Attempting to Trigger Digital Change and Ticketing Conferences

I’m writing for Create Hub as part of their ‘Industry Experts Panel 2016‘; my first article ‘Attempting to Trigger Digital Change‘ was published earlier this week in which I attempt to highlight some of the obstacles I’ve observed in the arts sector in relation to digital stuff. I don’t think any of it is particularly new, and are probably all things I’ve raised repeatedly over the past few (10?) years.

I’ll be writing a few more articles for Create Hub over the next 6-8 months in which I’m hoping to try and identify examples of good practice and a few ideas of my own so it’s not going to be a total onslaught of gloom. However I have spent most of the past couple of days at the Ticketing Professionals Conference 2016 and this only served to confirm a few of my fears around the sector’s readiness and capacity to embrace digital change. The level of fear or willful ignorance, the lack of understanding and the hugely varied level of supplier competency was fairly shocking.

There were a few bright spots; Minor Entertainment’s Andrew Collier gave an entertaining and sharply insightful session that showcased a few relatively straight-forward but beautifully-executed techniques around pricing and audience engagement. He also demonstrated the value of experimentation, acting on data insights and not being afraid to risk failure (and was honest enough to admit afterwards that it had taken a while for him to reach a point where he, and his organisation, were comfortable with working like this). There was also an interesting presentation from The Royal Danish Theatre (apparently ‘like a combination of ROH and the NT)’s Christina Østerby discussing complex organisational change. She led an organisation-wide digital transformation project at RDT which seems to have resulted in tangible and significant levels of change and success. However it is worth noting that the level of resources she outlined (in terms of time, people and money), the mindset/attitude towards this sort of change and the leadership demonstrated are all significantly ahead of what I’ve observed in the UK cultural sector to-date.

There was also a lot of depressing and mildly ridiculous talk about ‘millennials’ as if they were some sort of hitherto undiscovered alien species and the sight of a session that purported to present the new rash of TLDs (of which .tickets is one) as ‘a paradigm shift in the way the internet works‘ which is, frankly, almost dangerous nonsense.

Plus ça change…

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