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New model measures audiences’ concert experience


Poor ventilation, rustling sweet wrappers and coughing have a negative impact on the audience’s experience of a classical concert. However, when the conductor and orchestra show great skill, the audience can become completely absorbed by the music. A study in which researchers from Lund University, Sweden, collaborated with Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra demonstrates a new method of measuring audience experience.

Professor Su Mi Dahlgaard-Park, who conducts research on quality at the Department of Service Management, Campus Helsingborg, followed the symphony orchestra’s concerts during the spring. The study was conducted in collaboration with Helsingborg Concert Hall and the City of Helsingborg. In the course of the study, a questionnaire to measure audience experience was handed out to over 400 audience members at four different classical concerts.

“It is important to identify what factors affect the experience. The skill of the orchestra and the conductor, the audience’s familiarity with the music, the building, the company and the atmosphere all play a role. Everything blends into one experience”, says Su Mi Dahlgaard-Park.

Flow experience produces satisfied visitors
The results show a very strong link between the experience of ‘flow’ and audience satisfaction. Between 63 and 72 per cent of audience members stated that they had become absorbed in the music, which can be described as an experience of ‘flow’.
“The mark of flow is that you forget time and space and are totally caught up in the moment. My hypothesis is that if audience members have experienced flow, they are also satisfied”, says Su Mi Dahlgaard-Park.

More women than men
The study shows that the audiences were mostly loyal visitors with season tickets. The concert hall audiences appreciate music, but do not practise music themselves to any great degree. The majority are women over the age of 60; only one visitor in three is male.
“These findings provide information about audiences at Helsingborg Concert Hall and where the management should set its focus in the future”, says Su Mi Dahlgaard-Park.

The project has involved the development of a model that can be used to measure audience experiences of cultural events.
“The model can be adapted to measure different experiences such as rock concerts, football matches and shopping. The experiences are different but closely related”, says Su Mi Dahlgaard-Park.


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