Universal basic income for artists

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.”

Interested in more stories like this? Subscribe to my monthly newsletter or read previous editions here.

The power of light

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. 

Image: Studio Roosegaarde

Interested in more stories like this? Subscribe to my monthly newsletter or read past editions here.

An interactive museum and working lab

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.

Image: Pentagram

Interested in more stories like this? Subscribe to my monthly newsletter or read past editions here.

Customer journeys for a post-pandemic world

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:

Image: Clemens van Lay on Unsplash

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).

Interested in more stories like this? Please subscribe to my newsletter or read previous editions here.

Busking in a cashless world

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. 

Interested in more stories like this? Subscribe to my monthly newsletter.

Image: Evelina Friman on Unsplash

‘Slavery’ – an exhibition at the Rijksmuseum

The Rijksmuseum, the national museum of the Netherlands, is taking a new perspective on its collection and for the first time looks at slavery in the Dutch colonial period. The new exhibition ‘Slavery’ is curated along ten true stories from people who were involved in slavery. It was developed with input from descendant communities as well as scholars and activists across the globe, and drew on sources other than colonial archives and collections. Beyond the exhibition itself, the museum is adding 77 museum labels to paintings and objects in the permanent collection to highlight hidden links to slavery.

Here is the Art Newspaper’s review

The Rijksmuseum also presents the ten stories in an online exhibition

Interested in more stories like this? Subscribe to my monthly newsletter.

Image: Rijksmuseum

Digital engagement in real life

The new report In Real Life: Mapping digital cultural engagement in the first decades of the 21st Century explores arts and cultural participation in an environment increasingly influenced by digital technology. Produced through a partnership between the Australia Council for the Arts and the National Arts Council Singapore, the report looks at the implications of digital transformation for the cultural and creative industries.

Its key insights are:

  • Digital elements are embedded in everyday life and cultural participation
  • It is increasingly difficult to distinguish ‘artist’ and ‘audience’
  • Audience expectations are changing
  • The live experience is no longer just about ‘in-person’ attendance
  • Digital access is unevenly distributed
  • Audience expectations include significant access to arts and culture for minimal cost
  • Platforms claim to be impartial, but privilege some content over others 
  • Many of the digital trends were already occurring and have been accelerated by the pandemic

Interested more stories like this? Subscribe to my monthly newsletter.

Hospitality and Humanity

In this podcast, Danny Meyer, CEO of some of New York’s most acclaimed restaurants, discusses the intersection between hospitality and humanity: “Hospitality exists when you believe that the person on the other side of the transaction is on your side.”
He talks about what hospitality is, why we’re all invested in the hospitality business, how to deliver it the right way, how to scale a feeling, why the first people who need to receive hospitality are the people who work in your organisation and the difference between a being a bricklayer or a mason. 

Interested in more stories like this? Subscribe to my monthly newsletter.

Image: The Knowledge Project

Radical Pricing

The concept of Radical Pricing is a new approach to ticket pricing for the performing arts. It draws on the principles of Radical Hospitality and puts the emphasis on making people feel welcome. Pricing is used not only as a revenue management tool, but also as a form of access for audiences of all backgrounds. It recognises the value the offer represents and gives patrons a new level of freedom to reconcile the value they place on art with the money they pay for it.

This JCA article introduces new ideas for pricing under the Radical Pricing umbrella

Interested in more articles like this? Subscribe to my monthly newsletter.

Love / Science: A new exhibition at MOTAT

Love / Science is a new exhibition at MOTAT, the Museum of Transport and Technology. The exhibition beautifully stages some of the treasures from the collection and the stories of NZ innovators. It tells the human stories that inspired the innovations and shows the science that made it possible.

My favourite object was the Totalisator, an early 1900s calculator (or an early step towards a computer?) that looks a bit like a piano and was used at horse races – calculators never looked more beautiful. In our time of the pandemic the Iron Lung, an early ventilator from 1935, has a new relevance. And it was touching that the woman who was treated with the Heart and Lung Machine as a child was present at the exhibition opening. There are new innovations, too, from surf boards made of wool to a bamboo bike.  

Having worked with MOTAT over the last couple of years (and still doing so), I particularly enjoy the exhibition as it is another milestone on the museum’s journey towards its vision and bringing its Visitor Experience Plan (see the case study) to life. 

5 Steps to co-creating with communities

Much is talked about co-creation, be it with young people or other communities. Yet it can feel scary and overwhelming to put into practice and it is easy to fall back into old habits. The American Alliance of Museums offers five steps to create custom approaches to engagement that are driven by the interests and expertise of people in the communities:Abandon – Prepare – Engage – Co-create – EvaluateThey acknowledge that change doesn’t happen overnight and that “…creating a more participatory, diverse, accessible, inclusive, and equitable museum starts with small actions that build relationships and trust.” More in this article

Interested in more stories like this? Join my monthly newsletter.

Image: Clay Banks on Unsplash

France gave teenagers €300 for culture. What are they buying?

In May, “Pass Culture” launched nationwide in France – a smart phone app that gives €300 to every 18-year-old for cultural purchases such as books, music, exhibition and performance tickets or courses over two years. A NYT article looks into what they buy and it looks like so far the majority of purchases were books of which two-thirds were manga. That purchase went to physical goods is likely driven by the limited availability of events due to Covid restrictions. “But the focus on comic books reveals a tension at the heart of the Culture Pass: the freedom for young people to buy what they like (including mass media they already love) and its architects’ aim of guiding users toward trying something new”. Teenagers themselves echoed both critics and promoters of the pass: More guidance wouldn’t hurt, but the freedom is great. 

Interested in more stories like this? Join my monthly newsletter.

Image: Miika Laaksonen on Unsplash

Dementia friendly venues

Continuing my mini-series on the ageing population, I found this new initiative by the mayor of London: the world’s first Dementia Friendly Venues Charter.

As London’s creative arts scene re-opens with the lifting of Covid restrictions, the mayor in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Society launched an initiative so that those living with dementia can make the most of the city’s cultural venues.

The charter aims to make cultural venues more welcoming and accessible for visitors with dementia through a range of dementia-friendly resources including sensory tours, inclusive performances, dedicated relaxed sessions, clear signage, designated chill out zones and staff training.

Interested in more stories like this? Subscribe to my newsletter:

How re-branding can reflect decolonisation

The National Gallery of Canada wanted to reflect the work it is doing to decolonise its collection and amplify new voices in its new brand strategy. This included an overhaul of the visual identity and they decided to go beyond the logo, colour palette, photography and typography, to the Western worldview that lay behind the previous design. 

Working with an agency, the process began with a lot of conversation, “we started with deep listening in interviews with employees, heads of other Canadian museums, board members, leadership, youth artists, transformation consultants, JEDI [Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion] consultants, Indigenous Elders and artists”. A breakthrough came when they shared some early brand concepts with an Elders committee.

Read more about the new visual identity and their process and see the brand on their website

Interested in more stories like this? Subscribe to my newsletter: