Last year I attended the Edinburgh Tourism Action Conference and was very interested to hear one museum marketing professional talking about the concept of a blogger in residence.
Nothing came of this at the time but my interest was piqued, so when I moved down to Brighton at the tail-end of 2013 and saw Brighton Museums advertising a post with the same name I jumped at the chance to apply.
Several months on I’m thrilled to announce that I was was one of two people chosen for the post! Brighton had its maiden residency last year, when local singer songwriter and music writer Chris T-T scooped the coveted spot.
This year they’ve decided wisely to split the post into two 6 month residencies, to ensure they get a range of fresh voices and perspectives for the project.
A key element of the project will be working with a variety of community groups, particularly those who are traditionally less well represented as attenders. This is the aspect of the project I think I’m most looking forward to – the chance to work collaboratively again, and with real audiences.
This collaborative approach is one of the most interesting elements of their work. You can see it in practice by visiting their current exhibition, From Downs to Sea, which features artworks by the likes of L S Lowry and Peter Doig and was actually co-curated with ordinary people from local communities in Portslade and West Hove neighbourhoods.
Besides the usual interpretative labels you’d expect to see in any exhibition, there are notes and videos by the co-creators explaining why they chose the artworks, their personal significance and relevance to their local area.
‘Content curation’ has become something of (admittedly somewhat over-used!) buzzword in the world of online content in recent years, but it’s fantastic to see a cultural organisation actively embracing it and executing it in a way that genuinely adds another layer of meaning to the end product and visitor experience.
Of course I’m also looking forward to having a good old rummage among the various collections and exhibitions. Anyone who has spent any time in Brighton will have surely noticed the Royal Pavillion, an astonishing architectural gem which houses the city’s main museum and art gallery, but you may not know that they look after a number of other, equally interesting, museums too.
There’s the Booth Museum of Natural History, with its curious collection of taxidermy, the Brighton Toy & Model Museum tucked away under Brighton Train Station, the Old Police Cells Museum, with its walls daubed in graffiti from mods and rockers detained after their infamous Brighton Beach ruckus 50 years ago this summer, and the Hove Museum, which among other things features a fascinating collection of early British cinema pioneers.
It’s great to be back in the world of arts marketing too. This project builds on my experiences last year, handling outreach and digital marketing for We Are Northern Lights, Scotland’s first entirely ‘crowdsourced’ documentary feature film and the educational Scots music and language extravaganza that was the Boy and the Bunnet Edinburgh Fringe Show.
I’d be hard pressed to think of a better way to explore and learn more about my new home base of Brighton. I can’t wait to get stuck in!
You can follow the progress of the blogger taking ‘the first residence shift’, Caroline Sutton, here on Brighton Museum’s own blog where you’ll also find my own posts from October onwards. Of course I’ll also do occasional updates here on my tenure as it begins to shape later in 2014.
The From Downs to Sea exhibition is free and runs until June 15 2014 at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery.
Are you an arts organisation that wants to fully embrace the possibilities of social media and online marketing?
Drop me a line to see how I can help you.