The Relaxed Performance Project: theatre for all

Programming

In 2011, a “Wicked Discrimination” story was widely reported in the UK media: an autistic 12-year-old boy was accused of causing a “disturbance” during a performance of the musical Wicked at the Apollo Victoria, a West End London theatre. The family were “offered the chance to watch the show from behind a glass partition or squatting on a flight of stairs and watching through the banisters.” Complaints were not coming from other audience members; instead, staff mentioned a “precious sound engineer”. The family finally left the theatre, cutting short an experience that their son had been “hugely enjoying”.

Following this incident, the ATG theatre group – the largest in the UK – reportedly reviewed its staff training with the help of user-led arts organisation Shape. Its access policy – rather detailed but unfortunately buried deep into the website, nowhere near the homepage – states that they have a dedicated “Access Champion” in all of the group’s 39 venues, who offer orientation visits and other bespoke services, such as seat service during the interval; and one of their London theatre also took part in the recent Relaxed Performance project.

What are “Relaxed Performances”?

Relaxed Performances are creative, safe and inspiring public theatre performances for children with special needs, including Autistic Spectrum Conditions and/or learning disabilities and, crucially, their families. Performances are specially designed to give those who otherwise might feel excluded the chance to experience live theatre.

Led by a partnership between The Prince’s Foundation for Children & the Arts, the Society of London Theatre (SOLT) and Theatrical Management Association (TMA), the Relaxed Performance Project pilot scheme ran between November 2012 and June 2013 and presented 8 Relaxed Performances in theatres across the UK, with a conference held in September 2013 to share best practice with the theatre sector.

The full executive summary is available on TMA’s website; here are the key points taken from the report.

Who took part?

• The pilot project engaged just short of 5,000 audience members (adults and children), with an average audience size of 622.

• Of these, 60% reported they had never been to the theatre before as a family, 30% had never been to the theatre at all, and 90% had never been to a Relaxed Performance.

How does it work?

• A visual guide was compiled and posted to each family prior to the performance.

Autism-specific training was delivered to 300 staff of all partner venues.

• Advice was given on how to engage with potential audience members or how audiences were found.

• A press consultant worked with theatres to promote the performances in local and national press.

• Every participating theatre adjusted light and sound levels during the performance to suit the needs of the audience.

Designated ‘chill-out’ areas were prepared for audience members to use should being in the auditorium become overwhelming. These lessen stress, subsequently promoting feelings of ‘relief’ and ‘acceptance’ amongst individual family members.

Most theatres also offered a reduced ticket price for these performances.

What happens next?

One of the plays presented as a Relaxed Performance was The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time, modified for people with autism, learning disabilities and sensory or communication needs.

Mark Haddon, who wrote the novel on which the play is based, said in the Guardian he was delighted by the special performances. “It is important to emphasise that this is about inclusivity, not targeting. These performances are for anyone who would benefit from a more relaxed performance environment, including people with an autistic spectrum condition, sensory or communication disorders, or a learning disability.”

In the same article, Jeremy Newton, chief executive of the Prince’s Foundation for Children and the Arts, said the plan was to make such performances part of the mainstream: “We’re hoping to start an attitudinal shift within theatres to a point in a year or two where the printed programme will say, ‘Tuesday night, signed performance for the hard of hearing; Wednesday night, relaxed performance for families with children on the autistic spectrum’.”

Finally, here are 10 Tips for putting on a Relaxed Performance:

1. Choice of Production:

Think about it! Is a pantomime the best choice? They can be considered to be challenging due to noise, lights and the uncertainty. Well-known shows might well sell better as they already have more profile.

2. Scheduling:

Work out with your local audience when the best time for them would be to come to a show.

3. Funding:

Can you fund the discounted tickets yourself? Will you have enough budget for marketing the show. On the day you will need extra people front of house.

4. Marketing & Press:

Building audiences for Relaxed Performances takes time. ‘Word of mouth’ and personal recommendation’ and building a personal relationship between a staff member and local groups proved a more effective means of marketing the programme than advertising. Several theatre staff reported that marketing through their ‘traditional routes’ was not effective in this instance. Press worked wonders.

5. Partnerships:

In order to build an audience for a Relaxed Performance it is imperative that you speak to community groups, schools and individuals and listen to their needs and work with them.

6. Advocacy:

Whilst this will take time, it will be worth it in the long run as it will build your community relationships and work as a good advocate for your theatre.

