Behind the Scenes: Dorset Moon – one small step to giant success

Behind the Scenes: Dorset Moon – one small step to giant success

By Laura Mulhern


In the final of three blogs looking behind the scenes at a major project across Dorset, arts marketer, Director of storytelling agency, Storiie and AMA member Laura Mulheron takes us through the final phase of Dorset Moon featuring Luke Jerram’s Museum of the Moon.

Dorset Moon at Nothe Fort. Silent disco event. 

From taking its first step in planning four years ago, to a huge leap of faith in working collaboratively for the first time, Dorset Moon, an exceptional summer arts event for 2019 has been hailed a resounding success.

Over three weekends in June and July, 2019, more than 41,000 people saw Dorset Moon, exceeding the targeted 12,000. Visitors enjoyed Luke Jerram’s monumental Museum of the Moon installation in three spectacular locations in Dorset – St Peter’s Church, Bournemouth; Sherborne Abbey and the Nothe Fort at Weymouth.

This was a unique collaboration between three Dorset arts festivals – Inside Out Dorset (produced by Activate), b-side and Bournemouth Arts by the Sea – each incarnation of Dorset Moon also featured a full supporting programme of cultural activities and performances many commissioned especially for it. Dorset Moon was commissioned by the Arts Development Company with funding from European Regional Development Fund and Arts Council England, which meant all events were free to enter.

Dorset Moon goes digital

Dorset Moon at St Peter's Church, Bournemouth

To engage new and different audiences, I wrote and focused the marketing strategy to mainly use digital channels. Although we did not completely abandon traditional marketing methods such as press, advertising, and printed flyers, this was only a small percentage of our efforts. The marketing team at Lighthouse, Poole Centre for the Arts helped me on this particular work.

Images of the event were also picked up by national newspapers such as The Daily Telegraph and The Observer and news about the three landings also had a global reach with media reports in the USA, China, Thailand and Germany.

To go Digital first, is a relatively new approach for arts festivals' marketing in Dorset to date, so it was interesting to see how it would be received.

Each festival partner was presented with strategic key messages throughout the campaign to share via their own digital channels at the same time. This not only added weight to the messaging but with the Dorset Festival Consortium working collectively, it encouraged a wider reach of audience to engage with the event online and subsequently share with their own networks.

This digital approach proved to be a success, as we saw:

  • 1,500 user-generated images using using the #DorsetMoon on Instagram
  • Over 27,000 unique visitors actively used the website between March and July inclusive.
  • Over 70% of visitors returned to use the site, proving it to be a valuable tool for them
  • 60% of audiences accessed the responsive website via their mobile especially during peak visiting times of each weekend.

These figures proved audiences were choosing digital platforms to find out about events and share their experiences with others.

A new avenue for us, is to work with an online content creator, award winning travel blogger Emily Luxton. Emily visited all three sites sharing her experience of the event via 3 blog posts on her website as well as sharing Instagram stories, tweets and Facebook posts with her followers which resulted in a reach of over 17,000 users throughout the campaign alone.

Engaging with Local Businesses Digitally

Dorset Moon at Sherborne. Local business getting involved in the campaign

One of our new target audiences was local businesses. By and large in marketing for arts festivals we concentrate on general public as visitors. In this one, we strategically choose to engage with local businesses to buy-in into the concept that cultural activity is good for their business and the economy.

Jacky Thorne our Culture+ Tourism Lead at The Arts Development Company, ran bespoke workshops for local businesses to share knowledge on how to use this cultural event to boost their own business. Over 50 businesses across Dorset got behind the campaign and used the Dorset Moon assets.

To support these businesses to use our #DorsetMoon campaign, we created a Dorset Moon business toolkit and downloadable resources. This includes:

  • Dorset Moon social media images
  • Dorset Moon website banners
  • Dorset Moon poster templates
  • A Dorset Moon promotional video
  • Website copy and suggested social media posts
  • A fortnightly newsletter offering tips on how to create newsworthy stories for press, how to create Dorset Moon themed packages and how to collaborate with other businesses.

The toolkit's purpose was not only share news about the event with their customers, but it also boosted business for them during the event weekends.

We have to admit that from the three locations we held the festival in, Sherborne businesses took a more active approach, leading to many Sherborne businesses experiencing record sales and some reporting that they sold out of their stock during their weekend event!

“Dorset Moon far exceeded the expectations of the Dorset Festivals Consortium,” says Kate Wood, Executive and Artistic Director of Activate. “All three festivals are profoundly energised by the response from the public and the quality of the artistic work. The international reach online has highlighted our county as a place where truly extraordinary events take place. It has been a delight to present the work and partner with such a great set of iconic venues and a wonderful team.”

If this significant event in Dorset is anything to go by, it proves that collaboration can work and employing new digital approaches to the marketing campaign not only reaches a wider audience but directly affects footfall and can have a boost to the local economy.

Laura Mulhern, August 2019






For more information about The Arts Development Company visit their website.

Resource type: Articles | Published: 2019