There is currently much concern amongst arts organisations and their marketing departments that audiences for classical music are in decline, yet little research has so far investigated the experiences of long-term listeners for insight on audience development and retention. This paper presents a case study of the Music in the Round chamber music festival, conducted over a three year period which included the retirement of the host string quartet, the appointment of a new resident ensemble, and associated changes in audience attitudes and priorities. The interaction between individual listening and collective membership of an audience is discussed, and the potential considered for understanding classical concert-goers as ‘fans’ or ‘consumers’.
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