Posts Tagged 'cultural organisations'

Allsorts Online – exploring connections between broadcasters and museums

I had the good fortune to participate in the Collections Australia Network forum “Allsorts Online’ in Adelaide recently. The forum brought together an interesting array of individuals to explore what it means to be online now and, interestingly, the lines between collecting organisations and broadcasters. The event culminated in a panel session which explored the lines between the collecting sector, academia, media and the arts, suggesting that the blurring between these sectors brought new challenges, many of which have yet to be fully explored.

Prior to that though, speakers from within the broadcast sector provided some insights into the connections and potential partnerships between the collecting sector and broadcasters. This is the first forum I’ve seen where this discussion could take place in such a generous and spirited way. Thanks to CAN for their insight in preparing the session!

Professor Adrian Frankin (Collectors ABC) speaks about the collecting sector.
Collectors are obsessive, knowledgable: the Antique’s Roadshow presenters are often presented as ‘mad folk’: psychotic bow tie wearers with odd mannerisms and peculiar hairstyles. Yet,as Adrian reminds us, the collectors themselves are often more
knowledgable, if not such good television! Collectors on the other hand has taken a different approach. It has elevated collectors and collecting to heroic figures. When you see the collection and hear what they have to say, you can see why collectors
should be embraced as important figures in Australia’s culture.
Collectors as a critique on modernity.
widespread sense of loss- move from solid modernity to liquid modernity where certainty, continuity were rendered obselete.
re-aesthetisiation of arts and crafts
Many of the Collectors begin by collecting something which was important to them in their childhoods, holding onto a sense of loss. Collecting is a form of memory, holding still the look, feel of culture past through it’s objects.
Collecting as a technology for protecting our memories.

Chris Winter Head of Innovation, ABC New Media Services
Old Stuff, New Stuff, Some new ways of telliong old stories
opens with a twitter note: “No strings attached – public broadcaster seeks relationships for collaboration, converation and new ideas”
spreadability – put your content out there where people are hanging around
‘A daily dose of history’ widget for Iphone – daily 1 min of history
talks about how some agencies are nervous about others telling their stories
Chris introduces amazing examples of media archives in Scandanavia. The building is both an exhibition space and a functional archive. The facade is made up of screens which show blurred images from the archive. It looks like an amazing architectural experience!

Dr Susannah Elliot
Australian Science Media Centre
The blurring lines between journalism and citizen journalism
evidence-based science into the media
no specific science agenda – only agenda is to promote evidence, only deal with mainstream issues (recycling, climate change, bushfires, health, obesity, cancer etc)
to catch a news wave, you need to see it gathering – and react quickly!
how do people know what’s credible anymore?
helping scientists to visualise their findings – making them easier to understand to general public
could we connect museums to daily news?
a dynamic space where visitors can engage with latest issues?
could an online forum be made accessible to museum visitors – a place
where people can hear from scientists, perhaps even interact with them?

Sarah Keith,
National Client Solutions Manager, SBS
Sarah began by showing a showreel of archive footage from SBS. It was

ironic that the reel contained images of Malcom Turnbull circa ‘the

eighties’, on the very morning when his future changed.
But I digress,
SBS and Regional Arts collaboration – working with Skoda
SBS cannot do intergration but can do articulation. Whilst I can’t be certain of what this means in marketing terms, the upshot is that their collaborations seem to need to be larger than product placement. I’d be interested in how that works on a broader scale.

The session was a particularly insightful discussion of the potential for partnerships across the two sectors and the depth of content which could enable greater, more complex stories to be told. You can find the full program at http://www.collectionsaustralia.net/news_item/299 and you can follow the twitter tag at #allsorts09

Musings on cultural organisations and tourism

I was recently at the Intercom Museum, Tourism Visitor Experience conference in Rotorua, New Zealand where a great program of events challenged some notions regarding the links between the cultural sector and tourism industries. I was particularly taken by Dame Cheryll Sotheran’s keynote ‘The designation museum’ and national brand. Dame Cheryll is the Director of the creative and tourism sectors for New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. She led the development of a creative industries strategy in NZ and is responsible for the successful Better by Design program which promotes design integration for New Zealand businesses.

