Artful Participation: Doing Artistic Research with Symphonic Music Audiences

In the 21st century, symphonic music institutions face challenges that endanger their traditional ways of operating. Although symphonic music is widely accessible, it has lost its once position as the leading music culture. The number of visits is declining. Audiences are ageing. Due to budget cuts, government funding is no longer guaranteed. Whereas symphonic music was a vital element in the cultural landscape until the 1960s, it has become a museum art form since. In an “experience society”, the social value of classical orchestral music has changed profoundly. Its identification with high culture is no longer valued. In this project, the world of the symphony orchestra is studied as an exemplary case in scientific and artistic research on cultural reproduction in the 21st century. This NWO-funded project starts from the assumption that innovation of the symphonic music practice is not possible without improving the quality of audience participation in this practice. Our project combines strategic research into reasons for the declining interest in symphonic music with artistic research to innovate this practice in an artistically relevant way. This artistic research takes place in three experiments with new forms of audience participation. In the current symphonic practice, audiences are performed as listener, consumer or amateur. We will experiment with the new roles of maker, citizen and expert, thus actively involving audiences in programming, making and assessing symphonic music. The reflection on these experiments will result in a Learning model that will help to innovate the classical music practice.

The Artful Participation project is a four year NWO-funded collaboration between the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Zuyd Hogeschool and the South Netherlands Philharmonic.