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How do we define culture? #DMA

Giant Picnic 2010

Sara Devine, Director of Digital Engagement at the Brooklyn Museum and one of our DMA Mentors, discusses new findings from the Culture Track survey on cultural audiences

Last week I attended the New York reveal of LaPlaca Cohen’s triennial Culture Track survey. Beginning in 2001, Culture Track has been surveying cultural audiences to determine attitudes and behaviors and makes for some really interesting reading. Since its inception, Culture Track has grown in scope and scale, but always has at its core the initial survey in order to track changing attitudes over time. I have to say, the 2017 results were pretty fantastic.

First, the data set is stellar. With over 4,000 respondents, it has a very narrow margin of error and represents a cross-section of U.S. demographics. A pretty rare beast. Second, I love that the study focuses on the cultural sector overall. As a “museum person,” I find it hard to look outside the immediate field and there is much to learn from our friends in the cultural sector. Third, the results are about what you expect if you haven’t been living under a rock, BUT there are a few little surprises AND it’s great to have data to back up impressions.

There is a boatload of information in this report and I urge you to check it out yourself. Here I’m just going to share my two biggest takeaways:

  1. The way we define culture is changing.
  2. The reasons people participate in culture might surprise you.

Let’s start with the definition of culture. According to Merriam-Webster online, culture is defined as “the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively.” For most of us, I imagine, this brings to mind art, theatre, ballet, a historic site, maybe even science or history. Does it bring to mind a street fair? What about street art? Or food and drink? Because according to the latest Culture Track data, it does for quite a few cultural consumers. The top three activities defined as culture were: historic attraction/museum (69%), art/design museum (63%), and community festival/street fair (62%). Public/street art came in at 54% and  “Food and drink experience” at 52%. And here I just thought we competed with each other and with Netflix for visitor time and attention!

Many of the reasons people participate in culture are what you might expect: interest in the content (78%), learning something new (71%), and gives life a deeper meaning (61%). The top reason—which will surprise some in the museum field I’m sure—to have fun! Imagine that! For 81% of respondents, having fun is a reason they participate in culture. Not always a top priority, I’m sorry to say. A few of the more surprising results included feeling less stressed (76%), feeling welcome (64%), and bettering health/well-being (55%). An interesting theme emerging that might say something about our world today and the role culture can play.

So what does this mean for the Digital Marketing Academy? To me it brings up a lot of interesting questions. What happens if we combine culture definitions and partner with surprising organisations or groups? Encourage fun? Offer programs or activities that alleviate stress? Are we already doing these things and just not letting people know about them? Or do we need to re-examine our offerings and see if/how they fit into the cultural public’s priorities? There’s a lot of room for experimentation here, we just have to take this data and do something with it.


Header image courtesy of People United © Zoe Maxwell

Experience for Yourself: Forever Project

Photo courtesy of The Forever Project, National Holocaust Centre and Museum

What is it?

At Digital Marketing Day you’ll be able to experience The National Holocaust Centre and Museum’s remarkable ‘The Forever Project’. Hear and see a Holocaust survivor sharing their story virtually, and try out the technology that allows you to ask that survivor your own questions and and hear them giving answers in real time.

About the project

The Forever Project is an ambitious 3d interactive programme that will preserve the voices of ten Holocaust survivors for generations to come.

New digital technology allows audiences to listen to lifesize 3D projections of the survivors sharing their unique memories, and then to ask those survivors questions through software which relays pre-recorded answers.  This will preserve a key part of the experience of being able to hear and interact with survivors in person at the National Holocaust Centre in Nottinghamshire.

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Experience for Yourself: Virtual Reality

H0W CAN I €A$€ ¥0UR MIND WITH0UT L¥ING by CiRCA69. Image courtesy of the company.

What is it?

Don a virtual reality headset and immerse yourself in the online universe of  H0W CAN I €A$€ ¥0UR MIND WITH0UT L¥ING, a virtual reality installation developed by transmedia artist CiRCA69. We’ll be showcasing eight five minute excerpts at Digital Marketing Day.

About the project

The work first premiered at MutekAR, Buenos Aires September 2017 and is one element of CiRCA69’s large scale promenade performance Whilst The Rest Were Sleeping, a show which combines 17 VR installations, an augmented reality smartphone app, live electronic music and AV performance and an immense online narrative universe.

CiRCA69’s work presents stories in the form of puzzles, giving the audience a role in a game like environment which combines real and virtual worlds.

