WINSTANLEY & NADIN Creative Consulation Appetite Y2 report
The Big Feast
Grand Cross Fayre
Street Treat Sunday
Consumerist Christmas Tree
Appetite is an Arts Council England funded programme in Stoke-on-Trent. It is a three year programme with a ten year vision to get more people from Stoke-on-Trent experiencing and inspired by the arts. Appetite has been developed by a consortium of organisations, and is led by the New Vic Theatre. The other consortium partners are Partners in Creative Learning, B-Arts, Brighter Futures and Staffordshire University. The Creative Communities Unit at Staffordshire University is responsible for the evaluation of Appetite. We are adopting a Participatory Action Research model, called Get Talking, to evaluate the programme. The evaluation of Appetite is an integrated part of the programme. The CCU have worked closely with the programme team, audiences and local communities to develop a team of community researchers to ensure that they are able to influence the development of the Appetite programme and its evaluation. Nicola Winstanley and Sarah Nadin were commissioned to undertake creative consultation at a number of the programmeâ€™s strategic events in year 2. This involved creating bespoke consultation tools to attract and engage audiences. The findings of these consultations form part of the evaluation of Appetite year 2 for the Arts Council England. In this report we will discuss the research questions which have informed the consultation, present the findings from each event and describe and review each of the tools we created. We will then reflect on the Get Talking process and its impact on our process and conclude with some recommendations for year three.
Nicola Winstanley & Sarah Nadin Artists and Consultants Copyright 2015
Research Questions Staffordshire Uni ‘ Get Talking’ Appetite year 1 report highlighted several key questions for year two. On the whole the following research areas were investigated in year one, however, the research team were keen to assess the impact of the Appetite programme on audiences by looking at how public perception had changed from year 1 to year 2.
Quality > As well as ascertaining whether the programme is suited to the audience,
the research team are interested in finding out if the perception of quality has changed in response to the Appetite programme. Working with the Get Talking team we decided to examine the language used in audience feedback; having experienced more artistic activity are people able to give more of a critical assessment of what they see, rather than using short descriptive sentences like ‘It’s amazing’ or ‘It’s rubbish’? Language analysis also includes people comments about wider impact, comparative experience, event management as well as specific observations on the quality of the performance/ installation.
Barriers > Since the primary aim of the Appetite programme is to build audiences for
art in Stoke-on-Trent, identifying barriers is an important part of the evaluation process. These barriers can be physical, psychological or due to simply not knowing about the programme. We aim to discover some of these barriers during the creative consulation. Evidently there are intrinsic gaps in our data considering we will only get to speak to people who do attend or stop to watch events.
The research team would like to find out how the Appetite has inspired audiences. Again, by examining language we can see if people are moved to take action following an event. This could be anything from choosing to stay for a full performance, actively looking for other artistic exeriences or getting involved with projects themselves.
The Big Feast 29-31 August City Centre
The Big Feast Taking place during the August bank holiday (29th -31st) The Big Feast was Appetiteâ€™s Y2 strategic weekend event. It involved dozens of installations, performances and participatory artworks across various locations around the city centre. Due to the nature of the event many spectators stumbled across events while shopping. We used 5 different creative consultation tools to capture a wide range of audience feedback.
Tools ^ left to right. Audible Forces wind sculpture park- Ceramic wind chimes Wheel House and Frantic- Ribbon Wheel Dragon- #Chumbrella High Street Odyssey- Street stickers Folk in a Box- Buskers Review
Case Study 1 > Folk in A Box Folk in a Box, promoted as the ‘most intimate gig in the world’ is a unique one-onone music experience. A small, custom built portable venue, it has toured the country providing opportunities for local musicians to play one song, in the dark, to one audience member. Folk in a box was set up at The City Centre Bus Station for the duration of The Big Feast.
Tool > Busker’s Review For this event we wanted to create a tool that replicated a ‘gig review’. The tool aimed to help quantify people’s enjoyment of the experience. We created ‘money’ for people to throw into 1 of 4 hats which were rated 1 to 4 stars. The money represented how much they would be prepared to pay for such an experience in the future, the star rating reflected their level of enjoyment. Accompanying the tool there was an area for participants to write a open short gig review.
Notable Comments: “Beautiful! Being sang a song just for me was like I had found a little sanctuary in Hanley” “Like escaping for 5 minutes, Luxury!” “A Profound experience” “Like an invite into the musicians head” “In Love” “I would be more excited if this was on the south bank in London” “It felt like I was somewhere else completely” “It made me want to cry” “I feel that the quality of art in Stoke-on-Trent is generally low” “Before I went in I thought there needed to be more decorated and signposted but now I think the less signage the better.”
Average ‘Spend’: £7.85 (highest:£20 lowest:£3) Average review: 4/4
Notable Words: Beautiful Goosebumps Endorphins Relaxing Recommended Just for me Worth the time Profound Important in my life Personal Exclusive Intimacy Transforms you emotionally
General Observations Most people that participated in Folk in A Box seemed to have a personal and quite intimate experience. There was a noticable change in the demeanour of the participants when they emerged from the box; from curious apprehension with hints of hostility to wide eyed, flushed, speechless, relaxed, and contemplative. Some peopleâ€™s general opinion of the event changed dramatically after their experience; they were willing to pay more for the experience after the event than before it- showing that it had been more valuable to them than they expected. Some were inspired to think there are more exciting and artist experiences in Stoke than they expected. Though not inundated, there was a steady stream of people willing to enter the box. The majority did not come specifically for folk in a box or the appetite events. Many were on their way to the bus station.
