Gathering a group of arts organisations together to talk about ‘measuring cultural value‘ was never going to be an easy task. As researcher Franzi Florack pointed out in her opening remarks to the assembled culture thought-leaders in Manchester this week, every word in that phrase can be contested.
In the first of the two workshops looking at the sort of measures and metrics which could be useful when concerning cultural value (however that’s eventually defined!) participants were faced with a series of questions seeking to assess areas including, but by no means limited to, economic, cultural and social impact.
Please note, this is a cross post from the official research blog which contains further updates from the project and can be seen here but I felt the points deserved a wider airing as the issues raised are likely to cross into many other sectors of work and it would be interesting to hear from others who may be wrestling with similar complexities.
This blog post contains some notes the day from myself and Julian as we start to focus on the issues. We were both invited to attend to help formulate the provocations for the next workshop which looks more at data aspects and would appreciate any input you might have to the debate.
Some of the issues raised yesterday:
- is a framework to assess cultural value even necessary/relevant/desirable?
- when co-producing metrics, (how) could participatory events be used for the activity?
- how can evaluation be longitudinal enough to include community?
Working in groups, participants considered their own organisation’s methods of data collection and evaluation. These included feedback surveys left in venues, interviews with visitors, random telephone cold call research interviews, social media monitoring and collation of newspaper reviews.
Some interesting points emerged including:
- was collection and evaluation steered by financial imperatives?
- notable that traditional marketing segmentation still seems widespread use across organisations.
- changing role of front of house staff mentioned as venue ‘hosts’.
- the friction between rewarding loyal engaged audiences and developing new ones through outreach to non-audiences and non-visitors.
- discussion about the extent to which data collection was driven with funders in mind.
The two of us were asked to finish the session with a very brief introduction into the big data session which will come next.
Julian spoke about the need to identify gaps in the data currently being collected, and also referred to some of the rhetoric surrounding the ‘big data’ agenda which, in itself, can sometimes put up barriers to finding new, collaborative ways of working.
I used two case studies from the media sector to illustrate different ways in which data is being harvested, visualised and analysed. The first was this example from ReFramed.TV and the second, this opensource platform from www.detectiv.io
Before the next session on March 16, we will post some provocations into the internal critical friends forum and elsewhere. Further debate via the comments here also most welcome.
Contributoria member Raymond Joseph recently wrote this list of tips to help follow members of the South African freelance community get the most out of Contributoria.com. I though they were well worth a wider airing so, with his permission, I’m blogging them here too.
If you’ve any further pointers that you’d like to add, do fee free to add them into the comments or drop me a line.
You can also follow the progress of Ray’s article here – members can collaborate with it too.
1. Loads of people pitch ideas for Contributoria, but not all get enough support to be commissioned. So, since the crowd gets to decide what to support – and therefore what is published – it’s important to actively market your pitch via social media and other networks, to garner support;
2. The story needs some general appeal to ensure enough people want to read it and, therefore, support it
3. Support one another. Lots of people whose pitches I’ve supported in the past returned the favour and supported me in return.
4. While the free points option means anyone can lend their support, as a writer and beneficiary, I feel it important to put something back. Therefore, have taken out a paid for £2 (around R40) a month membership, which I can cancel very easily on the site at any time. This gives me 250 points – rather than 50 for the free sub, so I can share the love far wider. (There is also a £6 sub that gives you 500 points to distribute, as well as some other benefits).
5. Don’t be greedy, since the higher you set your fee, the more points you need to garner. And always explain what your fee will be used for – other than paying you- especially if you are asking for a high fee. (Average fees appear to be around £350-400). So if there are additional costs, like travel, a photographer etc, say so in your pitch.
6. You keep copyright and control of your work and publication in Contributoria should be seen as a beginning, not an end. While they actively market work published on the platform and seek further sales (for which they take a commission), you too should be marketing and trying for further sales. My mantra, as some on Southern African Freelancers’ Association (Safrea) would have heard over the years, is “One story, many sales” – i.e. the first sale should cover your costs and ensure a decent profit. Everything after that is “cream” and it’s the reason why we must defend our copyright ruthlessly and charge for any – and all – additional usage. So just like we are paid for print, so should we insist on payment for online. And if a publication doesn’t want to pay for online use, exclude it when you sell your story.
7. At the moment only one picture can be added to an article but work continues to improve the platform so that more pictures can be published. Using a picture can help attract attention to your story.
8. Always remember to say thank to people who have supported you – and make sure they get to see the finished product.
9. There is an area for a biography so writers should complete that to let potential backers know who you are, your background and other work.
10. Add a profile pic. Not only does it help people put a face to a name, it also helps them to recognise your work across other platforms and social media.
* If you are Cape Town based and working on journalism or coding for social good, you might be interested in some of the media training Ray and I are carrying out in February. We are running workshops on advanced social media, storytelling and working with media organisations. If you are interested in finding out more, please drop an email to dimsumdigitalATgmail.com mentioning your project or organisation.