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Digital technology in our cultural organisations can stand for many things. From websites to APIs, on-site touch screens to audio guide apps, social media to self-service ticketing stations.
Some of it is bad. I can think of many ‘90s and early ‘00s computer panel installations that add nothing to a gallery experience, as well as many poor websites and apps that either need updating or scrapping.
But there’s plenty of good stuff, too - responsive websites with content, ticketing and social running through them; interactive projects by the Tate that allows visitors to add to the galleries’ content and also to communicate with other visitors.
However, the world of art and cultural organisations hasn’t been particularly good at sharing best practice.
To that end, Arts Council England, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and Nesta have commissioned independent research agency MTM to track the use of digital technology by arts and cultural organisations in England between 2013 and 2015.
The first survey was taken by 891 cultural organisations, giving an insight into activity, barriers and enablers across England.
I’ve been having a look at the resulting report, to see what digital and culture looks like in 2014. Here are some snippets.
For some arts organisations, the array of platforms and devices in digital is bewildering.
For small organisations, perhaps a theatre group, how is awareness and ultimately ticket sales to be improved? Beyond this, the prospect of actually engaging and collaborating via digital media can be daunting or perhaps feel like a pipe dream.
And for large arts organisations, how easy is it to compete with big brands, or big online-first non-profits such as the Khan Academy, when it comes to education and engagement online? Is a multi-pronged mobile strategy, featuring a number of apps and a responsive website, the best approach?
Lots of questions! In this post I'm framing a talk I gave for IT4ARTS last week, at the Barbican. I've given some background and fleshed out the challenge for the arts, in digital and on mobile.
I've also reviewed a number of mobile apps, looking in particular at the Tate, and there are also some references and jumping-off points to talks by those working and innovating at museums and galleries.
Tate has always looked forward in setting its digital strategy and publishing it clearly.
Earlier this year, the strategy was updated, to lead through to 2015. The title of the document couldn’t put it any plainer, ‘Digital as a Dimension of Everything’.
This is a bold claim, and is perhaps more literal a statement than one would think at first glance.
In this post, I share the salient points, for anyone setting their own digital strategy.
Some people refer to the two sides of marketing as art & science but I prefer the term a colleague of mine established: magic & logic.
The term magic works for me as it is about creating an event, an interaction that is able to establish some form of emotional connection.
But logic is increasingly important to a brand as it strives to be consistent and successful in delivering to the needs and expectations of its customers at every point of interaction.
I believe a good marketer needs to be competent in both.
I started writing this post intending to look at some big-hitting art gallery websites and pick out best practice.
The aim was to turn you content marketers green by showing you websites for juicy organisations whose very ethos has always been content, form, learning, information, and which are now trying to adapt and evolve to make some money, too (outside of entry fees and patronage).
You can see this as the exact reversal of, for example, a marketing agency, which stereotypically has always been trying to sell through its website and is now getting its collective head around the idea of information, learning and content as the very top of the sales funnel.
So, I’ll give honourable mention to a couple of big galleries, and then move on to the meat of the post, which has been hijacked by my enthusiasm for Tate.org.uk, a website mottled with the sublime.