Out of the woods: Engaging new audiences #DigitalLab
Sophie Brown, Marketing Officer, Watts Gallery uses her time as a Fellow at The Audience Diversity Academy to give a voice to a wider audience through their digital channels.
There are many benefits of working in a rural gallery. As Marketing Officer at Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village, the leafy green view out of my office window never does get old. Surrounded by woodlands and the rolling Surrey Hills, our visitors also enjoy the respite found in escaping to the countryside. However, it is fair to say that the rural gallery or museum can present barriers to many hopeful visitors, often requiring a car, bus journey or long walk or cycle. Founded upon a mission of Art for All, Watts Gallery prioritises accessibility and inclusion, and is committed to the challenges that its rural location, amongst other factors, presents.
When Watts Gallery closed its doors in late March due to the on-going outbreak of COVID-19, the online world provided an opportunity for us to continue to engage with our audiences through digital programming. We very quickly launched our new ‘Watts at Home’ programme of online talks, activities and workshops. Suddenly, I felt as though we were, literally, out of the woods – through digital content there was no reason why we couldn’t aspire to reach and engage the broadest audience possible.
I applied to the Digital Lab to give this thought purpose, strategy and measurability. I have been very fortunate to be allocated Jumoke Abdullahi and Kym Olive of the Triple Cripples as my mentors. Meeting first with Jumoke, we discussed how I might engage a more diverse digital audience with the art and ideas of Watts Gallery, with accessibility always at the forefront of our minds. I was joined in this meeting by likeminded DigiLab Fellow Daina Heaton of Create Sheffield, who shared my goal of reaching new and underrepresented audiences.
My first experiment is to launch a series of #MyWatts Instagram takeovers, in which people share their relationship with Watts Gallery or a work of art in its collection in their own words. To begin, Jumoke encouraged me to make the most of the rich connections Watts Gallery already has with diverse audiences through its Art for All community learning programme.
I have started talking to colleagues about how this project can get moving and can already see how it may evolve in different ways – perhaps also including short vlogs or blogs. As it’s about giving a voice to a wider audience through our digital channels, I want to allow those taking part to shape the output, so I welcome changes and challenges to my initial idea.
So, how do I measure this first goal? Unlike my other ideas for experiments, which revolve around social media advertising, I can’t turn to data to see if this is effective. To me, success will come from seeing people engage with Watts Gallery online in fun and individual ways – beyond the usual ‘brand voice’ of our social media content. I hope this will also have the knock-on effect of providing content that will grow and engage our online following. We will have to see!
Sophie Brown, Marketing Officer, Watts Gallery
Sophie is the Marketing Officer at Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village in Guildford - a charity and museum dedicated to Victorian artists G F and Mary Watts. Responsible for campaign planning, digital advertising, analytics and design, she also manages Watts Gallery’s social media channels.
Sophie has a background in Art History, with an undergraduate degree from the Courtauld Institute of Art and a Master’s degree from the University of Oxford.