As an organisation we are always looking for new ways to harness digital to reach and connect with a wider audience. So we went to Culture Geek to learn from the leaders in the field. 

Now it is eighth year, Culture Geek brings together people from across the cultural sector to share best practice, strategies and techniques. 

The schedule of speakers was impressive: TATE, Historic Royal Palaces, Art Fund, Philharmonia Orchestra, Rijksmuseum, V&A, Peshkar, Sydney Opera House, Royal Institution, Blue State Digital and Southbank Centre.

The main message from the day was that, as a sector, we should have confidence in committing to digital in a way that connects with people: facilitating their active participation and giving them power and creative agency to help create and shape projects – from user-centred design to social media takeovers.


Here are our takeaways from the event: 

  • The heart of digital is not about marketing or ticket sales - it’s about taking your offer beyond your walls in a way that connects and grows your audience. 

  • Listen and give power to your audience. The world is changing. Active social listening enables you to tailor your work to your audience. Respond to real world concerns and the issues that are raised.  Don’t play it safe and don’t be afraid to confront difficult topics for the right reasons. TATE has listened to comments about the lack of female representation in their collections and continues to develop responses both in the digital realm and in commissioning work to address the issue. 

  • It’s amazing what can be produced for not a lot of cash. Digital teams can harness the power of a cheap gimbal and a phone to create short videos. Video is the ‘now’ and all the bets are that it will continue to be the most engaging medium in the future – don’t be afraid to give it a go in a low-fi way. Have a look at the Sydney Opera House You Tube channel. They started out with a video set-up that cost under £250. 

  • Don’t worry about undercutting your original offer - nothing beats the ‘real’ experience. People still go and see the Mona Lisa even though we all know what she looks like. Digital streaming and VR are ways to connect with different audiences in different ways. Several speakers spoke to how these approaches didn’t slow ticket sales or create any negative feedback. Don’t be afraid to give content away for free. 

  • Develop your own unique relatable voice online. #BoleynisBack – the award-winning campaign from Historic Royal Palaces - shows how you can be playful online. This campaign attracted a lot of interaction and visits from younger audiences – watch the talk here (delivered at MuseumNext in LA).

  • Be Agile – involve your end users in the design process to tailor your offer to your intended audience (Agile is a specific user centred design process). Here’s how the V&A use it.

  • Keep looking at who is innovating – what can you learn from others within the sector and also from elsewhere. Blue State Digital flagged SMS and WhatsApp as key communication tools for the future based on the success of these mediums in political campaigning – a tip was to look at how the Financial Times is working in WhatsApp

Thank you to all the speakers and to Culture Geek for a thought-provoking day. 


TATE @lindsayoleary and @sarasborne

Historic Royal Palaces @clairelampon

Art Fund @CharLKWood

Philharmonia Orchestra @lukeritchiemuse

V&A @katiprice

Peshkar @wearepeshkar

Sydney Opera House @theclairestbear

Blue State Digital @bsd @haneefjkhan

Rijksmuseum - Speaker Wouter van der Horst isn’t on twitter – but subscribe to their You Tube channel  – the comparisons between the Marvel Avengers poster design and the Night Watch (below) is not to be missed.