All, Art, Community, Content Creation, Culture

Experiencing Art and Culture in Lockdown: What’s Changed and How Will We Adapt?

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Before lockdown, we might have filled our Saturday afternoons with a trip to a museum after brunch with friends, ending the day in a South Kensington pub to discuss the exhibition we’d seen.

Now the galleries, museums, cafes, pubs, and other weekend hangout spots are closed due to COVID-19, we’ve had to make our own fun when it comes to experiencing art and culture.

Fortunately, virtual tours, webinars, podcasts and video series allow us to get our culture fix from home. Museums and galleries across the world are working hard to bring cultural content into our living rooms, keeping that connection with art and history alive.

As we start to look towards the end of lockdown, it’s becoming clear that our relationship with museums will look different for a while yet — potentially changing for good. So how have we adapted and what will art and culture experiences look like in the future? Here are a few ways we see people enjoying and engaging with art, history and heritage in the months and years to come.

Enjoying culture from home

Some gallerists, museum curators, artists, tour guides and culture vultures have seized this opportunity, offering online material to satisfy our cultural cravings. The British Museum, for example, now has nearly 4.5 million objects and 1.9 million photographs in its digital archive, after adding 300,000 new images since their doors closed. The Museum’s online traffic is up 120% on last year, highlighting the importance of a strong digital presence to complement its physical collection.

The British Museum is the world’s largest indoor space on Google Street View.

Google Arts & Culture has been a fantastic resource for exploring museums and galleries around the world during lockdown. Using hi-res image technology, you can wander round an exhibition, looking at high-resolution images of famous artworks and artefacts from your sofa.

You can browse artworks by time period, colour or museum collection, and the platform has editorial pieces highlighting weekly favourites, hidden details, and stories behind pieces of art.

Thanks to Google Arts & Culture, museum curators, historians and art experts, we’ve actually been treated to more content than we might have experienced during a physical visit. Podcasts, mini online festivals and virtual tours offer expert insights, stimulating conversation and a behind-the-scenes look at museums and historical sites.

One such museum creating content waves is the Courtauld Gallery in London. They’ve been hosting an ‘Open Hour’ each Thursday in May: a new, free digital events series with talks by industry leaders, explorations of individual works and live poetry readings.

With live-stream events, conferences and Q&A’s being offered widely for free, it’s easier than ever to join the conversation around art and culture. It only takes a quick hashtag search on Twitter – #MuseumFromHome, #GettyMuseumChallenge, #MuseumMomentOfZen – to see fun, helpful and inspiring updates in real-time.

The power of virtual connections

Since mid-March, the cultural sector’s physical presence has been greatly diminished. At the same time, unsurprisingly, virtual engagement has skyrocketed.

This digital connection has helped fill a void during isolation. It’s provided a means to interact with people and places near and far. More than that, it’s given us the unique opportunity to get to know and learn from museum curators, gallerists and art experts.

Through video and social platforms, they share their favourite artefacts, uncover the story behind paintings and discuss the power of art to move us, entertain us and transport us to another place and another time.

Barnaby Wright speaking at the first Courtauld Gallery ‘Open Hour’

Virtual museum tours aren’t anything new, but there’s been a surge in their popularity since the lockdown began. They’ve allowed us to continue to see and experience art even while doors are closed. And now that, in light of this crisis, we know online tours can be done in a fulfilling, informative way, they could play a vital role in the future of museums.

Online experiences allow people to explore exhibitions and displays that fascinate them regardless of where they’re located. They open up history and culture to all sectors of society: those with disabilities who find some museums and galleries difficult to access, people in rural areas who don’t live near a major exhibition, people with unusual schedules who can’t always visit during opening hours, and many more. This inclusivity and accessibility is essential to the future of the museum industry.

File:Museo Guggenheim, Bilbao (31273245344).jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Fancy a visit to Bilbao’s Guggenheim? You can do it from your sofa.

Of course, nothing can truly replace a visit to a museum, experiencing culture with other people, with strangers, and seeing artefacts and art in person. But this renewed online connection will undoubtedly change the way we experience museums for a while yet.

