Last week I travelled to Madrid to give a keynote at the Spanish national arts marketing conference ‘Marketing de las Artes’. I was particularly enthusiastic about it as I was asked to be part of a morning themed around digital development in the arts, with an emphasis on Scotland. My brief was to introduce Craft Scotland to my Spanish colleagues - via the incredible simultaneous translators - before presenting the digital developments we’ve put in place since being awarded the AmbITion grant in 2010.
Whilst I emphasised right at the start of my keynote that AmbITion is not viewed as a standalone project within the team (rather it is an on-going process of change and development), the request to speak on this subject was very timely. Almost a year from when our new website went live, the preparation for the presentation coincided with the beginning of the evaluation process.
I have been aware for too long that we don’t share our achievements or our lessons publicly. As with many arts organisations our evaluation processes are often confined to what our funders require, and even in the case of projects such as Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show where I committed a big chunk of my time to seeing what worked well and what didn’t, this information is not shared.
Marketing de las Artes has provided the continental kick up the backside I’ve needed to fix this. From next month we’re going to share future evaluations via the Our Work section of the website. We always ask people we work with to contribute to our evaluation processes too. Where we have permission to do so, we will share some of their pearls of wisdom. There are some fascinating insights and some simple but important bits of advice coming up.
Now I’m back from Madrid we’re about to get stuck into our AmbITion evaluation but there are some clear achievements that I can share with you now. With our new systems we can target communications. We now know more about our online audience, and what you want to receive (and what you don’t). This means we can send you the information that you have asked for, rather than bombarding you with the bits that don’t interest you.
The funding allowed us to commission Wildfire to create a tailored system allowing people to upload their own information, update their profile and leave comments for Craft Scotland and the wider craft community. This has allowed us to improve how everyone connects with each other (for instance, you can leave a comment at the bottom of this update now) and it has saved us hours of staff time.
Instead of administering profile updates Laura, our Online Marketing Manager, has been able to be more strategic and more creative. With equipment funded by AmbITion, we have produced a series of films showcasing Scottish makers working in their studios; we’ve created more content including the hit features Word of the Week and Friday Film; and our first feature profiling Scottish craft for a leading industry magazine, American Craft, was published earlier this year.
The feedback we have had over the past year has been delightfully positive, and our analytics support the emails I still receive praising our digital developments. We regularly beat our own records of monthly visits and visitors and I’m pleased to report that at the current rate of audience growth, we predict that visits to the website will surpass 230,000 by the end of 2012. This is a growth rate of 44% overall from last year.
Thank you to everyone who has read, contributed to, shared and supported our digital developments over the past twelve months.
Regular readers of Craft Scotland may have spotted an exciting personal development for me which will also be an excellent opportunity for the right candidate. From February next year I will be taking some time away from the office on maternity leave. We are currently recruiting a Business Manager which will cover the major aspects of my role during my absence.
Watch my presentation at the ‘Marketing de las Artes’ conference on YouTube.
Emma Walker is Chief Executive of Craft Scotland.
Emma decides the direction the organisation will take and works with the Craft Scotland team (the staff and Board) to set the strategy and vision. Her varied role includes: fundraising; business planning; reviewing and reporting; representing the sector; developing partnerships and projects; and creating connections.
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