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AEA Consulting: The Platform

Notes from the Field: I wish to go to the (Spoleto) Festival

by Eric Gershman

Senior Consultant Eric Gershman writes about his recent trip to Charleston, South Carolina, to attend Spoleto Festival USA. AEA Consulting is facilitating the organization's strategic plan, and Eric's trip to witness the festival in action took him to four performances in three days, his first time experiencing live performances since the beginning of COVID.

Read Eric's account here

St. Lawrence String Quartet plays the premiere of She Sailed the Savage Seas by Jessica Meyer at Dock Street Theatre during Spoleto Festival USA; photo by William Struhs

St. Lawrence String Quartet plays the premiere of She Sailed the Savage Seas by Jessica Meyer at Dock Street Theatre during Spoleto Festival USA; photo by William Struhs

The Three Bells

Global Cultural Districts Network

The Three Bells is a new podcast about culture in its urban context produced by AEA Consulting and the Binnacle Foundation for the Global Cultural Districts Network.

Hosted by a rotating team of leaders at GCDN member organizations, episodes explore the preoccupations, insights, and self-confessed blind-spots of cultural and civic leaders, followed by a Key Takeaways segment in which our hosts respond with what they have learned from the interviews.

New episodes are released every three weeks. 

The Three Bells

Sector Research Highlights 

An overview of recently released reports the AEA team found insightful. 

Digitally Kind

Carnegie UK

The challenges associated with the accelerated adoption of technology as a result of the pandemic are well-known; Carnegie UK has developed a practical guide for third and public-sector organisations facing digitalisation to support key decisions on the transition to digital. A series of ‘Digitally Kind Considerations’ have been identified from 40 workshops across five themes: values and governance, access, safety and wellbeing, knowledge and skills, and participation. Considerations such as difficult new terminology and jargon, or whether staff have the requisite digital knowledge, offer a practical way to improve services and measure outcomes as well as foreground values such as empathy and kindness in organisational structures. 

The Future of Live

National Research Group

A study of consumers in the US and Australia, this report synthesizes survey results on live and digital events. Although it finds that 9 out of 10 respondents are eager to return to live events, it also notably finds this doesn’t negate the desire for digital experiences, with 7 out of 10 saying they will continue to attend virtual events. The report counts digital events’ benefits as offering close connection to creators, co-creation with peers, community building, and flexible connectivity, with recommendations on how event organizers can present events with these qualities. 

A survey by the Chartered Institute of Fundraising looks at how cultural fundraisers coped with the changing nature of the fundraising landscape in the UK. Respondents reported increased social media activity as well as traditional forms of fundraising, a high importance of maintaining and enhancing existing relationships, an expectation of a fall in income, increased workload/job dissatisfaction, and a desire for increased government financial support. Resilience and perseverance have been key traits for the profession as pressure mounts onto the sector to ensure survival.

Artificial Intelligence, Music Recommendations, and the Curation of Culture

Schwartz Reisman Institute for Technology and Society

This white paper details key topics, policy suggestions, and avenues for research about the impact of AI-driven recommendation systems (ex: Spotify) on the music industry. The report unpacks assumptions built into streaming platform algorithms, which affect what types of music get promoted and to whom as well as what new music gets produced – with notable focus on how global streaming services harm local musical cultures and communities. Regulatory recommendations include: increasing legibility around the functioning of AI technologies, diversifying the music being made available as well as recommended, giving artists the power to decide how their work is contextualized/distributed, and expanding remuneration models (ex: taxation of platforms to support artists, compensating based on presence of content vs consumption).

AEA Consulting is a global firm setting the standard in strategy and planning for the cultural and creative industries.

We are known for our candid and impartial advice that draws on deep knowledge of the cultural sector as well as robust research and analytical insight.

Since 1991, we have successfully delivered more than 1,000 assignments in 35 countries, helping clients around the world plan and realize vital and sustainable cultural projects.