New Tech Impacts Ancient Sites

New Tech Impacts Ancient Sites

Last April, contributor Jana Fredricks attended the 2018 Museums and the Web conference in Vancouver. Amidst the chatter of digital collections, online audience engagement, and shiny new tech, she presented research on three technologies that have changed the way cultural heritage sites are understood and documented in the digital age. Her paper, Digital Tools and How We Use Them: The Deconstruction and Reconstruction of Cultural Heritage in Syria, was presented in a panel entitled Post-Colonial Digital.

Why Net Neutrality Matters for Arts Institutions

Why Net Neutrality Matters for Arts Institutions

Net neutrality died by the hand of the FCC in November 2017.  The policy, to be implemented summer 2018, will be detrimental to the work and impact of arts institutions and artists.  The following article provides an overview of what changed, why net neutrality is important to the arts, and what you can do to help reverse the policy, or, as AT&T's CEO has called for, ask for Congress to create a consumer Internet Bill of Rights. 

The Role of Technology in Museums

The Role of Technology in Museums

With tools like beacons, iPads, touch screens, and haptic interfaces, technology provides museumgoers with detailed information, customized viewing experiences, and precise location mapping services. However, the use of digital technology in museums is often seen as a double-edged sword, which begs the question: does technology really belong in museums?

Silicon Struggle: The Battle for The Bay Area Arts' Scene

If you told the average San Francisco resident 40 years ago that the art scene in the Bay Area would be gasping for life in 2015, they probably would have laughed in your face.  But it is 2015, and that is the reality we are facing.  The tech giants have moved in, and  tension is building between the Silicon Valley community and its non-profit entities.  In particular, arts organizations seem to be at an extreme disadvantage for a few reasons:

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.





Pinterest 101 for Arts Organizations [mini-nar]

Pinterest is the latest and greatest in social media, we've talked about it before, and it just reached 10 million unique hits in a month, the fastest independent website to ever attain this lofty title. Every blogger with access to a data set out there is looking at the demographics of Pinterest, but what can a visually based social media do for your organization? This Mini-Nar is going to take a look at some of the basic functions of Pinterest, as well as how some arts organizations are maintaining and utilizing their Pinterest accounts.

Check out these Pinterests from the video: the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Ballet, the Arts and Business Council of Greater Philadelphia, and Lionsgate Be Fit. Some of the demographic data I referred to came from Tech Crunch.

What do you think? Is Pinterest something you'll consider using - or do you already utilize it? Comment on this post and let us know!

Telemarketing is Dead - and I killed it


Fundraising for nonprofit organizations is considered an art, not a perfect science, and it's clear that techniques must be tailored to each individual organization. One of the common pieces of wisdom is that “telephone appeals” (read: telemarketing) consistently work as a fundraising tool for nonprofit arts organizations. I’m not saying random cold calls, but calling people who have funded you before, have a history with your organization and would likely donate again. Nearly one out of every five people will respond and donate to your organization calling and asking for money. As a Millennial consumer, I cannot fathom this.

I, and perhaps you, dear Reader, belong to a generation simply called “Millennials”. Spell check doesn’t know that word yet, but soon it will. We are defined not by high technological competency, which is given to the generation directly before us, but by technological connectedness. I've had a series of experiences which have lead me to create these conclusions about the relationship between Millennials and telemarketing. Millennials, who by the way love to donate, have been raised in a society where everything is connected electronically.

With that connectedness comes with a degree of anonymity. While relationships formed over the web can become as close and as intimate as the penpals of old, they take time. They are cultivated with mutual respect and friendship and while our messages may travel instantly from one to the other, the relationship is built up more slowly.

In this age of instant communication, I think the telemarketing approach is dead to those arts organizations that wish to solicit donations from Millennials. My telephone is reserved for my parents and my grandma, and for calling Renee to let her know I’m outside her building and would she please let me in.

I have had organizations, which I have supported in the past, call me on the phone and ask for donations. It never works.

They always follow a certain pattern. The telemarketer introduces themselves, and asks your name - here again, trying to build up a relationship. But I, the Millennial consumer, am used to long exchanges on Tumblr before ever learning anything than the other person’s username, so that tactic falls short. I thrive in the anonymity of the internet, and this direct and sudden confrontation with a stranger frightens me like a deer in headlights.

Then the telemarketer will try to tell me about the organizations hardships this year; how an economic recession has set them back, or how government legislation has made their work more difficult, could I please help with their annual fund? I, the Millennial consumer, just watched a video of the violence in Syria this morning - you’re trying to tell me you have problems? The problems I care about are the ones involving life and death - and I will negate your ask at every turn.

Finally, the telemarketer has been instructed to ask three times before respectfully hanging up. Are you kidding me? I, the Millennial consumer, tweet, reblog, and share on Facebook all while drinking my caramel latte and finishing an accounting assignment. Your long phone call is wasting my time. Why didn’t you understand when I first said ‘no’? Are you trying to guilt me into this? This is ridiculous. I will never give to this organization again, and their number is now blocked on my phone.

In truth, this all could have been avoided if this organization, who clearly have a record on me, had just emailed me their ask with a direct link, explaining that they need help with their annual fund. The anonymity is intact, I no longer have an individual I don’t know trying to force me into the intimate donor relationship. They haven’t insulted me with blowing their issues into hyperboles (while important to the organization, meaningless to me). And it took all of two seconds to click the link and another to type in my credit card number.

What I’m saying here is, if you’re catering to a mature audience, use telemarketing. Statistically, it works. And probably you’re already using online direct asks in some form, whether its email or otherwise. What I’m hoping you’ll do is pay more attention to who gets what message. If you’re reaching for the Millennials, those fun-loving young kids, maybe tweet them. Email them. Ask them when they attend your next party.

