It has certainly been a year. 2020 has taught me many new things, but more than anything it has reinforced a belief that I have held for a long time; we can do more together, we are greater than the sum of our parts.
In 2020, as the ground under our feet shifted and the (limited) stability that cultural sector organisations and workers had before the pandemic disappeared completely, working collaboratively has helped us all to continue to fulfil our mission. Given the value of the arts to social engagement, education, widening world views and creating empathy, it is more important than ever for the cultural sector to engage and deepen relationships with a wide range of audiences.
However, many organisations have had to close their buildings for months at a time, and audiences and communities have found themselves under stay-at-home orders for much of the year. Creating magical experiences, reaching new audiences and engaging meaningfully with communities has been harder than ever for the cultural sector. So, those of us working in and for the cultural sector have had to rethink, on a daily basis, how we can ensure that we’re helping. Doing this has required all of our internal resources, but at Spektrix we’ve had the fortune to also be able to draw on our partner network, a group of experts from the culture and tech industries who also want to see the culture sector thrive. Partners have kept us up to date with rapidly-evolving government guidance, and in the UK and Ireland we’ve been able to inform lobbying and understand impact via our engagement with UK Theatre and Creative Industries Federation.
Understanding the shifting audience attitudes and behaviours has been crucial for the sector, underlining the importance of good data. We’re proud to support our clients to make the most of their data, and have worked alongside them and with researchers and consultants like Indigo Ltd and TRG Arts & Purple Seven making use of reporting, datafeeds and dotdigital to help enrich their data capture and share these vital insights sector-wide. The newly established Insights Alliance is a fantastic example of how some of the partners we work with have come together to support the sector.
When our clients suddenly found themselves having to adapt their auditoria to social distancing, they relied upon the expertise of our web partner community to implement new Spektrix tools. As organisations delve into the world of digital content our partners are using the Spektrix API to power access control for on demand and subscription services.
When we created the Ticket Converter Tool back in March, and our Building Blocks resource kit in the summer, we wanted them to help as many arts organisations as possible so partners like the Digital Culture Network, JCA, Capacity Interactive, Intix, the Arts Marketing Association and One Further leapt into action, sharing across their networks and media platforms to ensure that all organisations could benefit. (I am sure I have missed many names here… for which I can only apologise!)
So, it’s been a tough year but I can only imagine how much harder it would have been if we were doing it alone. I talk to different people providing services and tools to the cultural sector every day. These are some seriously innovative and driven people. It’s a real reassurance to me that in spite of these challenging times, they still believe strongly in the essential role that the arts and entertainment plays in our society, and are as dedicated as ever to helping it thrive.
My faith in partnership working has been rewarded this year, and I am grateful for the wide range of experts and collaborators that we can draw on. As the end of 2020 nears, and vaccines start to roll out across the globe, our focus must remain on the social inequality which has been made more vast and more obvious by the pandemic. The year has particularly highlighted systemic racism ingrained within our societies and the social movements around this have helped people across all industries understand the importance of addressing it. The future of partnership working at Spektrix is not just about connecting with more experts and suppliers; it’s about challenging ourselves to ensure we have a more diverse partner network. Continuing to make sure that our clients have access to the best experts and suppliers, and that we are listening to all of the vital voices in the sector requires a focus on inclusion and opening up our process of finding new partners. Read more about our plans for this in my next installment.
Anna Wiseman oversees a global partner network to help Spektrix provide arts organisations with the best culture and tech sector expertise and innovation.