Thus far, we have gathered more than 150 pages of community input on Hatch Open and Artse United’s vision for designing a cooperative digital future for managing the arts, including issues of “digital life”, “managing creativity”, “capturing insight”, “promoting justice”, and more in the visual, performing, and disability arts.
In Part 3 below, we share emerging insights on evaluating the impact of the arts. See Part 1 for insights on the digital life of Ontario arts workers, Part 2 for general practices and desires for managing the arts, and Part 4 for explorations of digital justice in the arts.
When asked what types of data and information will help illustrate their impact and promote learning and insight, participants identified an array of public and private sources including administration and programming, finance, marketing, fundraising, equity and more. While many also struggled with the question (“(it is) not an issue we have thought about”, “we need to think about business intelligence more…I don’t believe we take enough time to do that currently”), examples identified include:
Administration: “formats for CVs/bios of different lengths, including academic resume, arts practice resume, examples of artistic statements”, “visualize data/statistics in creative ways to display a story”, “more robust repository of arts and culture data to help inform reports and analysis about the sector”, “forum to chronicle discoveries/learnings with different apps as they specifically relate to the Canadian arts and culture industry”, “historic data generated easily”, “one place where stats can easily be entered in real time (i.e., attendance, box office revenue, number of artists local/national/international) according to the party I am reporting to”, “statistical information that can be transferable to funders and promotional materials”, “schedule slippage (timelines/where patterns emerge, reevaluate estimates)”, “quantitative and qualitative data to evaluate and share the challenges, successes, and impacts of my arts career”, “strategic plans”, “how I feel at the end of the day”, “my business goals, work quantities (how many artworks, buyers, presentations) and qualities (type of artwork that’s impactful and attractive to buyers)”, “allocation of time to projects”, “how we are avoiding duplication between levels of the organization”, “shared insights into policies, practices, and procedure documents (i..e, marketing, fundraising, collections, etc)”, and, “internal: taking the bad and doing something with it, external: taking the good and sharing it”.
Human resources: “volunteer management including skills, participation, and feedback”, “board skills, background, and contributions”, “for board: give a better understanding of the day-to-day workings”, “as a new staff person, staff stories from those that proceeded me so I knew where I was starting from”, “staff turnover and impact of professional development”, “for staff: programming decisions, updates to programs, things learned in meetings, and ideas about long-term directions”, “are we effectively helping our event organizers to be successful”, and, “are we allowing for independence of partners to pursue innovation, yet also maintaining core functions and consistency of programming and brand”.
Programming: “identifying and addressing gaps and needs in programming”, “events calendar waaaaaay in advanced for planning/routing and other shared opportunities (so we don’t leave this until after announcements)”, “playbill archives”, “archival recordings and promo videos”, “reviews”, “questionnaires that can document participant experiences”, “use of materials in artwork”, “event planning and coordination tool”, “post-mortem tools with insights to be gleaned from”, “capturing/collecting the best photos…needs to be done through a streamlined system where we can capture all the essential metadata and credits”, “we need to get higher response rate on post-event surveys…having a central system that event organizers submit info to is needed”, “ideally a single platform that is user friendly and houses digital audio/visual files, financial and project management”, “documentation of physical art pieces past and present: dimensions, photos, prices, and artist statements”, “lists of training, awards, grants (just need a way to remember what I did when)”, “inspiration/reference images”, and, “would be cool to know what others think of my art…but how can this not be a recipe for disaster”.
Finance: “access to fee guidelines across the arts”, “percentage of budget time and money to marketing, administration, artists’ fees”, “general figures of fees/expenses paid by presenters/producers (showcases, festivals, one-offs, etc)”, “budgets for workshops, symposia (admin + artist fees) to assist with reasonable asks to funders (government and corporate”, “budgets (on/under/over)”, “source of funding”, “best case, worst case, and most likely budgets with program changes based on these financial models”, “double and triple bottom line”, “benchmarking of staff and artist salaries, artist facilitation, advisor, and social practice fee rates and expenses”, “how are we changing communities’ investment and prioritization of arts and culture”, “benchmarking staff salaries, artists’ fees, and advisory groups, especially cuts and social practice”, and, “success when we’ve come within budget and artists have been compensated appropriately”.
Sales: “bums in seats”, “number of participants in sessions”, “more visual graphics that show impact of attendance figures and demographics”, “box office theories (how to deal with the various parameters like advanced/door pricing, internal ticket charges and HST or not”, and, “automations for reporting that are customized to my needs is a life-saver (i.e., dashboards, automated reports, sharing capabilities, drill-down option to segmenting sales strategy)”.
Promotions: “increased conversions…track all promos made on a spreadsheet with sales numbers associated”, “Google analytics that shows me the top earning campaigns or platforms from which I can take an informed decision”, “are we being (in)consistent at all levels of brand and message”, “click-through rates on Google ads”, “amount of presence when doing a Google/Bing search (i.e., number of online listings, articles, reviews)”, and, “tracking media engagement/online presence”.
Social media: “digital realm hype (online, social, blogsphere)”, “number of social media likes, shares, retweets, positive comments, views, reviews”, “number of ‘bounced’ postings online”, and, “number of newsletter opens”.
Fundraising: “grant development management or stewardship”, “for funders, capture the impact of an organization, sell our brand to sponsors, and create an understanding of why what we are doing is worth funding/investing in”, “in-kind donations”, and, “donor likes, memberships, birthdays, and where else they donated to”.
Audiences: “keeping track of mailing lists”, “using expense reports to create social/community impact for audience reports”, “mapping target audiences in CIP data, linked open data on themes, very long meta-tagging”, “finding and translating stories/qualitative experiences is so much about relationship building that I don’t feel there are immediate digital solutions…yet, creating a digital network that builds these relationships would be the first step”, “constituent profiles which can then be connected to financial management, project management, etc”, “maintaining relationships through successes in conflict resolutions”, “audience engagement through talkbacks, feedback surveys, ongoing communications”, “testimonials from those involved, knowing aspects of the experience has been positive”, “having been able to communicate effectively throughout (evidence of paper trails)”, “feedback from participants, cast members, production teams, including written, oral, or anonymous”, “for audiences, keep audiences up to date, informed, be accessible to them – using digital to help them feel connected even if they cannot physically join us”, and, “how did people hear about organization/platform, and what made them want to connect with the organization”.
Equity: “equity stats (gender breakdown of lineup, audience, etc)”, and, “impact data for Black theatre companies, such as: how many Black-identifying people are working in theatre and do they see themselves and their stories represented; stories of successful Black theatre artists supported by our company; number of Black audience members compared to other theatres; measuring stress and workload for staff through one theatre season and how does this change depending on how many shows we are running or inbetween shows; is the impact of our stories on stage worth the stress/work impact on staff; are staff being paid enough; do Black artists feel empowered and taken care of; are there new Black Canadian plays and are they getting recognized or receiving awards”.