AmbITion:Reconnected – Panel – What Enables The Changes

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!

Next: a panel discussion with Hannah Rudman, Sarah Fisher from the Arts Council North West, Kay Wells from Oldham Coliseum and Chris Gribble from Writers’ Centre Norwich.

Q: Has technology enabled the changes?

A: No, the process has been about looking at the organisation and changing from them.   Looking first at business models and how technology can be incorporated.

There is still a sense of it being new but we are talking about platforms that have been around for a while.

It’s about learning from people you engage with, a cultural change.

Kay mentions that it was about learning about people fears.

Have now found out that fear shouldn’t hold you back from trying out technology.   Nothing will go horribly wrong.

New Writing Partnership share that it’s about getting the organisation comfortable with the fact that the company will not be writing plays just for the Nintendo.

Q: How did Oldham Coliseum deal with the change?

A: It’s learning about where people need to engage.  The directors may not need to post updates on Twitter however, there may be a need for most of the team to be aware of using new technologies to share info about the company’s resources and facilities.

Q: New Writing Partnership (now Writers Centre Norwich) has gone through lots of change, is this because it’s a new organisation?
Yes in parts.  However, the change is a process.

Q: Has Oldham Coliseum changed in diversity since the introduction of AmbITion?

Education and Outreach manager role is now split into Education and Outreach and Engagement, two jobs created out of that.   In terms of reaching new communities, they are now doing so through their Outreach manager.

The AmbITion project has really provided autonomy to young people.

They can now input into decision making.  Working much more with young people to create shows that appeal to young people.

Q: Has the dreaded R word had an impact on the way the organisation operates?

A:  Writers’ Centre Norwich is smaller than Oldham Coliseum so less of an impact on staff.  BBC project involving lots of social media input gives them new ways to demonstrate their work to their funding partners.

The Council’s priorities have changed so it’s important they retain their current audience so that they can continue to sell tickets.  On a journey to find out how much they can do for free using open source.

Moving onto virtual performance.  Can be fleeter of foot by changing priorities for funders.  Can change priorities for reaching hard to reach audiences, for example.
Oldham Coliseum  say: It really helps us as far as educational priorities, provides opportunities to generate income by teaching and sharing our learning.

Q: What feedback have you got from your audiences?
Writers Centre Norwich: external changes will be coming from audience about new website, currently on an interim website.

Oldham Coliseum: also have a new website to be launched in June/July.  Have not yet heard back from audience, in a sense.
Their priorities at start of project: getting people to keep buying season tickets when shows will include shows that use new technologies.

Other priorities: enabling online booking.

Writers Centre Norwich: have an opportunity to find out how audiences react to new ‘tailored’ messages, linked to what the audiences said they want.

Sarah Fisher from the Arts Council adds this:
Arts organisations will increasingly be valued based on the engagement they have with their audience.  The recession is coming to the arts too.   How do you prove to everybody that you are of worth?

In San Francisco, when funding was cut, the organisations that survived had a better sense of who their audience was.

Public funding has to do with public entitlement to a created product.  A lot of what you are doing is putting the public right in the centre of what you do.

It’s about the audiences saying “you really are of value to us.”

Hannah Rudman adds:
It’s no longer about measuring bums on seats, it’s about measuring all kinds of new participation.  Measuring email news letter recipients, website visitors etc.

There’s also new ways of funding.  A Swarm of angels.  ‘Business angels who fund films’.  They get to interact with the making of the film, £lm budget film about to be released.  ‘Age of Stupid’ another peer funded film.  Funded through social networks.

Having these digital tools help to fund arts organisations during a recession.

Up next: A break!

After the break – presentations by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (RLPO), DaDa (Disability and Deaf Arts) and New Wosley Theatre about how they’ve taken part in AmbITion.

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