Creators Project in San Francisco

Last weekend the Creator's Project garnered significant attention from national media.  From the mission statement on the website "The Creators Project is a global celebration of art and technology." and "The Creators Project is a new kind of arts and culture channel for a new kind of world."   As an intersection between art and tech it seems appropriate that the blog weigh in and take a look at what they did, how they did it, and the implications.  The Creator's Project has major sponsorship from Intel Corp and VICE with significant online free content focusing on mostly short form interview of Creator associated artists.  This Project offers similar promise to other ventures to offering culture and arts online to ideas such as On The Boards TV and Jacob's Pillow Virtual Pillow but is already operating on a much larger scale than either of these.

The Creators Project offers arts and culture online at a scale that is extraordinary for such a young institution.  The levels of participation on information sharing that is happening through their website looks unparalleled and should be looked towards as a model for successful integration of technology and the arts.   The Creators Project was started in May of 2010 by VICE and seems to have two major interfaces with the public.  There is a exhibit/show that has toured around the world each year and an expanding web presence that now counts video downloads in the millions.  The content is broken out into six different categories:  Music, Film, Art, Design, Gaming, and Fashion and has engaged with artists from all of these areas to provide content online and for the annual festival.  They will be rolling out content collected from the event last weekend (March 17-19, 2012) in the coming weeks.

Current content on the website is a mind blowing array of new directions taken by artists in each of the fields.  One of the standout artists at the event last weekend was a new work from visual multidisciplinary artist Chris Milk.  The installation called the Treachery of Sanctuary incorporated user interaction with digital transformation to look at elements of flight.  Visuals of this can be found here.

Anther fascinating example that was found on the Creator's Project website was the Electronic Shadow from France.  Electronic Shadow uses imaging technology and software to generate interactive 3D maps of people places and objects.  These images then can be used and manipulated in artistic fashions.  The implication for this technology would, for instance, be a game changing one for other art forms such as dance.

Exchange of ideas such as Creator's Project bring together the bleeding edge of Technology and the Arts and as such should be a point of engagement for institutions that are looking to modernize and include new audiences (and younger audiences).  The artists involved have obviously successfully engaged these audiences already and by following the lead of these success stories arts leaders at more conventional organizations can find hope in a new direction in reshaping structure and content to address the demands of a more complex world.





Festivals Galore!

As the month of March rolls on, and the weather starts to warm up, two things immediately come to mind: vacation, and festivals. The gang here at Tech in the Arts is on spring break this week, so expect a lighter posting schedule as we take a (well deserved!) break from our studies. Having said that, I wanted to briefly check in and point out two festivals happening this week that are highlighting some of the best and most creative technology and arts projects occurring from across the country.

The first, South by Southwest, or SXSW for short, is currently underway down in Austin, Texas, as anyone with a Twitter account is well aware of by now. Having grown massively in size over the years, the show is divided between three festivals: film, music, and interactive. The interactive portion, including keynotes, speakers, presentations, shows, parties, events and so much more (it really is a sight to behold) is taking place this weekend and ends tomorrow, the 13th.

Tech in the Arts is live down in Austin covering the action; you can follow our Twitter feed (@techinthearts) for live updates and recaps of SXSW events, including the big bash that Carnegie Mellon held this weekend, along with one of our staffers, Terry Boyd, who is tweeting from his personal account (@boydleservice). We all wish we could be there this weekend, but those two accounts are representing us well!

We’ll also have a wrap-up of all the great action at SXSW following the conclusion of the festival, so stay tuned for that.

I’m typing this from beautiful San Francisco, California, and the second festival I wanted to mention is the 3rd Annual Creators Project, taking place this upcoming weekend (March 17th-18th) here in the Bay Area. Sponsored by Intel and VICE, the festival seeks to bring together the best of art, music and is “dedicated to supporting artists in realizing their creative visions through technology.” In addition to the works of art on display, there will be performances by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, James Murphy, and Squarepusher.

The best part of the festival? It’s free with an RSVP! So if you’re in the Bay Area this weekend, definitely check it out.