How will museums look post-COVID-19?

In some countries around the world, museum and gallery doors are beginning to reopen, testing the waters for socially distanced visits. At the Brandenburg State Museum for Modern Art in Cottbus, Germany, which reopened on 1st May, lines on the floor in the museum foyer mark the advised distance between visitors, and the total number of visitors at one time is limited to 100.

Neon tape marks social distancing for ticket purchases at the Gropius Bau museum in Berlin, Germany. (Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

In Brussels, Belgium, safety measures planned for reopenings in mid-May include one-way visitor traffic, a quota of hourly admission numbers and a halting of audio guides for hygiene reasons. Sensible suggestions — and they could give an indication of what to expect in the UK once we’re at the stage of reopening museums.

Across the pond, a ‘drive-by art’ exhibition in Long Island, NY last weekend displayed another way we can recreate the gallery experience outside. The works of 52 artists were displayed on front lawns, fences, driveways and pavements, with local residents turning up in their cars to see the exhibition.

The sculptor Monica Banks winked at the signature hedges of the Hamptons with “Brains in Our Arms,”  steel wool octopuses positioned in her own hedge.

Monica Banks’ steel wool octopus sculptures ‘Brains in Our Arms’, in her hedge in Long Island. (Photo: Bryan Derballa for The New York Times)

The organiser, artist and theorist Warren Neidich, is planning another exhibition in Los Angeles later in the month, also based around the question of: “how do we show empathy and solidarity in this new age?”. Whether it’s east London street art or front garden sculptures, community art is something we can all enjoy, safely, while social distancing. 

What about the theme of upcoming exhibitions? Interestingly, the chronicling of this historic pandemic by museums has already begun, with the V&A, Museum of London and the National Portrait Gallery collecting items and photographs of life in lockdown.

Impacting almost every aspect of daily life, it’s likely that COVID-19 will be the subject of artistic and historical exhibitions fairly contemporaneously. The Brandenburg State Museum for Modern Art, for example, has reopened with a video about solutions devised by history’s artists and architects for personal protection in public, such as Weegee’s ‘Boy Meets Girl – From Mars’ (1955).

“Boy meets girl - from Mars” by Weegee (Arthur Fellig), ca. 1955, New York (NY), gelatin silver print, image: 8 1/2 x 7 3/8 in. Accession number: 16855.1993. Credit: Bequest of Wilma Wilcox, 1993. © Getty Images/ICP

Weegee’s ‘Boy Meets Girl – From Mars’ (1955)
(Photo: Bequest of Wilma Wilcox, 1993. © Getty Images/ICP

As we tentatively look towards the end of lockdown and the reopening of museums and galleries, it’s difficult to say what the ‘new normal’ will be for the cultural industries. If current trends are anything to go by, the future of museums involves socially distanced visits with reduced numbers. On the business side, a strong digital strategy has and will be more important than ever.

People are still hungry for art, history and heritage: virtual tours, informative content and expert insights continue to keep cultural experiences intact. For museums, now is a great opportunity to reevaluate the accessibility of culture: digital exhibitions have the potential to open up the world of art and history to vast sectors of society that might otherwise miss out. If there is a silver lining in this, let it be a celebration of culture made available to everyone.

All, Audience Research, Blog, Community, Content Creation, Content Tips, Website Tips, Writing & Editing

How to Make the Most of Your Content (Without Reinventing the Wheel)

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Keeping up with your business and personal wellbeing is particularly overwhelming at the moment. It’s a constant challenge to try and be productive, stay connected to colleagues, clients and customers, and come up with fresh content ideas. Today, we’re here to help lighten the load by making that last to-do item – content creation – much easier.

Chances are you already have great content on your website, social media pages, video or podcast channels. Content that you spent hours crafting and promoting with tweets, LinkedIn posts and Instagram stories.

While producing fresh content is an effective marketing strategy, it doesn’t always mean churning out new material.

