Culture24’s next ground breaking Let’s Get Real (LGR) action research programme is launched as the first joint offer under our exciting merger with The Audience Agency.

This time LGR will focus on the ways that using digital can add value for cultural audiences, communities and organisations, supporting positive internal change and deepening engagement. This hybrid programme will take place in partnership with the new Institute for Digital Culture at the University of Leicester.

Participation is self-funded and costs range from £1,250 to £2,650 depending on organisation size. Costs cover two people from each organisation and include multiple workshops, individual mentoring and expert guidance through a process of experimentation tailored to your setting. This all takes place across an eight month programme within a collaborative community of practice, kicking off on 29 February 2024.

Sign up is now closed for this round of Let's Get Real.

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"At Amgueddfa Cymru we have found that LGR has allowed us to grow in confidence when it comes to try and instigate change internally, providing a common forum to share challenges and to realise that problems we may think are unique to us are in fact shared by organisations large and small. The projects help boost reasoning and rationale on the decisions we make."

Graham Davies, Digital Experience Manager, Amgueddfa Cymru / Museum Wales

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Why focus on digital and value?

Our talented Let’s Get Real alumnus Tom Webster-Deakin, Communications & Marketing Consultant at the National Trust got us thinking about this year’s focus when he asked us:

"We often talk about the ability of digital to add value to our cultural experiences and the importance of not using digital to simply replace existing tools. But what does this mean in practice? What are the ways we can use digital techniques to genuinely add value for our visitors, our people, our organisations and other stakeholders?"

Building on that, what constitutes social and cultural value in the digital context and why? Who are we adding value for? Our organisation? Audiences? A field of research? All of those?

Adding value through digital might mean more sales or donations, but that’s only one aspect of a complex picture. For your organisation, it might mean driving up ticket sales or local footfall, improving accessibility and inclusion, recruiting digital volunteers or serving more schools remotely. It could mean using your digital content to create more meaningful experiences for specific target audiences or even harnessing digital tools like AI to support decolonisation of your interpretation and collections.

Whatever your context, your organisation’s use of digital should align with your specific mission, goals and values if it is to be most effective. This LGR programme can help you unpack and better understand how to achieve this.

How does this focus on digital and value apply to my organisation?

When you join this LGR programme, we will support you through a process of experimentation and learning to develop your practice and understand more about digital and value. We will help you tailor your individual focus to explore a question or challenge that meets your organisation’s needs and priorities.

In our recent sector survey asking about challenges around value and digital, questions like this came up:

  • How might we support digital leads to frame ‘value’ across their organisation’s work, to balance and prioritise the competing demands on their limited capacity and resources?
  • How might we advocate to leadership the importance of using and investing in digital to add value?
  • How might we make sure that any value we are adding via digital is strategic and aligned to mission?
  • How might we ensure that people within our organisation have the necessary skills and literacies to create the value we need through our digital content and experiences?
  • How can we understand the needs and motivations of our audiences, to ensure that our digital offer can add value for them?
  • How might we ensure our digital offer is valued by a diversity of different audiences - new and existing?
  • How might digital add value to the physical visit for our audience, pre, during and post visit, through our events, activities, exhibitions and content?
  • How might better use of digital support delivery of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion strategies?
  • How might we evidence and prioritise what will add value for us and our audiences, using digital?

Your research question might be one of the above, it might be different. As long as it falls within the cohort scope of ‘using digital to add value’, we can support your learning and development. There’s no pressure to join armed with a single challenge or question. We will work with you at the start of the programme to scope the focus that best suits your needs.

How is the LGR programme structured?

This is an eight month programme which runs from February to October 2024. The fee covers two people from each organisation to participate in:

  • Two in-person, full-day workshop, one at the beginning & one at the end.
  • Four participatory online workshops - 2 hours each.
  • Bespoke mentoring helping each pair of participants to scope, carry out, iterate and evaluate practical, small-scale experiments and to develop any tangible outcomes - each organisation gets five online support sessions, 50 minutes each.
  • Access to our Let’s Get Real online community platform that underpins the programme with workshop resources, further digital resources to support self-led learning and a safe space for conversations.
  • Connection with a cohort of up to 50 of your peers alongside subject experts from Culture24 (as was), The Audience Agency and the Institute for Digital Culture as critical friends and cheerleaders.
  • Regular, drop-in, online coffee hours for general queries, support requests and a chance to chat with a member of the LGR team and wider cohort.
  • Opportunity for additional staff in the participating organisations to access and watch selected workshops and content sessions.
  • Your case study and insights showcased in our ‘LGR 10 - Using digital to add value’ report.

How will my organisation benefit strategically?

Let’s Get Real’s programmes of collaborative action research, experimentation, workshops and mentoring provide:

  • Evidence and insight that helps you make strategic and practical decisions about thorny challenges.
  • High quality professional development. The opportunity for two of your team to collaborate with and learn from a supportive, engaged community of peers with a shared sense of purpose and to develop their digital confidence, skills, literacy and understanding.
  • Tactics for effecting and embedding positive organisational change. Participants are supported to reflect on their current practice, design small-scale experiments and explore ways to embed insights and new ways of working back into the organisation. We help them become effective and confident agents of change which lasts long beyond the programme.
  • The opportunity to develop strategic influence within the wider arts and heritage sector. Your organisation’s experience on the project will inform collaborative research findings to inform best practice across the sector. We have trusted relationships with a broad range of cultural stakeholders in the UK and internationally. We will publish the project’s key findings in a final report to be shared and discussed with funders, policymakers, strategic sector bodies and academia.

