Kirsty
Sedgman
Researcher, Lecturer, Editor & Writer


RESEARCH

Through research and writing, I reconsider what we mean when we talk about ‘cultural value’.

Until recently, cultural policy has been built on very narrow understandings of the social impact of the arts. Debates have oscillated between simple participant quotients, limited evidence of economic and instrumental ‘benefits’, and inflated claims of intrinsic transformation. By viewing value as a process, I study how people actually find meaning in media and the arts:

My work is part of the contemporary drive to evaluate impact. But instead of reducing audiences to simple statistics, my approach maps people’s engagements with culture in all their complexity.

PUBLICATIONS

books

Sedgman K (2016) Locating the Audience: How People Found Value in National Theatre Wales, Bristol: Intellect Ltd.


Chapters

Sedgman K (2017) 'Understanding Your Audience', in PERFORM: Acting for the Stage, Anna Weinstein (ed.), Boston: FOCAL Press.

Sedgman K (2017) '"You Can’t Teach Them Things if You’re Their Friend": Teaching Performance/Performing Teaching in Bunheads’ in Mediated Pedagogies: Teaching and Learning on Screen, Mark Readman (ed.), Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.


Articles

Reason M & Sedgman K (2015) ‘Researching Theatre Audiences: An Introduction’, Participations 12:1, pp. 117-122.

Sedgman K (2015) ‘Be Reasonable! On Institutions, Values, Voices’, Participations 12:1, pp. 123-132.

Sedgman K (2016) ‘What’s Bigger Than a Standing Ovation? Intimacy and Spectacle at the Tony Awards’, Studies in Musical Theatre 10:1.

Sedgman K (TBC) ‘Ladies and Gentlemen Follow Me, Please Put on Your Beards', Contemporary Theatre Review.


Reviews

Sedgman K (2012) ‘Review of Matthew Reason, The Young Audience: Exploring and enhancing children's experiences of theatre’, Participations 9:1, pp. 122-125.

Sedgman K (2015) ‘Review of Jennifer Radbourne, Hilary Glow & Katya Johanson (eds.), The Audience Experience: A Critical Analysis of Audiences in the Performing Arts’, Participations 12:1, pp. 786-788.

METHOD

My approach is multi-method and responsive. Whether I’m using questionnaires or interviews, focus groups or creative ‘participatory’ methods, I position audiences as the experts of their own experiences. My research is interdisciplinary, ranging from site-specific theatre to arts festivals, and from applied drama to stand-up comedy - though I have a particular interest in the connections between people, performance, and place. I work with partners from local communities to government agencies, and aim to break down barriers between academia and industry – I believe that research should travel outside universities, and balance scholarly publications with more accessible kinds of output.

PROJECTS

I have developed collaborative networks and worked with partners including:

National Theatre Wales (NTW)

With a foreword by founding Artistic Director John E. McGrath, my forthcoming monograph Locating the Audience (April 2016, Intellect Books) will be the first in-depth study of how people form relationships with a new theatre company. It maps the historical tensions that led to the 2009 launch of NTW, outlining the processes of negotiation by which NTW worked to fit into an existing Welsh performance ecology. It then describes how individuals and communities felt about NTW’s engagements with place – whose inaugural productions sought to ‘engage communities’ and ‘perform locations’ in very different ways – by drawing on over 800 questionnaire responses and more than forty interviews, conducted with people from audiences to community members to the company’s creative associates.

Rimini Protokoll

Merging walking fieldwork and oral history techniques, I worked on their 2010 production Outdoors, drawing out local people’s memories of Aberystwyth.

Pentabus Theatre

I worked on an applied drama project encouraging at-risk teenagers to develop confidence and communication skills, culminating in a site-specific performance at a cinema in Telford.

Bloodaxe Books & Midland Creative Projects

Using questionnaires and interviews, I analysed how people find meaning and ‘authenticity’ in actor-performed poetry.

Arts Council of Wales

By analysing an applied arts archive collated by Flintshire, the Arts Council’s ‘model’ county for Artists in Schools residency projects, and conducting new research into the responses of participants through ‘participatory’ methods (e.g. metaphor elicitation), I am working to transfer knowledge on best practice for applied arts projects across county borders. This will culminate in designing an interactive ‘Toolkit’ website for teachers and arts officers in Wales, to be launched in March 2016.

Theatre & Performance Research Association (TaPRA)

I’m working towards a detailed report on TaPRA’s activities from their 2005 launch to the present by analysing their archive of membership information.

Cultural Solutions UK

Evaluating the ‘Magna Carta Poets Laureate Lincolnshire Landscape’ project, part of the 800th anniversary celebrations, I’m using semi-structured interviews and focus groups to examine how different communities in Lincolnshire engage with heritage through participatory arts projects.

I am part of a new interdisciplinary project on musical theatre communities in translation with Portsmouth University, currently seeking AHRC funding, and Chair of the Performing Audience Research Network.

CONFERENCES

Event Date Paper
TaPRA 2015: Performance & New Technology WG Sept 2015 ‘You Get Lost in the Video’: Audience, Location and Memory in Outdoors
Redefining Theatre Communities, Malta Sept 2015 ‘Local’ Theatre for ‘Local’ People: Community Involvement and National Theatre
Musical Theatre Fan Communities Symposium May 2015 Smashing YouTube & Kickstarting Bombshell. Or: “EVERYONE STOP COMPLAINING AND ENJOY THE FLAPPING MUSIC!”
Cultural Values in Wales & Beyond Jan 2013 Finding Value in National Theatre Wales
TaPRA: Identity & Community WG Sep 2012 Promenade Performance and the ‘Tyranny of Participation’
Performance Studies international (PSi) 18 May 2012 ‘The Only Welsh Thing was Preparing for it to Rain’: (How) Does National Identity Really Matter?
AWWE Performing Wales: Theatre, Art, Identity Mar 2012 Audiences as Citizens of the World
The Audience Through Time Dec 2011 The Long Development and New Audiences of National Theatre Wales
Relation & Participation May 2011 Universalism, Localness and National Identity in The Persians
Journeys Across Media May 2011 Site-Specific Performance and For Mountain, Sand & Sea

Ten years working in professional office environments has given me significant administrative and event management experience. In previous positions I have been responsible for running community events, managing photography exhibitions and creative writing competitions, and organising dozens of events per year. I also co-organised the academic conference Relation & Participation (May 2011, Aberystwyth University). This event included speakers such as Patrick Primavesi, John E. McGrath (National Theatre Wales), Lone Twin and Rimini Protokoll. In addition to the live conference, presentations and practical sessions were streamed on the conference website and gathered thousands of international views.