The Creative Voucher scheme enabled small and medium sized businesses to partner with an arts & humanities-based researcher from one of Creativeworks London’s partner institutions. This section shows all of the projects that we have supported. More information about the scheme can be found here.

Creative Voucher Scheme

English Touring Opera and Guildhall School of Music & Drama

SME Partner

Aislinn Ryan, English Touring Opera

Academic Partner

Professor John Sloboda, Guildhall School of Music & Drama

Project Title

Building audiences for live opera through understanding the appeal of ‘Opera Live’ at the cinema

Project Description

Recently the rise of cinema broadcasts has changed the consumption art forms such as opera and theatre. With this change in consumption comes a potential shift in audience. The partnership between the English Touring Opera and the Understanding Audiences programme at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama sought to explore this phenomenon, revealing what attracts audiences to the experience of viewing opera on the big screen. The project was carried out in collaboration with the Barbican’s marketing and cinema departments.

The project began with a series of discussions between the participants to identify a research methodology, develop and refine it. Joining the conversations were Guildhall research fellow Dr Karen Wise and Barbican Direct Marketing Manager Emma Proch.  It was decided that a questionnaire would act as the core method, supported by additional focus group discussions.

Hardcopies of the questionnaire were distributed to numerous London cinemas, including the Barican (which made up 50% of the survey results), the Vue in Islington, Odeon in Kensington, Everyman Cinema in Belsize Park, Picturehouse Hackney, The Ritzy, Curzon in Mayfair and BFI IMAX. At Met Opera ‘Live in HD’ screenings of ‘Eugene Onegin’, ‘The Nose’, ‘Tosca’, ‘Falstaff’ and a Royal Opera House broadcast of ‘Les Vepres siciliennes’ the questionnaire was conducted. In total 234 participants completed the survey.

The data collected in the surveys and insights gained through the focus groups led to two reports, a document detailing key findings and a full analysis report. The project helped the English Touring Opera understand in detail the demographics of who attends screenings, the attitude and behaviours of the audience and resulted in implications for future research and communication strategies. The data was assessed along thematic, content and qualitative lines.

A symposium, Opera and its Contemporary Audiences, was hosted on the 27th of May 2014 at the Guildhall School of Music with a series of speakers and panel conversations. Additionally Professor Sloboda and Dr Wise have presented their findings at the Royal Academy of Music in October 2013 and the University of Hertfordshire in June 2014.

The project received press attention from The Guardian and The Stage, amongst others.

The English Touring Opera is planning to roll the project out regionally and has already made contact with cinemas such as City Screen Picturehouse in York. Professor Sloboda and Dr Wise have agreed to take on advisory roles.


Queen Mary - University of London
Arts & Humanities Research Council
European Union
London Fusion

Creativeworks London is one of four Knowledge Exchange Hubs for the Creative Economy funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) to develop strategic partnerships with creative businesses and cultural organisations, to strengthen and diversify their collaborative research activities and increase the number of arts and humanities researchers actively engaged in research-based knowledge exchange.