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Arts Marketing Geek Chic #AMAKnowingYou

Photo: Jukebox exhibition. Image courtesy of Jewish Museum, London. © Jon Holloway

Headshot of Ian ForresterIan Forrester, Firestarter Producer at the BBC, will be speaking at this year’s Digital Marketing Day. He shares his philosophy of geek values.

I’ve blogged in the past about being a self-confessed (and proud of it) geek and tried to describe what that means to me. It seems like something that might resonate if you work in the arts too?

I’m guessing lots of you have the same ongoing discussion with people about your work as I do; about not wanting to be rich and famous – just making the world a little bit better a place to live.

It’s easy to be singled minded and follow the money where it leads, but the harder thing is to live within your means and try and make the world a little better… and let’s face it, if you’re working in the arts you probably haven’t chosen to follow the money!

Some have boiled this down to, Do what you love, love what you do. Which is a nice but feels a little generic?

So rethinking this… I’ve started to add to this by describing the geek chic/lifestyle as…

“Always living life,
always learning
and always on the go.”

This seems to fit well no matter your situation.

Always living life could be anything from climbing a mountain, soaking up the atmosphere around you, helping others, what ever; as long as you are living life and pushing yourself, living in the moment and enjoying it.

Always learning is a hat tip, full head nod (or heck a dab if your into that) for lifelong learning. Never too old to learn and if you’re not learning then what are you doing? That is unless you are educating/helping others, although the act of helping others is a learning experience too.

Always on the go doesn’t necessarily mean going physical places. It can mean other types of progress like reaching out to more people with works, getting ahead in your career, etc. Getting mentally ahead and never settling unless you are ready for it.

I don’t think I’d be able to do my job if it wasn’t for these things – they’re what allows me to be creative, to keep exploring new technologies and ideas, to learn from my experiences and ultimately to stay focussed, challenged and enthusiastic.

Ian will be sharing the work of his team at the BBC on perceptive media and hyper-real experiences at our 11th Digital Marketing Day, #AMAKnowingYou, which takes place on 1 December at Barbican Centre, London.

Find out more about the programme and speakers and book your place.

Based on an original post from Ian’s blog at


Digital Marketing Day 2017; Getting To Know You is supported by:

Logo for Tessitura, networking sponsorLogo for Extensis, brand sponsorRed 61 logo - Digital partner

#CultureHive SmallScale Arts Council of Wales bursary recipient

Rachel Miller, Artistic Director at Avant Cymru received a bursary from Arts Council of Wales to attend the CultureHive Small-Scale Development Programme last week. She originally wrote this post on the Avant Cymru blog.

Day One
So today we evaluated our mission and vision statements, this is something we wrote over a year ago and the message is very much the same, however we have fine tuned the sentences today and you can check these out on our website.

It was really interesting to speak to the other dance and theatre companies in the room to reflect on how we are similar and how we differ. In reflection Avant’s commitment to the valleys is our USP. The stories that come from the valleys are diverse and we are free to use all kinds of performance styles and educational experiences to share these stories, this is evident in our 2018 programme with ‘Blue Scar’ (a hip hop dance production) and ‘Forget Me Not’ (a semi immersive play). They are distinctive to our company as they reflect the valleys, however they are very different performance styles and we are proud of our versatility in being able to showcase these styles with talented Avant casts.

Today had reaffirmed that we are on track and the mission and vision statement have confidently been added to our business plan.

Word of today : Confidence, why because Avant are on mission and heading towards our vision. Looking forward to tomorrow when we can analyse how we can share this mission with more audiences and at a variety of venues.

Day Two
We worked alot on brand today and on what is important to us. We are passionate about our community and the stories it has to share and we want to be the leading theatre company creating these performances in the valleys, performances that speak to and for our community. We have always wanted to celebrate the valleys rich past, discuss the issues that are in the present and look to create real change and ambition in the future. We believe we have taken the right steps to achieve these aims and today has been a great opportunity to reflect on what has been achieved and what is still left to do.

We’d love to know what you think about our social media output, our website and our posters that are around town. Why not follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat, keep in touch and tell us what you think.

Patrick Thomas designed our Rhondda Road poster, Patrick is an 18 year old from Treherbert, he came to work with us on the Blue Scar project and designed the logo for the show. We want to nurture local talent and by creating paid opportunities to local talent we want to be able to support other young creatives in the same way. But here’s the question… did you know this? Are we shouting out about our commitment to this area enough? Do you want to see the Rhondda’s stories shared in local productions and in national/international tours? How can we involve you to help champion our work?

