P.U.P.E. (1)

This is the first article of a series dedicated to the public, the user, the participant, the spectator… (from now on the P.U.P.E in its Spanish version). As it is a topic with a lot of shades of meanings, I think it is appropriate to dedicate more than one article. Today, we will make few considerations about this key topic in the cultural participation.

We will go back in time remembering Walter Benjamin – it is always interesting to have a Renaissance attitude with the classics. We can never forget the fact that it has been 75 years that we are observing the shifting of location of the cultural object and its addressees. Since art has entered in the age of technical reproducibility, its aura, the hic et nunc, it remains depreciated due to its accessibility and projection in favour of the citizens. The art work for the first time “goes to meet its receiver, under the form of a photography or a disc. The cathedral gives up its location to be welcome at the studio of an art lover; the choral piece that has been interpreted in an auditorium or in the open air can be now listened in a room”.

I would like to start this trajectory of the p.u.p.e around the planet emphasizing what apparently looks like an obviousness, but which often, we do not pay attention to. Like Víctor Molina explains in a wonderful and surprising article that opens his book Querido público (cherished public in English) “it exists a close tie between the intimate body and the social mankind”. This mysterious comment highlights the trend (proper as well of the social sciences) that the p.u.p.e is seen as impersonal, like if he was an independent and external body, when in reality, the p.u.p.e, this is us!

With these two premises and by changing perspectives, we will be able to make an approximation a lot more precise and loyal of the interactive paradigm.

At the initial contact with the participative universe, when I thought about the role of a cultural centre as an interconnector, a facilitator, a creator, a co-designer or a platform, I thought that the complement of these subjects was the “cultural product” (these role have first been stablished by Nina Simon and during our first Tallers 2.0., Ramon explained to the crew) . But later on, I understood that the complement had to do with the “user”: cultural centres, creators of users, co-designers with the users, platforms for the users, etc. like the anglophile trends name user centred projects. So the best way to link the p.u.p.e to a cultural project (social, citizenship, etc.) is to make it his, going a lot further than only giving him voice and vote, or giving him the keys of the house for him to go at ease.

To transmit this message, it is recommended to bring it on the personal sphere.  We need to become conscious that our p.u.p.e is used as an argument to justify the success and failure of almost everything. This is why we consider honesty as a core value to guarantee that our project works. With this series of articles, we propose to do a 360º tour around the p.u.p.e. Our contemporaneity (maybe due to the mercantilism of the society) does not conceive any public activity or citizenship proposal without the complicity of its own p.u.p.e. Even like this, it is necessary to be careful with this complicity and not loose the north, nor generalizing, neither renouncing to everything to get the aimed success.

And if, at the same time, we know that there is nothing that pleases “everybody”, we will get a lot closer to the reality that surrounds us or that surrounds our project, and the one we belong to.

It is compulsory to be clear regarding who is our addressees, how he/she is, who he/she is, how he/she acts, what we can give him/her, etc. i.e. all the questions answered by the market studies but brought to our field. Determine who we speak to and how is our p.u.p.e for all agents to feel part of the same project. Determine who will be the addressees or groups of addressees towards whom we will concentrate our efforts of communication, will help us optimize our resources to adapt the media, the style, the message, etc.

Social sciences have spared no efforts, neither studies to classify the human groups. There are endless typologies and variables: level of studies, geographical, age and vital circle, economical, etc. Of course, there are as well specific variables regarding the studies of cultural consumption: level of instruction, attendance, geographical, vital circle, generated benefit, enjoyment expectations (emotional, intellectual, apprenticeship, escape, fun), reaffirmation to the affiliation of a social group, cultural militancy.  There was an attempt as well to define these groups of consumers according to external factors of the cultural environment (demographical, economical, technological, political, legal) and internal factors (cultural, social, personal, psychological,  linked to the self-esteem, to the social acceptance, self-realization, etc.).

All these typologies are put to the service of the emotional and cultural marketing with mercantilist ends. Besides any ethical or moral consideration (or prejudice), you cannot deny the utility of these tools when it comes to refine the content of message. In the same line, we find interesting studies like the one adapted to the microanalitycal EKB buying behaviour to the live experience, that draws an interesting formula to take into account: “all these sensations felt by the spectator while experiencing the show, added up to the others which have to do with the attention received from the personal and the facilities of the venue, make, as a fact, the cultural product itself” and determine the grade of satisfaction of the public.

Even like this, and at the same time, Ricardo Antón gave us another key to understand this new paradigm in a recent interview we did with him from A+C+C CoCreació. He commented, talking about the participative user, that there is no need to go to look for him as he emerges on his own being a proactive character. He underlines that the work of a cultural agent should focus more on looking for the ways to transmit this attitude to the people whom cost them to let it go, who do not recognize his/her own value and capacity to bring added value.

In the line of Dolors Reig, we should bet on the citizen, the one that feeds the projects, but as well it is compulsory to know who is our “citizen”.

to be continued…

Flora Bacquelaine, 04/11/2011



Benjamin, Walter (1936). L’obra d’art a la època de la seva reproductibilitat tècnica. Tres estudis de sociologia de l’art. 1ª ed. Barcelona: Edicions 62/Diputació de Barcelona, 1983 (Col. Clàssics del pensament modern; nº9).

Sellas, Jordi i Colomer, Jaume (2009). Màrqueting de les arts escèniques. Creació i desenvolupament de públics. 1ª ed. Barcelona: Quaderns Gescènic.

Duarte, Ignasi i Bernat, Roger (eds.) (2009). Querido público. El espectador ante la participación: jugadores, usuarios, prosumers y fans. 1ª ed. Murcia: Centro Parraga, CENDEAC y Eléctrica Produccions.


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