Call for arts support in Northern Ireland

Call for arts support in Northern Ireland

Arts sector representatives and tourist companies in Northern Ireland have called on politicians to recognise the important role the arts plays in the economy of the region.

Music venues survey shows third ‘under threat’

Music venues survey shows third ‘under threat’

But Scotland embraces ‘Agent of Change’ principle.

Hockney is critics' choice

Hockney is critics' choice

David Hockney is to receive the Critics’ Circle Award for 2017, only the second time a visual artist has been selected for the prestigious prize in the Circle’s 105-year history.

Photojournalism's art gallery

Photojournalism's art gallery

A new website at last gives Fleet Street’s photographers a showcase for their work as art. Simon Tait spoke to its founders, Fleet Street veterans Alan Sparrow and Bret Painter-Spanyol

Museums' collecting frozen by funding cuts

Museums' collecting frozen by funding cuts

Britain’s museums are being increasingly excluded from the art market by cuts in funding, stifling the acquisitions that are the life force for public collections.

Creative industries on track to create 1m local jobs - Nesta

The creative industries are driving the UK’s economic growth, expanding twice as fast as any other sector, according to new research by Nesta.

BAFTA/BFI set harassment zero-tolerance rules

BAFTA/BFI set harassment zero-tolerance rules

Film and television organisations led by BAFT and the BFI have set a series of principles and guidelines to deal with bullying and sexual harassment in the industry.

Tax deal takes early Freuds back to Lakes

Tax deal takes early Freuds back to Lakes

Two really portraits by Lucian Freud have been left to the nation in lieu of tax and allocated to the Abbott Hall Gallery in Kendal.

Mary Beard to front Front Row

Mary Beard to front Front Row

The classics professor Mary Beard is to anchor the revamped television version of the arts review magazine Front Row when it returns in the spring.

17c mystery painting still baffling experts

17c mystery painting still baffling experts

This large picture of 1665 by an anonymous artist is one of the great mysteries of the art world, and is the centerpiece of a forthcoming major Norwich Castle Museum exhibition.

London goes Underground

London goes Underground

Photographs of some faces and places associated with the capital go on display at five London Tube stations this week.

British Art Fair goes to the Saatchi

British Art Fair goes to the Saatchi

Celebrating its 30th birthday this year, the 20/21 British Art Fair has changed ownership and will move to the Saatchi Gallery.

National Gallery visitor figures slump

National Gallery visitor figures slump

The National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery are losing visitors, by 20% and 42% respectively, according to figures for May to December 2017 published in The Times.

Call for special arts visas

MU and Dance UK suggest post Brexit measures

New ACE youth chiefs

New ACE youth chiefs

Arts Council England have appointed Hannah Fouracre as director of music education, and Anne Applebaum as director of children and young people.

THEATRE    Caesar and the young citizens

THEATRE Caesar and the young citizens

The Royal Shakespeare Company’s First Encounters tour not only takes Shakespeare to schools in deprived areas, it makes their pupils part of the production. Simon Tait reports in the first of a two part feature on the RSC’s touring. Next month, AI talks to deputy artistic director Erica Whyman about mainstage touring

Creative Scotland U turn on funding

Creative Scotland U turn on funding

Funding restored to five companies 

Sheffield to leave British Council

Sheffield to leave British Council

Graham Sheffield is to leave the British Council in June after seven years as director arts.

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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