In this blog post, we’ll teach you how to get the most life out of existing content: reusing and repurposing content you already have, and how to prolong the shelf-life of upcoming material.

Let’s start by reassessing your current approach to producing content. Because now, more than ever, is a good time to check in with yourself and your community to see how we can best help each other through the coronavirus crisis, together.

#1 Reassess

Take a step back for a moment. Have you been following the same content strategy for the past few months, year, 18 months? Are your messages still relevant to your audience? Do they align with your business?

Don’t panic. Reassessing your content strategy is as easy as reading your analytics platforms and listening to your community – things you’ve likely been doing already.

First, check in with your audience. Who are they?

  • Gender
  • Age group
  • Financial demographic
  • Where do they hang out online?
  • What media do they consume?
  • When are they most active online?

It’s easy to find out this information. Many social media platforms have built-in analytics you can access for free (Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter for instance). Then try actively listening to your audience’s conversations on Twitter and Reddit to bring timely topics and challenges to light.

Another tactic is to ask your community members directly about their current situation either in conversation or through customer surveys.

Next, determine when and where your audience is most active so you can expand your reach on that platform. This will help to focus your time, energy and effort, and better keep your target audience in mind.

#2 Repurpose

Now that you’ve identified who and how you can help, let’s take a look at your back content catalogue and ways we can repurpose it to catch your readers’ attention.

Think of it as clearing out your wardrobe. Some clothes fit well, suit your style and are in great condition – keep those! Others might need a refresh before throwing them on: restitch a seam, mix and match with a newer item. And some simply don’t work anymore: your style has changed, they don’t fit right and they’re out of fashion.

Before you go off creating new content (or shopping for new clothes), see what’s already there. The creativity comes in figuring out how to repurpose it.

Fresh content, less time and resources.

Just remember to ask yourself, will this new, reimagined content resonate with my audience on their most active platform? There’s no point in repurposing something that won’t catch anyone’s attention!

Here are a few ideas for making ‘old’ content new:

  • Reshare evergreen content (articles, videos, podcasts that your readers will always care about)
  • Reminisce on past events with ‘on this day’ posts
  • Expand on a successful social post and turn it into a blog
  • Repurpose a popular blog as a YouTube video or podcast episode
  • Create a LinkedIn slideshow using existing video content

#3 Refresh

As the weight of coming up with new content ideas begins to lift, let’s finally turn our attention to refreshing your content calendar and long-term strategy.

Start with your social calendar – particularly the plans you had in place for this spring/summer. Do they still resonate with your community’s interests and challenges? Will the content you intended to share be helpful during the coronavirus crisis?

Hubspot‘s social media calendar is a great tool for refreshing your strategy.

The same goes for your blog, YouTube channel, podcast, livestreams, or any other content you produce: what will help your audience? This might not be your product or service – that’s okay. Instead think about how you can be there for your customers right now.

Save yourself time and energy while you reorganise your content plans. Be intentional with your messages and choice of platform. Did your research show your community isn’t hanging out or engaging on LinkedIn or Facebook? Redirect your attention to where they are active and where you’re more likely to gain traction.

Three tips to remember

In summary, here are three simple things to bear in mind when you’re looking to get the most life out of your content.

  1. Reassess your audience. Find out where they hang out, what they enjoy and when they’re active online.
  2. Flip through content you’ve successfully produced in the past, and see how you can repurpose it, give it new life and help your audience in a new way.
  3. Refresh your short-term approach and let it guide your broader strategy. Make sure your content fits your core values and aligns with what your audience values – that will give it longevity and make it ideal for repurposing in the future.

This blog is the third in a mini-series about getting through the coronavirus crisis. The first post is all about checking in with yourself and your community, and the second helps you get creative and stay connected through this period!

All, Community, Content Creation, Content Tips, Website Tips

Get Creative and Stay Connected During Lockdown


As we find new ways to connect with our community and adjust to this ‘new normal’, it’s difficult to know how we should be offering to help.

Like always, we want to provide solutions and make it easier for people to reach their goals. Only today these problems and goals look a lot different.

