The Art of Connectivity


Last week along with 280 other delegates, M&G attended the Australia Council for the Arts Marketing Summit in Hobart. This is an annual conference that brings together large and small arts organisations to explore current trends, nut out strategies for the future and mull over the past.

Thanks to the clever person who coined ‘The Art of Connectivity’ title, there are no surprises for guessing that this year’s theme delved deep into digital connections with audiences.

For some this meant being brought up to speed quickly as Keiran Flanagan, Scott Ward and Jane Huxley talked trends. For others it meant being seriously inspired by presenters like Jo Verrrent who showed us what can be done to make arts programming truly accessible.

Jo presented a clip of Menage a Trois by artists Claire Cunningham and Gail Sneddon, a 2012 National Theatre Scotland production. It describes the story of a lonely woman who crafts her perfect man out of the only thing she knows – her crutches. The video was played to the audience twice. The first viewing was accompanied by the melodic cello soundtrack and the second with the voice-over for the visually impaired. Both versions were deeply moving, though the voice over version stole the audience’s heart. Poetic, descriptive and beautifully spoken, it was the perfect demonstration about how easy it should be to make programs accessible to all.

Under Tom's guiding hand we developed a deep abiding appreciation for the best kind of digital: that which is intimate and invisible.

We talked personal music profiling with Jane Huxley from Pandora Radio, we marvelled over Geelong Performing Arts Centre’s recent success with its sponsored Facebook campaign.  We took notes about the best ratios for dual appeal content on our Facebook pages, the importance of owned versus earned content, and learnt about the demise of the click (which, luckily will be replaced with its younger sibling, the swipe. Phew). We talked in Tweets and in pixel code snippets, and contemplated the light filtering through the domed ceiling of the Baha’i Centre of Learning.

But for M&G, Tom Uglow’s presentation on the second day tolled the loudest bell. Tom Uglow, from Google’s Creative Lab Sydney, took us on a world wind tour of what’s digitally possible – now and in the near future. Under Tom’s guiding hand we developed a deep abiding appreciation for the best kind of digital: that which is intimate and invisible. We were stunned and awed and finally brought back to earth with five important points.

Tom Uglow’s tips for success. 

  1. Mobile is everything
  2. Hard working digital is very effective (can Google see you? If not, you need to show your face!)
  3. Small engaged audiences are perfect – don’t buy ‘Likes’ from China
  4. Experiments never fail – digital is there for people to play and create with
  5. Find the geeks that love you. Buy them beer!

No matter how small or large the budget, we should all remember to live by them.

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