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Collaboration Spotlight: Future Arts Centres

“Data becomes really powerful when you bring it together from different data sources and use it to surface new insights. This is only possible when we open up our data and encourage others to do the same.” Nesta, Making Digital Work: Data

Collaboration is no longer restricted by geography. Gone are the days when you needed to actually be at a venue to share ideas, best practice and to benchmark. Consortia are reaping the benefits of easily accessed and shared data across geographically disparate regions.  

Future Arts Centres (FAC) is a consortium of nine arts centres from across the UK, including Rich Mix in London, mac Birmingham and ARC in Stockton. Formed in 2013 to address the issues facing arts centres in the UK, the group aims to champion the great work arts centres do and their importance to local communities.

All nine arts centres are using Spektrix, so despite the miles between them, they are all on very common ground. In 2016 Annabel Turpin, co-chair of Future Arts Centres and Chief Executive at ARC, approached Spektrix with a request: to carry out aggregate data analysis that would help them make their case for support from funding bodies. Spektrix’s in-house Business Analyst, Kate Mroczkowski worked with FAC to deliver the project as part of our unlimited support and training promise.

“Sharing financial and audience data with other, similar organisations can be fantastically useful. Finding out that you aren’t as bad as you thought you were at doing some things can be a great boost, but more importantly, it can help identify areas for improvement”

- Annabel Turpin, co-chair, Future Arts Centres

All the arts centres use the same system which meant initial conversations between Annabel and Kate didn’t need to dwell on technological issues such as how to navigate multiple systems with different data sets. The focus was squarely on understanding how best they could realise Annabel’s aims and those of FAC. The focus was on the impact the arts centres had on their area, how far customers were travelling to use the services on offer and what the average price point to entry was.

In addition to analysing key metrics across the group, Annabel and Kate were keen to give each arts centre the tools they needed to benchmark and perform future analysis independently. Whilst the aggregate figures were great to argue the case for arts centres as a whole, each individual organisation also had their own goals and it was important they had the tools to enable this.

With the goals of the project established, Kate and Annabel set about making the project a reality. Each arts centre uses the same Spektrix system, but Spektrix features the ability to configure individual data fields at an organisational level. This might have complicated any aggregate analysis, as each organisation could have their own genre categorisation for events and customer tags. The issue was resolved by agreeing a categorisation model that was implemented using Event Attributes in each system which ran alongside existing custom models that each venue already had.

The project is testament to the unique advantages which come with employing a cloud-based system.

In order to backdate the analysis, each organisation had to work through historic data and categorise each event according to the new model. While each arts centre was engaged in this task, Kate was simultaneously able to build customised reports that analysed the data. These reports would exist on each arts centre’s system so they could run these at any point.  

Cloud–based technology further simplified and enhanced the project since it does not require a physical presence in any particular venue. Kate was therefore able to build customised reports from anywhere in the UK. The arts centre teams had no need to travel to another venue, and there were no security concerns because customer data didn’t need to be sent anywhere.

The final part of the project involved bringing together the data to carry out aggregate analysis. Again, the cloud-based system meant it was simple for Kate to run the new reports in each arts centres’ system and then combine the data. This gave FAC the data they needed for their annual report.

3 Key Findings

1.     They are serving local audiences.

  • 57% of customers travel up to 5 miles to visit them
  • 19% of customers travel between 5 - 15 miles to visit them

2. They are successfully engaging with very local communities.

  • £2.11 is the average donation
  • £2.28 is the average donation for customers within 1 mile
  • £1.83 is the average donation for customers over 15 miles away

3.  Their activity is affordable.

  • £22.84 is the national average ticket price according to Audience Finder
  • £8.75 is the average ticket price for FAC organisations

Each arts centre now has two new custom reports, a categorisation model for events and an automated tag based on postcode data that assigns distance from venue. Carrying out the same analysis in future will be a simple case of running the reports and combining the data, meeting Annabel’s original goal for a system that enables future benchmarking as well as providing data for the report.

There is one huge benefit to being able to benchmark the same metrics with similar organisations that impacts each organisation directly: going forward the group will be able to use the data to emphasise their case for support and they can also work together with similar organisations across the country to benchmark, share skills and insights.

With Spektrix working closely with Future Arts Centres, the group maximised the advantages of their system and took a fresh approach to joint analysis and benchmarking, progressing this consortium beyond audience development to insightful business intelligence.

Visit www.futureartscentres.org.uk