Now, more than ever, our job is to add value to people’s lives. Whether you’re a tour guide or clothing brand, here’s when thinking outside the box comes in handy: how can you (not just your product/service) help people through these unforeseen challenges?

How to stay connected

The first step to staying close to your community right now is by being present and acknowledging what’s going on around us. Listen to and connect with your community on a personal level and pivot your approach to meet them wherever they’re at.

This means throwing any agenda out the window. Just as our lives aren’t the same right now, neither are our jobs – don’t think about how you can sell your service, focus on how you can best be there for your customers.

By being a guiding light through the haze, you can build that all-important connection with your audience and keep them engaged with your brand. When daily life slowly returns to normal, they will remember you for your funny video, engaging podcast or cute animation that brightened their day, rather than conducting business as usual.

Be a friend, and recognise your customers’ shifting needs, offering solutions inside and outside of your trade. They’ll thank you for being there as their needs and wants change over time.

Thinking outside the box

Businesses of all sizes and types are adapting their offerings to cater to our current way of life. Whatever you did before social distancing, you can now do from the comfort of your home.

Being able to connect with the outside world through Instagram Live workouts, National Theatre livestreams or Zoom-guided mindfulness sessions certainly help with feeling less isolated.

This is an opportunity to get creative with how you use content to help people through these stressful and solitary times.

You can try:

  • Testing out new media formats: a podcast or vlog instead of an article
  • Using Loom, Zoom or IGTV for a video tutorial
  • Getting arty with an animation, gif, infographic or colourful doodle
  • Hosting an interactive experience on Instagram or Facebook Live

User-generated content is another great way to build connection:

  • Collect photos of your products from customers to share on your Instagram story
  • Strike up a conversation on Twitter
  • Write a blog post about your audience’s stories

Where to find inspiration

Across the internet, you’ll find people who are helping in lots of different ways. To get you started, here are some inspiring content campaigns we’ve spotted over the last few weeks.

We (Celeste and Rachael) also chatted about our favourite content offerings in our first-ever IGTV, filmed together remotely from our living rooms!

Stripe & Stare has opened its inbox to stories about frontline working heroes, offering a free box of their sustainable knickers each week to the randomly chosen winner. The team also plans to start a blog on the stories they hear to spread thanks to those working hard to keep us safe and healthy.

Katie at Look Up London is doing virtual tours three times a week. With her expert Blue Badge Tour Guide knowledge and Google street view technology, it’s almost as good as the real thing!

Freelancing Females have turned their Instagram feed into a handbook of advice for working from home. They’re lifting up other creators by sharing their visuals, and helping us get through this — one WFH day at a time.

HistFest took their Spring 2020 festival online last week, with talks from leading historians streaming free on YouTube, covering topics such as 19th century shipwrecks, the victims of Jack the Ripper, and the history of celebrity.

Photographer, film maker and all-around visual story-teller Xanthe Berkeley runs online film making courses. To help people get creative and inspired in this period, she’s been offering free film making tips and tricks on her blog!

View this post on Instagram

I created this stop motion for @thewhitecompany a few years ago, but it’s still one of my favourites, so I’ve revamped it with some text and music. At the time, I remember being so pleased that I managed to shoot this without messing up the recipe and having to start again 🙈 . Thanks to everyone who’s been trying out my free “Creating Stop Motions On Your Phone” lesson on my blog… One of the best ways to get started with Stop Motion is to use your phone. Would you like to have a go? Head over to my blog to get started… Also, coming soon is a mini online course with project ideas, more tips & tricks and lots of creative fun to have with Stop Motion, while staying at home. . #xanthefilms #handmadefilmmaking #StayHomeMakeSomething #stopmotion #inspiremyinstagram #documentyourdays #makefilmscourse #hurrayforplay #vllo

A post shared by ☆ Xanthe – Photography & Films (@xantheb) on

This blog is the second in a mini-series about getting through the coronavirus crisis. The first post is all about checking in with yourself and your community, and next we’ll look at how to get the most life out of your content!

