Empowering audiences through street performance

How can we better understand audiences experiences of temporary monuments? What is the best way to collect and use audience feedback during a live performance? This research explores these questions through the performance of living statues.

What did the project involve? 

This Ideas Exchange reflected on Artist Louise Jordan’s street performance ‘Pop-Up Pedestal’ to explore how audiences engage with the concept of temporary monuments? After a period of research and preparation as a team, Louise developed her approach to collecting feedback from audiences during performances of Pop-Up Pedestal. This approach was be trialled through workshops with three different community groups and evaluated by the research team.

Through the sharing of what was learned during the project, artists and academics reflected on how they might better engage and involve audiences in discussions around the presentation of our shared cultural heritage.

Who are the team and what do they bring?

  • Sumita Mukherjee (History, Bristol University) is a modern historian whose research focuses on the transnational mobility of South Asians in the imperial era (nineteenth and twentieth century). Much of her attention has been on how travel and the colonial encounter for migrants in Britain has had an effect on social and political identities including race, class, gender and religion.
  • Tim Cole (History, Bristol University) has wide ranging interests in social and environmental histories, historical geographies and digital humanities and also works within the creative economy.
  • Tanja Schult (Stockholm University) is a historian whose research focuses on Holocaust memory, on how monuments renegotiate questions of identity and participation, and how art’s efficacy can be captured through audience reception.
  • Louise Jordan (Artist) is a UK based songwriter and performer with a Masters in Human Rights and 10 years’ experience touring the UK & Europe. Self-accompanied on guitar and keyboard, Louise has released 7 recordings gaining national radio play on the BBC Radio 2 Folk Show & Radio 4.

What were the results?

Louise Jordan was awarded Arts Council ACE Project grant funding. This enabled her to work with a team of performers and creative practitioners to create a new version of the performance taking inclusion and representation into account.

This entailed working with a dance /movement artist (in response to outcomes from the 3 workshops funded by Brigstow), a spoken word poet, a Director and Assistant Director. Louise Jordan was also able to work with a photographer and videographer to put some promotional materials together and intends to tour the new piece as a street theatre performance and also to engage museums, heritage and arts organisation in order to reach more audiences through indoor performances and workshops /interactive activities.

In addition, she worked with City of Sanctuary Portsmouth to put a funding application together to create some new performances with their community for Refugee Week in 2023

Alongside the three workshops held during this project, an online Pop-up Pedestal was hosted by Brigstow as part of outreach and dissemination for this project.