Dance in Museums: An investigation into the cross-sector creative strategy of the 21st century (a joint funded ESRC/AHRC studentship)
Elena’s project investigates collaborative practices by examining the inclusion of performing arts into cultural institutions and studying their impact on audience engagement. Specifically, the research seeks to examine the potential of using dance in a cultural environment, investigating both its production through collaborative approaches and its reception by audiences. In challenging times for the cultural sector, many museums are seeking to face the obstacles expanding their offerings through innovative and sometimes non-traditional approaches and formulas. As a result, the museum’s creative curatorial and interpretative processes have been opened up to collaborations with communities and other cultural or arts organisations; an approach closely connected to the recent trend in cultural policy which promotes cultural democracy. Transforming cultural institutions through collaborative practice is becoming an established strategy for diversifying visitors and increasing audience engagement. In this context, a cross-sectoral collaboration between museums and the dance network is growing at a fast pace. This strategy encourages to move away from the sole verbal and written transmission of knowledge traditionally employed in cultural spaces, whilst creating more experiential, sensorial and even “visceral” visitors’ experiences. Acknowledged the existence of a bodily-kinaesthetic intelligence, the bodily-kinaesthetic art of dance is regarded as a powerful language and communicative form and, therefore, an effective method to deeply engage visitors, and to connect museums with “kinaesthetic learners”, younger and disengaged audiences. Through a case study research and multiple methods of data generation, the project will seek to understand in which ways dance can foster audience engagement in museums; how dance-museum collaborative practices can facilitate changes in museums; and the role that financial and cultural policy considerations play in the development of these collaborations.