Performance Matters

Performance Matters was a three-year creative research project bringing together artists, curators and academics to investigate the challenges that contemporary performance presents to ideas of cultural value. A collaboration between the Live Art Development Agency, the Department of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London, and the Department of Drama, Theatre and Performance at University of Roehampton, the project asked whether such forms of cultural practice are now being taken seriously in culture more broadly, and how they may possess the potential to refashion understandings of what, and how, things matter in the contemporary world.

Performance Matters comprised numerous events and activities: collaborations between artists and writers on creative dialogue projects; a series of practical workshops; two public international symposia; the development of two innovative PhD projects; and a series of talks focused around the project’s concerns.

The Performance Matters website carries information about collaborators and events, as well as being a space for expanded writings, ideas and images about and around the issues at the heart of Performance Matters.

Between 2009 and 2012, Performance Matters moved through three themed years of interlinked research activities – Performing Idea, Trashing Performance and Potentials of Performance:

* In the first year, Performing Idea (2009/10) investigated the shifting relations between performance practice and discourse, event and writing.
* In the second year, Trashing Performance (2010/11) explored marginal and degraded performance practices in order to produce critical and cultural innovations through non-institutional manifestations and informal disseminations.
* Potentials of Performance (2011/12) was the third and final year of Performance Matters. Led by the project’s postgraduate researchers, it featured a series of commissioned process-led dialogue projects.

Performance Matters was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).


Crossovers: AHRC Follow-on Funding has been awarded for Crossovers, a DVD series of artists’ films, documentaries and dialogues developed from Performance Matters projects.

Performance Matters Archive 2013: the archive  is a collaboration with the British Library in the form of a box set of 40 DVDs of documentation of all public events for Performing Idea and Trashing Performance with  contextualizing texts, including an extended dialogue between Gavin Butt, Adrian Heathfield and Lois Keidan which reflects upon the project’s various challenges and achievements, and its place within the fields of performance practice and research. The Performance Matters Archive is being placed in 12 key public archives in the UK, Europe, Asia, Australia, Middle East, South Africa, South America and the USA.
Copies of the Performance Matters Archive will also be available for viewing in the Agency’s Study Room and the British Library. Please contact [email protected] if your institution is interested in acquiring a copy of the Performance Matters Archive.


Full details on the libraries and archives around the world where the Performance Matters Archive is housed.

Other projects in Performance Matters

A three-year research project bringing together artists and academics to investigate ideas of cultural value.

Trashing Performance

The second year of Performance Matters with talks, shows, films and workshops by artists working at the edges of taste and respectability.

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Banner image credit:

Performance Matters logo, design by David Caines.

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A book of collaborative photographs of the body in performance by Manuel Vason.

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Third Ear Symposium 2013

A day of talks and discussions to consider the culture of the arts in a time of austerity

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Live Art Development Agency Tenth Anniversary Special Events

The Agency celebrated its tenth anniversary through a special series of projects.

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Library of Performing Rights

The Library of Performing Rights is available as a place of action, a place of knowledge exchange, a repository of experience, and a context that others can use to support and advance their own work both at LADA and elsewhere.

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VITAL 06: International Chinese Live Art Festival

A major programme of Live Art events curated by Chinese Arts Centre.

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Documenting Live!

A major new publication on the representations of cultural difference in performance.

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China Live

Collaboration between Live Art UK, Chinese Arts Centre, LADA and Shu Yang of the DaDao Live Art Festival, Beijing.

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