7. Preparation & Information:

Is absolutely key. If audiences know what to expect, there is less for them to worry about. It is difficult enough getting to the theatre so clear and comprehensive information is imperative – “The visual guide was  absolutely fantastic … the reassurance about the story line was really helpful in preparing us for the shock of it”.

8. Training & Understanding:

Take time to understand what a family might have to encounter day-to-day to understand how important this is and train your staff as it will pay dividends. “We trained the cast and front of house staff for today and with autism awareness training. They all felt incredibly honoured and really thrilled to be doing something special.”

9. Environment:

Make people feel comfortable and secure. “Having the relaxation room for the interval was really brilliant … he needed to blow out and I didn’t need to stress about him being too loud or being too fidgety in the show”.

10. Future:

“We would totally come again”. Build on your success. All theatre partners in the project have programmed a further relaxed performance.

Summer Summary 2: Audience Experiences

Tools of the Trade

I’ve only managed to cover a few of my recent wonderful (and free!) aesthetic experiences in the first part of my Summer Summary, so I’ll just mention here quickly my visits to the Walker Art Gallery (Liverpool), the Tate Modern & Britain and the Whitechapel Gallery (London) – although I do intend to come back to my wonderful time at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao with the full-fledged post it deserves.

The second part is going to be all about the “working” side of my working holiday, but it’s not so much of a leap, because much of my work is actually concerned with the audience experience.

Part 2: The Audience Experience

The workshop: Growing Audiences for Jazz

One of the reasons for my summer(ish) European escapade was to deliver a workshop on audience development for NorVolJazz, a network of not-for-profit jazz promoters based in the north of England. My presentation is available online, and preparing it was a great way to reflect on what audience development means to me.

I started with a broad definition by Arts Council England, of which I like not only the multi-function approach (which suits my generalist nature), but also the distinction between audience development as a process (which is where most organisations stop) and ethos:

The term Audience Development describes activity which is undertaken specifically to meet the needs of existing and potential audiences and to help arts [and cultural] organisations to develop ongoing relationships with audiences. It can include aspects of marketing, commissioning, programming, education, customer care and distribution.

Audience development can focus on finding audiences outside the mainstream –i.e. “new audiences” or “audiences from socially excluded groups”. Audience development also reflects the relationship with audiences that develops over time with a focus on the long term.

As a process, audience development employs a range of marketing tools such as research, publicity, communication and customer relationship management.

As an ethos, audience development places the audience at the heart of everything the organisation does.

(source: Wikipedia / Arts Council England)

The last sentence is particularly relevant to the small organisations and independent promoters I was talking to: it’s about a reversal of perspective, from perceiving audience development efforts as an extra – and optional – financial or time cost to thinking first and foremost about people who come – or don’t come yet – to the gig: they ARE the gig.

Of course, it’s easier said than done, and it takes time and commitment, but the mistake would be to think that if audiences don’t come, it’s because you lack money or special skills. Sure, it might help – but the key here is to adopt the audience’s point of view and to think through their complete experience, from the moment they hear about the gig to after they’ve left the venue. I approached this in my workshop with a narrative structure, getting participants to think about how to “make them come”, “make them stay” (a personal worry, with jazz) and “make them come back”. This all goes well beyond the music: knowing in advance about the length of the sets or when the kitchen closes, for example, could make all the difference in the decision to come or not.

Going further, this 2009 series of briefings on audience development commissioned by East Midland Jazz was developed to be used directly by small promoters, avoiding jargon and helping out with decision-making. Although it is based on a specific regional audience and offer, most of it can be used as a starting point for a reflection on motivations and barriers, developing younger audiences, persuading more people to come to jazz more often and pricing.

In 2011, US-based Technology in the Arts published a guide called Online Audience Engagement: Strategies for Developing Jazz and Classical Audiences, also very practical and action-oriented, with some interesting case studies to provide best practice examples.

The Meeting: The Experience Business

Looking for inspiration for my workshop, I researched a few different case studies, some of which I’ve summarised in a previous post about innovative audience development initiatives for classical music. I also stumbled upon a goldmine of tips and insights when I discovered The Experience Business, a UK-based arts consultancy that has truly taken to heart the audience-centered ethos advocated by Arts Council England.

I met with founder and director Lisa Baxter just between her lecturing and workshop tour in Australia and the Mindcamp Creativity Conference in Canada that she attends regularly. Her approach is resolutely boundary-crossing, breathing fresh life into arts marketing by drawing from design thinking and user experience design, applying advanced creative facilitation methods and working with full organisations (and not just the marketing or senior executive team).

