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20th July 2011 Sara Lock

All ways different (BNW4)

John Peel used to say of The Fall that one of the reasons he enjoyed them so much is that they are always different and always the same.

Anyone who has been lucky enough to come along to a few AMA conferences probably feels that the conference is like that; people, socials, keynotes, seminars … themes.

Interestingly, in Jerry Yoshitomi’s keynote at Brave New World (BNW), titled ‘How the public is changing’ he argued that the public is changing, but we are not. When he said – ‘who is responsible for delivering the brand promise to encourage repeat attenders? – everyone it’s hard not to feel that we should have learnt this long ago. Jerry encouraged us to remind our directors of this point by putting this point in front of them.

Maybe the answer is as @Indigo tweeted: ‘One way of ensuring consistent audience engagement and brand delivery? More marketing/fundraising directors in CEO positions.’

Jerry Yoshitomi took this theme into the keynotes in conversation alongside Jenni Lloyd and Matthew Cain and asked a pertinent question: why do we feel we should be the people who tell our audiences how to participate? The public are changing – why aren’t we? Why are we still trying to sell them the two and a half hour show if that is not what they want?

As @BrandinyourHand tweeted: ‘Jerry asking why not sell the halves of a concert separately? Why not have single work concerts, repeated through the evening’.

Matthew Cain, arts editor for Channel Four news, (at the Keynotes in Conversation) pointed out that the way in which we view and concentrate on things has changed. He argued that a trend he has perceived is the end of the idea of ‘cultural obligation’ – that you are prepared to sit through three boring hours of theatre or the South Bank Show (his example) because it is on your list of cultural educational artefacts. We expect more from our experience.

I think this may have been what @carol123jones meant when she said: ‘Don’t treat difficult work like spinach. Let people choose what they want cafeteria style.’

Jenni Lloyd, from Nixon McInnes (at the Keynotes in Conversation) referenced the concept of the Second Screen Experience – watching the television at the same time as sharing your thoughts and joining in the debate through social media channels; something which is not unlike the Twitter conversations that have been happening during the keynote sessions themselves in fact.

Earlier on, during the keynotes themselves, Will McInnes (Nixon McInnes) told us that he is freequently being reminded that ‘experience is the new marketing’. Unlike the commercial partners he often has to work with, in the arts, we have experiences that are actually meaningful to people – why don’t we use them in our marketing?

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It’s a challenge, therefore, for us to change in the face of the public’s changing needs, understand their desire to create their own experiences (Yoshitomi), to show people the ‘texture’ of the arts that gives a richer meaning to their lives (Cain) or embrace the changes which are already happening all around us (McInnes and Lloyd).

Perhaps we should pay more attention to what is happening to our changing public then rather than spending too much time naval gazing.

As @SamScottWood tweeted: ‘Focus on ‘how the arts are relevant to the way we live our lives now’. What we all need to do – not just in broadcasting’

… and then the word ‘arts’ won’t be seen as such a ‘put-off’ perhaps (Matthew Cain about tv programme titles).

Jonathan Goodacre


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