Opportunities Everywhere with Matt Lehrman and Culture Republic

On Tuesday 1 November, Diarmid attended Culture Republic’s Opportunities Everywhere workshop with Matt Lehrman, an event which explored the possibilities for arts and culture organisations in Dundee and the surrounding area. Here’s his recap blog from the event.

For the purpose of the workshop, the term ‘arts and culture organisations’ meant a huge umbrella of businesses – from artists to fashion designers and museums to dance companies.

The focus of the afternoon was to develop audiences for arts and culture organisations in the city. We looked at business models and how capacity can affect the mission statement of an organisation. Matt’s take on this was relating it to when fast food chains promise a mouthwatering huge burger, but delivers a mediocre looking meal. The problem there lies with capacity – either the marketing over promises, or there is insufficient training and tools to deliver the mission statement effectively.

This is an important point for arts and culture organisations, regardless of their size, to consider as it can affect the satisfaction of their customers or consumers. It ties in with the expectations of an organisation, Matt went on to relate this to if you visit a restaurant and expect it to be an 8 out of 10, if it’s a 6, then you leave feeling a bit disappointed, whereas if it’s a 9, you’ll leave feeling pleased and encourage friends to visit.

Regardless of the industry, people will share negative experiences of an organisation online, but are less likely to share their positive experiences online. Is someone has had a good experience, they may recommend an organisation to their friends however, so it’s important for arts and culture organisations, particularly smaller ones, to actively seek out positive feedback. This could be as smile as tracking mentions of the business on social media, or via customer feedback surveys.

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The afternoon continued to look at customer expectation, and the options available for an arts and culture organisation to meet customer expectations.

Option 1 – Increase the audience for what you do currently.

Option 2 – Diversify to serve more audience ‘segments’

Option 3 – Embrace change by evolving and transforming your organisation to meet customer needs.

Regardless of the option a business decides to choose, it’s important for them to know their extraordinary. This means different people will use that organisation’s products or services for different reasons, but it’s important to tap into what these reasons are. This can be done by thinking about who the audience might be in 5 years, and what their expectations are from the business. By establishing this, you can then work towards suiting the needs of your future audience by selecting one of the options above.

Matt gave an example of an aspiring new audiences via experimentation – the Boston Symphony Orchestra provide ipads for attendees to their casual Friday afternoon performances. This allows attendees to watch interviews whilst listening to performances as well as experience the show via different camera angles. This has made attendees feel heavily engaged and involved in the performances, allowing them to experience the orchestra in an innovative way. Whilst something on this scale might not be possible for a small organisation, it’s important that they take note of trends and customer expectations, adapting the methods of delivering their product or service to tailor their strategy in a way that suits customer needs whilst engaging with them.

These are just some of the topics of discussion during the workshop. You can gain a deeper understanding of the week by exploring the hashtag #MattLearnWeek or by following @culture_public on Twitter.