All, Audience Research, Community

3 Simple Ways to Check In With Yourself and Your Community During the Coronavirus Crisis


As the world continues to fight the coronavirus outbreak, we find ourselves adapting to new ways of life and work.

Our routines look vastly different, the economy has plunged and uncertainty looms overhead.

It’s certainly not business as usual, so how do we carry on? With this new space between us and our friends, coworkers and clients, how do we work with and support each other?

By taking care of yourself, physically and mentally, and by connecting with others on the phone and online.

This applies to your business as well. At times like this, it helps to go back to your roots.

By checking in with what matters to you and your community on a personal level, you can better align your values with your business and network’s needs.

Here are three simple questions to help you pinpoint what’s important right now and provide your community with something they really need.

This blog is the first in a mini-series about getting through the coronavirus crisis. The second post is about getting creative and staying connected during lockdown, and next we’ll be talking about how to get the most life out of your content!

#1 What are my core values?

The first step to identifying your core values is to take a moment to think about how you feel. This might sound silly, but what you’re feeling – specifically the emotions you enjoy experiencing – will guide you and your business now and in the long term.

Grab a pen and piece of paper (trust me, it helps) and think about what matters most to you, inside and outside of work:

  • Do you value certainty? Do you feel completely lost without a clear plan for today, next month, next year?
  • Or do you thrive on variety, experiencing different things often and doing what you can to mix up your routine?
  • How about feeling connected to others? What role does love and compassion play right now?
  • Do you always feel the need to contribute and be a part of the solution?
  • Does your happiness derive from achieving something significant? Something that is respected by others?
  • Are you driven by growing, learning, stepping outside of your comfort zone?

In this list, of things that mean most to you and the emotions you want to feel regularly, you have your values.

Once you’ve established what you value, your priorities will become very clear. Because whatever pushes you closer to these positive emotions is important and helps you live your values.

The next step is understanding what your audience values.

#2 What does my audience value?

Just as your priorities have shifted over the last few weeks, your audience’s have too. More people are working from home around partners, children and housemates, and everyone’s routine is shaken up.

Engagement is taking a hit as paid promotions aren’t striking the chord they ordinarily do, and people don’t have their usual commuting time to enjoy an article or video; you can almost hear the collective sigh on social media as the world looks increasingly bleak.

That’s why now, more than ever, it’s important to connect with your community on a human, personal level, and not as a brand to a consumer.

People will remember you for putting a smile on their face with an uplifting Instagram doodle, or helping their kids learn about art or history while they’re not at school.

Your community’s needs look a lot different than they did a month, six weeks ago and so do the problems they are trying to solve.

This means your content and messages should take on a gentler, more advisory and helpful tone: people need a helping hand and guiding light during these unpredictable times. Take a look at our next article for tips and inspiration for creating content that can really help!

#3 How can I help?

We may not be doctors, nurses, supermarket staff, or an essential worker on the front lines, but that doesn’t mean we can’t help and make a positive difference.

Brands across sectors are changing tack to support people through this crisis. Even if you can’t mass-produce hand sanitiser in a distillery like Brewdog or manufacture non-surgical masks like sustainable fashion brand Reformation, you can still support your community by extending a helping hand, whatever form that may take.

Work-from-anywhere gurus are giving free consultations to help people adjust to a remote lifestyle, fitness buffs are leading home workout classes to keep spirits high and bodies healthy, and chefs are livestreaming recipe tutorials so customers can enjoy their food at home.

Some of these things are directly helpful to our lives, health and finances, but some simply make us feel good and keep us happy. Now is the time to think outside the box: how can you and your business help people get through this?

We’re all trying to figure it out. As we get our content marketing heads around how best to approach this crisis, we’re here to help you too.

Throughout April, we’ll be helping you come up with a plan for creating content that aligns with your community. Whether that’s experimenting with a new media channel or joining forces with another entrepreneur, the all-important first step is aligning your brand with what really matters to you.

It’s cliche but it’s true — we are all in this together!