the national and international context, and the social benefits of richer cultural participation in regional communities.

In the first two years of the project, our 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 quantitative survey and mapping tools to provide context for our qualitative findings. By the project’s completion in November 2020, we hope to have contributed to a refined understanding of impact as distributed and longitudinal, new techniques for evaluating and articulating impact, and new transmedia strategies for enhancing impact.

The Digital Studio has provided support for building our data storage plans and for mapping preliminary 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.