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Beyond the multiplex: A new approach to audience research

  • FACT 88 Wood Street Liverpool, L1 4DG (map)

The ‘Beyond the Multiplex: audiences for specialised film in English Regions’ project seeks to understand how to enable a wider range of audiences to participate in a more diverse film culture.

This session comprises of an introduction to the project and new research approach, present initial findings, followed by Q&A and discussion about the approach and findings to date. While the provision of mainstream film is good across England, in many places outside London there is limited opportunity for people to experience a diverse film culture. In response to this, our research involves a comparative study of audiences in four English regions, the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, North West and the South West.

For each region we are collecting data about audience characteristics and practices, venues, screens, events and programming, and how films are interpreted; as well as data on film policy and regional demographics. To bring all this together we are using an innovative computational method that allows us to interpret and understand film audience data at a scale and depth in ways that have not been achieved before. The project aims to support those working in film audience development by providing evidence, methods and tools to develop more sustainable, diverse audiences for films beyond the mainstream.

Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the project team brings together researchers from the Universities of Glasgow, Sheffield, York and Liverpool.


Bridgette Wessels, Principal Investigator

Peter Merrington, Co-Investigator

David Forrest, Co-Investigator

BRIDGETTE WESSELS is Professor of Sociology in the School of Social & Political Sciences at University of Glasgow and PI of the Beyond the Multiplex project.

Her research focuses on social change, media including digital media and cultural participation. She has extensive research experience in the area of digital culture in a wide range of areas, such as public sphere, the creative and cultural industries, media and new media, e-services, and digital culture in everyday life studies. She is particularly interested audiences and cultural engagement in regional contexts and she is just finishing a project that focuses on regional media in a global media age in Sweden (REGPRESS) as well as research with the Courtauld Gallery on audience engagement and a study of regional film audiences in the North of England.

PETER MERRINGTON is a Research Associate at the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Glasgow working on the project Beyond the Multiplex: Audiences for Specialised Film in English Regions. Prior to this he was the Assistant Director of AV Festival in Newcastle. He received a PhD in Fine Art from Newcastle University in 2016.

DAVID FORREST is Senior Lecturer in Film Studies at the University of Sheffield. David's publications include the books Social Realism: Art, Nationhood and Politics (CSP, 2013); Filmurbia: Screening the Suburbs, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017 (co-edited with Graeme Harper and Jonathan Rayner)); Social Class and Television Drama in Contemporary Britain (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017 (co-edited with Beth Johnson)); Barry Hines: ’Kes’, ‘Threads’ and Beyond (Manchester University Press, 2017 (co-written with Sue Vice)); and the forthcoming book New Realisms: Contemporary British Cinema (Edinburgh University Press, due 2019). David is a Co-Investigator on the AHRC project ‘Beyond the Multiplex: Audiences for Specialised Films in English Regions’, working alongside colleagues from the universities of Liverpool, Glasgow and York.

Earlier Event: December 6