Tag Archives: digital development
Asimetrica organised Spain’s first ever national arts marketing conference in Madrid, and I spoke there on the subject of how digital developments can bring huge opportunities for organisational and business model development; increase reach, scale, impact and legacy for audiences; and create new artistic experiences and product: thanks so much to the organisers, the audience, and the fantastic simultaneous translators who have created my first ever talk (with jokes) in Spanish…
Rudman Consulting is delighted to announce that that Creative Scotland has launched its Cultural Economy Programme. This funding area includes investment in digital development for the cultural sector over the period 2012-2014 to be delivered by AmbITion Scotland, designed and delivered by Rudman Consulting, together with Culture Sparks. These resources will sustain delivery for another comprehensive series of events sharing digital skills, knowledge and resources throughout the sector. The AmbITion Scotland team will be working directly with new partners, NESTA and Culture Hack Scotland building on our considerable experience from the last two years. The Creative Scotland guidelines for the Digital Development strand state:
“We have developed partnerships with NESTA, and Culture Hack Scotland, and will launch an integrated, comprehensive programme of support for digital development early in 2012. This will address the spectrum of needs of organisations at varying stages of development in terms of digital capacity, knowledge, and skills. The programme will:
· Support capacity building around skills, infrastructure, and knowledge in adopting digital technologies
· Address and reflect the further digital technology development needs of organisations with the capacity and interest to innovate and significantly enhance organisational sustainability through further integration of sophisticated digital technology
· Support the further organisational sustainability of those exploring progressive business models, or at a more advanced stage of developing creative content*
*note: support for the development of creative content is available through other Creative Scotland Investment Programmes including the Innovation Fund which will open again in April 2012 (this also sits within the Cultural Economy Programme and aims to ‘invest in distinctive and engaging digital interactive media content’). ”
Watch out for more news in the new year!
My Envirodigital client, the new National Theatre Wales, are launching their opening programme on 5th November 2009. It’ll be a big bang for a number of reasons: its Bonfire Night or Guy Fawkes’ Night in the UK, so there will be fireworks. There will also be a new destination website to visit where you can find out what’s on and buy tickets (the huge online community that we’ve grown organically over the past year will be just a click away, and is still growing in numbers, depth and activity daily).
The final big bang will be the style of the launch: rather than hiring an expensive venue to which the press and VIPs have to travel, NTW are instead webcasting the programme launch, hoping that journalists will NOT make the journey to Cardiff, but will watch the news unfold online and so help NTW achieve its environmentally sustainable aspirations. Don’t expect a fancy brochure either: the only paper NTW will print is a (very beautiful!) newspaper. And that will be available digitally too, so if you can’t pick it up in person, don’t expect to receive one in the post [eco choices, not post strike reasons )].
Read John McGrath’s blog about the launch for all the details, and HUGE congratulations to John and all the NTW team from us at Envirodigital – we’re so proud that you stuck to all your original aspirations, and thrilled that we could help you make them realities! For more details on the digital choices that I helped NTW make to ensure their digital set-up was environmentally sustainable, read the Envirodigital blog posts about the community development and the organisational development.
Arts Council England have published new research mapping the online presences of all of the English regularly funded organisations (RFOs). As part of ACE’s new corporate priority strand, “digital opportunity“, the research interestingly looks at what kind of marketing organisations are doing online, and to what level they provide public service content online. The research is available for download via ACE’s website, or if you’d prefer not to download it, can be read online at AmbITion’s website.
I’m pleased that the research has looked at activity on social networking sites, such as Myspace and Facebook, as well as just RFO’s websites, and it introduces the definition of a “multi-platform cultural institution” as being one that offers cultural participation online as well as in venue. Measuring an organisations’ website stats, and measuring what can be done on a destination website is no longer a good enough measure of an arts organisations’ online capability, capacity and most importantly – impact. It certainly isn’t a measure of how effective online participation is with the organisation, or a measure of how participative, open and effective that organisation is online.
For example, Festivals Edinburgh are pulling together a whole load of user generated content through social media feeds into their new website, but obviously their webpresence this summer will be far greater, with new iPhone apps being created, and participation happening and content being available via social networks as well as online TV channels like edfest.tv.
