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Future-Proofing the Gloop with Stakeholders – Part 2

Windle, Amanda (2014) Future-Proofing the Gloop with Stakeholders – Part 2. Native.

Type of Research: Article
Creators: Windle, Amanda

Project Insight for native, magazine for the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts:

This is the second piece of writing and short burst of thinking around future-proofing innovation and preparing the evaluative phase of our digital R&D project. Previously, I talked about setting up points to gather and engage others in ‘future-proofing’ and how to measure financial success. I did this by garnering generous advise from colleagues of the digital R&D peer group.

This time I have gathered insights from semi-structured interviews, from the responses of our 15 stakeholder interviewees which included stakeholders from arts and theatre venues across the UK, as well as those employed within other industries such as ferry cruise liners or museums and galleries. Their expertise ranged from development directors to arts volunteers, from digital strategists to show programmers to name but a few.

I chose to include three future-proofing questions into the scoping phase of interviews after receiving such a positive response and engagement from the R&D peer-group. The responses were again wide-ranging and generous. So rather than just asking: ‘what might be the key success factors for engaging 65+ arts attendees?’— there were further probing questions asked such as; ‘how can we measure financial success?’, ‘is this a relevant factor to engaging the 65+?’, ‘can you [the stakeholder] describe the key characteristics of a successful business that engages the 65+ age group that relates to your area of expertise and also in general?’. Along the way the following was also asked to probe – ‘why do you think that is?’.

There would have been a missed opportunity had financial success questions not been considered upfront. In doing so some surprising support was gained, not least from one 75+ arts and theatre volunteer who offered a balanced opinion having been an accountant for a publishing house prior to retiring. He gave insights into the publishing world, a sphere based on royalties and how they feed back profit into the company. He added,

“I think it’s probably not sufficiently known how [the] arts is a financially successful enterprise.”

My concerns prior to interviewing were ones of conflict. I felt by asking outright questions like how might we measure financial success I may be reinstating an issue I should consider by way of literature reviews and off-the shelf metrics. However, the answers gained, far outweighed the risk of asking them in the first place. I would recommend asking questions around evaluation to both R&D colleagues as well as key stakeholders. Don’t wait until it is too late and start questioning the job of evaluation from the beginning of the project. Had we not done this we would have restricted the contributions to be made but more importantly by whom.

As the quote above by the volunteer makes explicit there is communication work to be done around voicing the financial successes and failures of the arts in general let alone articulating those projects sit between the binary of success and failure, those R&D projects that encapsulate both.

Official Website: http://artsdigitalrnd.org.uk/insights/future-proofing-the-gloop-with-stakeholders-part-2/
Publisher/Broadcaster/Company: Digital R&D Fund for the Arts
Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > London College of Communication
Date: August 2014
Funders: Nesta, Arts and Humanities Research Council, National Lottery through the Arts Council England
Related Websites: http://artsdigitalrnd.org.uk/features/3-research-methods-to-give-rd-the-best-chance-of-success/
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Date Deposited: 02 Oct 2014 16:44
Last Modified: 02 Oct 2014 16:44
Item ID: 7572
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/7572

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