From ideas to experiments #DigitalLab

From ideas to experiments #DigitalLab


Heather Kipling, Content Manager, Manchester International Festival explores the story arc model to focus her experiments during her Fellowship at the Digital Lab.

I LOVE ideas. Ideation is one of my favourite things about any role I’ve had. I get carried away, I go big, I go expensive, I go everyone involved. Luckily, there is a content strategist within me who is also purpose driven and keen to hunt down the why.  

When I started looking at my experiments, the more I wrote down, the more I found that I was blurring the lines between an idea and an experiment. I was looking for an experiment that would give me something tangible at the end of it, then I U-turned and began adding mundane tasks disguised as experiments, to be able to tick them off. I needed a regroup.  

I met with Camille, my wonderful mentor, and we discussed my initial experiment whilst Camille took me through her most recent Festival - Anime Caribe and some of the challenges and successes faced moving to a completely online programme of work. Camille helpfully shared The Story Arc model, which I recognised from my previous life as a Media Production student at Sunderland University in my screenwriting classes.  

Lightbulb Moment  

It hit me that I was trying to do too much all at once (not uncommon for me), and that during the excitement of what could be done, had overwhelmed the experiments with ideas, and needed to step back to regain purpose.  

Camille suggested that I take my current experiment through the story arc, starting with the resolution first and really think about what I was trying to achieve with the experiment. My first experiment is focused on reaching new audiences via social media in the form of artistic responses.  

When I thought more about the resolution I would like to achieve, I found that I wanted my main focus to be a successful collaboration with a Greater Manchester based network, trialling different formats of content on our channels, working with new local artists, expanding and diversifying our audience. We want to highlight the work of others and their vision, further showing that digital content doesn’t need to have a CTA attached to it whilst it compliments the programme and our events.  

As part of the experiment, the aim is to be able to test and learn with clear measurement criteria combined with data from our website and social media channels, to action in future projects in the coming year, focusing on an audience first approach.  

A Mid-Point 

Having taken the experiment through the hero’s journey and storytelling arc, I feel that it is moving through the process and is taking shape. I’m looking forward to heading into “my new world moment” by testing the project, changing small parts of MIF in collaboration with teams across the organisation and reaching my very own “Belly of the Whale” moment in the next couple of months. Keeping this method in mind, I’ll be looking to refer to the process when I come across any challenges and ensuring that I keep my resolution in mind as I work through each part.  

Heather Kipling, Content Manager, Manchester International Festival


Heather joined Manchester International Festival in 2018 as Content Manager. Focusing on content strategy, planning, amplification and website development, she worked across the MIF19 Festival, looking at growth & engagement, and testing new ways of working with content. Her previous roles span the commercial sector and digital agencies with a focus on content strategy and distribution. In her spare time, Heather is a keen film photographer. 


Resource type: Articles | Published: 2021