Culture Hack East Ideas Lab Round-up 1: Group Working and Themes


After an insightful first day at the Culture Hack East Ideas Lab, we wanted to share some of the developments so far. We have been working with researcher Alexandra Reynolds, who is helping us with some evaluation, and she has written us this round up of the first day of the Ideas Lab:

Registration began at 9am at Anglia Ruskin University with coffee, pastries and a warm welcome from event organisers Rob Toulson (CoDE), Clare Denham (Creative Front) and Lauren Parker (Caper) as well as Creative Facilitator Linda Cockburn.

The aims of the Ideas Lab were introduced in terms of the importance of working strategically in the digital realm, and focused particularly on ways discussion and skills sharing between technologists and arts organisations can help produce meaningful and relevant digital resources.

While last summer’s Culture Hack event was described as something like a ‘flirtation’ of interests between arts organisations and technologists, the motivations of this Ideas Lab were likened to those of a marriage in terms of producing sustainable relationships. Another important aim is to talk openly about big ideas and contemporary challenges within the digital cultural sector.
To begin, participants were clustered around the room in pre-arranged groups exploring particular themes – including communities, connections, young people, performance and open data. The groups swapped ideas around the audiences their work addresses, as well as some of the particular challenges and ‘big thorny questions’ they are currently negotiating.

Group members were thinking about skills they could share, how they could connect and how to improve their services. Through this means participants came up with diverse possible project ideas to develop over the two days. These included finding new ways to navigate and enliven cultural collections, methods of pulling together information between institutions and audiences and digital ways to encourage active audience engagement with collections material and performance work.