Last night I fronted up to Connecting:// Arts Audiences Online – a forum presented by the Australia Council for the Arts, a roadshow that’s been touring the nation, of which Canberra was the final leg. As I arrived an art-world colleague asked me why I had come, and I had to reply honestly: ‘because it was free.’ Haha, sure, but jokes aside, when you’re a freelance agent trying to carve out some kind of niche in this sprawling heaving mass that is THE ARTS you have to take whatever opportunities you can, free ones are rare and all the better. And I felt like a right fraud too: the session was geared for arts organisations – I am not one – and was about all things online – I still live in a house without the Internet. But I blog (didja know), and I tweet, and whatever else that entails, so in many ways I had done my homework.
Within the opening minutes of the presentation however, it became clear that the information within should most probably be compulsory for all beings of the arts & culture universe. Yes, artists included. The session drew upon OzCo research into how OzCo funded orgs are utilising the web, and how their audiences behave online. Grumblings about the nature of this research, its breadth and depth, who decided to look at what and why were largely sidelined, as it seems the questions presented by this information are more important than the answers. In many ways one of the most useful aspects of the amalgamated findings is the way in which it encourages arts organisations, some for the first time perhaps, to apply a simple marketing template to their activities and product. The best example is the so-called audience ‘attendance journey’, looking at how an audience member engages with online material (and indeed any material) for an event through stages of Awareness > Research > Booking > Preparation > At the event & After the event. A useful way for any organisation to re-examine the experience they deliver.
The site associated with the research project and presentations is so full of interesting STUFF that no under-resourced arts org is ever going to be able to make use of it. But luckily for myself and those like me, there is a wealth of knowledge to be trawled and discussions to be had, covering every aspect of working online to promote and publish arts activity. Have a look before you decide it doesn’t apply to you. You might be surprised. CONNECTING: ARTS AUDIENCES ONLINE