For the love of art, though, do not call.


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.

Cultivating a More Diverse Audience: The Future of Museums

A 2010 report published by the Center for the Future of Museums, an initiative of American Association of Museums, forecasts the changing face of the United States over the next four decades and the future of museums in light of an increasingly diverse population and “majority minority” society. The report, “Demographic Transformation and the Future of Museums” is a must-read for museum managers and administration- if only for the graphics and statistics projecting the upcoming drastic and rapid shift in demographics in the United States. A concise report, complete with graphics, a call to action, and a list of online resources for demographic information and socio-economic indicators, the American Association of Museums (AAM) analyzes the data on patterns of museum use and trends in societal growth to answer the questions

How will people use museums in the future? And which people will use them?

The forecasted demographic transformation directly affects the museum audience and museum professionals as today’s typical museum goer, a 45-54 year old non-Hispanic white adult, is no longer an accurate reflection of the American public.

Below is a summary of the report’s key findings, surprising statistics, focus group outcomes and suggestions on how to cultivate a diverse, museum audience that’s users reflect the diverse, 'majority minority' communities of America’s future.

Sometime between 2040 and 2050, depending on which projection model is employed, the current U.S. minority groups- African Americans, Latinos (of any race), Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Native Americans and others, including those identify as multiracial- will collectively become the new majority in the United States. The proportion of non-Hispanic whites will fall below 50 percent for the first time since the country was founded.

The future of American society is one of “majority minority” in which disparate groups and minorities constitute the collective majority of the population. This compares to the data collected from 2008 on the racial and ethnic composition of the U.S. population in which, by both race and ethnicity, Whites and non-Hispanic whites, made up 74.3% and 84.9% of the population.

The AAM recognizes the imperfections of the monolithic and conventional categories of white, black, Hispanic, and Asian as more and more individuals seek a more multi-racial and ethnic option for classification.

While there are many factors affecting an individual’s decision to attend what the National Endowment for the Arts terms “benchmark arts” (attendance at musical plays, non-musical plays, jazz concerts, theater, opera, classical music performances, the ballet and visual art venues), such as distance, accessibility, cost of admission, income and education, the latter two are most often the major determinants of attendance.

Who has traditionally been the art museum user? And who will it be? While the percentage of the U.S. adult population visiting art museums/galleries declined by 4% between 1992 and 2008, non-Hispanic whites, ages 45-54, are the predominant attendees. Consider this graphic:

If the forecast for the next four decades is correct and the current pattern in museum attendance remains unchanged, art museums and galleries will not serve the majority of the American population. There are economic, cultural, historic, educational, scheduling and interpersonal barriers to entry that affect an individual’s decision and motivation to attend; however, these barriers must be broken in order to create a more inclusive and inviting museum experience for the future America.

What can be done to increase museum/gallery attendance among diverse groups and reduce the great ethnic and racial disparities in museum participation? It is up to the museum administrators, managers, marketers, developers, programmers, educators and front-line personnel.

Know your audience. All of them. Know your neighborhood and community. Read the newest research. Many Urban Studies institutes have published reports on why specific demographics do or do not attend museums or visual art venues. For example,

…studies suggest that African Americans are more likely to attend events characterized by black themes and in which blacks are well-represented among performers, staff and audience members. This has been dubbed the ‘FUBU test’ –for us, by us.

Further research indicates African Americans and Hispanics are

More likely than others to list the desire to ‘celebrate heritage’ and support a community organization’ as a reason to attend arts and cultural events.’

Studies specific to Hispanics found

Hispanics with lower education and income levels tend to seek cultural activities that engage extended families and promote family unity, as well as providing broadly defined educational activities for children

The report features six brief case studies on museums  that have studied the composition of their audience and considered what the future of their audience and community will be. In response to their analysis, museum administrators and managers have implemented unique education programs and outreach activities to address the needs of a growing diverse community. Additionally, youth focus groups have helped to identify what deters younger ages from attending museums and what they would like the museum experience to be- their candid answers are published in the report.

Perhaps the most telling graphic is this map of the United States indicating the metropolitan areas throughout the country in which non-Hispanic white children (defined as younger than 15) are now in the minority:

To quote the infamous Whitney Houston, "...the children are our future," and this map indicates just that- a future of great racial and ethnic diversity. As society's make-up changes, so must the institutions that serve it. Listen to the youth in the community. Not only will they be the future constituents of your museum but they also offer valuable insight as to what will get them to and through the door. And let's not forget the Millennials; a generation that cares more about a global community, participatory experiences (a la Nina Simon’s ‘participatory museum’) and engagement, than making distinctions of race and ethnicity.

As a result, their [Millennial] tastes and motivations may be previews of a future that is already taking shape. In this particular future, race and ethnicity may turn out to be less significant influences….What they [Millennials] want from museums are interactive, immersive, and participatory activities. They want to be more than outside observers looking in.

Still not sure how to address the Millennials' need for an interactive, engaging and participatory experience? Consider this standout suggestion for arts and museum managers: the report cites Jane McGonigal’s theory that museums should take a lesson or two from video games and game designers. Here’s what the report say

…museums can learn a lot from game designers, who know how to design attractive, even addictive experiences…unlike the best games, museums often fail to provide visitors with clear instructions or the feeling of having successfully accomplished something.

Looking forward, racial, ethnic and generational changes will require the museum to encourage new users to attend and to implement programming that is as varied as the community in which it exists. The future composition of the United States is vastly different from that of today. And if museums do not grow in reflection of the changing demographics and population, well, I will leave you with this graphic and you can decide what the future of museums in America will be…