On her website, she’s sharing the books and quotes that influence her thinking, as well as this video by Tedde van Gelderen, CEO of Akendi, that presents what Experience Design is and can do:

The Book: The Audience Experience

Fittingly, Lisa Baxter contributed a chapter to a book that I had ordered just before meeting her, The Audience Experience: A Critical Analysis of Audiences in the Performing Arts. Written by a wide range of arts research academics and practitioners, it aims at addressing the following question: “What are audiences thinking, feeling and doing as a product of their engagement with arts practices?” It is redefining the now-ubiquitous term ‘audience engagement’ as “audiences that are engaged in both experiencing and remembering”, hence going much, much further than the traditional bums-on-seats approach.

The chapters explore, amongst other topics, audience response to new trends in arts presentation, such as ‘Alternative Content’ (i.e. live streaming of a performance in a cinema, used for opera, theatre, ballet and music) (CH. 2, Barker); the influence of venues and settings in shaping the audience experience and participation pattern (CH. 4, Brown); new methodologies to understand in greater depth the meaning of performing arts experiences (CH 5, Foremand-Wernet and Dervin; CH. 8, Baxter, O’Reilly and Carnegie; CH. 10, Radbourne; CH. 11, Johanson); and the relation between playing and listening to music, or studying and watching dance, and its influence in shaping the audience experience (CH. 6, Pitts; CH. 9, Vincs).

It’s probably best to leave it to the audience to describe what the audience experience actually is, so here are a couple of quotes gathered through some of the book’s case studies:

What I love about audiences in the theatre is that collective surge that can sometimes happen. It’s not always palpable but there’s a sense of everyone moving forward, or of relief, or maybe of being uncomfortable, or feeling the next person next to you, reacting. It’s a reflection of the emotional character of what’s going on.

When you go to a live performance, it’s happening, it’s in the zone, it’s transcendent. You feel like you’re a part of something special: you’ve actually been present, you’ve borne witness to something.

And a final one from an audience member whose life might very well have been changed by a successful audience development campaign:

Wow, I have never given much respect or thought to this classical music genre, but this was actually very delightful music … Why haven’t I been introduced to this music before? … I have often been told that classical music is boring or not ‘great’ music. I’m disappointed that I let other people’s point of of view distort my taste in music … This music definitely changed my opinion on the genre, not to mention I will be listening to this stuff more than I have.

Summer Summary 1: Art Everywhere

Programming

August is drawing to a close and to my horror I realise that I haven’t done much blogging this summer. I have a good excuse: I was away, on a working holiday trip to Europe. So to lessen my guilt of not producing much content for Art of Festivals, here’s a summary of what I’ve seen, heard and done this past month. I’ll start here with my encounters with free music and art in unusual settings.
(All photos by @artoffestivals, click on images to view a larger version in a new tab).

Part 1: Art Everywhere

Manchester Jazz Festival

I started my trip with 10 days of live contemporary jazz at the 18th annual Manchester Jazz Festival, allowing me to reunite with old friends and discover new and unexpected gems. There were lots of free gigs on offer, at the rate of 3 or 4 a day, and the paying gigs are usually priced at no more than £15. The festival uses a variety of venues and spaces throughout the city centre, from the “Festival Teepee”, a huge tent originally commissioned by Manchester International Festival, to the 300-year-old St Ann’s Church, the recently renovated Band on the Wall (which eventful 200-year history as a pub, then cinema, then live music venue can be found here) and the Grade-II listed Midland Hotel, where Rolls is rumoured to have met Royce.

Attending the festival – and not working it, as I had done for 3 years – was a great reminder of what it’s like to be on the other side. The festival team might be solving a crisis backstage – the next band is stuck in traffic, some volunteers haven’t showed up, or the horrendous weather is threatening to ruin the show – but nothing transpires stage-side: the gig starts bang on time, the sound is perfectly balanced, the performers are highly skilled and engaging, and the only real question remaining is whether or not to have that second glass of Pimm’s.

