Dundee could follow up V&A with new concert hall

Dundee could follow up V&A with new concert hall

Plans follow successful launch of new museum

ACE appoints South West chair

ACE appoints South West chair

Helen Birchenough has been appointed as chair of Arts Council England for the South West.

Hull wins National Lottery award

Hull wins National Lottery award

City of Culture voted best arts project

Welsh arts ‘invisible’ overseas

Welsh arts ‘invisible’ overseas

Welsh cultural talent is hiding its light from the rest of the world, according to a report for the British Council.

ACE/HLF firm up museums support

ACE/HLF firm up museums support

Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery have signed a new, reinforced memorandum of understanding (MoU) to improve support for museums in England.

Lifting off after novichok

Lifting off after novichok

AI PROFILE    Gareth Machin, artistic director, Wiltshire Creative

Digbeth - 'artistic powerhouse'

Digbeth - 'artistic powerhouse'

Digbeth, Birmingham’s creative quarter, “all the potential to be the UK’s top creative hub”.

 O’Riordan to take over at Lyric Hammersmith

O’Riordan to take over at Lyric Hammersmith

Rachel O’Riordan, artistic director of the Sherman Theatre, Cardiff, since 2014, is to be the new chief of the Lyric Hammersmith.

TAITMAIL   Salisbury’s art of recovery

TAITMAIL Salisbury’s art of recovery

Salisbury’s Novichok horror might, perversely, have been a mixed blessing for the city – and for the Arts Council. 

BAC grand hall reopens after fire devastation

BAC grand hall reopens after fire devastation

Battersea Arts Centre today reopens its grand hall following the 2015 fire that all but destroyed it, and also reveals the results of a 12 year development programme for the centre.

Freeman to join Royal Exchange

Freeman to join Royal Exchange

Stephen Freeman is to leave his job as CEO of the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, to  be executive director of the Royal Exchange in Manchester.

Labour pledge on creativity in schools

Labour pledge on creativity in schools

Labour is committed to putting creativity back onto the school curriculum, shadow culture secretary Tom Watson said today.

Bush’s Younis takes over at Southbank

Bush’s Younis takes over at Southbank

Madfani Younis has been appointed to the new role of creative director at the Southbank Centre.

McBean and the RSC’s’ golden age

McBean and the RSC’s’ golden age

The photographer Angus McBean, best known now for his portraits of the Beatles, Audrey Hepburn and Vivien Leigh, took some of his finest pictures for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Meet the first ever Pet Poet Laureate

Meet the first ever Pet Poet Laureate

Blue Cross, the pet charity, has appointed Russell Jones as the first ever Pet Poet Laureate.

MY STORY		Trusted with Shakespeare

MY STORY Trusted with Shakespeare

Louisa Davies has been appointed to the new post of head of creative programme for the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the independent charity that cares for the world’s greatest Shakespeare heritage in his hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon.

Stenning leaves Bristol Old Vic

Emma Stenning is stepping down as chief executive of the Bristol Old Vic after nine years at the theatre.

Rescue plan for Farfield Mill

Artists have agreed a rescue plan to save Farfield Mill at Sedbergh in Cumbria.

THEATRE Love power of theatre’s sniff factor

New research by neuroscientists at University College London shows that the thrill of drama can literally make the audience share a heartbeat. Simon Tait reports

People enjoy arts events together, rather than alone at home in front of a screen, because of what Professor Gavin Henderson, principal of the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, likes to call “the sniff factor” – the sharing of exhilaration inspired by performance.

Until now that has been a well-informed theory, but the University of London (UCL), in association with Encore Tickets, has made it a fact. People who enjoy watching a live performance together

“Usually, a group of individuals will each have their own heart rates and rhythms, with little relationship to each other” says Dr Joseph Devlin, head of experimental psychology at UCL. “But during experiences with heightened levels of emotion, people’s heart beats can become synchronised, which in itself is astounding.

“Experiencing the live theatre performance was extraordinary enough to overcome group differences and produce a common physiological experience in the audience members.”

Devlin’s team had monitored the heart-rates and skin response of selected members of the audience at a live performance of the Olivier- winning musical Dreamgirls. They found that even the heart beats of strangers at the show were beating at the same time.

They also found that friends continued to react together during the interval, and that such synchronisation can actually cause people to like each other more.

Theatre visits, the team found, can bring families closer together, or help a date go well. The co-ordination of heartbeats has been linked by the research to team performance, trust, empathy and simply people liking each other. Following on, the unified response experienced at a live performance can help break down social differences and bring people closer. The connection, said Devlin, could reach deeper to the subconscious level.

The study found that almost half of people (46%) enjoy the theatre experience because of the atmosphere that comes with being in the audience, and almost two thirds (59 per cent) of people feel emotionally affected by a live performance.

The research programme is the latest in a series looking at heart rate synchronicity, and previous studies of people watching firewalking – walking barefoot over red-hot coals - synchronised their heartbeats in time with the firewalkers themselves – and the synchronicity increased the more closely the walker and watcher were related.

The UCL research found that participants who knew each other continued to synchronise throughout the interval, while the other members of the audience fell out of sync without the performance to connect them.

“This clearly demonstrates that despite the social group differences, the performance was a strong enough influence to cause physiological synchrony, engaging the audience as a whole” says Devlin.

The new research was led by the UCL’s division of psychological and language sciences ( a title that happily reduces to PaLS) and was conducted by Devlin, Dr Daniel C. Richardson and John Hogan of UCL’s department of experimental psychology and Dr Helen Nuttall  of Lancaster University.

They monitored the heart rates and electro dermal activity of 12 audience members at the live Dreamgirls performance.

www.ucl.ac.uk/pals/pals-news/audience-members-hearts-beat-together

 

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