For the last year or so I have participated in the RSA Cultural Evidence champions network. I was particularly interested in joining off the back of work I had done evaluating a theatre in libraries project that you can read more about here if you like. (or here). If you aren’t particularly interested in education, I think the broader arguments about evaluation in the cultural sector will still be of interest. What? You don’t like evaluation either? I am shocked! Well, not that shocked.
Survey-based research methods are nothing particularly new to the event and festival sector; and in a forthcoming journal article (which is now out: Event Management), myself and co-author James Bostock (Derby University) carry out an in depth analysis of past, current and future trends.
Yeah, we may use survey methods a lot in this field, but that doesn’t mean we’re somehow exceptionally good at it or that all the different variations of surveys can just all be lumped together and considered as ‘basically the same thing’. As a proportion, we’re doing ‘less’ surveys, but as the literature expands, there is still more and more research using surveys.
A proof of concept to establish how timelapse 360 photography could be used to count crowds and examine general crowd dynamics at events.
Outdoor events of all types, and especially those that are more temporary, moving (parades, processions) free to attend or unticketed typically have a difficult time establishing accurate figures for attendance. Organizers may be incentivised to over-estimate these figures for funding or political reasons; they might also be incentivised to under-estimate these figures for licensing reasons. For sufficiently large events, or events that have taken place multiple times, organisers and emergency services will likely have produced an estimate though the methods and assumptions behind these often vary and there is rarely a clear process by which the process can be examined or scrutinized. Clearly from history and policy, a scientifically accurate estimate of attendance is rarely a requirement, arguably even ticketed and paid events could feasibly be wrong about their levels of attendance. Increasing study of events of all types mean this is a key area or investigation, or at least a key ‘stat’ for discussion. The technical feasibility and time required to carry out head counting, sampling and wider estimation is generally beyond the usual time-pressed event organiser.