Research, lights, action

With the community consultation for London Transport Museum’s Acton Depot almost complete, a precious oasis has arrived – where I can catch up on new trends out there in audience development land and bring some useful case studies and toolkits to the resources sections here.


Matters of research and evaluation loom large, and as ever the question of how to make evaluation engaging, relevant and accurate. One new idea is the Qualia project from i-DAT at Plymouth University and the University of Warwick. It aims to use face recognition-type technologies and mobile devices to assess the ‘mood’ of people at large scale public events. A first-stage test was carried out at Cheltenham Festivals this year. Interesting, but in the Cheltenham Festival-style operation the app clearly affects people’s behaviour and mood, rather than just evaluating it. People are encouraged to participate, by ‘capturing smiles’. Encouraging someone to smile, as we know, actually makes them feel happier.


The danger of affecting people’s response by the act of recording it was something I had to be wary of even with the low-tech methodology of observing their visits to Acton Depot.


Another low-tech approach to consulting and evaluating – but a very thought provoking one – is captured in this magazine (as a pdf on the link here) produced by Tate Collective at Tate Liverpool. The young Tate Collective members wanted to consult with other young people in the city, and the first couple of pages of the magazine give an insightful commentary on how (and how not) to approach young people.


Meanwhile, a glance outside our sector is always a good place to learn. Colin Grieves of Experian (the company behind the Mosaic segmentation model that many arts organisations use) and Claire Chandler, Head of Customer Marketing at Nectar cards, each talk about the value of what we already know about customers and how we can use that better – even before moving into the ramifications of ‘big data’.