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Being and Becoming: Children as Audiences

  • Katya Johanson and Hilary Glow

Abstract

In this article, Katya Johanson and Hilary Glow examine the ways in which performing arts companies and arts policy institutions perceive the needs of children as audiences. Historically, children have been promoted as arts audiences. Some of these represent an attempt to fashion the adults of the future – as audiences, citizens of a nation, or members of a specific community. Other rationales focus on the needs or rights of the child, such as educational goals or the provision of an antidote to the perceived corrupting effect of electronic entertainment. Drawing on interviews with performing arts practitioners, the authors explore some of these themes through case studies of three children's theatre companies, identifying the development of policy rationales for the support of practices directed at children which are primarily based on pedagogical principles. The case studies reveal a shift away from educational goals for children's theatre, and identify a new emphasis on the importance of valuing children's aesthetic choices, examining how these trends are enacted within the case-study organizations, and the implications of these trends for company programming. Hilary Glow is Senior Lecturer and Director of the Arts Management Program at Deakin University, Victoria. She has published articles on cultural policy and the audience experience in various journals, and in a monograph on Australian political theatre (2007). Katya Johanson lectures and researches in the School of Communication and Creative Arts at Deakin University. She has published on Australian cultural policy and on the relationship between art, politics and national identity. With Glow she is the author of a monograph on Australian indigenous performing arts (2009).

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