Quality Most people were not expecting the experience to be as high quality as it was. The fact that every surveyed participant rated the experience the highest possible score suggests that the participants felt the experience was of the highest possible quality. The average price people would have paid following the experience was ÂŁ7.85. Conversations suggested this is at least three times what they would have paid before with the average mentioned being ÂŁ2.50. This raises interesting possibilites regarding the creation of a sustainable cultural scene going forward.
Inspiration Judging by the comments and conversations, the participants felt the experience was very personal, intimate and special- raising their levels of wellbeing, temporarily and perhaps permanently. The exclusivity and profundity of this experience left at least 4 participants feeling inspired to look up the musicians, look into experiencing Folk in a Box again, look again at the arts scene in Stoke and use the experience to help them in their daily life.
Barriers One participant said that she would have been more excited about it beforehand if it was on the southbank in London. Seeing something (quite demure in appearance) like this in Hanley did not suggest to her that it would be a high quality experience. It was her curiosity that persuaded her to try it out, which changed her opinion completely.
Critical review of the tool Though we were able to gather some interesting written feedback and some quantitive data about value, we feel that the tool might not have matched the participantsâ€™ mindset as they exited the box. The tool required them to be quite analytical very soon after they had emerged from the box. We think that perhaps a more relaxed and emersive tool might be more appropriate at subsequent evaluations of this particular happening.
Case Study 2 > The Wheel House and Frantic
Acrojou’s flagship show, The Wheel House, has been toured and developed by the company for the past 7 years. Stunning design, theatrical acrobatics, and breathtaking moments of risk, all housed within an exquisite, hand-built structure. The Wheel House is a narrative show which unfolds inside and around a circular set as it rolls, with the audience walking alongside. Frantic is an explosive and moving exploration of our relentless devotion to busyness. Acrobatics and dance-theatre choreographed around a bespoke structure, Frantic uses a rich physical language to pull apart it’s subject – the reality of a running mind and one man’s thirst for escape.
Tool > Ribbon Wheel Inspired by Acrojou’s wheel based performances, we created wheels of ribbons that people were able to write their comments on. The tools were hand held and were moved around the crowds following each performance.
Notable Comments “Great to see people stopping on the street ” “I felt bad for them. I thought they did not have money” “This is incredibly important and much needed in Stoke” “Stunning way to bring community together, loved it” “This is endearing, People who would normally be whizzing around have stopped. It’s important to stop and think”
“People in Stoke don’t care. In Birmingham you see this all the time.” “Quality performance. You can see how much effort has been put into it” “I live in the care home. I love this. There needs to be more like this. I love the skill/ability of the dancers. It’s important for the city.” (Young male) “You need a reason to come to Stoke. This is a good reason.” “For a moment it takes you somewhere else” “Best thing that’s happened in Hanley. I’ve never seen people enjoy themselves in the town“
Notable Words Overwhelmed Brilliant for Stoke Emotional Made me cry Moving Uplifting Inspirational Happy Beautiful Stunning Surprised
General Observations The audiences that watched The Wheel House and Frantic were moved, which shows a deep level of understanding and relatability to both pieces of performance/contemporary dance. Many audience members were also moved by the numbers of people that had stopped to watch, which gave them a great deal of pleasure. The highly emotional content of the pieces coupled with the feelings of togetherness in an unlikely setting made for a bouyant and receptive atmosphere. Though some had travelled specifically to see the performances, most had stopped as they were passing by.
Quality People mentioned that the ability to see the ‘amount of work’ put into a performance i.e. Wheelhouse (beautiful set, intricate detail and timed choreography) added to the value of the performance. There was also mention of being transported ‘elsewhere’, that ‘things like this don’t happen here’. This could suggest that people felt that the quality was almost too high for Stoke-on-Trent.
Inspiration Audience retention was by far the most apparent example of inspiration at the Acrojou performances. Spectators who stopped to watch one performance moved en masse to watch another. The amount of people just ‘stopping’ to watch was commented by many and proved to enhance their experience of the performance and the city centre - many people had never seen people enjoying themselves, or ‘not whizzing around’. This is evidence that audiences were aware of the wider impact of the the performance on the community and the location.
Barriers People used language that suggests that seeing performances like those by Acrojou are unusual for Stoke on Trent. This does suggest a lack of general confidence in the city to showcase such high quality entertainment/art, which could result in low audience numbers for a ticketed event for example.
Critical review of the tool The Ribbon Wheels were one of our most popular tools. The bright colours, portability and movement of the tools made them very atractive to members of the public, encouraging them to take part in the consultation. Some people thought the wheels were an interactive part of the performance. The Wheels also allowed multiple people to leave their comments at one time. When stood on the ground, the level was good for all age groups and abilities. The sharpie pens we used did bleed a little through the ribbons and could have stained clothing/skin if we hadn’t warned the participants. Greater care would be needed next time to choose the correct pens.
