Motovila Planb#3 Digital Shift In Culture Nov2020

Plan B#3: Digitising collections is not enough. Start telling stories! And cooperate!

The third online discussion within the PLAN B cycle focused on accelerated digital shift in culture.

*Lockdown is difficult but challenging at the same time.
*A crowded web.
*Estonian Arts of Survival
*What happens when we go “back to normal”, if ever?
*Start telling stories!


These are just a few points highlighted by the inspiring panellists of the third edition of PLAN B online talks dedicated to the cultural policies of European cities.

Moderated by Ragnar Siil, this session focused on an intensely accelerated digital shift that affected also the cultural and creative sectors, and hosted guest speakers from Conventry (UK), Tartu (EE) and Ljubljana (SI):
Tony Guillan, Digital Curator, Coventry City of Culture Trust
Kalle Paas, Communication & PR Manager, Tartu 2024 European Capital of Culture
Simon Kardum, general manager, Kino Šiška Centre for Urban Culture

Lockdown is difficult but challenging at the same time.

As every crisis, also this one is an opportunity to rethink – skills, strategies, relations, activities and job roles. For smaller countries, cultures, languages, it can be an opportunity to open up to the globalized world, global markets. Content is reachable cross borders.
Virtual events can be an opportunity for audiences to attend events they had not before due to different reasons (business, distance etc.). Organization of hybrid events has increased allowing improvements of safety plans and overall management of this format of events.
Organising digital or hybrid events is crucial also in order to provide artists opportunity to perform, work.

A crowded web.

However, digital space is busier than before! Out there, in the virtual space there is a huge amount of content. How can we point out to our content? Everybody needs everybody´s attention. And the concentration span is getting shorter. So, first you should think about who you want to target and with what.
The screen is the same for all but what is on the screen matters! Therefore, we need to rethink audience engagement, communication strategies, and producing more quality engagement on-line. Working with communities is important as well as building partnerships – within and cross sectors. Produce less but more quality content!
And work in partnership – within the cultural and creative sectors but also across sectors, with businesses. In order to improve how we communicate through digital channels we do not need digital but creative skills! It’s all about creativity and working with the talents across the sectors. And not all digital tools are costly (e.g. podcast).

Estonian Arts of Survival

In Estonia, considered the most “digitalized country”, where surprisingly (or not) people are now appreciating even more going off-line and taking care of their mental and physical health, they have really been quite prophetic with the “Arts of Survival” leading theme of the European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024.
Even more! In Estonia, under the leadership of the Ministry of Culture, 2020 has been announced the Year of Digital Culture. The Ministry of Culture has organised thematic years since 2000 and the Digital Culture year had been announced before we’ve been hit by COVID-19! The aim of the year is “to enable new generations to embrace the country’s living culture and heritage, and to support digital solutions”. And with the programming overtaken by the COVID-19 crisis, Estonia has even offered its digital education solutions for free to support other countries.

What happens when we go “back to normal”, if ever?

A tricky question gets a tricky answer. There might be no “old normal” anymore therefore we must think of social distances, smart cities and citizens, using digital tools and at the same time be critical about it!
But whatever happens: try to survive a lockdown with no culture, e g. music, books, films. Then you will see what a lockdown is! Remember, in culture, we have the best content in the world. We just have to know how to use it.
But there is something missing to fully seize the opportunities of going virtual – European virtual platforms. So this crisis should also be an opportunity to develop it. Or to do things very differently since we cannot compete with the digital giants! How? Cultural organisations should establish more connections with its community in order to become more relevant for them.

Start telling stories!

And remember: your online audience will not simply convert into physical one after the lockdown! People spend now much more time online (work, gym, school, cultural events …). Many cannot take it anymore and “go back to nature”. To their garden, forest, out on a fresh air. Of course, cultural organizations work digitally because this is the only thing (tool) left for survival. Therefore, they should rethink what the audiences want and need.
Stop just digitising collections and start telling stories! Yes, digitisation is a base and it’s expensive and difficult. But this is not your content strategy! The question is how you make stories with your digital content. So, you need IT skills but you also need storytelling experts. We have to use technology creatively in order to create experience that is really high quality and also valuable.
And we should reach also audiences who do not have access to these technologies. And public art and culture organisations should also reach beyond the walls of museums and other cultural buildings.

We sincerely recommend you to watch the entire discussion – you will not regret it!


Plan B 932x524px EngPlan B#1: The first online discussion entitled Integrating a Plan B into Cultural Strategies of European Cities (22 June 2020) focused on short-term measures and long-term considerations of culture strategies. Motovila hosted experts and officials from Novi Sad (Vuk Radulović), Lisbon (Alexandra Sabino) and Ljubljana (Mateja Demšič), sharing their insight into various aspects of the position of culture in urban development during and after the crisis. Ragnar Siil, an international cultural policy expert, has moderated the online discussion. Watch the video here!

Plan B#2: The second discussion within the PLAN B series focused on the relation between culture and space (1 October 2020). Motovila invited experts and officials from Kaunas (Ana Kočegarova), Rijeka (Irena Kregar Šegota) and Ljubljana (Nevenka Koprivšek) to share their thoughts on unpredictable future, when cooperation is vital … also in rethinking the usage of (public) space for culture. You can watch the discussion moderated by Ragnar Siil here.


The PLAN B series is organized by Motovila Institute (CED Slovenia) and the City of Ljubljana in cooperation with members of the European network of Creative Europe Desks. Ljubljana is a candidate city for European Capital of Culture 2025.

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