New Audiences Case Study The City Gallery: ‘A Story Without End’ Leicester Bombay Summary What: ‘A story without end’ Leicester Bombay When: 1999/2000 Where: City Art Gallery Leicester Approach : To use culturally diverse product to help diversify the audience for the City Gallery and capture data on the Asian Audience Development initiative – and foster collaborations between residents of Leicester and Bombay /Mumbai Key features: Artistic programme shaped by participants A steering group to shape the audience development aspects Delivery involved initiating new partnerships Involvement of leading South Asian arts practitioner Special web site Six months project development from engagement of school to exhibition Strong links with Asian press Challenges: Perhaps an over ambitious project – technical demands were considerable at the time. A key member of the delivery team left during the project Impact: Appears to have helped cement ongoing relationships between some project partners and findings are informing other work by the gallery - 1,329 people attended, predominantly South Asian Funding: £6,046 New Audience This summary has been drawn from the EM Regional Challenge evaluation by Kevin Jackson. Aims & Objectives To use the project to capture data on audiences attending as part of the City Gallery’s current strategy for Asian Audience Development. To use the project to develop a new and culturally diverse audience for the City gallery, and to raise the profile of the Gallery in the eyes of the Asian community. To create a platform for the exchange of creative ideas between Bombay and Leicester and to establish a relationship between Bombay, Leicester, and their two communities. To use virtual media effectively in an exchange of creative ideas and energies and to create a web site with information on the project, the City Gallery, and future events to look out for. To set up an exhibition in January 2000 of work resulting from the week’s activity in November/ December 1999. To start the Millennium in a positive way using communication tools to bring people together. To provide students from De Montfort University with professional experience of setting up a website, working in a Gallery and within an educational setting. Methodology Stage one brought together two schools – Hazel Primary School in Leicester and Udayachai School in Mumbai, India. The focus was on using new technology, linked to the creation of art works on the themes of people, architecture and love, by children (10-11 years old) in both schools, facilitated by artists in both countries. Children shared stories and images via purpose-built websites, e-mail, telephone and fax, along with ‘virtual’ meetings in Internet chat rooms. Stage two provided a platform for the project in the form of an exhibition, giving audiences to the website or people who had heard about the project a focus. The exhibition also allowed the parents of the participating children to become involved. The five months between stages one and stage allowed the City Gallery to develop and implement a marketing strategy aimed at attracting and developing South Asian audiences to the Gallery. This process involved the setting up of a Steering Group to facilitate audience development work with the South Asian communities. The strategy looked at existing print, data capture initiatives, outreach workshops, events and distribution, and linking the ‘Story Without End’ exhibition to their main Gallery programme in order to maximise press/PR, sponsorship opportunities and inclusion in existing print. Implementation Initiate storytelling programme, led by Dr Vayu Naida, (then) Artistic Director of the Leicester Haymarket’s Asian Initiative. Engage artist Carole Miles, who led the arts activities throughout the weeklong event. Creation of website. www.colorsofindia.com/story/ Involve parents of the children at Hazel Primary School in the project. This was done through a mailing inviting them to an open day event. Initiate targeted media campaign in both Leicester and Bombay. Set up technical infrastructure to enable children to exchange information between the two schools in Leicester and Bombay. This took place daily via the Internet, but in order to counteract any technical difficulties, e-mail, telephone and fax systems were also installed. Programme schedule for the weeklong event. Initiate monitoring and evaluation. Production of exhibition programme and its associated events, including talks and a tour. Outcomes The partnerships formed were a key success factor of this project. The partners brought professional expertise in areas of new technology, and of working on previous Internet projects, art disciplines education, outreach work and marketing. The project offered opportunities for professional growth, which, without this project, the Gallery would not have experienced. These included website design, project co-ordination, art workshops and the development of Gallery staff in areas of programming, marketing and education. The successful development of links with the Asian press. As a result of this project, many of the media contacts now feature information on the Gallery on a regular basis. Lessons Learned Perhaps the aims of the project were a little ambitious considering the resources available. During stage one of the project, the City gallery was not only co-ordinating the project, but also trying to set up new partnerships and coming to terms with new technology. The second stage saw the Gallery incorporating the project into their mainstream programme, in order to tap into existing marketing and publicity campaigns. The project highlighted the need for a strategic approach to the programming of exhibitions and events. As the targeted activities decreased, so did the Gallery’s visitor figures. One difficulty is that the Education officer left 6 months after the project was completed, and recruitment for this post took quite a while. This was detrimental to further development of the work. Technical difficulties caused some problems with the project. At the time, the children had little experience in working with such new technologies. In response to their new-found skills however, the Leicester school now has a fully equipped computer suite, which meets the increased demand for technology from the children. What Happened Next? This project was the first major long-term education outreach / residency the gallery undertook, and therefore was a huge learning curve for the gallery. A second audience development/education outreach project accompanied the exhibition ADORN, EQUIP. This exhibition examined issues behind the design of equipment used by disabled people. The audience development focused mainly on disabled adults. The Leicester/Mumbai project also involved partnerships with De Montfort University and with a school in Mumbai. The relationship did not continue with Mumbai although this was discussed. The relationship with De Montfort University has continued and strengthened leading to Professor Gen Doy’s co-curating FOLD. This was accompanied by RURT, a young south Asian audience development project, and by two maker-based residencies also taking place at the University . A partnership agreement with the university is now under discussion. The City Gallery has always had a very strong complementary education programme for all ages. A summer exhibition with a focus on educational activities takes place annually. Work has continued with schools and consultation with the relevant educators is ongoing. The gallery currently has a focus on developing youth audiences, specifically through offsite projects with an emphasis on young south Asian people. This is partly due to the development of the earlier work. Consultation with the participating individuals from the outset, and ownership of the project by them, is key to the success of these projects. Work with children is a key area of the gallery’s education programme and is sited within its annual business plan with key objectives. Projects are still being initiated that are long term and developmental, and professional practising artists are still being employed to deliver projects and work alongside children. International relationships are being further developed which we hope will lead to productive partnerships in all aspects of the gallery’s work. There is a continuing commitment to having artists working with children and also to exhibiting pupils’ work. The offsite programme aspect of the gallery’s work is a main area of focus for the development of relationships in this key area. The gallery’s Touring Programme Officer, has initiated a number of ongoing projects working with schools and children, that now plays a significant part in this area of the gallery’s work.
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