The Big Feast as a whole As well as these two case studies mentioned above, we consulted with the audiences of • Dragon Heartbeats • A Highstreet Odyssey • Audible Forces • Cannonballista Below are some notable comments taken from those audiences across the event, as well as a general summary on each of the main research questions. “Want to have pebbles and bells in my garden!” “Things like this are good for my visually impaired friends” “Brill idea, Good idea to hear and see such ideas in action. Funds badly needed. Brill idea.” “it has inspired me to think about making my own sound sculpture” “Haunting, beautiful, very interesting and atmospheric” “Bringing depth and creative events to stoke on trent” “This is great! Wish we had longer to really absorb the atmospheres created. Love sounds created by nature and science” “This sound is very good for my nerves” “Therapeutic” “These children will remember this their entire lives”
Quality We decided to assess quality in a quantitive manner- by asking audience members if and what they would pay to see the events. The reason we did this was to assess the value people placed on these experiences, which can then be compared relatively to other available experiences in the city already on offer. For 1 song in Folk in a Box, our participants would have paid an average of £7.85, which is around the price of a standard cinema ticket, and a average price for a full gig in a local venue. It is interesting to note that the people we asked after the experience on average said they would pay double what they said before it. This highlights barriers around expectation as discussed in ‘barriers’. People mentioned that the ability to see the ‘amount of work’ put into a performance i.e. Wheelhouse (beautiful set, intricate detail and timed choreography) added to the value of the performance. People said on average that the performances (Wheelehouse, Frantic, Dragonheartbeats) would be ‘value for money’ if they cost an hypothetical £1000-£3000. However one comment from Cannonballista said that it wouldn’t be good value if it cost £500. Comments included; it’s badly timed, slow, not very entertaining.
Inspiration Many of the people we spoke to who had come to the City Centre specifically to see The Big Feast had been inspired to attend because they had seen The Bell, or had found out about it through their community groups. Participants of Folk in a Box were inspired to talk more about their musical tastes and backgrounds following the experience, some enquiring about the artists and buying CDs. One participant was inspired to consider making his own sound sculpture following audible forces. Two older ladies, having witnessed the end of A Highstreet Odyssey were moved to visit Folk in a Box. Many people said that events like this are the sole reason they would come to hanley, as they would never usually come out of choice. One audience member commented that he expected the children watching would remember it for a lifetime (Dragonheartbeats)
Barriers Virtually the only, and most common remark was that it was not well enough advertised, people said, stoke.gov website, sentinel, social media.Local shops/ co-op/ post office etc. No one said they found out via bill boards or banners. Brand recognition and brand trust need to be looked at in more detail. Though people’s experience of The Big Feast was overwhelmingly positive, people seemed to be frustrated that they had missed things and more people didn’t know. Depending on attendance, it may be interesting to note whether word of mouth from The Big Feast affects further events. People also found it hard to find out exactly what was going on on the appetite website, and said the information could have been clearer and more easy to find. A major barrier that we noticed was people’s low expectation of Stoke, people frequently said “Nothing like this happens round here” “you have to go to Birmingham or Manchester for this”. Rather than saying “I’m glad this is happening here now” This could signify a long held and ingrained idea about what Stoke is. Interestingly, the content/concept of the art was not a barrier for the people we spoke to. Descriptive words used by these people like emotional, moving, therapeutic and funny suggest to us that the audiences understood the content and were having positive emotional responses to the artworks. One notable barrier in regards to collecting data was many people’s struggle for vocabulary to describe how the artwork made them feel. This might be something we can look into in subsequent engagements to get over this barrier, without putting words in people’s mouths. Most people I asked said that they felt it was good that things were going on in Hanley because it was much easier for them to get there. A few people mentioned that car parks should be free, reduced price or tesco should extend their free parking for events like this to make it easier to attend.
Suggestions for Cross Checking Do people feel confident that what they are able to see will be good enough in Stoke? What are peopleâ€™s expectations of art events? What are peopleâ€™s expectations of art events in Stoke? Do Appetite events live up to them?
The Grand Cross Fayre 06 September Hanford Park
The Grand Cross Fayre Hanford Village Residents Association and Appetite have been worked in partnership with Capsule to put on a new arts and music event for Hanford and Stoke-on-Trent. The event was held on Saturday 6th September in Hanford Park and will featured a mix of live music and arts workshops. This was a free event open to the public and family friendly. We created one new consultation tool to gather feedback and two pre-existing tools to maximise the data.
Tools ^ left to right. News Headline A Boards Ceramic wind chimes Ribbon Wheel
Tool > News Headline A-Boards Analysis of the data collected from The Big Feast revealed that some people found it difficult to articulate their thoughts, especially in response to a new artistic experience. As such, we designed news-style A Boards that featured a series of open, unfinished headlines to help ellicit more indepth feedback. Open sentences; “I’ve never seen such...” “...made me want to...” gave people a framework for their reponses without leading the question. The headline “I didn’t expect...” was created to look the importance of managing expectations, an notable observation from the Big Fest events.