Even if you can’t make it to either Austin or San Francisco this week, stay tuned as we’ll be posting follow ups to both exciting festivals and highlighting the best art and technology trends coming from both.


Expanding the Dialogue with the CultureCode Initiative

While the intersection of technology and the arts has always presented a series of exciting opportunities for us here at Technology in the Arts, the reality is many cultural and arts organizations find technology challenging. It can seem especially prohibitive to small organizations and individual artists who may lack expertise. The Arts Council England and Codeworks have developed an interesting forum to increase the dialogue between arts organizations and the developers of this intimidating technology, the CultureCode Initiative.

No definition fits the CultureCode Initiative better than the one straight out of their digital press release,

“The CultureCode Initiative is a series of free events designed to open up new opportunities for highly skilled developers, designers and assorted geeks to work collaboratively with cultural organisations and artists.”

Here’s why I find the idea of the CultureCode Initiative so fascinating: technology often overwhelms people and appears antithetical to cultural organizations that feel that new technology can make them obsolete. The CultureCode Initiative seeks to completely debunk that myth, as Tyneside Cinema Chief Executive Mark Dobson explains, “You don’t need to have any previous experience of digital to attend this event”.

The CultureCode Initiative’s website even states “you don’t need an IT department” to partake and learn from their events, and some are guaranteed to be "jargon-free". The advent of web 2.0 and the current culture of sharing absolutely everything via the internet has democratized information. The CultureCode Initiative, to me, is increasing accessibility and informing arts and cultural organizations know that it is possible and it is easy for them to join this discussion.

Most importantly, perhaps, the discussion is not meant to be in one direction. While most similar opportunities are aimed at instructing arts organizations in utilizing technology, the CultureCode Initiative encourages two-way dialogues, with events showing developers how they can take a new look at cultural organizations and how cultural organizations can reconsider their “digital assets”.

If you’d like to join the discussion live, their first events start early next week (Tuesday, February 21st ) and CultureCode ends with a huge twenty-four hour Hack towards the end of March.

If you don’t happen to live in the North East of England (where these events take place) you can join the discussion digitally by tweeting @Culture_Code.

Any of our readers going? Be sure to let us know your perceptions of the events – you can bet Tech in the Arts will be watching to see what cool solutions come out of the CultureCode Hack.

Solve for X

Try not to have horrible flashbacks of high school algebra! In this case, Solve for <X> is a new Google initiative, defined as “a forum to encourage and amplify technology-based moon-shot thinking and teamwork”, and <X> is defined by as the intersections of “huge problem”, “radical solution”, and “breakthrough technology”.

While the website is fairly vague, Solve for <X> sounds like a hub for crowdsourced solutions with a focus on innovative thinking and technologies. The website already has some brilliant talks online – as a visual person, I found Mary Lou Jepsen’s discussion on “Imaging the Mind’s Eye” fascinating.

Solve for <X> has a Google+ page to encourage and facilitate discussion; anyone with a relevant talk is invited to share it on the page as long as it meets the criteria (huge problem, radical solution, and breakthrough technology). Solve for <X> even hosted a conference in the beginning of February to bring together innovators to discuss major problems and solutions of the modern world. There’s a YouTube channel with more videos from the site and their conference, with presumably more on the way.

Crowdsource thinking like Solve for <X> and the TED talks certainly provide an interesting set of viewpoints on a wide range of topics. You can bet we’ll be watching to see how Solve for <X> has an affect on culture and the world of art.

Speaker Series' Spotlight: Chad M. Bauman, Director of Communications for Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater

On February 10th, the Master of Arts Management program at Carnegie Mellon University will welcome Mr. Chad Bauman, Director of Communications for Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater to speak as part of our Speaker Series. His presentation, Confessions from an Arts Marketer – Learning from the Past, Looking Toward the Future, will highlight the worst practices in the field, what can be learned from them, and how to move beyond them. I recently chatted with Chad and talked Tweet Seats, fire in the belly, and what he wished he had known about the field from the very beginning…

Elizabeth @ Technology in the Arts: You’ve held top, senior positions as the previous Director of Marketing and Communications for Americans for the Arts and now as Director of Communications for Arena Stage. You’ve clearly figured it out. But even so, what’s the one piece of advice you wish you had received before entering the field?