My festival highlight: spending lots of time with the great guys from Trio Journal Intime (Sylvain Bardiau – trumpet, Matthias Mahler – trombone, Frederic Gastard – bass saxophone), rescuing said bass saxophone from airline mismanagement hell and being completely blown away by their ‘Lips on Fire’ Jimmy Hendrix-inspired gig. Here’s a live performance video for further proof:

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

After my favourite festival, I went to my favourite sculpture park – not that I know that many others, but I can’t imagine that they can come any finer than this: 500 acres of landscaped park in the heart of Yorkshire, with a huge collection of works (featuring Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Anthony Caro, Andy Goldsworthy, James Turrell, Richard Long, Antony Gormley, Helen Escobedo – and so many more that it’s probably best to check the full list here), dotted here and there in the meadows, woods and formal gardens. The indoor galleries host infallibly exceptional temporary exhibitions: this time Yinka Shonibare MBE, on my previous visit Jaume Plensa. As for most cultural institutions in the UK, entrance is free, you only pay for parking; and there are many events, workshops and guided visits on offer for all ages.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park, summer 2013

Yorkshire Sculpture Park, summer 2013

HaHa Bridge, Brian Fell

HaHa Bridge, Brian Fell

Ten Seated Figures, Magdalena Abakanowicz

Ten Seated Figures, Magdalena Abakanowicz

Buddha, Niki de Saint Phalle

Buddha, Niki de Saint Phalle

Wind Sculpture, Yinka Shonibare MBE

Wind Sculpture, Yinka Shonibare MBE

Panopticons

Panopticon (noun): structure, space or device providing a comprehensive or panoramic view

The following day, I set off with friends in the other direction for more outdoor sculpture fun. The Panopticons are a major public art commissioning project, meant to create new landmarks in the rural setting of East Lancashire. All four structures were designed by different architects and/or artists, working both as focal points and viewpoints and drawing from the local heritage. They were completed in 2006-2007. I have already written about the Panopticon project in my post about the research project Why Art Works, so I wanted to see them for myself.

Travelling in style in a red, white and chrome Triumph 2000, we created a public Google Map and followed the route suggested in this article by Nick Hunt, Director of Mid-Pennine Arts, the commissioning agency behind this cultural regeneration effort. We only managed to score 2 ½ out of 4, mainly because we spent so much time chatting about our impressions, taking photos, getting lost, and thoroughly enjoying ourselves.

The two structures we experienced close-up are Colourfields, a converted cannon battery site set in the very Victorian Corporation Park, and Atom, perched on top of the hill in Wycoller Country Park. In both instances, we walked in beautiful landscaped settings, taking in the sights, enjoying the fresh air and reflecting on the shaping of nature by culture.

While we were determined that we would make it to Singing Ringing Tree, we had to give it a miss when we realised that we were only a few miles away from Bronte Country (i.e. the likelihood of a good pub). And the remaining half Panopticon? That’s Halo, which we spotted from the motorway on the way back to Manchester.

Mid-Pennine Arts’ website states that the Panopticons “were designed to attract visitors into the countryside to enjoy the stunning landscapes that this delightful area has to offer”. This cunning plan clearly worked, as there are very few other reasons that could have influenced us to head to Blackburn and Burnley, and I’m immensely glad that we did!

Atom, Panopticon, Wycoller Country Park

Atom, Panopticon, Wycoller Country Park
Design by Peter Meacock with Katarina Novomestska and Architecture Central Workshop.

View from inside Atom

View from inside Atom

View outside Atom

Art Everywhere

I was lucky to be in England just in time for Art Everywhere – self-described as “A Very Big, Big Art show”. It’s a nationwide initiative swapping billboard ads for art posters, using the collections of the Tate (Modern and Britain) and other museums and galleries.

The exhibition ran from 12 to 25 August, featuring 57 different British works of art across 22,000 poster sites. I spotted quite a few in train stations in Sheffield and Manchester and all over London.

It’s public art in more than one way: it was part-funded by the public, through a crowdfunding campaign raising over £30,000, with rewards such as badges, bags, T-shirts and framed prints; the works were chosen by public voting, out of a longlist of over 100 artworks; and interaction was encouraged via a photography competition. It is estimated that 90% of the UK population will see at least one of these billboards during the course of the campaign.

The interactive map helps getting a sense of the huge scale of this project, and this video shows a few works in their newly found context.

Klassik im Club

Tools of the Trade

I am preparing a workshop on audience development for jazz promoters in the North of England, and to procrastinate in a productive way, I have decided to research case studies for a completely different genre. Classical music has its own challenges, and even if the initiatives below don’t apply fully to a different context, there is a transferable lesson to be drawn from their success: they are offering audiences not a new content, but a new way to experience it.