Notable Comments: I DIDN’T EXPECT... “So many food Vans” “Not enough arty things” “So many people to turn up” “To see hanford park being used for something so fun! More Please” “To work so hard and get underpaid” “The expected” “The Police to be here” “To find my way here!” “To see so many people here and having a good time. Need more events like this. And wish we hadn’t had lunch already as food is fab!” “Everybody here together” BREAKING NEWS... “Kids have LOVED it!” “Cannot wait until next year, bring it on” “Love the curry, nice icecream.” “Oatcake Shortage!!!” “I’ve run out of coffee, need to purchase cake and caffeine” “Hanford Park Rocks” “Free Rocking Live shows!” ...MADE ME WANT TO... “The music....Dance!” “Eating Jacket potato...eat more” “The sun...smile” “Coming to the fayre...talk to more people and realise I love living in hanford” I’VE NEVER SEEN SUCH “A brilliant event in Hanford” “Such lovely pancakes” “An awesome place” “An amazing fantastical spectacle” “To be Transported to another world in Hanford” “Things for kids to do”
Notable Words: Good food Curry Jacket Potato Icecream Sunshine General Observations Some people seemed to be ‘let down’ by the event because the publicity material stated ‘Fayre’ many people expected a fairground. People mentioned that a mix of arts activity alongside a more traditional fairground would have been preferable. Those with children expected more child friendly activities. The activities that were on offer were at full capacity for most of the afternoon. There were lots of comments about the lack of stalls, that there could have been more going on. There was a significant amount of people who felt there should have been more in the middle of the field, - like a central tent/sculpture/activity that would have given the site more interest rather than all activities around the edges. This could suggest that more enclosure could make people feel more involved and immersed in the event. Childrens activites ceased between 2 and 3, which left some parents disappointed as they turned up at 2 and had to wait an hour. People were generally impressed by how many people had turned out for the event and that Hanford Park was being used for something different.
Quality There were a mix of good quality outlets/activities but it appeared people expected and wanted more things to do and see. Many of the positive comments we received were about the quality of the food and the good weather. This suggests that the audience would be more interested in a food festival or the fayre itself did not live up to their expectations. The event did not entirely convince many people that it was a better alternative to a traditional fairground.
Inspiration The experimental music promoted a mixed response. Some people felt that it didn’t suit the audience whilst others thought it was great to see/hear something different. There was an audience member we spoke to who had travelled from Leicester to see one of the bands and is a regular ‘Capsule’ event attendee. He said that this event was a great excuse to visit Stoke and there is “no other reason” to visit the area. 3 young girls (age 10) asked us if they could help us conduct our research. They gathered feedback with us for 3 hours in the afternoon, eliciting perhaps, more honest responses from their own neighbours than we could have. This was a good example of how the Get Talking model can facilitate better community research and how children can be inspired to use the arts in everyday life.
Barriers Again there were a lot of comments about lack of publicity. People wanted to to see more flyers and posters. One audience member suggested Facebook is no longer a sure way of finding out about events due to the changes in its timeline arrangement i.e. you no longer see posts in real-time, instead older posts are in the majority. A S-O-T council employee was amazed that she hadn’t found out about the event from work but rather she heard about it through her social network. Some audience members commented that their Sat Nav wasn’t accurate and lack of banners from the main road (A34) made finding the venue difficult. It would seem that people came up against many barriers to the arts before they even reached the venue.
Criticlal review of the tool For this particular event the News Headline A-Boards worked moderately well. Since many people felt that the event was lacking, they concentrated mainly on the food, weather, park and community in their answers. Also, since the answers were so public, people may not have been confident to express themselves as much. Many of the negative comments were made verbally. The tool needs further trialing at other events to assess its potential.
Suggestions for Cross Checking What did the title ‘Grand Cross Fayre’ mean to you? Was the Grand Cross Fayre an emersive experience? In terms of arts at the Grand Cross Fayre, was it high enough quality?
Above ^ Young festival goer writing a news headline
Fire Garden 15-16 November Hanley Park 29
The Grand Cross Fayre The Fire Garden is a series of fiery sculptures, specially created by Walk the Plank. The Fire Garden creates a glowing landscape which the audience are invited to come and explore. Sections are animated through flame as the entire garden shimmers - fire breathing flowers, trees with leaves glowing and intricately carved floral patterns create a calm and tranquil scene accessible to all ages and communities. The garden was accomanied by various local musicians who performed in the bandstand. We used one new tool to consult with the audience and had help from two other people to use the tools.
Tool > Light Umbrellas Inspired by the fire garden theme we designed umbrellas made using fairylights instead of fabric to make a portable addition to the installation. The umbrellas had parcel tags attached to them which allowed audience members to write thier comments on the umbrellas themselves. We used four light umbrellas on each of the 2 nights, collecting around 400 comments in total.
< Left Nicola, Erik and Cathie with the Light Umbrellas before the event. Above ^ Audience members writing thier comments on an umbrella.
Notable Comments “A magical evening, thankyou” “An amazing idea. I hope you do it again” “Wow stoke, didnt know you had it in you!” “Excellent, need more like this in Stoke” “...Brings families together” “better than expected. My baby loves it” “lovely community feel” “Relaxing – left our troubles at the gate” “You can take the worst place and cover it with snow and it will look beautiful. The fire had had the same affect” “Now i know, i want to bring others. Could have made an evening out of it” “Come 5:30 the park isnt a good place to come. This is great” “(it needed) more visuals (photos) of what to expect (on the website)” “the park changed 10 years ago. Now its for students and single people, not families” “thanks for lighting up a grey city” “i feel like im at a festival” “a fabulous unique experience that makes you feel miles away from reality” “lived in stoke for 15 years – most unusual and interesting thing ive seen” “stoke finally has some culture! Love it. Really original and fantastic to have this on our doorstep” “fantastic! Well worth the 2 hour drive to get here! From Gloucester” “Lovely but a warm seat and some mulled wine would be ace” “putting stoke on the same playing field as manchester and birmingham“ “it’s not often you get to feel this special as an adult!” “i do fire stuff. It would be good to take part next time” “our council doesnt take risks. This is excellent. A lot of risk involved” “what a great event. Promotes a feeling of calm and peace. An escape!” “peaceful and magical. Feel at ease” “more appetite please! We love it!”
