Need to Know – Graham Leicester and Ulster Bank

Our fellow audience development agencies and other colleagues got together last week for a couple of days in Durham to take part in ‘Need to Know – Audience Development in the UK – from understanding to engagement’. Long title. Good debates.

I particularly enjoyed Graham Leicester’s philospical discussion of ‘making money and making meaning’. I’m not going to fully do it justice here, and it’s not published yet, but keep an eye on International Futures Forum. Graham proposed that we continue to measure the value of arts through proxy rather than real measures – and are still bound by an economic model of value. He suggests that we should consider ‘experience’ as a currency in an ‘economy of meaning’, in the same way that, say, votes are the currency in the economy of a democracy. The value of culture is therefore in providing experiences which are the currency in this ‘economy of meaning’….

He also spoke about the work of Watershed in Bristol which is playing out some of these ideas in practice.

Equally interesting and totally practical was Julie Murray from Ulster Bank who spoke very engagingly about how they use information about their customers to develop their business. From benchmarking to mystery shopping and propensity modelling to reactive analysis – she shared lots of examples of  using customer insight that were very transferable to arts organisations. If the slides get published I’ll follow with a link.

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