Sarah Atkinson
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Helen W. Kennedy
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Secret Cinema as experience community
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In this chapter, we turn our attention to the central element of the SC experience design and business model – the audience. We track the changing nature of this audience, from an early-adopter, cinephiliac, hipster elite, via a broader and more mainstream fan community, to the emergence of a group of super-fans. We identify the playful and performative nature of the audience participation within these events, establishing a typology of engagements and an aesthetics of engagement including elements of ‘cosplay’ and social media identity display. We consider the ways in which audiences form experiencing communities around their participation in SC events. We also trace the emergence of a community of elite fans of SC who have dubbed themselves the Positive People of Secret Cinema (PPSC) – a group formed from a shared love of the SC experiences – who have evolved their own mores, values, rules, tastes and shared cultural practices. We conclude this chapter with a consideration of how the complex audience participation can be understood as forms of labour that contribute to the commercialisation and industrialisation of SC as an organisation.

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