Amazing Beautiful More please The community Something different
Love Park Magical Peaceful Atmosphere Manchester
General Observations The atmosphere on the Saturday night was distinctly different from the Sunday. On Saturday the atmosphere was boyant, festival like, bustling and excitable. On sunday it was calm, contemplative and peaceful. This might benefit from some further cross checking to find out why the atmosphere was so different. Our personal suggestions are: • The music was more ambient on sunday, which affected the atmosphere. • The psychological difference between a Saturday and a Sunday affected the mood. We had comments that suggested that the experience helped people escape from their daily lives and worries, helping them relax and feel good about themselves.
Quality We recieved many comments about how the event made people feel they were somewhere else- namely Manchester, Birmingham, Disneyland, at a festival. This suggests that people felt that the event was high quality, higher that they would expect for Stokeon-Trent. There was a large number of people who said that they would like to see it again. Many people also commented, many times unprompted, that they would have paid for a ticket. The average was between £3-5 or £15-20 for a family ticket.
Inspiration There were many audience members who had not visited Hanley Park at all or who had not visited the park for a number of years. They were pleseantly surprised by how the park looked and the extent of the grounds. Most people said that they would never have ventured into the park after dark, but the event made the space feel safe for them and their families.
Barriers Again there w some comments about how difficult it was to find the event on the Appetite website, and about lack of advertising. There was also some confusion about parking and the location of the event within the park. Many of the atendees found the entrance system quite difficult and confusing- commenting that the staff didn’t really
know what to do. Quite a few people turned up without tickets which made it difficult for the doors staff and awkward for the attendees with tickets.
The Tool By far the most popular tool we made. Lots of people came up to us to ask how they were made and wanted to take photographs with them. On the saturday night we were surrounded by attendees for the duration of the event, with queues of people waiting to be near the umbrellas. The umbrellas could have been improved with better treatment of the ends of the spindles, which needed to be repaired at the end of the first night. In some ways the umbrellas were so popular that it took away from the depth of the commentsas many people were more concerned with holding the umbrella than critiquing the event.
Suggestions for Cross Checking Was there a change in atmosphere between the two nights? What was responsible for the change in atmosphere between the two nights? What would people be prepared to pay for a ticket? Were people put off by confusion over tickets/directions?
Street Treat Sunday 30 November City Centre
Street Treat Sunday Part of WINTERFEST, Street Treat Sunday (STS) once again animated the city centre in the run up to Christmas. Amoung many performaces there was the ‘Cats Choir’ by Stickleback Plasticus on Market Square, Periplum’s Imaginarium in Bethesda Gardens and an animatronic polar bear in the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery and New Orleans style brass band Mr Wilson’s Second Liners who paraded the streets. We desiged one new tool to consult with people. .
^ Above Nicola and Sarah with the geodesic playing card tool during the event.
Tool > Geodesic playing cards. This tool was inspired by the fun, â€˜Alice in Wonderlandâ€™ atmosphere that was created by the acts at Street Treat Sunday. Audience members were encouraged to reach inside the ball and write their comments on the inside, which was lit by fairy lights. This was an experiment to see if the privicy of the process would make a difference to the candidness of the comment and also to emulate the feeling of emersion- a factor that we think relates to audience perception of quality. To visually animate the tool and allow people to participate more easily, we attached white ribbons on which to print using dice- rating the event from 1-6
^ Above Audience member at Mr Wilsonâ€™s Second Liners writing his comment inside the ball.
Notable Comments “I expected to see the wheelhouse as it was advertised on Facebook.” “I would like to know where stuff is” “The times on the internet are different to what is advertised here (polar bear) it’s a shame as my friends will miss the performance. Also the Polar bear is not included on the map” “Need to see more of this in Stoke on Trent! Makes people happy and smilier!” “Very upbeat, great vibe, gathered a large crowd creating a good atmosphere.” “Street entertainment so important for the public in general, opens the mind, gets people away from the ordinary hum drum life. really first class.” “I feel like im in Manchester” “I feel like im on holiday...I would expect to see this in New York!” “I have travelled from Leicester. I wouldn’t come into Stoke for any other reason” “Amazing day in Hanley good family fun! Enjoyed the Fire Garden too! Fab! Good entertainment!” “Been to loads of Appetite this is fast becoming my favourite! I came up specifically for this, it’s better than anything before” “I would definitely look into finding out more about Appetite - This is high quality” “I came especially. I wouldn’t have come last year.” “Events can be difficult to understand what is going to happen from what is written in publicity. However i have been to other Appetite events so I trust whatever it is will be an experience”
Appetite Class Feel times Expected A Shame
Real Different Better Quality Advertise
General Observations People we spoke to didn’t have a problem with the name ‘Winterfest’. Some thought the name was appropriate for an event involving Street Treat Sunday but thought people might get annoyed when used for the light switch on- because it is so strongly linked with the word ‘Christmas’ and all the traditional expectations that surround it. All of the events were well received, especially the polar bear for the young families and children and the brass band for adults, which were transformative for the audiences. These two events were a real success. The imaginarium again worked well for families with younger children as they could explore it together.
