AmbITion North East Roadshow – Tyneside Cinema – Case Study Presentation – Ludus Dance

This post forms part of a series live blogged from the AmbITion North East Roadshow of 5th March.

Here’s the introduction by AmbITion project facilitator Dave Moutrey and keynote by Bill Thompson BBC and Guardian freelance journalist.

Read about a real AmbITion case study as Jamie Wooldridge from Ludus Dance presents the dance company’s digital journey before and after joining the AmbITion pilot.

The Participation workshop by popular digital maverick Christian Payne is liveblogged as is Caron Lyon’s well-attended Social Media workshop.

After the workshops, the AmbITion Approach was presented by project director, Hannah Rudman and the day ended with a plenary session featuring a question and answer session with the workshop presenters.


Jamie Wooldridge, Head of ICT and Marketing at Ludus Dance now presenting the digital journey the organisation has made.  Started as a stage manager.

What are Ludus Dance?

Two touring producing departments.  Ludus Touring Company, Britain’s Leading Dance in Education Company.  Tour a dance theatre show for first time dance audiences (8 years plus)

Dance Development -Team of Dance Artists helping people learn about different things using dance, eg the digestive system!

Here are Jamie’s slides:

Ludus Facts – founded in 1975, Ludus is a co-operative, members of staff are also on the board.  Traditional organisational triangle structure, flipped upside down.  Marketing department only really first existed in 2005-2006.

Website launched in 2000.  There is no marketing department.

Reduced print and postage costs by putting publicity photos online.  Within the first year secured an international booking through the site.

In November 2000, were achieving 257 unique users.

From the start of the website, created a ‘fanzine’ for the Touring Company.  Content created and led by the Touring Dancers due to their interest on their web.

Dancers pretended to be ‘pop stars’ writing about their experiences.

Attracted an audience interested in careers in dance.  Had dialogues with people touring whilst around the company.

First e-commerce setup:

Basic template system, uploaded logos, Used Protx and Streamline platforms and paid percentages to both platform and the bank.

Tips – don’t publish your launch date!

Inspired by Robbie Coltrane’s advert for Barclays.  ‘We’re all bank managers now!’.

People can sign up to Ludus Dance’s community dance classes on the internet!

Moved on to start offering 20% discounts to people booking for summer dance classes online.

Was wildly successful, people realised they had to book to get on a class.

The offer is now renamed the Early Bird offer.

People paying in advance increases.,   22%  in Autumn 2006 were paying in advance.  55% in 2008.   Have taken £16000 in online orders!

Created demand, lots of customers know that theyhave to book for popular classes in advance.  However lots of phones ringing required a lot of management.

Tips – don’t expect to get it right first time.

Other Digital Developments:

Dancing on – paid for a ‘dancing’ tag on  Allows people to send a text message to a short code (60300) preceded with the word ‘dancing’ and it is sent to a ‘Ludus-owned’ database.

Ludus project the messages to audiences during live performances to get instant audience feedback. – participants received text messages informing them of where a dance performance was happening and some information via podcast about what would be happening.  Mobile phones effectively used as a part of the dance workshop.

Dance and Film – National Computing Centre 2004-5

National Computing Centre offered a free grant which enabled Ludus to obtain a Mac desktop and laptop and training in using iMovie.  The NCC intiated the ‘Our Video’ project to help support community groups using multimedia and the internet.

The project has produced the ‘Our Video Tool’ which is used to document work done before and during dance performances.

Really interesting video showing a mini-interview with a young person who is part of a dance performance talking about how much they enjoy it.  This is normal played pre-performance.

Using it for Internal Training

With this investment in equipment Ludus run in-house training

Company away day with training in how to use camera and editing software.

Stage Manager & ICT Manager now form a team creating content within the company.

Now at the stage where they are learning to distribute all that content online. Early stages of using Facebook and YouTube.

An example – they can use this help others others tell their own story

AmbITion project has enabled purchase of a dedicated CRM system, part time marketing officer and more.

Questions going forward:

Knowledge transfer, especially important regarding film and editing.

How to use reputation as Britain’s leading Dance in Education company to continue to push digital innovation.

Evaluate work done so far.

Start to formulate a digital marketing strategy.

Q&A to panel formed by Alison Clark-Jenkins, Hannah Rudman, Dave Moutrey, Mark Wooldridge, Bill Thompson:

Q (to Mark Wooldridge): Where are your Archives?

A: CDs, mini-DV tape, waiting to be edited.

Q (to Hannah Rudman & Alison Clark-Jenkins): Where is this (AmbITion) going and how does it impact us in the region?  Where is the money now?

A: AmbITion is an intervention for digital development for the arts world.  What we are doing now is leaving the rest of the work for the rest of the region.

AmbITion is to live on as one of the Corporate Priorities of the Arts Council’s Digital Opportunity strand.

There will be further investment in such development during the year, as the Arts Council understands how such money is spent.

Q (to Mark Wooldridge): How does Ludus expect to manage future social networks?

A: Still at an experimental stage.  Ludus trying out different ones, Twitter included.

Use the social network that suits your organisation.  MySpace may be better for music organisations.  Some arts organisations already using young people as ambassadors within the social network they are members of.

The people formerly known as an audience are now on those sites and will happily share content for you once you deal with the issue of loss of control.

Example: Cornerhouse Manchester Wikipedia entry created by ‘the audience’ and completely factually accurate.

Q (to Mark Wooldridge): What do you think this does for Ludus’ reputation?

A: Hopefully helps! Ludus derived from ‘ludi’ meaning to play.  Now using different formats.

Everyone decamps to the bar for lunch!

After launch: Get Immersed! in Workshops and Seminars.  I’ll be liveblogging the sessions by digital maverick Christian Payne aka @documentally on Twitter and @pcmcreative aka CJ Lyon.


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