Using new technologies to transform engagement, creativity and programming

Using new technologies to transform engagement, creativity and programming

By Dick Penny


This seminar looks at how putting new technology at the heart of redevelopment transformed a traditional arts centre into a media centre. Watershed Arts Centre in Bristol went through a dramatic process of digital innovation, research and workshops over a 2 year period to develop a new way to work more collaboratively with audiences, participants and practitioners. This approach led to new working practices around providing an experience rather than just making a product.

It's not about the product, but the experience.

Watershed needed to understand what it was that people valued about the institution and at the same to time to find a means of articulating what the staff believed. So in 2007, it reprised its independent research and held a series of staff workshops. The approval ratings which came back from the research were ridiculous but revealed that people felt Watershed represented a way of thinking and behaving and had a range of values with which they wanted to be associated.

The workshops led to five core values being identified:

• People Led

• Entrepreneurial

• Make Things Work

• Open and Honest

• Celebratory

The one that required most work was “celebratory" because people felt guilty if work was fun.

However, Watershed is good at giving collaborators, partners, visitors, customers and participants fun experiences, so we are working at being friendly to one another as well.

Resource type: Case studies | Published: 2013