This NESTA-conducted research encourages arts and cultural organisations to apply method and rigour to the research and development of new products (shows, online experiences etc). It draws on work with NT Live and Tate during a five-year period, and encourages cultural institutions to put the visitor or audience needs and experience at the heart of thinking about the new development, in order to capitalize on the unique strengths of the institution in their audience’s eyes.
The key questions
• What is the demand from audiences for innovative work (and what does innovative work mean)?
• How can cultural institutions use new digital technologies to reach new audiences?
• How can these technologies help them deepen their relationship with audiences?
• What novel methods can cultural institutions use to value what they do (particularly important in a system where public money is a significant contributor)?
• Do these avenues for innovation lead to the development of new financial and business models?
Lessons for arts and cultural organisations
• Adopt a research and development approach (an approach used for decades in the public sector, but not recognised so much in the arts, though this was clearly an R&D approach): manage risks through prototypes
• Embrace analytics: ‘it’s not just what your audiences say they want, it’s what they show you they want…’ (illustrated with the field experiment)
• Don’t get hung up on science: understanding arts has always been a multidisciplinary undertaking
• Be open to digital developing the art form itself (‘Beyond Live’): a number of people at the National were seeing this as a way just of distributing the live experience, but actually people seem to have had new experiences
• Actively seek out opportunities to learn (which for most organisations means collaboration as most are not the scale of the National)