Studying people over a period of 14 years, researchers in London found evidence that being exposed to the arts may help people live longer, writes the NYT.
I found this review of research done in 2019 for the WHO.
It concludes that “results from over 3000 studies identified a major role for the arts in the prevention of ill health, promotion of health, and management and treatment of illness across the lifespan.”
And further suggests that “the beneficial impact of the arts could be furthered through acknowledging and acting on the growing evidence base; promoting arts engagement at the individual, local and national levels; and supporting cross-sectoral collaboration.
Research with 300+ UK museum directors by the Art Fund (the UK charity that secures works of art for public collections) found that a new model for museums is emerging post Covid:
In this model, the physical space of the museum is no longer dominant and instead the museum is divided into three: on-site, online, and out in the community with each equally important and informed by the other two.
The research also found that health and wellbeing, digital engagement and relevance are central to museums’ ambitions and that these are increasingly delivered through partnerships.
There are many public assets in our communities but we don’t always realise how much they contribute to our health and wellbeing. Assets such as arts and culture venues, libraries, green spaces, community centres, social clubs, community associations or volunteer groups. The MARCH Network set out to transform the understanding of how social, cultural and community assets enhance public mental health, wellbeing and resilience. The network finished its activities in Nov 2021 after three years, but made its reports, case studies and resources available on its legacy website.
Relevance is critical for the future of cultural organisations. Microsoft’s Strategy Leader for Libraries and Museums suggests harnessing data to underpin this relevance. In a MuseumNext article about the opportunities and challenges presented by big data, she argues that:
“Big data in and of itself doesn’t benefit museums, but having mechanisms in place to analyse and gain insights really does”.
Artificial intelligence can help with that, but there is also a need for more data specialists in the museum sector. And finally (and importantly I may add), it requires to determine how to act on those insights.
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We are delighted that with QWB Lab we are a recipient of the Te Urungi: Innovating Aotearoa Fund by the Ministry for Culture & Heritage that supports innovative projects that improve the sustainability and resilience of the sector, provide commercial opportunities, and improve access and participation.
That ‘arts and culture’ as a term does not resonates with young people or is used by them to describe the activities that they engage with (see this recent post) was also found in this ethnographic study by A New Direction.
The study is a few years old and was done with young Londoners, but I found some of the findings about how they define culture, the role of friends, life stages and what happens underneath rational barriers really useful to generally understand young people’s engagement with culture better and still relevant today.
The British Museum and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation run a new UK-wide national programme for people aged 18–24. They invite local cultural and third sector organisations as key partners, who then recruit young people to co-design and deliver projects that are unique to their locality and respond to a community need identified by the young people.
The main aims of this programme called “Where we are…” are “to remove some of the barriers to engagement that young people face within the cultural sector, and to create a sense of agency in young people that can be reflected into their communities”.
Interestingly, the programme takes a broad definition of ‘culture’ building on how young people defined culture in the scoping stage of the project: food, festivals and friendship rather than paintings, theatre or exhibitions.
“We Belong” is a programme to tackle loneliness and empower children in care aged 11-18 run in a borough of London. In this case study and practical guide the team shares insights into what they learnt on their journey and their top tips for creating participatory programmes in the digital sphere. Lockdowns required agility and a supportive community, especially when working with vulnerable young people. They had to restructure the programme to online delivery and create a one week digital residency during half term.
The concept of universal basic income, in simple terms, is to provide an unconditional cash payment rather than a bureaucratic benefit system. It has been discussed in various countries for a while as a way to address economic insecurity and increasing income disparities. Now two trials are underway that apply this concept to the arts to address the economic insecurity of arts practitioners hit by the pandemic:
San Francisco is running a pilot programme for artists administered by the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, who also run a study to evaluate the effects. Initially it offered $1,000 monthly stipends to up to 130 artists and cultural workers for a period of 6 months, later extended with private funding.
Ireland has also started a pilot for the arts based on a proposal that predates Covid-19. The National Campaign for the Arts believes the programme has “the potential to be an historic milestone for the arts in Ireland… [as it] recognises the necessity to remove precarity from the lives of artists and arts workers of all disciplines, so that they might develop, create and present their best work for the benefit of all society.”
Urban Sun is an innovation to reduce the spread of the corona virus in public spaces. It reminds me of Olafur Eliasson’s art installation in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, the Weather Project. In 2003 this had a major impact on Tate’s approach to visitors. Now, an artificial sun might be the future of shared in-person experiences and a new wellbeing.
A new interactive exhibition about behavioural science challenges visitors’ “sometimes mistaken ideas of how rational they believe they are in daily decision-making and life choices”. It is run by Mindworks, the world’s first interactive museum and working lab dedicated to behavioural science, operated by the Center for Decision Research at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
The pandemic highlights the importance of being relevant to audiences. Designing customer or visitor journeys can help with this. The Global Lead for the High-Tech Industry at Accenture suggests three steps to designing customer journeys:
1. Be customer-centric, not company-centric
This means designing journeys and experiences not as a path to purchase but as a path for the customer to fulfil their purpose. I know many cultural organisations have motivations to visit and sometimes the corresponding outcomes of a visit included in their visitor surveys – these could be useful for understanding your audiences’ purpose for the visit.
2. Create flexible journeys based on need-points, not touchpoints
Such journeys should not align to touchpoints according to what the organisation wants to happen, but to understand the need-points customers traverse in order to make decisions that achieve their desired outcomes.
3. Use Customer Performance Indicators (CPIs) rather than KPIs
Measure how well an organisation is performing for customers at each need-point and eventually, the better an organisation performs at CPIs, the better it will perform on outcomes important to the organisation (KPIs).
Street performers add vitality to a city. However, they are rarely part of arts funding models and the exchange for money between street performer and audience has been changing with the increase of cashless transactions as well as Covid-19 restrictions.
Building a community is core to developing an artist’s fan base and getting donations. The Busking Project is a platform that helps fans to find performers and buskers to get business. It builds a community and enables cashless donations, hiring a performer and building a fan following.
This article looks into the data of the type of street performers more likely to receive donations and the characteristics that generate higher donations.
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Image: Evelina Friman on Unsplash