Set the Stage//Mobilise//Think//Plan//Discover
Why is a special approach needed for Digital Development in the creative industries?
Digital technology is transforming the relationship between artist and audience, arts organisations and places, art and the creative economy. As digital technologies and art forms converge, so do the assumptions about who is an artist, what is a digital business. In the past, it was assumed that the arts were purely a research and development function of the creative economy, or an enhancement element to places where creative economies flourished. Now, the arts are beginning to be recognised for their full economic and social potential They are:
equal partners in the creation of aesthetic quality and tastes;
trusted channels the general public like;
incubators for and homes of creative talent; and
they leverage mass participation and dialogue.
AmbITion England champion, Bill Thompson suggested that organisations most likely to thrive in the 21st century were those that were moving from a position of ‘assimilation’ (where the digital is assimilated into existing modes of thinking) to ‘adaptation’ (where existing thinking is changed to accommodate the new possibilities and potential of the digital).
Digital development can involve some or all aspects of the technology in your organisation. The AmbITion Approach encourages you to look at your technology/digital needs on a whole organisation basis, and from the viewpoint of your audiences and stakeholders too, rather than seeing things in isolation. Often creative organisations are so busy trying to do too much, with too little, too often on their own meaning that thinking about developing strategies for longer-term resilience across the whole organisation is the last thing on anyone’s mind. They end up assimilating technology, rather than adapting.
So for example, you might be thinking that your organisation needs a better web presence to promote your sales online better – a project for the marketing team to lead on perhaps. But if your organisation is looking to develop its webpresence and you consider that opportunity across the organisation, it becomes a wider opportunity for you to consider what your organisation offers, what value that provides, who the audience/customer is, what your channels are to different customer segments, as well as what resources you have and what stakeholders could additionally contribute. You might easily identify that staff need training, or that your IT network needs upgrading. But you might also recognise through considering the web presence development as a whole team, that you could make more of your rich content, such as video archives, via a web video channel aimed at your younger customer segment, or work out how integrate your box office with social media platforms to increase where online audiences can buy your tickets.
Digital technology is primarily an enabler that should help an organisation create a better or new product, increase operational efficiency, reach a wider audience, provide new business models, or explore new areas of innovation. However, digital strategies cannot be separated from overall business strategy and core mission. For example, if your organisation’s mission and business strategy is to increase audience participation, then your digital strategy should reflect that.