Talk for the PLATEFORME 10 Symposium: Rising to the Challenge. Digital Innovation in Museums
26-28 April 2018
Thank you for the opportunity to speak at this key event for the development of sustainable digital museum practice in your emerging museum district here in Lausanne!
I’m Curator and Senior Advisor at SMK - the national gallery of Denmark Chair of the Europeana Network Association Passionate about OpenGLAM (Open Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums)
We are working on SMK Open...
A four year initiative to open up the SMK digitised collection and knowledge at scale to the public.
We’re not alone in this endeavour to open up cultural heritage.
Museums, libraries and archives all over the world are opening up their digitised collections to free and unrestricted reuse, to the public benefit.
SMK’s online collection
So far, we have made available 25,000 images for free download using the Creative Commons public domain dedication CC0. This tells people loud and clear that the images belong to everyone. You are free to reuse the images for any purpose you want, without asking permission.
We know this matters to people [followed by a series of quick examples, where I just show pictures and say very few words per slide]
Wiki Labs Culture community
Bring open artworks to the streets of Copenhagen
Use open artworks to influence life conditions for drug users
Enabling playful social learning
Invite designers and artists to remix old collections
And turn them into wearable products
Inspire new creativity and reach out to new users
Give everyone in the world access to world-class art
The challenge is, we don’t know how much these initiatives matter in people’s lives, or how exactly they make an impact
...the cultural sector all over Europe is experiencing severe budget cuts.
In Denmark, public cultural institutions are being cut 2 % every year since 2015, in order to allocate resources to welfare and tax reliefs. The government is not willing to set an end date to these cuts.
The first consequence was that free public entrance to the national gallery was stopped. Effectively this means that it’s harder for the less affluent, like unemployed, people with lower education, seniors and youngsters, to gain access to this public art collection.
“If these 2 % budget cuts continue, the SMK will close down in 2034”, says Mikkel Bogh, Director of SMK, in national newspaper Politiken, 10 April 2018. https://politiken.dk/kultur/art6432513/Gr%C3%B8nth%C3%B8steren-i-kulturlivet-forts%C3%A6tter It’s not just the access for a diverse public that is under siege. It’s the continued preservation, and thus existence, of our shared cultural heritage that is threatened!
And apparently, we haven’t made it sufficiently clear to the public what the cultural sector brings to society. 50 % of the Danes would cut culture budgets first, as reported in a survey from 2015: https://politiken.dk/kultur/art5597240/Hver-anden-vil-spare-p%C3%A5-kunsten-og-kulturen https://politiken.dk/kultur/art5597240/Hver-anden-vil-spare-p%C3%A5-kunsten-og-kulturen
In other words, we are under rising pressure to prove the societal impact of the cultural sector. That it’s important for society to keep investing in culture and heritage.
Most of us working in the cultural sector have an inherent understanding of the value of culture in society, and in life in general.
But are the tools we normally use to demonstrate user reach and activity good enough to show that our institutions really make a difference, and how? As a sector, we are lacking a common language to articulate and communicate the impact our work is having.
“Measure what is important, don’t make important what you can measure.” Legendary quote by Robert McNamara, US Secretary of Defense 1961-68
This need is being met now. Europeana, the platform for cultural heritage professionals in Europe, is developing an Impact Assessment toolkit for museums, libraries and archives to measure their societal economic impact.
What is impact? Changes that occur for stakeholders in society, as a result of activities for which the organisation is accountable.
Your impact could be in different areas, for instance social and cultural, economic, or in innovation.
Social impact could be...
Europeana’s work to digitise and share the personal stories and archival objects of World War I, from the descendants of people who fought in the trenches, told their families about the realities of war through letters, suffered, died or survived, and contributed to this key period in Europe’s history.
Economic impact could be...
To acknowledge the massive contribution of the cultural sector - a relatively inexpensive secto - to the GDP of individual nations, and to Europe. The public spend on culture ~0.7 % of European GDP The contribution of culture ~4.5 % of European GDP
Innovation impact could be...
