SPARC in Cardiff

The first of a run of conference trips for Sarah and Lucy today, who presented their research in progress at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama Postgraduate Research Conference, ‘Shifting Perspectives: Approaches to Music Performance Research’.  Their paper ‘Getting “bums on seats”: The struggles of negotiating audience, ensemble and repertoire in live classical music today’ reported on initial studies with CBSO, Music in the Round and the University of Sheffield concert series.  They reported on the struggle they have noted at each of these organisations, between the desire to programme more challenging works and the need to fill the concert hall. In order to maximise ticket sales, concerts must appeal to both the loyal, knowledgeable long-term attenders and to cautious potential audience members. While these have always been issues for music programmers, the problem has been exacerbated in recent years, through funding cuts and reductions in disposable income, meaning that classical music organisations face a balancing act between artistic development and economic sustainability.  These headline findings prompted interesting discussion and useful feedback for the next stages of Lucy and Sarah’s research.