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On 26 June 2014, Sir Peter Bazalgette, Chair of Arts Council England, will logon to launch the CultureHive Digital Marketing Academy, of which I’m really pleased to be one of the 26 inaugural Fellows, drawn from 20 organisations from a wide spread of art forms and regions across England.
It is an online centre of excellence for leading cultural practitioners that promotes an experimental, evidence-based approach to digital marketing developed through a ‘lean’ methodology. Over the 7 month programme, Fellows will take part in work-based experiments, mentoring, provocations, online training and events, providing inspiration and a dynamic online environment, to share ideas with peers, lead thinking around the use of digital marketing techniques and technology and find new ways of working.
Together, through the programme, we will create innovative digital experiments to develop audiences, with progress and outcomes being shared across the whole sector.
The majority of us use digital platforms to network, connect and engage in discussion, find and share information, and to expand our own reach further than we ever could in the physical world. We are increasingly at ease with technology, and keep relationships and conversations bubbling on our multiple devices as we speed along on trains, wait in queues, or relax after a hard day's grind. I probably spend too much time thinking about this, and the potential it presents for organisations in terms of audience engagement – it’s been talked about a lot, but how can we move forward beyond the obvious solutions?
There's a lot of talk about Big Data at the moment, with the Arts Council announcing Four projects that will examine its potential for the sector through the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts. Obviously, there's huge amounts of insight we can glean from data at all levels, and the digital platforms, systems and software we use provides endless ways for us to analyse and work with this to improve and develop strategy, but it’s the creativity and art of developing engaging content, made available through the right channels and platforms that gives life to this data. It’s the intersection between data and content where innovative solutions are born, and this is what really interests me about being a part of this programme.
Exploring new digital solutions
At A New Direction, I am interested in exploring new ways of using digital communications and technology to help broker more effective relationships between the arts and culture, schools and young people.
We will be looking to develop and trial new solutions to help engage young people, and those that work with them (crucially, schools) in the cultural opportunities available to them, and I hope that being a part of this programme will help us to move beyond the obvious, and develop some fresh, innovative thinking, of benefit to the wider sector.
There is a host of fantastic professionals, organisations and mentors involved, and I'm looking forward to working with them all to explore new and innovative ways of digitally engaging our audiences.
The Academy is an initiative of CultureHive best practice, managed by the Arts Marketing Association, in partnership with The Audience Agency, part of Art Council England’s Audience Focus programme, supported by Lottery funding. It has been developed as one of several recommendations in a report for Arts Council England, ‘Digital Marketing and CRM within the arts and cultural sector’ co-authored by Jonathan Drori.