Quality Again there were many comments from this event that suggest that people felt transported to somewhere else, perhaps where they would expect to see such high quality- namely Manchester, New York, on holday. We also had mention of the word ‘class’ which has not yet appeared prominantly in any of the consultation- this potentially shows a move away from broad terms like ‘amazing’ to focus slightly on terms more related to quality.
Inspiration During this engagement we spoke to a relitavily high number of people who attended because it was an appetitte event. Some people compared it with other Appetite events they had been to, with one person saying that despite confusion over what what happening when, she came anyway becuase she trusts that Appetite will delivier an experience. This sort of positive action suggests to us that people are being inspired to take risks on Appetite events.
Barriers The main barrier people faced at Street Treat Sunday was the timings and signposting. There were inconsistencies in schedules in published media, and then time changes on the day which meant people who had invested time coming up especially were disappointed. Those who had stumbled upon one of the events had no idea there was anything else going on, and struggled to find timetables and signage to direct them.
The Tool The Geodesic playing card tool has potential to work well with some modifications, but was not entirely suited to this event. Physically, the geodesic ball distorted under its own weight after a while, which means it needed stronger card to keep its shape. Though printing onto the ribbons worked well in the studio, out on the street this was too fiddley and the prints were mostly illegible. We gave up on this method rather quickly and decided to have people write on the ribbons instead. In the busy street location, a lot of people found it awkward to write inside the ball, and the comments showed no particular change in tone considering the private nature of the comment. On the possitive side the Geodesic balls did catch peopleâ€™s attention which allowed us to approach people more freely for thier opinions.
Suggestions for Cross Checking What events should not come under the name â€˜Winterfestâ€?? Did you attend all the performances you wanted to at STS? Where you aware of all the perfomances and times? Did you miss anything you wanted to see because of time changes?
Consumerist Christmas Tree 5 December Meir
Consumerist Christmas Tree Lizinterruptus teamed up with the Meir Christmas Events Board to create a 6 metre tall Christmas tree made from plastic bags. Local children and members of the community helped create the tree which is made using 5,000 carrier bags, lit from within. Members had launched a ÂŁ4,500 fund-raising campaign to ensure they still had a centrepiece for their festive event. We created one new tool to consult with the audience of the tree light switch on.
^ Above Sarah with the Carrier bag balloons at the event
Tool > Carrier Bag Balloons. This tool was designed to emulate the tree itself, it was made from carrier bags and ballons filled with helium. The balloons had lights inside them which added to the effect. The audience members were encouraged to write their comment on the carrier bags with permanent pen. The balloons were held in bunches and taken around the audience by Nicola and Sarah.
^ Above audience member writing their comment on a balloon.
Notable Comments “It looks good from a distance, but when you get up close...um” “Rubbish tip in Meir. I think it will be vandalised” “A lot more work has gone into this than normal” “I think it’s ace, my granddaughter was involved” “It’s better than a traditional christmas tree” “I know its good cos I know what it is about. People don’t adapt well to change” “I looks good but too much money” (N:B I don’t think this person knew how much it cost) “I’m concerned about the cost and who paid for it. It looks like a rubbish tip all lit up” (N:B Again, I don’t think this person knew of exact cost...rather echoed local hearsay that it was expensive) “A lot of people thought it was a budget thing” “I am inspired by children calling it the candy tree, the ‘Up’ tree and a dalek! Fabulous for imagination” “I think it’s important that it makes people think about waste and plastic bags” “Should have been just local shop bags from Meir” “It’ll make Meir stand out” “Meir needs more stuff like this” “It’s something different, I think it’s great”
Cost Different Think Look Rubbish tip
Unique Change Love Local
General Observations Though there was a large crowd of people at the community centre there were not so many people waiting to see the light stwitch on near the tree. Those who were there left quickly afterwards (it was a cold night). We heard from adience members that between £10 and 15k was spent on the tree and that the Council chose it to cost less but it ended up costing more. We were told that these rumours were spread via social media and were believed by many, including some people who attended the switch on.
Quality The perceptions of the piece being low quality dominated our conversations with the audience members, particularly in relation to high cost and the City Council. We think this ficticious narative sprung up around the piece as a reaction to the low cost materials used to make thie tree. The conceptual link between carrier bags and ‘rubbish’ upset some community members, whereas others that made the conceptual link to recycling or consumerism looked at the tree more favourably. It is important to note that most of the people we spoke to attended the switch on becuase they liked the tree or took part in its creation it was they who relayed to us negative things that other people were saying. A group of young people who happened to be in the area at the time confirmed the more negative oppinions we had been told about. They saw the tree as an insult to Meir and its people, but added that ‘Meir is rubbish though’. It seems that to these young people the tree confirmed the low quality experience of Meir as a whole.
Inspiration Those that took part in making the tree (or who had family members who did) were happy to defend their opinion to us. The importance of this can not be underestimated; people were not affraid to express an opinion that was at odds with the popular reaction to a controvercial work of art. Many people were inspired to look at it differently by their children, many of whom were involved in the making of the piece. Though the concept of the tree is ‘consumerism’, more people told us that it made them think more about waste.
