AT a special workshop – entitled ‘The Strength in Numbers’ – held at The Lighthouse in Glasgow today, (Tuesday, 11 October 2011), a select group of delegates from Scotland’s creative industries will be treated to a free masterclass in using cold hard business facts, and working together to win powerful political and financial support for the arts.
A twin event is planned for The Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh on Thursday, 13 October.
Both events have been organised by Glasgow-based Culture Sparks: the intelligence and innovation partnership for the cultural sector, and Edinburgh’s The Audience Business (TAB): the agency dedicated to collaborative business and audience development.
Keynote speaker at both events is Nick Crosson, research analyst with the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance (GPCA), USA.
The GPCA has been phenomenally successful in lobbying collectively on behalf of Philadelphia’s cultural sector, which serves an area with a population of 1.5 million: similar to the combined populations of Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Clear parallels therefore exist, with mutual benefits to be gleaned from shared insights and experiences.
The GPCA has built an extensive research capacity, and delivers well-regarded research reports for use by its members and the general public.
Findings from the Alliance’s ‘Portfolio’ reports and ‘Arts, Culture, and Economic Prosperity’ have become the go-to facts cited in civic and political discussions in Greater Philadelphia.
Their team connects cultural resources to community needs; provides direct services for non-profit cultural organisations; produces direct marketing programmes for cultural consumers, and leads cultural research, advocacy and policy work.
Julie Tait, director of Culture Sparks, said: “Collaboration is the name of the game for these workshops, and so Culture Sparks and The Audience Business are delighted to host, Nick Crosson, research analyst with the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance.
“He will generously share hard-won insider tips about how they have used everyday, though crucially important, data detailing customer buying patterns and changing audience trends to robustly demonstrate the cultural sector’s significant economic contributions.”
She continued: “These workshops represent the first in a series of discussions as a similar national, long-term data-collection exercise, with detailed box office receipts from Scottish venues at its core, has been underway at Culture Sparks in Glasgow, in partnership with the Federation of Scottish Theatre (FST) and TAB.
“Due for publication later this year, this research will be a catalyst in the development of a cross-sector dialogue about measuring impact and building resilience within Scotland.”
Explained Nick Crosson: “In Philadelphia, we’ve been able to use research and hard numbers to help arts and cultural organisations function better and more efficiently.
“Additionally, data helps the sector make the case that arts and culture is a valuable and essential part of society.
“During tough economic times, it is important to make sure that every dollar or pound is spent wisely.
“In Philadelphia or Scotland, there are tens of thousands of jobs that depend on the success of our industry.”
Ros Lamont, chief executive of The Audience Business, commented: “Much of the key customer and audience development information which Nick Crosson and the GPCA have harnessed so powerfully is already available within Scotland’s vibrant cultural sector, though we can certainly benefit from his specialist expertise in learning how to make best tactical use of these existing resources, particularly in recessionary times when every penny counts.
“Both TAB and Culture Sparks are committed to supporting Scotland’s arts and cultural organisations achieve exactly that.”
The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance (GPCA) is a leadership organisation of more than 400 non-profit arts and cultural institutions located primarily in the five counties of southeastern Pennsylvania.
Its mission is to make Greater Philadelphia one of the foremost creative regions in the world.
Culture Sparks: the intelligence and innovation partnership for the cultural sector, works with creative organisations across Scotland to unlock innovation, encourage experimentation, promote collaboration and make knowledge about people as audiences, visitors, producers, participants and creators actionable.
The Audience Business (TAB) works with a wide range of Scotland’s cultural organisations to ensure that they have the insight, skills and drive to attract the widest possible public. TAB’s team brings an in-depth knowledge of audiences, a fresh perspective on research and projects, as well as partnerships forged, to help cultural groups grow audiences and thrive as businesses.
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