Content, participation opportunities and interaction opportunities that Festivals Edinburgh is offering is via their own channels and via channels they have developed in collaboration and partnership. Having content smashed up and out there in many different places is a far better strategy than trying to persuade audience to come to you – that’s a push strategy, and we live in a pull world.
Similarly the new National Theatre Wales, whose digital strategy I developed through my other company envirodigital, has a webpresence strategy, rather than a website strategy. This encompasses the online social network (developed first); a destination website (currently in development, with limited functions as we want the engaging to happen through the social tools); and a wider webpresence (NTW going to wherever their fans might be – facebook, twitter, flickr, blip.tv, other online fora, etc.). Their crowd and content is in the cloud (on the internet), and it would be ludicrous to suggest to them that they should only have interaction with NTW where NTW says they should. That would be like saying: the only way to interact with theatre is to attend a theatre. And that would be a tricky line for a virtual organisation . NTW have set up an online ecosytem, not an egosystem.
The Arts Council England’s research provides a solid baseline, hitherto not available, for the sector to measure itself against.
I think the research shows that the sector still needs help, support and guidance around digital development, as they try to develop operationally and innovate new online business models; at the same time as trying to build understanding and expertise around IP, and contracts with artists and venues that would enable them to be able to actually create digital work legally and so make it available as public service content. These are the issues that the AmbITion project has been piloting approaches to overcome, and our roadshows and regional online networks have proved that the sector desires this support (eg. is Yorkshire region’s online network – see getambition.com for links to the network in your region).
The AmbITion project has been a pilot, but a successful pilot. As a project, our funding in England comes to an end in October 2009. I think that this research shows that the timing of that is wrong. Arts organisations obviously have a hunger as well as a need to develop digitally, but lack the skills to do so, and so still need support of a project like AmbITion. (AmbITion wasn’t built to need to last forever, and should be an intervention at a certain point in time. However, I think that time is still now, and will probably be for a few more years. We only have a small number of digitally expert organisations currently, some of the AmbITion organisations will add to this list over the next year or so having spent the last two years rapidly developing.)
I call for those digitally expert organisations, many of whom are London-based, to really help the less so by making available case studies and framework contracts, and sharing resources and learning: currently this can be done through AmbITion’s regional networks (London’s here), and via the website.
I would also call for the definition of “online presence” to be reviewed annually as the digital landscape changes rapidly. Already, it should be broadened to content arts organisations make available through new and additional online channels, such as ning, and through new collaborations such as 4iP funded projects, where the arts organisations involved may not be the lead branding, but their content may be an important element of the public service offering.
I finally call for more support – for capital and for supporting learning and sharing. RFOs are in the middle of a journey of digital development, but are also still in the middle of getting digital, and getting more digital. Arts Council England summarises:
that there may be opportunities for regularly funded organisations to do more to:
– exploit online’s potential for participation and collaboration
– explore the relationship between online and offline
– increase the quality, reach and impact of the public service content currently being provided
But more work is required to understand the resources and support needed to make this happen.
What do you think? What types of support do you think would be useful?
This is a great case study about The Bluecoat Arts Centre‘s digital development – a piece of work they did with me.
If you’ve read my blog a few times, then you’ll know that I am partial to sharing statistics that reflect the impact of digital technology! The latest to report show that people have changed the way that they behave – statistics proving increasing interaction, creation and participation via the web:
• 2.7 bn searches were made on Google this month.
• If Myspace were a country, it would be the eighth largest on the earth.
• 6 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute
The next stats show that we are living in exponential times. Distribution and commercial opportunities have changed dramatically:
• The first text message was sent in 1992. Today, the number of SMS messages sent daily exceed in number the population of the planet.
• Ebay’s 2006 revenue was $6bn – it was founded in 1996.
• 3000 books are published daily, in some digital form.
The opportunities presented by digital technologies for business, organisational, audience and artistic development are substantial, and will only increase in the future.
Growing and retaining audiences remains key to the health of our sector, and the wider competitive environment demands that the arts sector embraces new paths to audience or lose market share to other sectors. E.g.:
• 24/7 leisure options, the boom in the use of the internet for entertainment and information;
• increased penetration of visual media via personal digital devices such as MP3 Players and mobile phones – in 1992, there were 1million internet enabled devices globally, now there are 600 million; and
• the music industry, that understands individual eclectic tastes, and is beginning to produce business models that understand the notion of the Long Tail .
