How much impact will France’s culture pass for young people have?

French president Emanuel Macron is introducing a free culture pass for 18 year olds worth €500. It will be interesting to see if and how it works, especially as money is not the only barrier to arts. Two writers consider the potential of the new pilot scheme:

The silo mentality – as prevalent now as in the 80s?

We might be tired of the term (I can see eyes rolling…), but it seems that the multitude of communication tools hasn’t fundamentally changed the issue. And arts organisations (at least the bigger ones) are as guilty as business.

Here is a related cartoon by the Marketoonist and an HBR article that suggest to revive the GE Work-out process to overcome the silos.

Future scenario 1: Bright Future

The Centre for the Future of Museums (at the American Alliance for Museums) is creating thought provoking scenarios of the future to “help museums come up with creative solutions to the central challenge: how can we create a world informed and enriched by thriving museums? How can museums thrive, in the face of diverse forces of change?”

While USA centric, they provide great food for thought to consider where we want the future to go wherever we are based, and what and how we can contribute to it.

Starting optimistically, here is scenario 1: Bright Future

Three current models of museum and art gallery developments – what questions do they pose?

Musing about recent news on museums and art galleries, there seem to me to be three strands of museums models or experiences developing that trigger interesting questions:

Larger public museums and art galleries are expanding with new and exciting building projects to bring more of their growing collections out of storage and provide different types of spaces to accommodate artists new ways of working (Sydney Modern).  Yet they are under increasing funding pressures with central and local government funds decreasing and sponsorships scrutinised or even opposed by artists and the public (Manchester science festival partners withdraw over Shell sponsorship). At the same time expectations are increasing in particular around visitor numbers and their role as tourist attractions. Big name ‘blockbuster’ exhibitions and new building extensions attract large audiences, but naturally can’t be sustained every year – and visitor numbers often become the one and only measure that gets zoomed in on as the sign of success or failure (Major London museums see visitor numbers plummet) with more subtle effects only discussed inside the sector.

Local museums are striving to differentiate themselves by better connecting with their local communities, involving the community into designing the experience and thereby being more relevant to them. The Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History has rebuilt itself with this strategy and is now leading a new global initiative to spread this more widely and to make museums OF/BY/FOR ALL in their respective communities.

Private museums are increasingly opened by wealthy art collectors. They can act without public funding pressures and are essentially only responsible to their own vision and tastes. The Glenstone Museum, for example, is due to open an extension next month said to be “…designed around visitor experience rather than maximizing the number of visitors who cross its threshold” to avoid the “Mona Lisa moment”. Are these new ‘slow art’ experiences or are they elitist in a counter reaction to the ‘democratisation’ of art in the last few decades? Or are private museums just providing a commodity experience based on the art market and modelled on the major public museums? (Billionaires have franchised the modern art museum)

Interesting developments that pose challenging questions and dilemmas around what the role of museums is, how arts and culture should be funded, what we consider inclusive or elitist, what experiences we value and enable or how we measure success…

What’s the point of culture?

An inspiring article by Frank Cottrell Boyce about how culture develops – through generosity, curiosity, open ended and in unexpected ways across time rather than through a utalitarian, transactional ‘investment’ approach.

“The powerful thing about the gift – as opposed to an investment – is that its consequences are impossible to predict.”

Audiences for outdoor arts tend to be representative of the local demographics

“Unlike audiences for many other artforms and cultural activities, audiences for outdoor arts tend to be representative of the demographics of the public in their area.”

The Audience Agency (UK) has published an interesting report about audiences for outdoor arts.

Art-ificial intelligence

Auckland Art Gallery’s new chatbot

Auckland Art Gallery’s new chatbot demonstrates art-ificial intelligence to give new access to 17,000 artworks. The chatbot is accessible via Facebook Messenger.

It is part of an initiative called Send Me conceived by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), who launched their text message-based chatbot in July 2017. Following the project’s success, SFMOMA shared basic code behind the chatbot, so that institutions around the world could adapt it to their own holdings. Auckland Art Gallery’s project was initiated following a conversation with SFMOMA facilitated by Sabine Doolin, Audience Strategist from InsightUnlocked, and Anna Leary, Director of Objective Virtual Marketing.

Read more in the Auckland Art Gallery press release.

(c) Auckland Art Gallery

Welcoming diverse visitors – are you looking at the data in the right way?

A diverse audience is a much proclaimed goal for many cultural organisations, and rightly so. Public arts organisations need to be relevant to a broad population in order to be sustainable and funded long term. This means striving for an audience that is representative of the population.

The upcoming NZ census will tell us more about the ever-increasing diversity of the NZ population and with the update of the Audience Atlas by MHM and Creative NZ due in a few months, we will be able to compare cultural audiences with the population and understand the opportunities and challenges.

Here is a good perspective on how to look at such data and how to interpret (and not mis-interpret) it by Colleen Dilenschneider: Why Some Cultural Organizations Overestimate Success In Welcoming Diverse Visitors

What businesses can learn from artists

There is so much we can learn from artists, it’s not just the STEM subjects that are relevant in the business world, as is often claimed. In our changing world creativity, dealing with emotions, managing ambiguity, creating something memorable are skills that will become more and more useful.

The team from Let’s Go shares some of their experiences with creative collaboration