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.

We are looking for a better quality image for this page or to replace it if it's missing.


East End Collaborations

A range of support structures for graduates and emerging artists working with Live Art.

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Performing Idea

The first year of Performance Matters with symposia, re-dos, screenings and workshops exploring practice and discourse, event and writing.

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Falafel Road Residency

A food based investigation by Oreet Ashery and Larissa Sansour into Palestinian/Israeli cultural collaborations.

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British Festival of Visual Theatre 1999

Stacy Makishi’s Suicide For Beginners (a work in development).

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Documenting Live!

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

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Performance Magazine Online

A new online archive of Performance Magazine (1979-1992), plus new resources

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M21: From the Medieval to the 21st Century

Interventions by leading disabled artists in the birthplace of the Olympic Games.

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Liverpool Live 06 – a festival of urban apparition

A four day series of interventions, occurrences and happenings for Liverpool Biennial 2006.

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