Things I’ve written elsewhere

Posted on July 7, 2015

Over the past few months I’ve been writing bits and pieces on all sorts of other websites. Seeing as I’ve not written so much here, I thought I should bring everything together.

I’ve been writing things about:

  • How digital distribution affects cultural orgs’ business models
  • The new digital metrics Arts Council England are asking their portfolio organisations to report on (spoiler alert: I didn’t like them)
  • A comparison of physical and digital organisations for venue-based organisations

So here we go…

Digital distribution and business models

I was asked to write a thing about the effect of digital distribution on the business models of cultural organisations. That was for the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts that’s backed by Nesta, Arts Council England and the AHRC.

As it turns out, there was plenty I had to say on the subject and keeping to the word limit was a little tricky. I tried to make the piece a mixture of background/explainer and opinion, with the general crux being that:

As long as their current business models aren’t significantly under threat, it’s understandable if arts organisations are reluctant to radically overhaul their principal methods of delivering on their missions. We will continue to see digital distribution being used either to aid the delivery of existing forms of artistic activity (a website that sells tickets and provides directions to a theatre), or to offer small online manifestations of their usual activity (such as an online guide to playwriting).

It could be a while before those organisations feel any pressure to act differently. The concern is that, by the time that happens, it could be too late. New entrants that are better attuned to the evolving preferences of audiences may steal in.

The full article is part of a guide called Making Digital Work: Business Models. There are good contributions from other people in there, plus guides on other topics to explore too.

Read the piece here: Distribution? That is the Question (PDF, page 12)

New ACE digital metrics for portfolio organisations

You may remember that a little while back I had a moan about the digital metrics that Arts Council England ask their portfolio of organisations to report on. I kinda knew that some work was being done to overhaul them and it seems the fruits of that work have emerged.

I’ve broken things down over on CulturalDigital (the forum that I keep ticking along). Albeit in a slightly ranty, frustrated way. Picking a quote that mostly sums things up:

the reporting looks to be much more onerous than before (especially with E3/4) and even manages to be more bizarre. There are some improvements but they’re not all that great (you could get most of the info quickly enough in other ways) so I don’t think the changes really nudge the exercise far enough into useful territory to make up for that. Which is why I think it’s a step backwards.

Things might not have been finalised yet and, for what it’s worth, I’ve also emailed some folks at ACE explaining my views (in a slightly more professional way) and offering some free consultancy to improve things.

Read the thread here: Revised Arts Council digital metrics (possibly)

Comparing physical and digital audiences

As part of the work that I did for the Southbank Centre’s digital team last year, I did a rough comparison of digital and physical audience numbers for venue-based cultural organisations. Here’s the nub of it:

Our assumption is that, as the Southbank Centre starts to engage digital audiences more effectively through experiences and discussions (beyond getting those people to attend the venue) that audience will grow relative to the venue’s physical audience. But questions kept cropping up…

This was my attempt at testing the assumption and answering (or at least getting closer to answering), some of the related questions we had. Like:

  • How much might they grow their digital audience internationally?
  • What’s the situation at similar(ish) organisations?
  • What are the characteristics of cultural organisations with proportionally large digital audiences?

I had to use publicly available sources for the data, so there’s every chance some of the numbers are a way off. Still, I ended up with a bunch of findings and people have said nice things about the piece generally.

Read the piece here: Comparing numbers: physical visitors and digital visitors