At Conecta, the second smARTplaces confrence in Zaragoza. In this photo: Abhay Adhikari with members of the Cultural Manifesto Editorial Board — Sharna Jackson and Cleo Schoeps. Photo credit: Jennifer

Can we talk about digital practices in the cultural sector, at a human scale?

This is a transcription of the talk introducing the cultural engagement manifesto at Conecta, the second smARTplaces conference on Audience and Mediation on the 14th and 15th of March 2019 at Etopia Centre for Art & Technology in Zaragoza.

How did the manifesto begin?
With an interesting conversation

It is with both these work hats on that I will introduce the Cultural Engagement Manifesto. But first, a quick note on how it all began. Like all good projects, this one also started with an interesting conversation between my colleagues Jasmin Vogel at the Dortmunder U and Dominika Szope at ZKM. The initial idea of the manifesto was further developed at the smARTplaces conference in Karlsruhe last year, where we held a series of workshops with participants. This year, we have launched our first public consultation.

What is the smARTplaces Cultural Engagement Manifesto? It’s our attempt to start a meaningful conversation

What is the smARTplaces Cultural Engagement Manifesto? It’s our attempt to start a meaningful conversation about digital practices in the cultural sector.

  1. The second conversation we’re having about digital is to do with the present moment. Right now, everything that is digitally-enabled is complex and unpredictable. It takes up too much time and too much money.

We want to define the space between hope and fear

As you can see, between hope and fear, the conversation we’re having about digital practices in the cultural sector lack clarity. When we look around us for advice, we often don’t know where to start or what a good outcome might look like.

A conversation on digital practices, at a human scale

What does this human scale look like in the cultural sector?

  • It is the Director of Digital of a National Gallery, who has made sure at least some of the multi-million dollar budget for the gallery refit has been allocated to usability research so that any new technology that will be used, will be is accessible to every visitor.
  • It is the curator, who is waiting nervously with the communications intern, moments before she answers questions about her work, in real-time from people on a social media platform like Twitter.
  • Or it could be the Head of Marketing, who has just been asked to commission an augmented reality app for their Cultural Centre, and is doing a lot of research to make sure the money is not wasted on creating something that nobody wants or uses.

The first step, questionnaire launch

These are just a few examples of the experiences that we want to capture through the questionnaire. Our goal at this stage is to gather good practice from across the world that can be replicated by cultural professionals from different institutions who have access to different budget.

The smARTplaces Cultural Manifesto Editorial Board. Click here to find out more.

The editorial board

This questionnaire was developed with a help of a global editorial board that spans from Portland, USA to Chennai in India. This team of eight practitioners reflected on their own experiences to ensure we ask the right questions to understand what guides you to make decisions on a regular basis when it comes to working with digital.

We need your help

Now we need your help. This questionnaire will be live until the end of April. If you feel you’ve invested time to make sense of digital — for yourself, for your team or your organisation — please visit the link and answer the questions.

I am interested in the context & values of our Digital Identities.