AmbITion Re:connected – Panel – Lessons Learnt and Next Steps

This is a live blog of the AmbITion Re:connected event at the Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester.  If you spot any errors or inaccuracies
or would simply like to contribute to the conversation, leave us a comment!

Questions from the floor and  ‘burning issues’ from the AmbITion organisations:

Chris Gribble from Writers’ Centre Norwich: implementation process has ramifications over next 6-12 months.   People are having the same issues,  for example in their sector, there is a real resistance to technology and sharing content.

This is something that is also passed round the network of agents and publishers.

There is a real divide between commercial sector driving progress and artistic practice funders driving development.  There is an area of unease between commercial sector and funding partners.

Is there something that could drive that? Adrian asks.

There is some progress in meeting in the middle.

Q: From the floor, audience member says he does not fear the recession but fears what their audiences will want from arts organisations.

A: this has an impact in how the audience is grouped.  The arts sector is now starting to think about markets.   There is a conflict between the need to think about markets and creating an artform.

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (RLPO) are doing this very well, says Adrian.   Now sending free tickets to members on their birthdays.

Millicent Jones from the RLPO says they receive emails from recipients saying that this is the best thing that has happened to them on their birthday.

It’s an interesting thing as the importance of thinking about digital video, marketing etc is becoming less of an issue that needs to be argued for.

RLPO: suggests that the Arts Council has more informal cross-sector networking events such as this to allow people to share information and knowledge.

There is a sheer volume of activity that arts organisations have to take on board, online and within their artistic practice.

New Wolsey Theatre: People are just about starting to get behind all of it.   Stuff is starting to go live and it’s been amazing to see the organisation buy into it.   It’s been a fantastic experience.

Hoi Polloi: Now learning how to manage the entire change.  One thing she is dealing with is IP and the implications of copyright.   Also dealing with sustainability of the entire initiative within the organisation.

Adrian asks Mitul Shukla from the University of Bedfordshire who has been working with AmbITion on the project.

“What impressed you most from the project?”

Mitul Shukla: though very different sized organisations, each was trying to come up with the answers to the same problems.

The informal networking going on is going to be helpful to all organisations going forward.

Different ways to market but however the road to market has not changed in 10 years.   Does the arts sector have a transformative platform like iTunes?

Hannah Rudman replies: there is a very Dickensian landscape for content creation in the arts sector.  The contracts between technicians and artists in the sector are not able to cope with the way content is created and distributed.

The IP issue is one that needs to be looked at.  AmbITion is working with Own-It teaching about IP at the AmbITion road shows.

Hannah mentions classical musician Peter Gregson using Twitter to conduct orchestral recordings using his cello.

Orchestras don’t expect him to give them his digital rights probably because of licencing costs, however he is very much in favour of them having it.  He’d rather it would be shared and heard.

Ruth Gould from DaDa says: trying to exemplary and reach everyone makes it hard to balance the old and new.   So for instance, Litfest’s PDF publications are potentially leaving out a whole section of the audience.

DaDa for instance have to provide lots of hard copy newsletters for every email newsletter.

Personalisation already coming through from social networks, how people use MySpace, Facebook etc etc.

Another surprising thing is the creativity of meeting solutions.

Ella Wredenfors from Oldham Coliseum has only recently joined the organisation and is there purely because of AmbITion.

What is amazing is the sheer impact that AmbITion has had on their content production.  Very excited about the show which is being created using digital technologies.

Have been able to link up with Oldham University Campus who have asked them to use their video production facilities as much as they need to.

This means the content created will have very high quality production values.

Jamie Wooldridge from Ludus Dance adds that he has seen a marked change in the attitude to the issues developed by AmbITion within the Ludus organisation.

Is working very hard to make sure that everyone in the company can see the changes it has made and the impact it has had on the way they do things.

Dawn Giles from the Arts Council East adds that this is a journey that we will all be going on.   It will keep going on.

Recognise your leadership roles. You will be informing the Arts Council about how digital works.

As a customer of the arts, she is getting to know all your organisations very differently.

Has been signing up to Facebook groups of the AmbITion organisations and is even considering joining Twitter!

As an audience member is getting a lot out of the process.  “Making that space for audiences is something that really excites me”.

Hannah Rudman’s final thoughts:
The AmbITion organisations represented now allow the arts sector to ‘do digital development’.  You’re now the champions.   Talk to people.  It is really fantastic work.

On the sustainability issues:

When the ‘digital enabled person’ leaves, we lose the momentum.  Is it time to begin to think about how some of that knowledge remains in the organisation?

Getting involved with your local college:

Almost every college has an interactive media course, students now have to make 10 minute videos on YouTube, they should be making videos for arts organisations!

Dave Carter from the  Manchester Digital Development Agency (MDDA) who are managing the AmbITion project:
AmbITion started because of (government) policy that showed that Arts Organisations had to start looking at how they would cope with convergence.

It’s about trying out the technologies.  What is apparent is that we are in a period of rapid change.  It can be disruptive in a positive or negative sense.

Disruption allows you to do new things.

The DCMS and Digital Britain agenda is about looking how a Digital Britain must be a Creative Britain.

We have an opportunity to learn how things are done.   Theatres are streaming high def concerts within the last few days of their events in Amsterdam, a mentor city to Manchester.

We are becoming embarrassing at our lack of paucity of ambition and imagination.

Next up:  Dave Moutrey from Cornerhouse rounds up.

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