Intrinsic Impact Audience Project

The Intrinsic Impact Audience Project is the first-ever systematic study of choral music audiences. The results shed light on what moves and motivates the people who attend choral music performances.

In partnership with leading research and consulting firm WolfBrown, Chorus America has made the study and the surveying tools used available to the field to help all choruses create meaningful and engaging experiences for their communities.


Download the Study

Access PDF copies of the executive summary and the full report.    ExecSummary   FullReport  

A total of 23 choruses across North America participated in the two-year study, including various sectors of the choral field, such as children and youth choruses, volunteer and professional choruses, and LGBTQ choruses. Over the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons, 14,326 audience members at 136 difference concerts completed surveys about their experience. In addition to its value for the participating organizations, the data gathered through this project provides an understanding of audiences for all choruses. It will also inform Chorus America’s future decisions about programs and services to help advance the choral field.

Major Findings

Personal relationships fuel the audiences for choral concerts. Among the children and youth choruses surveyed, four in five respondents have a familial or friendship relationship with a young performer. Among adult choruses, about a third of respondents reported having a relationship with a performer. Social motivations drive first-time attendance. First-time attendees at a performance are the most likely to report attending because they were invited by someone or because they wanted to spend quality time with family members. Audiences are deeply affected by choral performances. The study measured six different kinds of impact: Captivation, Emotional Resonance, Intellectual Stimulation, Aesthetic Enrichment, and Social Bridging and Bonding. Audiences want more information about program design and the performing experience. Audience members are more interested in “curatorial insight” than they are in biographical information about the ensemble, composer, or soloists. Audiences who feel they have connected with others have powerful experiences. Audience members who experience Social Bridging (gaining exposure to the beliefs and customs of a group other than your own) or Social Bonding (building a network of people within your own group) are more likely to have memorable, satisfying experiences at choral concerts. Different artistic programs have different impacts on audiences. For example, full-length classical works tend to generate higher emotional and spiritual impacts. Culturally-focused programs, such as Martin Luther King tribute performances, tend to have social bridging and social bonding outcomes. And audiences at choral programs reflect the repertoire onstage. The report states that “In curating programs, artistic directors are not just selecting repertoire, but also curating their chorus’s constituency.” Involved audience members report higher levels of impact. The study measured forms of audience participation including singing along, clapping along, talking to a stranger, or dancing or moving to the music. Audience members who danced or moved to the music reported the highest levels of impact.

Participating Choruses

  • Bach Choir of Pittsburgh (PA)
  • Boston Children's Chorus (MA)
  • Cantus (MN)
  • Choral Arts Society of Washington (DC)
  • Cincinnati Boychoir (OH)
  • Cincinnati May Festival (OH)
  • Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington (DC)
  • Handel and Haydn Society (MA)
  • Houston Chamber Choir (TX)
  • Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia (PA)
  • The Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh (PA)
  • Peninsula Women's Chorus (CA)
  • Pittsburgh Camerata (PA)
  • Pittsburgh Concert Chorale (PA)
  • Pittsburgh Youth Chorus (PA)
  • San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus (CA)
  • San Francisco Girls Chorus (CA)
  • Toronto Mendelssohn Choir (ON)
  • Seattle Pro Musica (WA)
  • Vocal Arts Ensemble (OH)
  • VocalEssence (MN)
  • The Washington Chorus (DC)
  • Windy City Gay Chorus & Treble Quire (IL)

Tools and Resources

Watch Alan Brown of WolfBrown discuss the research findings in this on-demand webinar.


For questions relating to the project and report, please contact us at

This project is sponsored in part by: 

  • ArtsWave
  • The Barr Foundation
  • The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation
  • GALA Choruses
  • The Heinz Endowments
  • The William & Flora Hewlett Foundation

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