Chad Bauman: I am very thankful for my education from CalArts in Producing and Theater Management. But I would have to say…I wish I had learned how to get stuff for free. When you are first starting out, it’s how good are you at convincing people to give you stuff for free- advertising space, promotional opportunities…it’s absolutely critical for smaller companies; you have to do it really well.

E: Now, with all the social media networks out there, it must be easier to get recognized and make connections with those who CAN give you stuff for free.

C: Earlier on, it was super controversial for arts organizations to be on social media; they didn’t understand what the value would be. It also used to be a smaller company could distinguish itself on social media, but now there is a lot more clutter. Being on social media is an exceptional way to get free promotion, but now you have to compete with everyone else out there.

E: So I have to ask, in your opinion, which is the better platform to get a message out and to get attention, Twitter or Facebook?

C: I’m liking Twitter more and more. It’s the most efficient platform. It began with Friendster, then MySpace, then Facebook. I think Facebook use is on the decline and Twitter is on the incline. It’s more of a conversational tool.

E: How about audience members Tweeting during a show? Tweet Seats?

C: You have to be careful; you have to find a balance with Tweet Seats. There was a case where a theater established Tweet Seats for a show, but the resident writers of the production were never consulted and they were not on board with it.

E: What are you more in favor of then, Tweet Seats or post-experience Tweeting?

C: I am more in favor of post-experience Tweeting. You can’t get the full experience if you are on your phone, you’ll miss something. You can miss the most crucial detail, especially in a very nuanced performance. There are many other ways to invite conversation about a production.

E: For those of us logging in hours on online job boards and stalking career services on an daily basis, what are the qualities you look for as Director in a potential employee or intern?

C: Fire in the belly. By that I mean, a person who is internally motivated. I’m not sure you can teach it. They want to do a great job and are motivated by wanting to do a great job. You can teach skills, but you can’t teach internal motivation.

E: In particular to marketing?

C: I look for people who are not afraid to take risks, calculated risks, but risks nonetheless. You have to be willing to take a risk in an entrepreneurial spirit.

E: We, my fellow job and internship seekers, thank you for that advice! I don’t want to take up too much more of your time, so one last question. In a recent blog, I looked at the changing face of America over the next four or five decades and its shift to a minority-majority population. How can visual arts or performing arts organizations expand their audience to reflect this change?

C: First, it’s about programming and community outreach. At Arena Stage, we go out into the community, to churches, to schools, to make personal relationships. You can communicate to younger demographics about your organization’s activity and productions using technology tools. But it’s about programming. Marketers are very good at targeting a specific demographic and figuring out what tools to use. But regardless of the tool, there has to be an interest in the production or the organization’s mission.

You can read more about this Speaker Series event on the Master of Arts Management Speaker Series' website, discuss arts marketing with Chad on his blog, and find further information about the Master in Arts Management (MAM) program on the Heinz College webpage.

Interview with Chad Bauman conducted and condensed by Technology in the Arts contributor, Elizabeth Quaglieri.

13 Social Media Infographics Every Marketer Needs to See

Happy Friday! What’s everyone doing this weekend? Perhaps you’re saddling up to head to Louisville for the National Arts Marketing Project Conference. The conference starts tomorrow and goes through next Tuesday the 15th – in which case, enjoy the conference! If you can’t make it to Kentucky this weekend, a lot of the conference will be online. Three sessions will be streaming live and archived as webcasts if you miss them. The conference will also be accessible via twitter with hashtag “#nampc”. The National Arts Marketing Project (NAMP) offers resources year round on their website to help your arts organization be better marketers. One of these is their newest ebook, 13 Social Media Infographics Every Marketer Needs to See.