One audience member commented that they would have liked it even more if all of the carrier bags had been gathered from local shops, which shows understanding of the concept and the imagination to build on it to make it even more relevant to his community.
Barriers The main barrier, unsurprisingly, to this piece was the perception of quality, twinned with the expectations of tradition. In the context of Meir, an area that historically has been down on its luck the concept was perhaps not as relevant as the narative the community made for themselves. The key to overcoming such barriers was evidenced in the project itself- engagement and involvement from the community allowed people to understand the motives behind the tree and appreciate it. Greater communication to those not wanting to be involved would also help bring down barriers. Working more with the expectations of tradition might have also helped people engage with art, particularly as it is a Christmas event.
The Tool The tool was visually ideal for this specific event, being so similar to the tree itself. They were well recieved, eyecatching, with several people approaching us with money to buy them. We did have some issues getting the balloons to float- if we were to make the tool again we would need to experiement with balloon sizes, helium and carrier bag weight. The night was a little windy but it was quite difficult to control the balloons.
Suggestions for Cross Checking What should the Council spend on Christmas in Meir? Did the tree possitively represent the people of Meir?
^ Above Audience member writing the comment â€œA ot of people thought it was a budget thingâ€?
> Right Sarah and Nicola talking to a group of young people near the event.
Conclusion The Tools
Overall we have found that the most successful tools were those that echoed or added to the event’s theme, atmosphere or visual aesthetic i.e The Ribbon Wheels (The Big Feast) and Light Umbrellas (Fire Garden). This made people feel more comfortable with the approaching the tool, allowing their natural curiosity to take over making it easier to engage and converse. In addition, one of the key findings the research was the relationship between levels of ‘immersion’ and perception of quality. Because the most successful tools blended in with the visual narrative of the events, they helped maintain the immersive experience for the reviewer. Tools that were portable and accessible to all ages and abilities also proved to be the most successful; these tools included the Ribbon Wheels, Light Umbrellas and Carrier Bag Balloons. We believe that these tools- ones that allowed several people to contribute at the same time- made the activity more communal, relaxing and appealing to take part. Also, as people gather around the tools, curiosity drives others to join in. From a data collection point of view, the multi- accessibility also meant that we were able to collect a greater amount of feedback from a greater variety of people. The most difficult tool for audiences members were the Newspaper ‘A’ Boards. We feel that the ‘fill in the blanks’ approach created a challenge rather than an opportunity for people to openly give feedback. This was a tool designed to encourage people to think more critically about the event, using more descriptive language. However, this may have created a barrier for people adding pressure to write something appropriate on the spot which would then be openly paraded around the festival. The data collected wasn’t as indepth compared to other tools, which in part could be down to the pertinence of the tool.
Considerations for future creative evaluation tools
In future consultations we would like to explore the effects of anonymity in new methods. All of the methods we used in this project ensured the feedback would be anonymous after the event, but at the point of gathering their comments we made openly in plain view of other people. It would be interesting to discover whether comments made anonymously and in private are more frank/critical than those we have gathered in public.
The data we gathered from ‘The Consumerist Christmas Tree’ event was largely positive, which does not reflect the full range of opinion that was being voiced through social media. We feel that in a similar situation in the future we could improve the quality of data by talking to local people or passersby beforehand and after the event, and potentially design an online creative consultation tool to capture these opinions more constructively. At the ‘Fire Garden’ event we were able to budget for two extra evaluators. Not only did this impact on the amount of feedback but also improved the variety of feedback collected i.e. a broader range of approach methods and types of questions. Also it was the only event where there was a male evaluator. For future events we would like to be more inclusive of sex, age range, background (i.e non-arts based) and ability to encourage wider participation from audiences. We recommend that volunteers are engaged early with the process to make it more likely that they will give their time and understand better the aims of the evaluation. Although we used a variety of data collection processes (vote, audio, psuedo-payment) we used handwritten responses more than any other. We are aware of the barriers that this can create therefore we wish to explore other methods for future evaluations.
The Main Findings Post-event we collated the data gathered and looked at common responses or quotes that highlighted the 3 research themes; quality, barriers and inspiration.
Overall we found that there was a correlation between perceived artistic effort (skill and ability) and level of quality. “Quality performance. You can see how much effort has been put into it” (The Wheelhouse) “I live in the care home. I love this. There needs to be more like this. I love the skill/ability of the dancers. It’s important for the city.” (Frantic)
Contrary to this, audience comments about a perceived lack of effort were regarded by some as low quality. “it’s badly timed, slow, not very entertaining”. (Cannonballista) “Rubbish tip in Meir. I think it will be vandalised” (Consumerist Tree)
Artistic ‘effort’ also influenced an individuals ability to fully engage and immerse themselves into the performance. We found that notions of high quality coincided with transformative or transportive experiences i.e for a moment forgetting about everyday life. “a fabulous unique experience that makes you feel miles away from reality” (Fire Garden) “I feel like im on holiday...I would expect to see this in New York!” (Street Treat Sunday) “Like escaping for 5 minutes, Luxury!” (Folk in a Box)
Many audiences members commented on how the event met their expectation. This has many influencing factors which include; their personal expectation based on their previous artistic experiences, how the event has been publicised and what they expect to see in Stoke-on-Trent. Generally we found that events that exceeded expectation, in either of the above points, elicited better responses and feeling of high quality i.e. willing to pay more for Folk in a Box after the gig. “Wow stoke, didnt know you had it in you!” (Fire Garden) “I didn’t expect to see so many people here and having a good time. Need more events like this. And wish we hadn’t had lunch already as food is fab!” (Grand Cross Fayre)
We found that a general perception of low quality in Stoke-on-Trent influenced many peoples experiences. “I would be more excited if this was on the south bank in London” “People in Stoke don’t care. In Birmingham you see this all the time.” Further analysis of managing expectation is discussed in ‘Barriers’ - see below.
