Creating in the Clubhouse - Feedback: Ways to be a Constructive Audience

November 1, 2003

Audience Participation Poster
One common approach for audience members in everything from writing workshops, alternative-school assessment processes, to art or architecture critical sessions, is to start with what you like about the piece, and request more of the same. As in, "I really liked the way you added that outline to that figure. That kind of design element stands out - could you try more things like that?" Or: "I like the experimental music you added to that scene, have you tried adding more?" This approach places an emphasis on warm feedback.

It's very likely some people will feel nervous about presenting, or afraid they'll get negative feedback. To ease their fear, you'll most likely want to spend some time prepping the group - probably even creating a poster for types or standards of feedback. You may want to make a poster together - then you can point to the rules everyone developed when a question comes up about giving constructive feedback. Some Clubhouses have begun to make posters for words they can use to describe work (such as art or music) and their feelings about it. By pushing themselves, the young people go beyond words like "cool" into deeper, more specific words, creating their own descriptive language.

Audience Feedback
Often, young people and adults may know what they like about a piece of work, but have a hard time expressing exactly why they like it. The Audience Feedback form may help Clubhouse regulars communicate their reactions in specific, concrete, ways. (Coordinators may want to take more detailed notes on a Demo Prep form.) These are designed to encourage note-taking and careful listening during a Demo or Green Table Talk. They also are intended to get the audience (Members, special guests, Mentors, Coordinators) thinking about the kind of responses and questions they want to share with Demo-ing Members. These forms also are good for jotting down follow- up questions and identifying challenges, which are an important part of an exchange between a presenter and an audience. Audience members can think about how every answer can lead to more questions and listen to what the Demo-er is saying - and showing through his/her art. Their questions might address technique (How did you do that?), personal interest (Why did you do that?), creative possibility (This makes me think about another idea - What about doing this next?) or some other curiosity. The audience also may offer suggestions for how a piece can be strengthened or expanded.

Your Art: My Response
An Art Show or Open House, where artwork and sound projects can be proudly displayed and featured throughout the Clubhouse, is a great opportunity to collect written feedback. The Your Art: My Response cards are good for gathering suggestions and ideas from Clubhouse regulars and outside visitors alike. Respondents can drop the cards in envelopes hanging beside each piece of work or sound station.

Creating in the Clubhouse: Thinking About Creativity