Dame Cheryll’s speech was underpinned by the convergence between cultural and economic industries and a holistic understanding of economic, social and cultural value. Here are some of the key points she made:

Economic development can be an incentive towards innovation and value-driven solutions
In a globalised world, economic development has new challenges and characteristics
– Decline in dominance of western economies
– Rise of new Asian economies
– New kinds of value and pluralism around cultural and social as well as economies
– Shift from production to consumption / market driven or value driven economies
– Value oriented consumption

This contributes to economic trends driven by consumer concepts and values, authenticity, climate change, sustainability. Additionally, there is a demand for immersive experiences, a breakdown of silos, and the new challenges of hyper-reality.

In this complex environment, Cultural organisations need to develop more nuanced response to experience economies. There is a big shift in the way experience is delivered – Innovation driven production is now occurring within increasingly converging markets such as sustainability , lifestyle etc. This is driven by innovation and niche-market design. It is culturally driven and is a point of difference

Cultural Organisations can led in this environment by – protecting, promoting, maintaining cultural difference. At the same time, there is a potential new role for design in this experience environment:
– Increasing design-driven innovation through
– Content ownership/ experience based industries
– Consolidating and looking at innovation in that market
– Value-based and driven solutions
– New practices based on collaboration

The next part of the speech centred on cultural organisations and tourism suggesting
– Experience and stories create value-driven demand
– Value-added memorable experiences can be combined with service industry
– Meta-narratives should be delivered with technical innovation and service excellence
– Integrity and authenticity, memorable approach

In terms of convergent experiences, she suggested that the following were areas of growth
Urban regeneration
National branding
Cultural value and distinctiveness
Destination branding
Non-collection institutions

Some of the tensions in this field include:
Local vs global
Collections vs content
Authenticity and authority vs market-driven experiences
Object vs hyper-reality

Cultural organisations can not dismiss these tensions but rather intelligently analyse experience and narrative to engage with a technically demanding audience.

Next steps?
Explore new approaches
Increased understanding of how playing an active role is an incentive
Understand value-based solutions
Leadership opportunities – new partnerships
Recognising the distinctive offering, value, heritage and narrative driven

Towards the end of the presentation Dame Cheryll discussed new forms of collaboration based on – scarce resources, scale, strong brands or consumer services. She suggested that cultural organisations had the potential to create powerful resource sharing to identify meta-narratives which link new partners together to offer value-driven solutions and experiences.

I’m going to spend a bit of time thinking about this important last point. My next posts will be speculations of what these partnerships might look like!

Design, innovation and cultural organisations

I recently found this article in BusinessWeek, “Art Museum as Research Lab“. It details an exhibition at  New York’s Museum of Modern Art (now closed) which presented new designs in data visualization and other disciplines. The show, “Design and the Elastic Mind,” featured 200 projects by international designers and firms.  The exhibition illustrated innovative processes in disciplines not usually associated with design, for instance in nanotechnology, as well as design for new markets in developing nations, and “three-dimensional printing” of physical objects directly from computer files.

The article is of particular interest because it places both design and cultural organisations in the centre of the innovation debate, something that rarely happens. I was recently at a Business Seminar at the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum where I asked a question about the value of building new design relationships between cultural organisations and industry. While the panel responded with initiatives such as Proctor and Gamble’s ‘Connect and Develop’, the discussion stopped short of teasing out the potential of these debates.

I’ll be interested to see what happens in Australia in relation to design and cultural organisations. The ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation recently released a new paper SOCIAL NETWORK MARKETS: A NEW DEFINITION OF THE CREATIVE INDUSTRIES where cultural organisations were finally considered part of both the innovation debate and the creative industries, but only when they were dealing with new knowledge. Additionally, design was added to the agenda all within the context of social networking.

As the exhibition in New York demonstrated, there are some real outcomes for design in collaboration with cultural organisations. I look forward to watching how this debate develops!


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This blog examines social media, cultural institutions and digital participation. It's based on the research projects Engaging with Social Media in Museums and New Literacy, New Audiences. Regular contributors are Angelina Russo, Lynda Kelly and Seb Chan

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