All together now: A symphony orchestra audience as a consuming community

O'Sullivan, Terry (2009). All together now: A symphony orchestra audience as a consuming community. Consumption, Markets and Culture, 12(3) pp. 209–223.



This study examines the nature of communal consumption in the context of audience experience of the performing arts. Building on existing literature on consumption communities and ritualistic perspectives on shared event-based consumption, it uses focus groups and participant observation to investigate the experience of members of a UK symphony orchestra's audience as a consuming community (a 'consumity' in short). It finds tensions between respondents' perceptions of their individual and collective experience, framed within a pervasive anxiety about the sustainability of both audience and art form. It concludes that the communal aspect of audience experience is more complex and inflected than current notions of shared consumption acknowledge, in particular with respect to the audience's sense of itself over time. It concludes by questioning the absence from current arts marketing discourse of a more integrated view of the experience of customers in a temporal context.

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