There are plenty of questions about the future of classical audiences in this lecture given by music critic Alex Ross to the Royal Philharmonic Society – considering the etiquette, rules on applause, participation… – which the examples below address in their own way. Too expensive, too stuffy, too complicated, too boring: no wonder audiences are not flocking to the concert hall, unless these perceived barriers are efficiently removed.

The price factor: tsoundcheck

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) offers $14 tickets (about £9) to audience members aged 15-35. The scheme, called tsoundcheck, has its own microsite, a dedicated ticket desk on concert nights and even a subscription series. Only selected performances are available for tsoundcheck members – so no Lang Lang at $14 – but they also get offers on concerts outside the scheme. Online registration is mandatory, which is perfect to track audience behaviour. The very nice touch in this scheme is that tsoundcheck members can purchase 2 tickets, and there is no age restriction for their guest. Last time I went with a friend, I bought me a drink at the venue and we were pretty much even. Members also get their own parties, with a chance to mingle with musicians and sponsors like any other symphony patron, and they are encouraged to volunteer to support the education and outreach efforts of the TSO.

From the TSO Media Room:

With over 24,000 TSOUNDCHECK tickets being sold annually (and over 10% the TSO’s total ticket sales being from TSOUNDCHECK members), the TSO audience is one of the youngest and most diverse in classical music.

Cheap tickets for younger audiences are quite the norm in orchestra marketing, but what makes this scheme special is the membership system, the dedicated website and the subscription offers, that all add up to offer an easy transition from non-audience to regular subscriber. The age range is also considerably extended compared to other discount offers, which are usually up to 25 or, at a push, 30.

tsoundcheck offers can be announced 1 week before the performance, so one would suspect that it’s also a good way to paper the house (i.e. get bums on seats) for slow-sellers, but this last-minute mode can also appeal to an audience that sees going to the symphony as just one of their activities and like to seize such bargains.

The TSO season is full of interesting takes on changing the audience experience, such as the Afterworks series (earlier, shorter and with free mini-burgers) and the Exposed: What Makes it Great?® (puzzingly ‘registered’) series, where “each program features a first half of discussion and demonstration from the featured work, followed by a full performance of the piece.”

The beer factor: The Night Shift 

Drinks are always welcome, even encouraged, at our events and we’ve ditched those irksome classical rules – so feel free to drink, cough, clap or even boo when you like.

This is coming from an orchestra that plays only with period instruments – but also that ran a series of photos entitled ‘Not all audiences are the same’, featuring musicians and audience members, as in the example below. The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment has made it his mission to change the rules and break the conventions, as shows their take on audience development.

The Night Shift also gets its own microsite, describing the series as a “unique classical night brought to you by the Orchestra of the Age of the Enlightenment”: “Running since 2006, it puts great classical music in a different context; Late-night, laid-back and contemporary. An hour-long classical concert, presented from the stage is the centrepiece, but is bookended by other live performances and DJs.”

Concerts can also take place in unconventional venues, for classical music at least, such as the Pub Tour, which initial season last year saw OAE playing “in 5 packed pubs across London, bringing Purcell, Pints and Pork scratchings to your local”. A crowdfunding campaign is about to be launched to support the next Pub Tour, fittingly for an ensemble that plays so close to its audience.

A case study available on cultural marketing knowledge hub Culture Hive  explains the origin of the Night Shift, springing from a 2005 series called Listening in Paris that “examined the radical change in concert going that occurred in 18th and 19th century Paris – a period which saw audiences transformed from being rowdy and irreverent into the quiet well behaved ones we know today”

The idea to experiment with the experience of listening to music came next, and OAE launched the first Night Shift in 2006. Here are a few key points taken from the case study:

  • Constant evaluation, important in securing funding for the event and also in monitoring audience satisfaction.
  • Crucially this is a sustained programme. We only got the produce ‘right’ at the third event. In order for a programme like this to be successful, we believe that a sustained approach to programming is necessary, rather than mounting a one-off event.
  • This kind of programme is an investment. Return on marketing is lower than for a traditional concert as this audience is harder to reach.
  • Be aware of events and periods that may impact on the target audiences ability to attend i.e. we try not to schedule events outside of university term time
  • Make it fun.

The next Night Shift event, at historical Wilton’s Music Hall, is priced at £12 advance, £15 on the door, £4 students – another factor that makes it easily accessible.

