Getting Digital

An Introduction to Amb:IT:ion Scotland and its program

I heard about Amb:IT:ion from a friend. I then started to follow them on Twitter. And  just a couple of weeks ago my supervisor forwarded me an invitation to their Getting Digital Introduction event in Glasgow. It was something I couldn’t miss.

If you haven’t heard of them yet, sildenafil then AmbITion describes itself as a project, oncologist a virtual organization and “a change programme for the arts and cultural sector – helping organisations achieve their 21st century sustainability ambitions through implementing integrated IT and digital developments”. To my understanding, Amb:IT:ion is a project that aims to translate the foreign concepts of media technologies, social media and social networking to people very much involved in creation and promotion of culture: dance, theatre companies, artists, musicians, museums, all small or big interested in having more people hear their story, follow their journey and join it, as much as possible.

The group is working, among others, with the Scottish Arts Fund who has invested £1 million in the program. This means that some arts organizations will be receiving consultancy from the Amb:IT:ion experts.

Today the speakers were Julie Tait, Director of GGA (Glasgow Grows Audiences), an arts marketing and audience development agency, Hannah Rudman, founder of Rudman Consulting, a consultancy practice specialising in strategic digital development for 21st century sustainability. The keynote was delivered by Kyle MacRae, founder of Blether Media, social media marketing agency.

Using a nice looking, captivating and in place funny, Prezi presentation Kyle MacRae talked about user generated content. To me he stated the obvious, that online environments are very rich, give plenty of choice, but that organizations need to understand that social media and user generated content is not the solution for everyone. But then I was the odd person out in the group, fitting more the profile of the consultant than that of an art organization seeking advice on how to attract or maintain its online audience.

Kyle had some very good points. He advocated for strategic thinking, for listening and engagement with the audience but also for caution. One of the big words he used was policy. He shied away from offering straightforward solutions to the good and bad practice examples/case studies he showed but he emphasized several times that organizations need to analyze their environment and audience and come up with their own policies on social media. A great point indeed.

I believe what Kyle said today, which is similar to my PR 2.o presentation I delivered in December last year at HoWest in Belgium, is that organizations going digital need to understand why they do it. Going digital just for the sake of it (or because they can, as he put it) will not help further a coherent message nor it will support the organizations in their audience engagement. What Kyle didn’t clearly mention is that the web offers a myriad of free solutions and tools. I believe arts organizations would benefit from learning what they are and what they are good for.

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After all, going digital isn’t difficult (because of the many resources out there) but it needs to be relevant, coherent and creative. Moreover, going digital doesn’t have to be scary. Adopting a rational approach and coming up with social media policies helps as it forces organizations to analyze their activity online both in terms of present and future. Furthermore, policy drafting will inevitably end up in coming up with solutions for avoiding that the “worst case scenarios” happen. And THAT is what proactive organizations do.

While creativity is oozing from arts organizations, what they need is help with learning the rules and etiquette of the digital world. It’s good that a project like Amb:IT:ion is out there. It provides valuable examples, it gives them a chance to learn from others. Similarly it gives them opportunities to network. to share their stories, to challenge prior models, and finally to find their own voice in this noisy and loud digital environment.

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