Barriers Information and Advertising:
Many Appetite followers have found it hard to navigate the Appetite website, they said the information could have been clearer and more easy to find. The most common remark from audience members across all of the events we covered was that they were not well enough advertised. This was prevalent particularly with people that stumbled across events and with those who found out about events at the last minute and had no time to organise friends and family to attend with them. Some people also seemed to be frustrated that they had missed previous events and that more people didn’t know about them. When asked how they could be most likely reached by advertising, audience members mentioned local radio, posters, fliers and The Sentinel- all of which have been used by Appetite. We found evidence of advertising working best with audience members who have attended previous events, suggesting that brand recognition and brand trust makes traditional, local forms of advertising more effective.
As well as brand recognition, brand trust may also be a barrier to audiences. This trust is definitely linked to expectations people have of quality in Stoke-on-Trent. This was most evident in perceptions of ‘Folk in a Box’ at The Big Feast- where participants had a wildly altered opinions of the box after they had taken part. With some saying that because it was located in the City Centre bus station they expected it to be poor quality. What we don’t know of course is the number of people that did not engage because of their low expectations of quality in the area.
“I feel that the quality of art in Stoke-on-Trent is generally low” “Before I went in I thought there needed to be more decorated and signposted but now I think the less signage the better.”
Parking was a barrier for some event attendees across the programme. Some people struggled to find affordable and accessible parking, with some suggesting that the parking should be free or included in the ticket price of any ticketed event. Information about location and timings were vague/changed at some of the events, notably Street Treat Sunday, which did affect audience numbers and opinions. “I expected to see the wheelhouse as it was advertised on Facebook” “the times on the internet are different to what is advertised here (polar bear) it’s a shame as my friends will miss the performance. Also the Polar bear is not included on the map”
Inspiration Friends and Family
We found that many people communicated their feelings of personal inspiration through the actions they would take following the event. An example of this was the need for the spectator to tell someone else about it. Many commented on how their family or friends “would love this, I’m going to tell them to come”. Audiences members that were present with their children commented how good it was for them, and that events like this would inspire and “stay with them”.
Events held in the City Centre, Hanford Park and Hanley Park transformed typically nonevents or under-used spaces. Locals are especially aware of the under-use/potential of parks however these Appetite events elicited comments around other potential uses or spaces in the city and the need for regular activity to reanimate once bustling community hubs. In addition, The Street Treat Sunday and Big Feast showcased a wide variety of public events in repeat City Centre locations; broadening public experience and enhancing the potential these commercial spaces can offer.
A few people who we spoke to mentioned they felt motivated having seen an Appetite event. This ranged from people creating their own work, or getting more involved in other events i.e. volunteer photographer for Appetite to a Fire Artist hoping to be involved in possible future fire performances.
Building audiences beyond Appetite
Many people who experienced Folk in a Box wanted to find out more about the artist with some immediately looking online or purchasing a CD after their intimate gig. Although not directly evidenced other touring companies such as Acrojou, Mr Wilson’s Second Liners (Street Treat), Inspector Sands and many more with have new followers or people recognising them at other events as ‘that performance we saw in Hanley’.
Future Questioning and Possible Research Areas Location and Immersion
Having spent time considering the events we would like to find out how the location and layout has an effect on audiences perception of quality. We have noticed that of the 3 instances where audiences have had less positive perceptions of quality the event, installation or performance has been sparse, far away or minimalist. For example- some people felt disappointed by the Grand Cross Fayre because the stalls were widely spread out and there were long gaps between adult and children’s entertainment. At Cannonballista at The Big Feast, the audience sat quite far away from the performance, as opposed to Frantic where the audience was as close as they were allowed. The Consumerist Christmas Tree was mostly viewed by car drivers and passengers, as it was located were there was not a lot of foot traffic. We would like to find out if size, layout and location really effect perception of quality and whether audiences’ distance from the action is a reflection of their opinion.
Looking back over the data we have noticed that though barriers were discussed in conversation with audiences, they tended not to write them down- preferring instead to be positive and supportive in writing. As great as this is, it would be very useful in year 3 to have some written constructive criticism- not only to produce better event for new audiences in the future, but to evidence discernment in more confident audiences. One way of doing this would be to allow total anonymity, as discussed above, and another would be for each of us to take on a role- one with a tool for positive feedback and another with a tool for constructive criticism.
Evaluation of Y2 creative consultation, creative tools and learning outcomes. Commissioned by Creative Communities Unit - Staffordshire Univ...
Published on May 8, 2015
Evaluation of Y2 creative consultation, creative tools and learning outcomes. Commissioned by Creative Communities Unit - Staffordshire Univ...