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New online workshops for heritage organisations

Published: 31/08/2020

Reaching your audience digitally

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Reaching new audiences through digital media will be the focus of free online workshops for heritage organisations being held over the next two months.

The first series of virtual events held in May and June proved popular with thousands of viewers during the lockdown.

The second series will kick-off on 9 September with the first workshop, ‘COVID-19: Digital Resilience, Virtual Reality and Heritage’ and more events will be held weekly until 25 November.

The panel will include experts from St Andrews University, heritage specialists including Nicola Henderson from XpoNorth Heritage, Jacquie Aitken from Timespan and David Caldwell from the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

Other topics include Reconstructing the Past, Remote Participation and Virtual Time Travel.

With the heritage and tourist industry affected by government restrictions, the sessions will support museums and other heritage organisations to develop new skills. Insights will be shared to help those looking to connect with audiences at home through virtual tours and galleries.

The events are supported through the CUPIDO Interreg cultural heritage project, which is a North Sea Region Programme for 2018-2022 to help businesses develop new opportunities in the cultural heritage sector across Europe’s North Sea region.

Through CUPIDO, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has been working in partnership with the University of St Andrews on a programme of digital heritage activities. These are designed to help commercialise the heritage sector in communities and social enterprises across the region.

The workshops are led and facilitated by Dr Alan Miller and Catherine Anne Cassidy from the Open Virtual Worlds Group at the University of St Andrews. Input is given from local and international museums and heritage organisations along with Scotland’s development agencies and creative industries specialists.

Dr Alan Miller said: We had such a fantastic response to the first series of workshops. Organisations and businesses really benefited from them. There has never been a time when working with heritage in the digital domain was more accessible, exciting or important. These workshops are part of a set of resources we are making to demystify digital technology and help museums deliver heritage to the home. We are encouraging people to join a workshop, visit XpoNorth online this year and come to the Heritage Studio Facebook group to find out more.”

Ann Marie Reid, senior project manager at HIE, said: “The workshops are a great way of helping the heritage sector get their stories out to a wider audience. With the first series proving so popular, and the continuing restrictions on movement, this programme has been designed to help develop digital skills to connect with existing and potential new audiences in innovative ways. The last events were very popular and we look forward to welcoming more people to this new set of workshops.”

The XpoNorth Heritage programme has also partnered with the project and is involved in co-ordinating the online events. The programme supports organisations and businesses to develop innovative new ideas.

Nicola Henderson, heritage specialist at XpoNorth, said: "Museums in the region have been considering how they can reach audiences from further afield using innovative, digital technologies and this current crisis has thrown that into sharp focus. To both sustain their current audiences and to reach new ones they are innovating on their feet and these workshops have and will continue to support them in learning new skills, experimenting with new ideas and encouraging them to invite audiences from around the world to experience their heritage from their living rooms.

"Our museums have worked extremely hard in the last few years, finding ingenious and innovative ways to maintain quality experiences for their audiences. These
workshops provide a great opportunity to learn and embrace technology as a way to reach and lever new audiences."

Through the CUPIDO project and in addition to the digital heritage skills programme, HIE and University of St Andrews are also working on a digital project designed to support heritage organisations adopt the use of new technologies to help generate income and improve their visitor offering. Its currently working with Orkney’s North Isles Landscape Partnership Scheme to develop a digital virtual reality project to connect cultural organisations located across Orkney’s North Isles communities (North Ronaldsay, Papay Westray, Sanday, Westray, Eday, Stronsay, Rousay and Shapinsay), to support the marketing of their respective unique cultural offering, and diversify their customer bases. It’s also working with Highlanders’ Museum to enhance the visitor experience by adding new digital dimensions to the way visitors engage with the museum’s collections and heritage they represent.

9 September – Virtual Reality and Engagement with Heritage
16 September – Digital Imaging with Heritage
23 September – Communicating Heritage with Digital Audio
30 September – Recording, Editing and Streaming Video

7 October – Remote Participation
14 October – Modelling Landscapes - Coasts and Waters
21 October – Reconstructing the Past
28 October – Virtual Time Travel
11 November – How to make a digital strategy
18 November – Routes to finance
25 November – Project management, evaluation and ethics

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