Where relevant we can also support you to develop a more tangible outcome which, depending on your area of focus, might be one of these:

  • Mission-led organisational consensus on the value digital brings.
  • A digital impact strategy.
  • A digital capacity-building strategy.
  • A framework for digital content auditing specifically focussed on understanding value.
  • A data dashboard to evidence the value around your digital activities/systems.
  • A framework for digital skills audits with value at heart.
  • A framework for evidence-led, purposeful decision-making around digital.
  • Something different, that your experimentation leads you to.

Who is Let’s Get Real for?

Let’s Get Real is designed for any kind of arts and heritage organisation. Museums, galleries, performing arts organisations, heritage sites, archives, libraries and others are all welcome to join.

The programme is designed for pairs of participants from cultural organisations. Two people joining is the best way to effect strategic change and ensure lasting impact for your organisation.

Ideally one of the pair will be the digital lead, someone who has responsibility for some or all aspects of digital in the organisation, no matter the scale of that activity. The other person could be a leader or practitioner and work in any aspect of the organisation, as long as their work involves digital in some way. We’d love to build a diverse mix of roles and viewpoints in this cohort, whilst keeping each pair rooted in the digital.

You don’t need any technical knowledge. The key things are a willingness to question the way you work, a desire to transform the positive impact of your digital activities and approach and the remit to make change happen.

If you are not sure if this project is right for you, or who in your team would be best suited to join then please reach out to us by expressing an interest and we will get in touch for a chat.

Please note - we’re sorry, but this time round the LGR programme is not suitable for organisations who are at the beginning of their digital journey or do not have a member of staff whose role covers digital responsibilities and/or activities.

What is the commitment (time and approach)?

  • Attendance by both participants at all face-to-face and online workshops, plus relevant support sessions. The provisional dates for the workshops in this year’s programme are:

    Workshop one: 29 February, 10am - 4:30pm, in person, University of Leicester

    Workshop two: 27 March, online

    Workshop three: 7 May, online

    Workshop four: 12 June, online

    Workshop five: 18 July, online

    Workshop six: 26 September, in person, venue tbc

  • Active participation in the LGR online community.
  • A minimum of 12 days of staff time across the project to run experiments in your own setting - however, this need not be extra time for new work, we will help you scope and plan experimentation within your existing work, encouraging you to do things differently.
  • Support of leadership to participate fully in the project where necessary, to embed any appropriate learning back into the organisation and to share learning more widely with the sector.
  • Willingness to support, encourage and provide advice to fellow peers within the project.
  • Commitment to being open, honest and to work experimentally and collaboratively both as part of the project cohort and also within their own organisations.
  • Commitment to sharing learning from experiments back with the Culture24 team, which we shape into case studies for the sector.

What will it cost?

LGR has always been based on a collaborative funding model where each participating organisation contributes towards the overall cost of the project. This model represents significant value for money for each participating organisation due to the high cost of accessing expert advice, the huge value derived from shared learning across the project cohort and the practical approaches to embedding long-term organisational change. Organisations that took part in the 2022-23 programme, LGR Hybrid, receive a 10% discount.

The cost is based on a sliding scale according to size:

  • Large organisations - £2,650 plus VAT (total income from all sources in the last reported financial year greater than £1 Million). Participants of LGR Hybrid get a 10% discount £2,384 plus VAT
  • Medium organisations - £1,950 plus VAT (total income from all sources in the last reported financial year of between £250,000 and £1 Million). Participants of LGR Hybrid get a 10% discount £1,755 plus VAT
  • Small organisations - £1,550 plus VAT (total income from all sources in the last reported financial year of between £250k and £500k). Participants of LGR Hybrid get a 10% discount £1,395 plus VAT
  • Very small organisations - £1,250 plus VAT (total income from all sources in the last reported financial year of under £250,000). Participants of LGR Hybrid get a 10% discount £1,125 plus VAT

If it is helpful to you, the cost of the programme can be spread across more than one payment or financial year.

Not included in the cost is:

  • Your staff time.
  • Any internal or external costs needed to support your own research experiments (we encourage you to keep these very low, working with what you already use/have).
  • Cost of travel to the two in-person workshops (likely to be held in Leicester).

How to sign up or find out more

Sign up is now closed for this round of Let's Get Real.

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Let’s Get Real history and methodology

Let’s Get Real has been running for over a decade and we’ve supported hundreds of arts and culture organisations through the programme, exploring and developing their practice across a variety of exciting topics. This year’s LGR will be guided by our tried and tested methodology:

  • Learning from others – LGR brings in a variety of voices and perspectives from within and beyond the cultural sector, to inform, support, guide and reflect on the challenges at hand.
  • Learning by doing – LGR encourages practical action research. We support participants to experiment in the context of their everyday work, testing out hunches developed through our collaborative discussions. This is a different type of R&D. It is innovation from the inside, using what they already have and trying to make more of it.
  • Learning together – LGR creates a community of supportive peers with a shared sense of purpose. We actively seek out ways to foster and promote collaborative exchange, combining and analysing people’s wealth of individual experiences, expertise and knowledge, turning them into invaluable shared sources of understanding for their peers across the arts and heritage sector.

Since 2010 LGR has involved 250+ organisations and 380+ participants; generated 10 action research projects, 8 conferences, 700+ conference attendees, 6 published reports and 34,000+ report downloads. You can download and read all the reports from the past LGR here.

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