CultureSource and our research partner 8 Bridges Workshop are excited to publish the latest report in our ongoing survey of the state of art + tech in Southeast Michigan cultural organizations.
From March through November of 2022, CultureSource and 8 Bridges Workshop convened a cohort of 12 organizations representing a range in disciplines, communities served, budget sizes, and locations within the region. The study aimed to measure challenges organizations face as they strive to utilize available digital tools and platforms to expand their community service.
The report makes recommendations for funders on how to better support arts organization’s digital evolution, as well as suggestions for CultureSource that will inform our tech + arts strategy in 2023.
- Organizations need funding for the basic building blocks of digital work, including software licenses, computers, high speed internet, training, and working with technology consultants.
- Consider the replacement and maintenance costs required to keep basic tech needs up to date.
- Consider the costs of implementation and IT support for all new technology as grant-worthy.
- Recognize that hybrid events can cost at least twice as much to execute well as in-person events.
- Support the time needed for internal experimentation, assessment, and learning—Not all digital work needs to be entirely programmatic or public facing.
Our DigitalJeli project started out as a farfetched idea—A means of work during the pandemic that has now evolved into creating a sustainable future for performing arts institutions nationwide. Our growth and success would not have been possible without the support of CultureSource. Funding from Digital Access for the Arts provided an opportunity to think broadly about the digital futures of arts and cultural organizations.
TeMaTe Institute for Black Dance and Culture
This research project was conceived as the Omicron variant of COVID-19 was emerging, shortly after the conclusion of our Digital Capacity Survey of CultureSource member organizations. It was a time of great uncertainty for cultural organizations. Emerging from pandemic closures, they faced the possibility of continuing upheaval for in-person work as they navigated the continuing rise of digital operations and programming.
CultureSource responded to these circumstances by continuing to explore how it can help its member organizations build their collective digital capacity. In designing this study, we particularly wanted to understand how the cohort members made decisions about their digital work; how and why they set their priorities; which obstacles prevented them from executing their plans; and how they addressed those obstacles.
We also wanted to create a report that showed the day-to-day work involved in answering these questions. Our research surveys and interviews sought to capture this moment in time, so that the report’s findings reflect the reality of those working on the ground to build their digital capacities.
There are clear opportunities for other intermediaries and grantmakers to participate in this work. From base-level needs to acquire, support, and maintain up-to-date equipment; to organizational needs for more robust staffing and planning; to conceptual challenges of keeping digital work top-of-mind, there are many avenues to support organizations like those in this study as they work toward digital maturity.
Many thanks to CultureSource, the Gilbert Family Foundation, and the 12 participating organizations for supporting this timely and important work.
Sarah Lutman and Greta Rudolph
8 Bridges Workshop
Download our latest research insights!