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Arts Enquiry Group: 12th April 2011 Voices and Views Working Group Progress Update on Voices and Views programme This note summarises findings to date from the TAKING pART engagement programme. A range of other sources of information are being analysed as part of the Voices and Views programme, and findings will be included in the draft report. This note focuses on the picture that is beginning to emerge from the phase 1 public engagement exercise. The TAKING pART programme commenced on 19th March. To date staff have engaged directly with people at 29 locations and events around the completion of a simple questionnaire. This first phase engagement programme will end on 22nd April, with another 12 locations/events programmed up to that date. The broad range of engagement settings is intended to ensure a wide sample of the population in terms of age, socio-economic background and geography. Number of questionnaires completed so far: Number entered into Survey Monkey analysis tool Number of questionnaires projected by end of programme

1,100 921 1,500+

Artists have been engaged to support several of the events: Cloud Commission (graffiti artist) – Town Centre/Market and Chill out Café Yvonne Preston (craft/making) – Mount Pleasant School and Chill Out Café Debbie Waistell (dancer) – Darlington College and QE6 College (latter to be confirmed) An example of Cloud Commission’s work produced through engagement will be available at the EG meeting. Key messages It is too early to provide a definitive analysis of the information and views submitted via the questionnaire, but the following impressions are emerging. There is a high level of engagement with the arts amongst the people surveyed, both as participants and audience Over 90% of respondents state that they participated in some form of arts activity during the last 12 months, although some of this, e.g. reading, is private/domestic; for many people contact with the arts as participants is through school or at home Again, over 90% of respondents said they had been audience at arts events in the last 12 months. Film is by far the most experienced art form, and it could be anticipated that this would be due to TV viewing at home, but ‘home’ is relatively low in the list of locations where people have been an audience. This suggests that film-going at the Arts Centre and the commercial cinema is an important cultural activity. Plays/drama, musicals and pantomime follow film in the audience list, and would appear to correlate with the dominance of the Civic Theatre and the Arts Centre in the list of locations where people have been an audience.

The extent of the localism of people’s engagement with the arts is perhaps surprising. Other regional centres, and in particular Newcastle, feature in the list of locations where people have been audience or participated, but the local venues are dominant People’s views on the options between arts hubs and disaggregated locations will be sought through the phase 2 engagement programme. All we can say at this stage is that active participation takes place at school, at home and at the Arts Centre. Engagement as audience is dominated by the Civic Theatre and the Arts Centre, as we would expect, given that they are the primary venues for arts audience events. Looking to the future, people seem to be saying that they want more arts, not less; they want easier access to the arts – this appears to be about price and about perceived cultural barriers associated with current venues; and they want more provision for children and young people, in the vein of ‘more for the kids to do’. Easier access to music concerts (arena type gigs) was also raised. Findings to Date – 11th April 2011 An overview of the 921 responses so far entered in Survey Monkey suggests the following. 857 out of 921 people specified active participation in some form of arts activity in the last 12 months. The activities specified in over 20% of responses are: •

Painting, drawing, printing or sculpture




Reading stories, plays or poetry for yourself


Dance (not ballet and not for fitness)


Playing a musical instrument


Performing a piece of drama


Creating art or animation using a computer


The questionnaire offered the list of 19 types of art activity provided by the Arts Council, as well as ‘none of the above’ (17.3%) and ‘other’. 865 people specified some form of arts activity for which they had been an audience in the last 12 months. The activities specified in over 20% of responses are: •

Film at a cinema or other venue








Other live music event


Exhibition or collection of art, sculpture, photography


Craft exhibition


The questionnaire offered 21 arts activities as listed by the Arts Council as well as ‘none of the above’ (6.4%) and other. 127 respondents (18.4%) have been involved in organising arts activities.

235 respondents (29.6%) said they would be interested in helping ‘to make things happen’. The details of the positive responses to the above two questions are listed in Survey Monkey 716 people answered the question, ‘How would you like to find out about arts events and activities: •





Local publication


Several questions sought ‘text’ rather than ‘tick box’ responses. These have been subject to an initial search to categorise responses; a more detailed analysis will be done when the survey programme is complete. 509 people responded to the question, ‘where have you participated in arts activities? •

135 stated at school


127 stated Arts Centre


116 said at home


A group of venues/settings including the Civic Theatre, college, youth service, library, town centre and community centre were mentioned in 79 responses in total 15.5%

A number of other venues and settings were stated but the above are the most significant groupings.

551 people responded to the question, ‘where have you been an audience for arts activities’? •

192 stated Civic Theatre


165 stated Arts Centre


92 said ‘Darlington’ (this could include Arts Centre/Civic)


79 said Cinema (Odeon)

Other local venues including school, college, library, youth service, town centre and home were stated in a total of 64 responses 14.4%

64 stated Newcastle

Durham, Stockton and Middlesbrough were stated in a total of 48 responses 8.7%


The question, ‘what kinds of arts activities do you help to organise?’ generated a wide range of individual answers which have not yet been categorised. We will analyse this information at the end of the survey in preparing a draft report. We are asking people, ‘where did you have your best arts experience?’. Again there is a wide range of responses, including locations ranging from London to Las Vegas, but the overall picture is local. 642 responses have been made to date to this question, of which:

105 stated Arts Centre


105 stated Civic Theatre


69 stated school


26 stated Newcastle


A wide range of other places/venues were mentioned once or a handful of times, accounting for the balance of responses. The question, ‘what was your best arts experience?’ generated a wide range of individual answers which have not yet been categorised. We will analyse this information at the end of the survey in preparing a draft report. We are asking people for their ideas about the future of arts in Darlington. The responses to this question currently total 470. Again the range of responses is very wide, but the most significant groupings are: •

215 responses asked for more provision


51 responses requested provision for children and young people


49 want more music, with an emphasis on Arena-type bands/concerts 10.43%

39 said keep current venues


Postcode data is being collected in the questionnaire, and a map of respondents’ home locations will be included in the draft report. Civic Theatre and Arts Centre Patronage There is a range of data on the arts venues yet to be analysed, but the following key facts may be useful. •

In 2008/09 the Civic Theatre sold 174,658 tickets, whilst the Arts Centre sold 30,690 for ticketed performances and events

There were 29,100 visits to the Arts Centre’s galleries in 2008/09, and in total around 140,000 make use of the centre each year

Approximately 50% of the audience for both the Civic and the Arts Centre’s ticketed events comes from postcodes DL1-DL3. The remaining 50% are drawn from as far south as York, Thirsk and Ripon, and as far north and west as the Tyne Valley, Hexham and Carlisle

Peter Roberts, 11/04/11 01325 388713

Voices and Views Interim Findings  

Findings of the Voices and Views Group

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