Availability of open cultural heritage data is driving innovation in the creative sector, for instance seen in development of art experience apps developed by third party companies, based on open museum data. Danish art app Vizgu, based on image recognition
Second canvas app, developed by Spanish Madpixel, using gigapixel technology to enable virtual art experiences of extremely high quality.
In the meta research study of the societal impacts of cultural participation in Europe, Culture 3.0, professor of cultural economics Pier Luigi Sacco writes: “Cultural participation opens up new, unprecedented possibilities of economic and social value creation in so many different spheres that fall outside culture’s conventional sphere of action and impact.”
He identifies 8 key areas where cultural participation - often enabled by digital access and mediation - has societal spillover effects: Innovation Welfare Sustainability Social cohesion New entrepreneurship models Lifelong learning Soft power Local identity
Pier Luigi Sacco provides many examples of such spillover effects, for instance:
“By having a chance of direct involvement in creative content production, individuals learn how innovative meanings and practices can be constructed, and how they can challenge and de-structure previous beliefs, prejudices, and attitudes.
Cultural participation may have strong and significant effects on life expectation (...) The impact is equally strong in terms of self-reported psychological well-being.
There is a strong association between cultural participation and effectiveness of differentiated waste recycling.
Cultural participation is creating the basic trust conditions for dialogue through appreciation of cultural diversity and the overcoming of negative social stereotyping.”
How can we measure such things?
The Europeana Impact Playbook offers research-based tools to assess the wider impact of your work, beyond standard KPIs and analytics. The methodology is founded on The Balanced Value Impact Model, developed by Professor Simon Tanner, King’s College London. https://www.kdl.kcl.ac.uk/what-we-do/consultancy/strategic-thinking-and-practice/balanced-value-impact-model/ The tools are co-developed with cultural professionals and practitioners from the Europeana Network. https://pro.europeana.eu/project/impact-assessment
The Playbook provides a range of research-based tools that are ready to download and easy to use.
One of these tools is called the Change Pathway
It enables you to measure the impact of ongoing or finished initiatives, so that you can demonstrate the social, economic, or innovation return on investment to funders, politicians and other stakeholders.
But what I find particularly brilliant and innovative about this tool is that it inspires you to plan for impact. By starting with formulating an impact statement - the bigger vision of what you want to contribute to in society - you can use the change pathway to work your way backwards through the outcomes and outputs you need to create, the activities you need to facilitate, the resources you need to put in, and the stakeholders you need to get on board, in order to achieve the impact you want.
The Impact Playbook is designed like a cookbook with easy to use “recipes” - descriptions of workshops, to-do lists, templates etc.
You can download all these resources for free at impkt.tools Here, you can also join a growing community of cultural sector professionals who are sharing case studies, experiences, tools and methods in the area of impact assessment. And, you can provide feedback on the Impact Playbook so we can keep developing and improving it.
What's the Social Impact of Digitisting Museums?
What’s the social impact
of digitising museums?
PLATEFORME 10 Lausanne, 26-28 April 2018
Rising to the challenge. Digital innovation in museums
The public spend on culture
~0.7 % of European GDP
The contribution of culture
~4.5 % of European GDP
Public spending on culture in Europe 2007-2015
Pere Almeda, Adjunct lecturer on Political Science, University of Barcelona
“Cultural participation opens up new,
unprecedented possibilities of economic and
social value creation in so many different
spheres that fall outside culture’s conventional
sphere of action and impact.
Pier Luigi Sacco, Culture 3.0
of cultural participation
New entrepreneurship models
By having a chance of direct involvement in creative content production,
individuals learn how innovative meanings and practices can be constructed,
and how they can challenge and de-structure previous beliefs, prejudices, and attitudes.
Cultural participation may have strong and significant effects on life expectation (...)
The impact is equally strong in terms of self-reported psychological well-being.
There is a strong association between cultural participation
and effectiveness of differentiated waste recycling.
Cultural participation is creating the basic trust conditions for dialogue
through appreciation of cultural diversity and the overcoming of negative social stereotyping.
Pier Luigi Sacco, Culture 3.0