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Arts & Culture – building resilience through digital

Arts and cultural organisations are under pressure from major funders including the Arts Council to develop and (crucially) implement digital policy and strategy. Indigo has supported many venues and arts sector clients to move forward with digital and we can vouch for the powerfully transformative effect digital can have. In other blogs we will look at digital marketing, audience development and creative practice but here we’ll concentrate on how digital can build resilience and sustainability.

Digital media and technologies can help you to operate more efficiently and effectively. Here are some ideas to consider:

  • When starting out on a digital initiative try not to duplicate what is already out there. Try to build on, and add value to, what already exists (by using open source software, for example).
  • Can you automate processes, such as ticket sales, to reduce the cost of sales?
  • Could you use cloud internet services? Options here are wide ranging and usually customisable to different needs. They might include pay-per-month licensing for desktop software, cloud based file storage, CRM systems, HR systems, internet hosted telephony and website hosting. Switching to these services could improve staff effectiveness and reduce the need for up-front investment in IT hardware and software or onsite support. Per-month-per-user billing allows additional flexibility in your overheads.
  • Can you link systems to reduce the need for manual data handling? Tools like Zapier and IFTTT allow you to easily automate processes between different commonly used business tools. This can free staff from laborious, repetitive tasks, to focus on areas where they can add more value.
  • Could you replace offline options with lower cost online services – for example, online job listings and recruitment services, or replace physical newsletters with email newsletters? Could you use digital to improve team communications and reduce travel and office overheads? Whilst there is sometimes no substitute for face-to-face meetings, there are many tools designed to enable more effective communication and collaboration. These might include a team intranet, shared calendar and documents or chat/collaboration apps. Adopting these may help your team to work in different locations, using different devices, and reduce the need for fixed office space. They might also enable more effective project communications with partner organisations and freelancers
  • Rather than expensive capital purchase of digital equipment, could you consider short-term rental arrangements, or share equipment between partner organisations that have similar occasional requirements?

Digital can help you generate additional income and diversify revenue streams. Here are some areas to consider:

  • E-ticketing: you may want to implement e-ticketing for the first time or improve an existing system by optimising the purchase funnel or the collection of customer data
  • Sponsorship: if you have a creative project that is digitally innovative, you may attract support in cash or in kind from a technology partner that is looking for high quality creative content to showcase their capabilities
  • Fundraising: you might invite donations through online and mobile channels or raise funding through online campaigns, tools and services, such as the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform
  • Product sales: sales of physical products and merchandise could be increased via an online store
  • Digital content sales: − Paid-for mobile apps, in-app purchases, e-books, music and games all present potential revenue streams − There may be opportunities to sell your live-streamed or on-demand content directly to consumers, or to syndicate it to third parties with established distribution networks e.g. online, through on demand TV or event cinema.

Indigo worked with Live Theatre to develop an innovative e-learning environment for budding playwrights. It allows the renowned course to be distributed worldwide through video lectures, live chat tutorials and online submission and marking. The online platform has increased income and provided a unique and scalable revenue stream.

Indigo supported Mslexia to develop an online content platform for its writing magazine product. Mslexia Max is a new subscription for transmedia content including the printed magazine, access to a closed online community of writers, with e-books and unique features like live streamed surgeries with agents, editors and published authors.

With both of these projects, and the others you can view by selecting ‘Culture and Tourism’ in the portfolio, our team has brought ideas, insight and innovation to the table. We are passionate about the arts and the potential that digital has to improve the sustainability of the sector.

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