The first in a series of free publications, 13 Social Media Infographics Every Marketer Needs to See is an accessible and enlightening tool for those interested in social media marketing. The publication covers the history of marketing channels, basic tips for social media usage, and then moves on to more complex topics like the demographics for each social media website. If you're looking for a way to make sense of all the social media out there, this is a great starting point.

Technology in the Arts also has a lot of great social media resources, including how to analyze your success, tap into that prized demographic, and important current trends. How is your organization using social media to be better marketers?

10 Takeaways From the 2011 Emerging Practice Seminar

CultureLab, a partnership between an informal consortium of arts consultants and the Cultural Policy Center (CPC) at the University of Chicago, recently held an 'Emerging Practice Seminar' in April. The organization was formed to break down the silos of research, policy and practice, and create a new capacity and approach to tackling challenging issues. The topics at this year's seminar were:

  • Uses of technology in audience engagement
  • Revenue management and dynamic pricing

The seminar's website features all of the speakers' presentations (both videos and slides) and is an extremely helpful resource!

Here were my top 10 takeaways from the 'Use of Technology in Audience Engagement' portion of the seminar.

1. Embrace technological innovation, there's nothing to fear! Tim Roberts of ARTS Australia provided an introduction to the day's topics. Tim's introduction called attention to the unfortunate fact that any arts managers and organizations still view technology as something they are fighting against. He quoted NEA chairmen Rocco Landsman as saying "the arts are battling the technology invasion". Roberts argues that many also believed cable television to be the death of television and photography to be the death of painting and that technical innovation has not caused the death of an artform but has contributed to its spread and created new audiences.

Uses of Technology in Audience Engagement - Tim Roberts from Cultural Policy Center on Vimeo.

2. Engagement is an ongoing process: Technology is least effective when it's not used in a proper context of engagement. This process of engagement often begins prior to the audience coming through the doors. Likewise, the process shouldn't end after the performance or visit ends. Technology can help to provide context to a piece of art or performance, personalize the experience and even augment the experience. There are many options when it comes to sustaining a deeper level of audience engagement.

3. Layered Arts Experiences are cool! This type of technology has been extremely underutilized in the performing arts sector. Layered Arts Experiences offer audiences options for real-time assistance imperative during arts programs. They can come in the form of supertitles for opera and dance performances. The Columbus Symphony Orchestra had a device called the 'Concert Companion' which enabled patrons to read something about the piece they were hearing as they listened to the concert.

4. Museums continue to lead the way when it comes to adapting technology: Another common theme during the seminar was the overwhelming lack of technological innovation in performing arts organizations. Even though there were examples of organizations using layered arts experience tools and mobile interactions, it seemed as though they were few and far between and many had even stopped using these tools.

5. The verdict is still out on Tweet Seats: A 'Tweet Seat' is simply a seat reserved in a theater for Twitter users. Tweet Seats have many benefits, including: encouraging a younger audience demographic to get involved in the performance, having this demographic spread the word about the performance to their Twitter followers, and cutting down on distracting other audience members by blocking off a section for Twitter users. The question, however, remains whether or not people can truly become immersed in a performance if they are multi-tasking with other technological devices.

6. Mobile Interaction isn't just limited to QR Codes in Museums Ron Evans of Group of Minds had some great ideas about ways to engage audiences via mobile devices. Evans suggested placing a QR Code on tickets for previews of the show. Evans also suggested distributing digital keepsakes after shows. He also discussed the importance of using these mobile technologies in the proper context of audience engagement. Unfortunately, most technology has focused on the pre-performance and pre-sale with the sole intention of making the sale and increasing attendance. Engaging audiences should also involve increasing their understanding and appreciation of an artform. The 'during' and 'after' is just as important to leading people to the next experience.

Mobile Interaction: adding content and context - Ron Evans from Cultural Policy Center on Vimeo.

