Where culture meets digital - our report on Culture Geek Conference

Culture Geek 2019 brought together presentations from a great spread of organisations including Tate, Historic Royal Palaces, RijksMuseum, Philharmonia Orchestra, Sydney Opera House and others around their use of digital platforms.

We heard from Claire Lampon from Historic Royal Palaces about a great campaign, #BoleynIsBack. It featured a few distinct elements; a really engaging, tongue-in-cheek social media series – featuring Ann Boleyn out and about on the streets of London, a custom printed newspaper with a witty salacious tone and then a much more somber recreation of Anne Boleyn’s last journey to the tower. There was a lot of coordination involved in this campaign but very little cost. The engagement levels fully justified the effort.

Lindsay O'Leary & Sarah Osborne from Tate told us all about their experience using Instagram and being responsive to criticism and issues raised by their social audience. We can all learn to listen more and it’s always good to hear concrete examples of listening shaping content, thinking, actions and policy.

We got an insight in how The Philharmonia are taking their orchestra to places they wouldn’t usually be seen, using VR. Luke Ritchie explained how this takes them out on the road and just how intimate the orchestra experience can be when you’re able to interact so closely with the orchestra itself. You could see how exciting it is to be breaking down the barrier of the divide (in a concert setting) between the audience in their seats and the orchestra on the stage. 

When Sydney Opera House first started sharing whole performances on social channels they were worried about a backlash from their ticket buyers. Claire Joachim outlined how, far from being a negative response, they had an overwhelmingly positive one and have continued to build out these services as an essential part of reaching a wider audience. 

The team from the Royal Institute showed how they were building a strong YouTube following and were managing to generate healthy advertising revenues, as a result. Trish Thomas from Southbank Centre shared their challenges in getting the right people in the right places at the right time and advocated being incredibly flexible and to try things out. Using cheap cameras and phones can be effective and provide authenticity. 

The overarching themes were quite clear:

  • Video is a way of engaging with a new audience that you might not otherwise reach
  • You don’t need a stack of money to make it work
  • Consistently and regularly generating content is essential to keep interest and engagement
  • Try out different channels for different types of content. e.g. Recorded is best on YouTube, live works best on Facebook and IGTV
  • Have fun with it and don’t worry that you might annoy your core audience.