Participatory Arts

Participatory Arts

“In our ever-changing cultural landscape, we as arts organizations must continuously adapt and reinvent the way we do business. In order to ensure our future relevance and sustainability, we must equally prioritize audience engagement and participation, community impact, and diversity.”

“Engaging audiences and visitors is increasingly being recognized as both a retention strategy and a means of deepening the artistic experience. But the ultimate potential of an engaged audience cannot be realized until engagement is fully integrated with institutional strategy at the highest level.”

Audience Engagement "activities" should be an important part of strategic planning that needs full "buy-in" from marketing, education and artistic programming staff.

These activities/programs should be planned out to occur before, during and after the main event (aka the art)

There are four types of "engagers"

  • Divers
  • Swimmers
  • Skimmers
  • Skippers

Make sure there is something for everyone

There is big middle of Audience Engagement. Most people just want "a little"

Younger audiences are more diverse. By inviting younger audiences you will also be inviting more diverse audiences.

Examples of successful participatory arts/engagement projects

Los Angeles- Ford Theaters
Jam Sessions
Started in 2008
Intergenerational/ cross cultural dancing

“Dance to the beat, play a new instrument and experience the unexpected. Get up on the Ford stage and participate in these FREE interactive events. JAM Sessions are centered around movement and music. All ages and skill levels are welcome. Reservations are recommended”

Theatre Puget Sound
ArtCrush Seattle, WA.
Arts Crush is a collaborative, month-long arts and cultural festival aimed at Engaging Community, Creating Access, Inspiring Creativity and Building Arts Participation.

The festival takes place throughout the entire month of October.

Through Arts Crush, TPS partners with local artists, arts organizations, audiences, and businesses to invest in, promote, facilitate and create interactive and immersive arts experiences that encourage collaboration between artists and audience to inspire creativity.

In addition, TPS works with partner organizations to offer free or pay-what-you-will tickets to more traditional arts experiences.

Arts Crush features hundreds of arts groups and individual artists offering a plethora of free events, special discounts and once-a-year interactive arts opportunities for all ages.

Seattle Art Museum
Remix- Programming in the galleries
Always sells out, tickets are $20

No two Remix events are the same! This late-night creative explosion bursts at the seams with performances, talks, art making, dancing and more.

Example of one Remix event:

  • DJ Riz spins soul, pop, hip hop, and more to keep you movin’ all night long.
  • The dynamic choreography of Seattle’s Alchemy Tap Project, ranging from jazz to electronic to hip hop—styles as diverse as SAM’s collections
  • Stop by the Rec Room to play a collection of games, including a giant game of Twister, group Pictionary and Modern Art Bingo.
  • Make small edition trading cards with artist Janet Fagan.
  • Design jewelry rooted in clean forms of color and shape inspired by the minimalist works in Fifty Works for Fifty States with artist Terri Rau.
  • Put your artistic eye to the test in a photo scavenger hunt in SAM’s collections for a chance to win free tickets to the upcoming exhibition Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion.
  • Grab a free Remix tote and build a collection of art created with an array of local artists in booths at the Mini Fair. Created with Seattle artist Joey Veltkamp, featuring Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes, Sharon Arnold, Nola Avienne, the Bureau of Drawers, Celeste Cooning, Chris Crites, Ronald Hall, Harold Hollingsworth, Sean Johnson, Izzie Klingels, Kristen Ramirez, Susan Robb, Joey Veltkamp and Tariqa Waters.
  • Seattle Opera BRAVO! Club presents: Bass-Baritone Danny Oakden and pianist Elisabeth Ellis will perform live in the galleries. In minimalist style, this performance celebrates the essence of operatic form—the power of the human voice.
  • SAM Performs: modern dance by Salt Horse live in the galleries
  • Experience the galleries in new and unexpected ways with highly opinionated tours led by neon artist Dylan Neuwirth, arts writer and goer Jeremy Buben, New York artist Heather Hart, Executive Director of Photo Center Northwest Michelle Dunn Marsh, Arts Corps Program Director Lara Davis, founder of M.I.A. Gallery Mariane Lenhardt, and SAM Modern & Contemporary Art Curatorial Assistant Carrie Dedon!
  • Get minimal. First 50 dressed in monochrome get in free.

San Francisco Ballet
Through an audience survey they learned that

  • 80% want to know basic info to follow along with the story
  • Most want the engagement right there in the lobby

They have an “initiative” called Instant Expert which is “bite-sized” info about ballet that appears in programs, in the lobby, in email marketing and on social media.

They recently developed the interactive Nutcracker Storybook as a way to connect children with the ballet:

A $4.99 tablet app
Key app features:

  • “Listen to Story” or “Read it Myself” modes
  • Playful animations on tap
  • Audio clips of score accompany each scene
  • Pop-up info pages take users behind the scenes with photos and videos
  • Tutorials teach basic ballet positions and simple choreography
  • A companion micro-site features more in-depth information about dance, ballet, SF Ballet, and Nutcracker

 Oakland Museum of California


Friday Nights @ OMCA

 “Enjoy a family-friendly festive night market during the holiday season with OMCA and Off the Grid every Friday! The Galleries are open late, with a selection of tasty food trucks on 10th Street. Savor California beer and wine around the Koi Pond while enjoying live music, art activities, and more! Bring the whole family to OMCA for a sampling of the best in Bay Area curbside cuisine—and all that OMCA has to offer!”

The December 6th event included:


  • Twelve gourmet food trucks from Off the Grid featuring the best in local cuisine
  • Local beer and wine specials in the Blue Oak beer garden
  • DJ Dotmatic spinning hits all evening
  • Family-friendly drop-in workshop making holiday ornaments from 5 to 8 pm
  • Makers & Tasters Series with a butchering demonstration by Peter Jackson of Boucherie Meats from 6 to 8 pm
  • Klezmer group The Red Hot Chachkas offering a dance lesson and demonstration from 6:30 to 7 pm, and then live Klezmer performance in the Amphitheater from 7 to 9 pm
  • A Snack Size Docent Tour, a fifteen-minute mini-tour led by a talented OMCA Docent to introduce you one of the Galleries—you won't know which until the tour begins!—meeting at the ticketing desk on Level 2 at 7:30 pm
  • A holiday kiosk where you can find something special to make the winter bright, on Level 2 in the OMCA Store
  • Extended hours in the galleries and special exhibitions
  • The swanky East Bay Express lounge where you can kick back and take it all in

Cost: Half-price gallery admission for adults, ages 18 and under are free. Admission for Members is always free. Cash bar. Prices vary for Off the Grid food trucks.