7. Location Based Servies has a long way to go: Devon Smith presented the findings of a research study she conducted on arts organizations using location based services. Location Based Service is simply a service that uses the geographical position of a mobile device (Foursquare, Yelp, Google Maps). Applications like Foursquare can be useful in providing real-time analytics on the demographic of those who are "checking in" to a venue. Smith's study found that only 36% of the 76 nonprofit theatres she tracked, had properly claimed their venues on Foursquare, yet 97% of the venues had a mayor. Even though claimed venues had 3% more activity, the real-time analytic information could be very useful to any organization.

8. Blogging Isn't Dead!: Thomas Wickell of Malmo Opera shared one of the most interesting case studies of the day. Wickell emphasized the importance of viewing the stage from the audience's perspective as opposed to looking out at the audience from the stage. With this key distinction in mind, Wickell and his team found that the audience they wanted to attract was not responsive to traditional channels of advertisement (newspapers, television, etc). Since most of their target audience were highly engaged online, the team created a blog that was centered around the life of a character in an upcoming opera. The blog became so popular, at one point in time, traffic to the blog surpassed that of the company's main website! The staff even invited readers to a ceremony for the character (since she does not survive) and over 100 people came to pay tribute to her life. The blog can still be found here!

9. Technological Innovation Often Requires a Culture Change Within an Organization : Linda Garrison and Thomas Weitz at Steppenwolf Theatre gave an overview of helpful practices for creating video content. An important theme during this presentation was the importance of finding allies when seeking to implement any changes. Whether designing a new video campaign or placing QR codes on marketing material, implementing new technology can often mean a culture change within an organization. Finding out who your champions, advocates and contributors are beforehand can make a world of difference when proposing any sort of change. It's also well worth your time to watch the Steppenwolf videos here.

10. Know Your Target! The Steppenwolf and Malmo case studies highlighted the importance of understanding who the target audience is prior to implementing any of the strategies and tools listed above. Steppenwolf researched and found their audience tended to be highly educated, comfortable with direct marketing and confined to a very specific geographic location. As a result, Steppenwolf decided that an online video campaign could be effective in engaging their audience. The Malmo Opera worked backward and began by envisioning what type of audience they wanted to attract. Either way, this process is extremely effective when the target audience is clearly defined.

Arts and Technology Round-up: Museums and the Web Edition

Happy Friday everyone! For this arts and technology round-up we decided to try and hone in on a few of the awesome projects that we saw at the Museums and the Web conference last week. Up first are our picks of some of the best and most innovative projects. After that, the winners of the Best of the Web 2011 awards from the conference.

Technology In The Arts Picks

Zooniverse - This group marries together the researching needs of the scientific/historical communities and the power of crowdsourcing. By creating a series of interactive web portals, Zooniverse creates communities of "Citizen Scientists".

PhilaHistory - Philly based GIS firm Azavea worked with the City of Philadelphia to create a platform for linking historical photos of the city to their real world locations using geo-location and augmented reality.

One To One with the Artist: Ai Weiwei - A simple idea with a great effect, this project from the Tate allowed museum visitors to record and upload a video in the gallery and have a video dialogue with the artist Ai Weiwei.

The WALL - The Museum of Copenhagen's giant multi-touch multimedia screen installed in one of the central squares of Copenhagen.

ARTfinder - A new recommendation engine for artwork, this site works very much like, taking your current interests and using them to introduce you to new works.

The Collective - Sounding a little bit like a bad 50's sci-fi flick, The Collective is the Denver Art Museum's interactive website/online programming space and a new way of connecting and bringing in the Denver community.

MoMA Learn - An extremely in-depth arts education web portal, the Museum of Modern Art's education department went all out on this one.

ARtours - The Stedelijk Museum's innovative augmented reality program.

The Best of the Web 2011

Education & Best Overall: The ACMI Generator

Mobile: The AB EX NY iPad app

Innovative: Nationnaal Historisch Museum / Museum of National History

Museum Professional & People's Choice: Smithsonian Web and New Media Strategy Wiki


Research/Online Collection: Portable Antiquities Scheme

Audio/Visual/Podcast: Access All Areas podcast

Project by a Small Institution: ASI: Archaeology Scene Investigations in North County Louth