Digital technologies are woven into every aspect of daily life. Tech companies are amassing unimaginable wealth, while social media has turned some creators into millionaires. So it's understandable that when cultural leaders are asked to invest in their digital estate, they go beyond asking if it’s necessary, and instead ask: "how can we monetise it?"
The hard reality is that, despite a few success stories, making money from digital is incredibly difficult for most arts and culture organisations. Yet, while digital's purpose may not be purely revenue generation, it can still bring income into an organisation if we consider it differently.
The funding landscape for museums and other cultural institutions in the West is changing. In the UK long-term shrinking of public funding for the arts has been well documented. Philanthropic foundations in the US and UK are shifting their focus towards activities which deliver measurable impact in areas such as social justice, environmental sustainability, and supporting historically under-served audiences. The move is similar for corporate sponsors, who are looking to support organisational and digital transformation projects that strengthen ties with key audiences.
These priorities are already part of many museums' core mission. In integrating digital into how they deliver it, museums may also attract funders and sponsors who want to support organisations that are building dynamic and forward-facing operations, delivering digital transformation within the sector, and using digital technologies to deliver content and experiences that are relevant and resonate with audiences historically underserved by the sector, locally and globally.
This article originally appeared in the maxwell museums newsletter (February 8) for 'The 250 Take', a 250-word opinion column by guest writers.