Understanding The Culture Landscape


UNDERSTANDING THE
CULTURAL LANDSCAPE All strategy making
starts with a gap analysis. Where are we now? Where do we want to get? And how to get there?
As simple as that. When ministries
or cultural institutions are doing their analysis
of strengths and weaknesses, they often focus mainly
on the problems. Because why should you
talk about your strengths? A good cultural strategy
always rests on its strengths to take an advantage of the
opportunities in external environment and tries to find a solution
to the internal weaknesses we have and try to avoid the threats
from the external environment. Often it is SWOT-analysis
that is being used, SWOT meaning
the strengths and weaknesses and opportunities and threats. And while this is
a very good tool to present the areas that
are surrounding the environment, it’s not often a very good
method to analyse in detail what are the influences,
what are the aspects around us that we have to take into account. So, what are the alternative
methods and tools you can use? For example, to analyse
the external changes, the trends, either they are
positive or negative, that influence us
in our environment, one of the good tools
you can use is PESTLE. PESTLE means ‘political trends’,
analysing what are the trends in the political environment
that could affect us; these are economic:
economic crisis or opportunities
in economic conditions; it is social, cultural:
demographic changes or changes in people’s cultural
preferences and behaviours; it is technological, very important
in fast-changing environment where new technologies emerge
and disappear very-very quickly; it’s also legal environment that can
change the way that we need to… For example, the changes
in the copyright legislation, changes in the
European Union legislation that influences all member states
and associated countries. But also, environmental changes:
the changes in the environment, climate warming, and other
environment-related trends. You have to also understand
that for the cultural strategy, no trend itself
is only positive or negative. It’s how we react
to these trends. We can turn negative trends
to our benefits but also we can simply
slip through a positive trend and not use it
to our potential. One of the most effective tools to
analyse the problems and challenges that the cultural sector
or your institutions are facing is the Problem Tree Method. Now, one of the big problems
in talking about weaknesses is that people often confuse
the causes and effects. And Problem Tree
Method allows us to analyse problems
in a very structured way and understand which
are the core problems that cause many other
problems and effects to come. Let me bring you an example. A museum might say that our biggest
problem is a lack of visitors, while actually, it’s not the lack
of visitors that is a problem but their underlying problems
that cause the lack of visitors. Maybe the communication
is very weak, and people don’t know about the
exhibitions the museum is offering. Maybe the exhibition
is simply boring. Maybe the exhibitions
are interesting but the opening times
of the exhibitions are not flexible and do not suit
the audiences. So, you have actually
the real problems there that cause the effect
which is the lack of people. You have to understand this in order
to start providing solutions. The Problem Tree Method
is very simple. It’s basically
a brainstorming tool where all different
challenges, and problems, and weaknesses
are collected together. Then you make
a very clear structure of them, understanding,
as if you think of a tree, what are the root problems
that are not under our control, like demographic changes or
changes in the education system. Then you understand what are
the 2 or 3 or 4 most important problems, we call them ‘core problems’,
and these are the problems that basically are
the causes for all other effects that we see in a cultural sector
or in the institution. And then at the branches
and the leaves of the tree, you list all the causes
and all the effects of the problems. And then if you have the
visualisation of the problem tree, it’s easy to start
providing solutions. You actually have to take
the core problems and turn them into objectives, taking them in the negative form
and turning to positive form. So, for example,
if one of your critical problems is a lack of communication, so your
message as a museum or a theatre does not reach out
to your audiences, then you have your main aim. Your main aim is to start
communicating with your audiences. The next important step
in cultural strategy making is to understand your blank field. Who are the key audiences for you? Who are the key target groups? Who are the people that you are
actually targeting your strategy to? Are they only specialists
or are they wider audiences? Well, probably answer is both. But you have
to understand what are the different needs and expectations
of different target groups and for different target groups, you need probably
different types of activities. You need different tools
to engage them in your strategy. You also have to assess
different target groups’ probability to change your strategy,
to influence it. Some of them are very influential,
so you need to deal with them actively, and some of them are less important
or less interested or motivated. For them, you might not
need so active strategy but you need
to keep them informed. A good strategy needs to present
a clear mission and vision. Vision is a long-term picture of where we want to go
and where we want to be. A good mission
is specific and unique. A good vision is ambitious
and articulated, clear, that everyone within your sector,
within your organisation but also outside
would understand. I think that
a very important element is to understand how we
position ourselves in the society. Why are we important? One of the tools that are often used
is the Devil’s Advocate Model. You ask a very provocative
question from yourself: What would happen
if the culture was not present in the city strategy,
for example? What would happen
if my museum wouldn’t exist? If your answer to this
provocative question is ‘Well, nothing would happen’,
then you have a problem. But I don’t believe
that’s the case. By asking this
provocative question, we might actually
get closer to real impact that culture and creativity
could have for the nation, for the region and for
the city on the local level. Thank you for watching! I hope you found the course useful and if you want to learn more about
how to make cultural strategies, then you can find more
information below this video and at the Programme’s website.
Thank you!

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