Happily sharing (work) space…

Sharing Spaces is a savvy little report for NCVO about co-location.   Supported by the Baring Foundation, this NCVYS project was designed to enable a number of national and regional voluntary youth service organisations to happily share premises in London.  The findings and guidance would be useful for cultural organisations looking at the same issue.

Maximising the impact of the arts during the recession…

Maybe we’ve heard enough about this, but this conference (by the CPPS and sponsored by ACE) came on the day of the announcement of funds being made available by ACE to support organsiations through the recession (see previous post…)… So, a concrete acknowledgement of practical help being required… and I think a first outing speach-wise for the new ACE Chair Liz Forgan.

Otherwise the general zeitgeist of the day was about how we could be working as arts organisations to provide evidence and make a better case for the arts being integral to society – through a new kind of narrative of value – (and an integral part of the way out of a recession) – about we should be shouting louder and encouraging our audiences to be more vociferous!

Several speakers talked about how we should also be working more effectively across sectors, across regions and across organisations to collaborate, connect, network share etc. etc.

There were also suggestions that if we know that we need to change, restructure or develop our organisations in any way – now is the time – we can’t put it off any longer.  New business models may be required…

And finally… we should not compromise in artistic programming, creativity or in support of our artists or staff – it is not the time to limit our ambitions as this will weaken our case and bore audiences!

There’s more, but that’s the general gist!

Arts Council England’s response to the recession



Follow these links for information about funds which Arts Council England are launching to support arts organisations of all types through the recession… should they need it…

They also offer further recession advice at www.artscouncil.org.uk/actiononrecession.

After the Crunch

A bleak budget just announced and with the only certainty that cuts to public spending will be made – what do those working in the creative economies really think?

‘After The Crunch, is a collaborative response to the global recession from those operating in the creative economy featuring contributions from prominent UK and international creative leaders and economists including Charles Leadbeater, Richard Florida, Iwona Blazwick, Edna dos Santos-Duisenberg, Stuart Cunningham, Will Hutton, Martin Bright and many more…’

You can download it free from Creative Choices website and also blog your responses too.


Social media playtime is over for marketers

Josh Bernoff at Forrester has recently reported on what they call “interactive marketing” - that’s use of social media to workplayyou and me as far as I can gather, and it seems that people will be upping their presence in online communities in light of the recession and budget cuts. I love the bold tone of this report – “Go ahead, name another marketing investment that’s anywhere near this strong in recessionary times.”. Err, no, I agree actually.

And where else I agree is in this idea of “playtime is over”. I think playtime should have been over a long time ago, we shouldn’t invest our time in new platforms until we have thoroughly researched it, how it works, who’s using it and how it can work for us. Plus if you don’t know what you’re doing it can ruin it for the rest of us by association.

Here are some of Josh’s top tips for social media marketing that I think might apply to us:

  • Measure the truly relevant results - It’s time to redefine web statistics. Instead of measuring all kinds of data that don’t provide added value, measure the data that really interest your clients: number of subscriptions, number of asked questions, rate of interest created in the product etc. In order to get a bigger chunk of the budget for social media you have to prove their worth. Use the right metrics to quantify their impact.
  • If you are a marketer interested in social media, use these stats [and a wealth of others available! - Em] to get a realistic budget, then concentrate on measuring the results of your efforts to prove they work. Don’t dabble; dabblers will see their budgets cut.
  • If you are a consultant or recently laid off person, yes, this is a growth area. But it is one in which there are already an awful lot of experts. To become successful, concentrate on developing expertise in implementation, management, moderation, or measurement of social media efforts; that’s where the need appears to be, from the companies I speak with.

Thanks also to Cordula Werle’s blog post on Vanksen culture buzz.

Recession Info from the Charity Commission

Following news that more than half of charities are now feeling the impact of the downturn, the Charity Commission is conducting research into how trusts and foundations have reacted to the recession and the impact this has had on charities that they fund.

The research, scheduled for publication in June, will form part of a series of Commission reports focusing on the economic downturn. A second report, commissioned by the regulator, will investigate whether or not charity trustees are responding strategically to fundraising issues in light of the recession.

The Charity Commission will also be providing charity trustees with a check-list of key issues to be addressed in a recession, in the form of a model board paper. Focusing on the needs of smaller charities, the paper will be available on the Commission’s website – www.charity-commission.gov.uk.

On my reading list this week…

I’ve heard this book referred to a number of times – by Diane Ragsdale of the Mellon Foundation and also the International Futures Forum: Deep Survival by Laurence Gonzales (www.deepsurvival.com) – essentially I gather it focuses on looking at survival situations and concludes that those who realise they are lost the quickest are the ones that survive…

And on a different note – Citizen Brands – putting society at the heart of your business by Michael Willmott ie. being a better corporate citizen is the right business call – which seems sensible to me!

Reviews of these will follow! But both seem to have possible applications for surviving in a recesion…

Recession: strategies for survival – free conference

Further to our guide on Riding out the Recession, I spotted this free conference …

Recession 101: Strategies for Survival – 2nd Annual Southwark Business Conference

Tuesday 31st March 2009, 9:30am 4:00pm
Glaziers Hall, 9 Montague Close, London Bridge, SE1 9DD

Speakers are: Rt Hon Tessa Jowell MP, Minister for the Olympics; and Rachel Elnaugh, Entrepreneur and business consultant. The conference will explore the key issues affecting businesses and the strategies needed to survive them.

More info and booking through Southwark Chamber of Commerce website.

“The feelgood film of the decade”? Marketing in a downturn

Those of you who’ve seen Slumdog Millionaire will know that, with its scenes of abject poverty and startling violence, its not always the “feelgood film” it’s poster campaign suggests. But its savvy marketers clearly tapped in to a key aspect of the recession-consumer’s temperament: namely, that during a downturn we all enjoy a bit of escapism.

By focusing on the uplifting or risk-free aspects of our brand or product, we invite our customers to feel better when times are tough. Marketing expert Prof John Quelch advocates this inclusive approach: reassure the consumer that we’re “going to get through this together“.

Consumers want high-value, low-risk products (so tickets for the McKellen-Stewart Waiting for Godot are “selling like hotcakes“, while Mamma Mia broke cinema box office records). People are more willing to shop around for the best deal, so consider your offer carefully and emphasise core values: these do still matter.

Look to current successful examples for inspiration and be reponsive – the return of Cadbury’s Wispa was prompted by consumer demand, and the subsequent ad campaign played on consumer nostalgia, creating a film starring real-life members of the public brought together for the love of wispa.

And finally,  if you really want to understand the current consumer mood, look at what Cadbury did next. They said thank you.

Arts policy: through the recession and beyond

In the current economic climate it’s more important than ever to keep scanning the policy horizon. How might shifts in policy – or potential changes of goverment – affect arts organisations already under pressure from an increasingly fraught economy?

Culture Secretary Andy Burnham warned  in January of potential government spending cuts in 2010, reminding subsidised arts organisations that they are not “immune” from downturn-prompted savings drives.

The proposed Arts Council England restructure announced on 25th February aims to save £6.5 million per year in administration costs, and to redistribute this saving directly across the sector. Read their briefing document for details of this vision for a streamlined ACE.

As David Cameron’s personal approval ratings reach an all-time high this week, and with the Conservatives still leading Labour in popularity polls, the cultural sector needs to consider the potential impact of Tory arts policies if the party comes to power in the next election. Read Shadow Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s keynote speech here, and see an Artistic Director’s response to it here.


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