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Culture Cloud: what next?

January 17, 2013 Leave a comment

It’s been a while since I caught up with Skinder Hundal, the man behind the Culture Cloud project – back in August we spoke about some of the keys to making a project like this a success, but now the project’s finished, I wanted to find out what was next for Culture Cloud and the technology behind it…

 

Skinder, how will you incorporate digital technology at NAE now, given what you’ve learned from Culture Cloud?

“We feel much more confident about using the digital and social media platform. Culture Cloud proved that if we can design a digital system with simplicity and functionality as the main aim then it would work. We have learnt a lot about pre-planning and the amount of people and dedication it takes to pull off such a project, and that we probably needed twice the resources to really make it work.

“For this round at NAE we were very resourceful and it was the relationship of the CEO and NAE team with key partners that activated goodwill levering wider resources of time and knowledge.”

What will Culture Cloud look like in 2014?

“Technology travels too fast for us to know this so it is difficult to predict, however we would be keen to mainstream Culture Cloud as a model and refine key processes and technologies to ensure success. We felt that the democratization of how art is selected for gallery exhibitions using digital platforms was a success on the whole. The total process created a hype and a strong reality in that NAE had record number of visitors at the opening launch and good visitors throughout the exhibition.

“It also attracted a good selection of works from across the UK, unearthing and exposing new talent not seen or heard. The national curators in the partnership were impressed by this.

“Going forward NAE will strengthen its partnership and collaborators, scale up possibly through prominent media partners, widen the range of art forms if possible (beyond 2d) look internationally in terms of artists, audiences and partners, certainly improve audience engagement and voting, rethink the selling and commercial side of the project and improve the digital interfaces and interaction between artist, audience and curator.”

Culture Cloud: communication, teamwork and ‘threeing’ the key to success

August 14, 2012 2 comments

In the last update from the Culture Cloud project, and in my last catch up with Skinder Hundal – one of those heading up the project – we talked about the digital difficulties of putting art online. In this next round of updates, and in our second catch up, we spoke about the importance of communication and how a strong team will always guarantee success.

 

How important was communication to the Culture Cloud project?

Communication is a critical part of success, be that written, verbal, physical or virtual. Communication can be complex in partnership projects like Culture Cloud, which involves new partnerships and tried and tested ones all in the same mix.  The dynamics and ideologies and working practices of the different sectors often need to be thought through and negotiated – be them commercial, technology firms, universities or national visual arts organisations.

Communicating time scales, and expectations of roles and responsibilities plays a critical role in determining successful outcomes. The methodology and regularity of communication is also key – be that via text, phone, face to face, email or blogs.

What has the key to success been with this project?

Successful projects have great ideas, vision and dynamic multi-functioning teams – there have to be instigators, responders and mediators. I borrow the term ‘threeing’ from an artist called Paul Ryan featuring in dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel at the moment in fact. It means a team where someone leads, a group respond and a smaller group mediate the ideas and differences – it really makes a difference. In totality though what makes success is leadership, passion and drive, forward planning, and great ideas delivered pragmatically with skilled and knowledgeable team players. It is always a combination of these components successfully blending in time and space that make the difference.

If you could do the project again, what would you do differently?

We have had approximately 40,000 voting engagements with Culture Cloud online via social media and the Culture Cloud platform on Artfinder. This has been brilliant, but the model needs refining so thinking this through in more detail would be really important.  The model works so that artists and audiences have more control and power in the outcome of whether they get to exhibit in an international space.  Those less networked and more introvert can get left behind though, so ensuring that an audience engagement platform can work so it has even more value as we develop the model for the future is important.

On the whole the project has exceeded expectations and we are delighted about this; we are now at the stage where we are promoting the sales of digital prints selected from the Top 40. This is a relatively new area for us as a public contemporary art gallery based in an inner city area.  To do this well, thinking through a tighter commercial strategy would be really good with a dedicated team who can engage audiences with the work and also instigate new collectors of art and buyers of digital print so that artists, audience and project partners all benefit together.

Matthew Caines is a journalist currently blogging and posting updates from all eight projects involved in the Digital R&D Fund for Arts and Culture

Find out more about the Culture Cloud project here