By BCMCR Alumni on July 11th, 2019

smARTplaces: A European Audience Development Project

See more about the project online  and follow us on Twitter: @smARTplaces_EU

European museums and cultural sites face numerous but similar challenges in coming up with a long-term audience development strategy. Given the trend towards digitisation, new ways of making art and culture accessible, of increasing visitor participation and of digitally networking the European cultural landscape become ever more relevant. The cooperation project smARTplaces was conceived with these challenges in mind.

smARTplaces will move away from the passive visitor experience and instead will connect audiences by creating a new digital cultural space which will grow to become an innovative European Cultural Site Network, that is: dialogic, linked, interactive, educational, integrated, accessible, audience engaging and involving.

With a coherent and multi-layered use of digital technology, social web tools, adaptive storytelling techniques as well as joint exhibitions and on- and offline activities, the partnering institutions will be turned into smARTplaces: cultural spaces with features that will enable them to communicate with and engage audiences across Europe and within the international partner network.

From 2016 to 2020 more than 55 different activities with a distinctive digital link are aiming to address diverse segments within the existing and prospective audiences of each institution.

To succeed with the overall ambitions the project also focuses on change management and emphasizes the inclusion of cultural mediation, staff training and knowledge exchange. A set of internal training activities will augment internal perception as well as increase the capabilities for digital media usage within a cultural, content-management and creative context.

The project network comprises eight cultural institutions and two universities from eight countries

  • Dortmunder U, Dortmund (Germany) Lead Organisation)
  • Musée de Picardie, Amiens (France)
  • WIELS Centre d’Art Contemporain, Brussels (Belgium)
  • ETOPIA – Centre for Art and Technology, Zaragoza (Spain)
  • Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (Netherlands)
  • ZKM I Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe (Germany)
  • Azkuna Zentroa, Bilbao (Spain)
  • Associated partner: Liechtenstein National Museum, Vaduz (Liechtenstein)
  • Research partner: Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research, Birmingham City University (UK)
  • Technology partner: Oulu University of Applied Sciences, Oulu (Finland)

The european centre for creative economy (ECCE) and the EUROCITIES network support the project as strategic partners.

The smARTplaces team at Dortmunder U for the project launch.

What distinguishes the smARTplaces cooperation project?

On a variety of levels a viable audience development strategy needs to multi-dimensionally live up to the complexity of art and to the diverse interests of (internal and external) reference groups. Cultural institutions need to change attitudes gently and gradually, offer a multitude of connecting factors and to continuously build on interlinking activities.

What makes the smARTplaces project special is the multitude of multidimensional and strategically interlocking measures (tied to more than 55 activities):

  • change management with respect to internal and external digital competency (training, mediation, education and intercultural exchange)
  • new digital forms of communicating art and art education
  • establish storytelling techniques and collective content management
  • connecting visitors and places using an agile toolbox via existing social web tools, platforms and location based services
  • digitising content and establishing contextualizing links (optional)
  • communal smARTplaces activities within the network of partners: 17 joint activities (with two or more partners each) as well as 40 local activities with a smARTplaces link and a final collaborative project in 2019
  • digitising cultural services (personal art assistant, artucation tours, digital signage etc) and increasing visitor experiences (i.e. Art Hunter, a gamification project)
  • scientific support and evaluation by research partner Birmingham City University (UK) and the technology partner Oulu University of Applied Sciences (Finland)

BCU Project Lead and Contact 

Professor Paul Long