These other sectors have recognised and responded to some specific challenges and opportunities that have emerged from the technology revolution. It is critical that the cultural sector not only keeps up with these developments but can develop its own exemplars and best practice.
It is this future opportunity that my main project, AmbITion, has identified as one that the cultural sector is ready to embrace, but is not always – or across the board – willing and able to embrace. Through the previous research of Arts Magnet (reported in Arts Professional Issue 122) and through the testing phase of AmbITion, we have discovered that:
• the technology base of arts organisations is incredibly low;
• most arts organisations have made some digital developments, but they are piecemeal and not strategically connected or centrally embedded;
• most arts organisations seek funding to develop digital content around their art form, but the audience development opportunities of this can not be maximised due to the low technology base; and
• most arts organisations do not have a clear idea of what the appropriate assets are to digitise, nor how to set up contracts to allow/maximise digitisation.
• basic operational software is increasingly required in order to conduct business, and should be justified as a cost of doing business. Knowledge management technologies, and other advanced systems, are justified if they reduce expense, improve productivity or enhance value.
AmbITion’s vision, then, is to generate a critical mass of arts organisations that proactively consider digital development as key to their business, organisational and artistic growth and sustainability.
The AmbITion model provides direct financial support for 7 organisations through ACE’s Organisational Development Thrive! programme. These share a diagnostic consultancy model with a further 8 organisations requesting funding support from ACE’s Grants for the Arts Fund. The diagnostic consultancy leads each organisation to develop a business case – for investment in integrated technology. The funding will enable the organisations to develop digitally across their business, operational and artistic functions. All the 15 AmbITion organisations (representing all art forms, operational models and sizes) will become “beacons” for the successful adoption of integrated digital technology in the sector. Their progress throughout the project will be monitored and evaluated, and we will widely disseminate their journeys, stories and case studies. This activity will be supported by an online knowledge base, a training and networking programme, and advocacy and leadership development around digital issues, achieved by a national roving roadshow.
To give you an idea of the sort of impact we can expect from AmbITion, here is the beginning of the story of AmbITion participant, Oldham Coliseum. 3 years ago, Oldham Coliseum had a single email address, and only a handful of computers, none of which were networked. Some investment prior to AmbITion had given them a server based network with internet for all, but there was still some concern that they weren’t using their systems well enough.
Under the guidance of their chief executive Liz Wilson, and artistic director Brian Clarke, ICT had been put to the top of their priority list, with AmbITion being a key driver for this. A meeting was held where all of staff met together and then broke up to talk about 4 separate themes: back office systems, e-marketing, digital technology in performance, and digital technology to help production.
Several key “cross cutting themes” came out of this initial meeting: namely, the need for a proper technology plan for the organisation; better sharing of resources across departments; and the need for a full technology audit to address immediate issues.
So, even as the AmbITion business case was being developed, Oldham Coliseum was engaging with how they use ICT across all aspects of their organisation. Since the technology audit, a digital development business case has been constructed, and the following has taken place internally:
• a new supplier for technology services has been put in place and PCs and the network have been upgraded
• a new administrator has been appointed – and the job title has been reworked to include ICT in the job description
• a plan for the development of an exciting collaborative artistic digital endeavour with their young people’s theatre is programmed, to take place in 2009 after all the new digital technology and skills are embedded across the organization over 2008
• Oldham Coliseum are speaking with their web developer about developing an intranet to improve communication across the building.
• Oldham Coliseum have identified the need for a robust and ongoing technology strategy – and will be undertaking this in the next few months.
Liz Wilson wrote to AmbITion a few months ago to reflect on progress: “Just so that you know we have upgraded every computer…it has really made a difference…created a wireless environment in the bars, education studio, rehearsal room and green room and are in the process of purchasing a multi-media machine with peripherals for everyone to use.”
I believe that the AmbITion methodology will continue to breed successful digital development implementation and integration, and I look forward to sharing more of the stories, as well as presenting more thought and debate around the key issues of digital development.