I got to sit next to other touring companies today and discuss who to market to new audiences in new locations, I heard from a playwright whose play reflects British/Trinidad culture, the response for the play sounded amazing, it engaged with new and current theatre audiences who wanted to engage with a new culture through theatre. It is something we consider alot, especially with Rhondda Road and people’s concerns that a soap opera will shine a negative light on the valleys, so we would love to hear from you. What do you want to see? Do you know about Blue Scar and Forget Me Not, if not want can we do to make sure the news reached you?

In reflection after today, if our brand is to truly reflect the valleys we need you guys, so please do talk to us and tell us what you think about what we are doing and what you would like us to do.  We are a ‘Forward Thinking Theatre Company’ and we want to think with you.

Right back to the business plan!! Until tomorrow, goodnight all.

Day Three

We got to discuss evaluation today, one of my favourite things, mixed with an idea to create an excel document to monitor the feedback, I suddenly feel right at home. Evaluation is such a powerful tool, we use it often in Avant to be able to influence the shows and events that we produce.

However today I started to consider how I share this evaluation with others, I often create conclusions from the data I gather and I am able to plan the next steps due to gathering this data, but I am not very good at sharing this process with others. Well until now, I can see that I will be creating a few excel documents over the next week so that the aims and objectives of ‘Rhondda Road’, ‘Blue Scar’ and ‘Forget Me Not’ are clear for all in the team. I often get told to delegate, however I worry that through delegation Avant’s vision and missions will be lost, a clear document which sets out to achieve Avant’s aims will help me to inform and empower colleagues to take on more roles for Avant.

Second thought of the day is the difference between marketing and outreach. We love outreach, we believe that engaging in new theatre audiences is important, we are starting to reach new theatre audiences. However, and I apologies for this, we have neglected those who are already interested in theatre by not marketing to you.

How can we improve our marketing?

Do you already attend theatre? What can we do to sell (yes sell) our shows and opportunities to you? We know that we are creating high quality shows that appeal to those who enjoy theatre, we know this from our evaluation, but we are not reaching you at the moment.

We know we need to gain your trust so please do give us a chance, come and chat with us and let us know what you think about our marketing.

It has been a productive three days, I have spent time reflecting and getting our first business plan draft on paper (well I say paper, but it is 2017 so I mean on a computer programme, but it doesn’t sound so good)! I have gained a new strategic action plan for our projects and Alan has been briefed, he will be receiving a number of excel documents shortly! Finally I have made meaningful connections with other arts practitioners and we have all had a valuable experience.

Thank you AMA for your programme and thank you Arts Council Wales for supporting Avant to have this time to get the business in order so that we can focus on creating high quality, professional, relevant, dance and drama.


Image courtesy of Rachel Miller.

Digital Adventures in Meaningful Relationships

Image courtesy of National Football Museum- Jason Lock

Image courtesy of National Football Museum- Jason Lock.

What is it about?

In this fast-paced session we will hear short case studies from organisations who have all enhanced relationships with their audiences using digital platforms.

Hear about an award-winning digital season that allowed audiences to stay connected to a touring company. Gain insights from a museum using live video to connect those with access needs to their collections and at the same time creating meaningful community connections. Learn how to leverage the might of a small but powerful fanbase.

What will I gain?

  • Examples of success stories from organisations working creatively with digital technologies
  • Top tips for producing a digital season
  • Insight into using live streaming to connect with remote audiences


Headshot of Imran Ali

Imran Ali

Headshot of Cherelle Cunningham

Cherelle Cunningham
Birmingham Museums Trust

Headshot of Florence Eves

Florence Eves

Headshot of Charlotte Gross

Charlotte Gross
Scottish Ballet

Good Reads #AMAKnowingYou

Volker Kuchelmeister, Jill Bennett, Dennis Del Favero, Amnesia Atlas, 2014, installation at FACT

Header image: Volker Kuchelmeister, Jill Bennett, Dennis Del Favero, Amnesia Atlas, 2014, installation at FACT.

With our 11th Digital Marketing Day just around the corner we asked some of our speakers what’s on their reading list in the run up to the event.

Jo Hunter

Jo Hunter of 64 Million Artists and the New Citizenship Project will present a keynote at Getting To Know You challenging us to rethink online participation, and think of our audiences and communities as creative in their own right.

David Gauntlett’s Making is Connecting is a great read focusing on creativity and engagement. There are lots of free resources on the website including the first chapter of the book.

Brené Brown has spoken and written on a lot on bringing vulnerability to your work and life. Her TED talk is great, and her book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, is definitely worth looking at.


Sarah Corbett’s How to be a Craftivist: the art of gentle protest is a guidebook to how small, creative acts can empower and engage.

