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Think Digital: Creative Aus offers arts orgs

Thuy On, Think planning, Think strategy, Think Digital, Arts Hub, 11 June 2024

A new service offered by Creative Australia offers small and medium arts organisations digital appraisal and development.

Image: Supplied.

‘I think it’s really important for arts organisations to have an understanding of their current digital capabilities, particularly in the post-COVID landscape where digital programming and ways of working are becoming more and more common.

‘It helped us to realise and articulate what our goals are in terms of digital works and having online programs – particularly with regards to understanding different accessibility options and how to ensure Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property (ICIP) is protected, for sensitive cultural material and knowledge that is shared online,’ says Miranda Johnson, the Studio and Public Programs Manager at Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA).

Indeed, Creative Australia has just launched Think Digital, specifically for arts organisations to review their digital capabilities and form a digital strategy. This service is free.

‘It’s designed to be completed collectively by different members of a team, and comprises a number of areas, including ICIP and marketing/communications. It also presents a number of case studies as examples to get you thinking, then asks a series of questions, inviting you to consider, assess and reflect on how you use digital in your organisation,’ explains Johnson. 

But how exactly does it work for the average small or medium arts company looking to maximise its digital capacity?

‘The different modules are completed by different members of the team, although it was helpful to have one person (which was me) overseeing all the modules for continuity,’ says Johnson. ‘We worked on the tool over a week and each module took around 30 minutes to complete. This means it is not too much of a time commitment, but everyone gets a chance to contribute.’

She runs through some of the modules of this digital tool. ‘The accessibility options took us through everything, from websites to the building itself and the physical spaces we use. Questions included those about web content accessibility guidelines, accessibility tools for common programs such as Microsoft Suite, disability action plans and accessibility services like captioned recordings, Auslan interpretation and image descriptions. It invited us to consider what obstacles may have prevented us from implementing accessibility measures and put together some next steps for increasing them.’

The First Nations module also asks users to reflect on how their organisation considers, works with and respects First Nations communities and protocols.

‘This included questions about using First Nations Cultural and Intellectual Property in the arts and our level of confidence in applying these protocols to digital programs,’ says Johnson. ‘We were invited to consider next steps for understanding ICIP, Reconciliation Action Plans and the Race Discrimination Act, as well as content agreements that ensure cultural materials and knowledge are protected for artists and communities.’

After all the modules have been completed, a final report is generated at the end – a comprehensive overview of digital engagement across all areas of the company, a blueprint of sorts, ‘which can be used to prompt a discussion within the team about what everyone is doing and why, and how we could be more ambitious or work more collaboratively. The report can provide a really good starting point for the development of a digital strategy for your organisation,’ Johnson tells ArtsHub.  PICA was invited to use the prototype as part of the Digital Specialist in Residence program. ‘It gave our Digital Specialist a good understanding and base from which to work, having seen how we currently handle digital and to plan for a future direction,’ says Johnson.

As to the actual aesthetic appeal of the website, she enthusiastically attests to the fact it is user-friendly, simple to navigate and visually appealing. ‘The design helped break down each element to make it less overwhelming and easy to delegate.

‘It’s really exciting that it’s now becoming more widely available, and I would encourage all small/medium organisations to use it, particularly for those that want to develop a digital strategy or understand how they could be using digital tools more effectively.’

Think Digital was launched by Creative Australia on 11 June 2024.


See also: Think Digital – Creative Australia