OAE has also launched a new series called The Works,  “the classical music equivalent of a museum audio-guide, taking you through the piece step-by-step. Afterwards there’s a Q+A with the Orchestra and then a full performance of the music.” The event is sometimes followed by a speed dating session with the orchestra members, allowing 1-to-1 interaction between patrons and players.

The club factor: Yellow Lounge

Yellow Lounge brings classical music bang up-to-date, leaving a trail of twin-sets, pearls and grey suits in its wake.

Established seven years ago in the Berlin club scene, Yellow Lounge took the classical rule book and tore it up before ingeniously stitching it back together.

Kicking and screaming, flashing and dancing, Yellow Lounge fuses the greatest international performers with cutting-edge DJ and VJ sets in a variety of urban spaces.

Experience the evolution of music.

If it all sounds rather threatening, it could be because Yellow Lounge is not just a late-night classical series, but also a Universal MusicDeutsche Grammophon initiative (hence the colour), and it has a certain corporate whiff about it. Launched in 2001 in a Berlin club, the event is now happening in London and Paris, as well as Amsterdam, Salzburg, Zürich, Vienna, Stockholm, Rio de Janeiro, Dublin – and more. Programmed in iconic clubs such as Fabric (London), Berghain (Berlin) or Batofar (Paris), the event is priced at £6 / €10 for advance tickets, again significantly lowering the price barrier generally associated with classical music. Berlin organiser David Canisius explain in this interview that such low prices are made possible by the association with DG, from which roaster the artists are regularly taken: Hélène Grimaud, Emerson String Quartett, Daniel Hope, Magdalena Kožená, Hilary Hahn, Andreas Scholl, Albrecht Mayer…

Whereas tsoundcheck and Night Shift aim at building a new type of relationship between audience members and an orchestra, Yellow Lounge seem to be shifting the focus on the crowd – the club experience is a collective one – and the star performers. Interestingly, the ‘About’ section on Yellow Lounge Facebook page identifies the barrier for new, younger audiences as “the main audience at classical concerts, predominantly grey haired people in grey suits”, and the biggest challenges for newcomers as “how to dress right, how to behave properly, how to know when to applaud”. Their solution: programme classical music in conditions familiar to the clubbing audience, from bouncers to VJs.

New Yellow Lounge websites are popping up for the varied national scenes they serve, and the event is of course very active on social media, with a dedicated Facebook pages and Twitter accounts per country.

Here is British violinist Daniel Hope at techno club Berghain, which, accordint to Wikipedia, “has a strong reputation for decadence and hedonism” – and plenty more photos that prove that classical music is not that stuffy after all.

Daniel Hope & Friends @ Yellow Lounge,  23JAN11 Berghain © Stefan Hoederath

“An atmosphere of enormous goodwill”

Programming

I haven’t been writing about festivals for a little while, for the good reason that I was actually neck deep into one myself. I’m just emerging from a few intense weeks of planning that culminated in the 7th Luminato Festival, a multidisciplinary arts festival in Toronto for which I coordinated the volunteer programme.

While I will no doubt come back to volunteer management, a topic that I have addressed before, for now I want to get back into contemplative mode and to admire other festivals from a safe distance.

As I was busy training and scheduling 500 volunteers in Toronto, 200 horses and 3,000 sheep and goats were arriving in Marseille, this year’s European Capital of Culture. TransHumance, a flagship event of this year-long celebration of culture, was a huge participatory effort offering many ways to get engaged, from walking alongside the herds to contributing to the land art creations. The project still continues with some exhibitions and talks, and a book is due to be published, but right now the many photos and videos of the arrival into Marseille are beautiful to watch.

TransHumance, Marseille, 9th June 2013

The crowd assembling and waiting reminded me of another large-scale street spectacle I had seen during Liverpool Capital of Culture 2008, a giant spider called La Princesse created by French company La Machine.

La Princesse, Liverpool, 5th – 7th September 2008

To conclude, here is a quote by an audience member in Liverpool (found on Artichoke’s website, the creative company behind La Princesse and, perhaps more famously, The Sultan’s Elephant in London, in 2006).

I have never before witnessed an event on this scale which set out to, and manifestly achieved, the sole intent of making the world a slightly better place. No requirement to buy anything, no commitment to a cause, no politics, no promotion, no underlying propaganda. Just hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world gathered in Liverpool in an atmosphere of enormous goodwill.

Mike Kinley, audience member