Will Saunders

In his keynote, consultant, Executive Producer & Digital Strategist Will Saunders will be sharing how he’s seen organisations engage with audiences using digital technologies and platforms. You can find a regular stream of great recommendations for further reading about new technologies on his Twitter feed.

I’ve been reading about why AR Is About To Take Over Your World (and thanks to BuzzFeed for getting as excited as the rest of us).

As voice becomes more of a “thing”, this article looks at how much brands should think about their sound, as well as their look.

Content isn’t king “The smartphone is the sun and everything else orbits it” is a compelling essay from Benedict Evans.

And more…

Selma Willcocks, who’ll be sharing details of Artsadmin’s journey to develop a new open-source CRM system, has been reading about how machine learning is used to create your personal Spotify recommendations.

In the AMA office, Rebecca and the programming team enjoyed this long-read about how the internet changes our relationship with time, how we share experiences and broadcast versions of our lives online.

And finally (and ignore the slightly scaremongering headline) although this study is US based, it contains some interesting points about how what we understand as ‘culture’: Is the Museum of Ice Cream the Future of Culture?

Our 11th Digital Marketing Day, #AMAKnowingYou takes place on 1 December at Barbican Centre, London.

Find out more about the programme and speakers and book your place.


Digital Marketing Day 2017; Getting To Know You is supported by:

Logo for Tessitura, networking sponsorLogo for Extensis, brand sponsorRed 61 logo - Digital partner

The first steps on your journey as a leader


Imagine you are sat at your desk on a Monday morning. Are you ready and raring to go or are you day dreaming about the next stage in your career? Are you engaged with your organisation’s plans for the future and the team around you or do you think there is more that you can be doing to help your company, and team, thrive? It sounds like the time is right for you to start thinking about becoming a leader but where to begin?

A quick search online brings up numerous sites, all professing to be able to teach you how to lead. They offer multiple frameworks and talk about differing styles of leadership. Soon your head is swimming and all this helpful advice starts to look like gobbledygook.

If all of this sounds familiar, you are not alone. Preparing for the next step in your career can seem like you are about to climb a mountain. But fear not, the AMA will be your guide, starting your expedition into the unknown by hosting Learn to Lead, an informal and focused workshop based in London at NCVO and led by Mark Wright, Director of People Create Ltd. on 20 November.

Workshop speaker Mark Wright

The aim of the workshop is to help you develop as leaders, whether you are taking your first steps into management or have been working as a head of a team and want to gain fresh perspectives on leadership.

The workshop will get you to ask yourself big questions, like:

—      What kind of leader do I want to be?

—      What benefits do I want to bring to my organisation?

—      What is the next step in my journey as a leader?

And will give you advice on teamwork, such as:

    How to nurture engaged and creative colleagues

—     How to create a trusting and collaborative team

—     How to better understand those around you and how your behaviour impacts them

Ultimately, delegates will walk out of the workshop with a better understanding of what their leadership offer is and greater confidence in their leadership style.

Our sector needs to develop agile and diverse leaders so why not take the first step in the rest of your career and join us at Learn to Lead.


Learn to Lead — insights into effective leadership

20 November @ 10:00 am – 4:30 pm

AMA member rate: £175 + VAT

Non-member rate: £250 + VAT

Header image

Image courtesy of Samuel Scrimshaw at

Body image

Image courtesy of Mark Wright

Painting by Numbers #DMA

Olivia Parker from Waddesdon Manor shares her experience on the Digital Marketing Academy.

I finished my previous blog with the intention to learn the art of making GIFs, so that’s exactly what I did. I invited Adam Koszary from Reading Museum to Waddesdon for a day of discussing digital marketing. In the morning we led an open discussion between the curators and the marketing team looking at the peaks and pitfalls of using animations to highlight the art in the collections as well as their importance in spreading knowledge, understanding and awareness. Then in the afternoon Adam imparted his digital wisdom by teaching the marketing team how to make GIFs. It was an incredibly valuable day, on a practical level but also in terms of creativity, inter-departmental communication and strategy. We’ve shared some of our thoughts in a recent blog ‘Getting giffy with it’.

As the DMA continues so does my understanding of website analytics and our audiences. Following my second session with my mentor, Tom, we decided it would be a valuable exercise to identify some of the main types of visitors to Waddesdon’s website and give them personas to start to paint a picture of who they are. From assessing Google Analytics I highlighted four main groups of people and created web persons based on who they are, what they were looking at, where they had come from and what interests them. On the most basic level this process has helped me to visualise them as people not statistics and has shifted the way I approach putting content together. This has fortunately tied in with broader audience analysis so as a team we’re much more aware of the types of people we need to deliver to. By far our biggest audience is women in their mid-thirties to forties with children.

A key goal of my project is to discover a bit more about our younger audiences, specifically those between 18-24. They make up a meagre 4% of our visiting audience and just over 6% of our website visitors. With another of my aims to prompt more user-generated content, I thought I could achieve both things by inviting young social media influencers and bloggers to Waddesdon for the day. Both organising and executing this day proved to be huge learning experiences. From recruiting attendees to finding a day that worked for the majority was very hard, particularly with such a niche audience. Then getting those interested to commit was also another challenge. We had a list of 20 people interested, 6 acceptances and then 3 people come on the day. I was initially incredibly disappointed about the small turnout, however the day proved to be a huge success and I learnt a lot from it. Logistically, as we took the attendees on a curator-led tour of the house it would have been very hard with any more than 3 people so this needs to be brought into consideration for future events. I spent a lot of time reflecting on this day in my most recent mentor meeting but ultimately the real take away is that, although the sample was small, it was successful. So much so that these types of events will be integrated into our marketing strategy and will be adapted and iterated for audiences needs as well as our own (hello agile working!).





Header Image : Picture of the Dining Room at Waddesdon Manor © National Trust, Waddesdon Manor.  Photo Chris Lacey

How We Increased Donations By 17.5% With This One Small Change #DMA

Devon Smith, co-founder of Measure Creative and Digital Marketing Academy Mentor offers tips for A/B testing

A/B testing is the practice of showing two slightly different versions of the same thing (an A and a B) to two small groups of people, figuring out which version works the best, and then showing that version to everyone else. You can use A/B testing in many different marketing channels – from social media to email newsletters to your website; you could even A/B test conversations that you have all the time (like fundraising pitches to donors)!

There are 7 key steps to any A/B test:

  • Goal: A/B testing depends on having a singular optimization goal that defines which version wins. It could be a click, the open rate, time on page, downloads, or nearly any other singular metric.
  • Hypothesis: Google famously A/B tested 40 different shades of blue to figure out which one got the most clicks, and then changed all links to that colour blue. As arts organisations, we just don’t have that kind of time. So a good hypothesis helps us focus on the things that matter most: the high value goals (ticket sales, fundraising, attendance, etc), and the aspects of the marketing channel that are likely to matter most (images, headlines, big noticeable changes).
  • Segment: A/B tests usually apply to a small segment of your audience – they’re the “test group” that helps you make a decision about which version (A or B) is most effective; it might be 10% of your email subscribers or a “week’s worth” of your website visitors.
  • Split: one half of your segment sees the “A” version, the other half sees your “B” version. It’s important these two groups are very similar to each other (and so we often randomly assign members to A or B)
  • Show: Don’t forget there should be only one small change between your A version and your B version. If you change multiple things at the same time, they’re likely to cancel each other out and you won’t know which test is the winner, or why. Once you’ve got your two A and B versions, you need to show them to the A and B  groups for a period of time. This calculator from Optimizely helps you figure out for how long the test needs to be running before you know the winner.
  • Measure: each of your A and B versions will have their own conversion rate, which equals “success metric” divided by “number of people exposed to the test.” In other words: 14 successful downloads divided by 100 people who saw the version B is a conversion rate of 14%. If version A’s conversion rate is 20%, then version A clearly wins.
  • Change: once you know the winning version, you need to roll it out to the rest of your audience as a permanent change.


Let’s take a look at this 7-step process in action, using the example above.

  • Goal: complete the donation transaction
  • Hypothesis: website visitors pay more attention to the left side of a page and by the time they get to this donation page, they no longer need to be convinced (so the “a gift of hope” panel is distracting)
  • Segment: this test ran for 1-month, to 100% of website visitors to this page
  • Split: visitors to this donation page were randomly shown the A version or the B version, using the tool Google Optimize
  • Show: the single change between these two versions is the reversal of the left and right panels
  • Measure: After 1-month, version A had 7.4% of visitors complete a donation, and version B had 8.7% of visitors complete a donation. So over the course of a year, just by changing to version B we would see a 17.5% increase in online donations ((8.7-7.4)/7.4 = 17.5)
  • Change: after the test finished, we made a permanent change to the donation page (and started a new A/B test!)


For more tips on how to A/B test in social media, emails, and your website, check out this presentation from a recent workshop I facilitated.

Header Image courtesy of Puppet Theatre Scotland © Andy Caitlin – The Logic of Movement – Stephen Mottram

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