As Commissioning Editor for Tate Collectives, Sarah manages and develops the digital strategy and ongoing schedule of digital projects for younger audiences at Tate. Tate Collectives is a youth art initiative run by and for young creatives, giving everyone the opportunity to reach their own conclusions about art.
We spoke with Sarah about the importance of knowing your audiences, how to measure success, and future trends for engaging young people online.
Getting to Know Youth Audiences
The audience for Tate Collectives are creative youth, 14-28 years old. With the redesign from Young Tate to Tate Collectives, the gallery employed many evaluation techniques including focus groups, environmental scans to determine what other websites youth frequently use, online surveys, and user-testing of the design and functionality. Tate Collectives is project-based, which allows each new program to build on the successes of those that came before it as well as allows Tate to experiment with new platforms and modes of interaction–in other words, this is a constant learning experience. Tate uses many different tools to measure the success of its online efforts, including Google Analytics, Datagram, and Topsy. Ultimately, however, success isn’t about numbers of people but a small community of highly engaged youth who find Tate’s offerings to be relevant and will keep them coming back.
Sustaining an Online Community
The community section of the Tate Collectives website was built to provide protection and safety for users online while keeping the process and moderation workflow as lightweight and quick as possible. Sarah explains that if the community was too cumbersome or closed, it would be deterrent to youth who are already accustomed to more open community platforms elsewhere on the web. In order to succeed, Tate’s site needed to feel open, contemporary, and accessible.
A key challenge for sustaining Tate Collectives is the insatiable appetite for content and the pace of today’s web. Without more resources and staffing, it is very difficult to meet the needs of such a fast-paced environment, particularly with the proliferation of new social platforms. One model that could be a future direction for Tate Collectives is that of a hub, similar to thisiscentralstation.com, in which there is a core Tate-run website which then connects users to existing social platforms (e.g., Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter) that have built-in audiences and already-created interactive functionality. One major challenge to this model, however, is the need to publish to so many platforms and to keep up a high level of activity and relevance on all of them.
One of Sarah’s favorite projects was The Hello Cube, in which Twitter users could use digital means of communication to control projections in a physical gallery space. The project challenged the Tate to think about the relationship of digital in both the online and on-site environments. This convergence is one of the trends we should expect to see more of in the future. Sarah also sees Tate experimenting more with music platforms such as SoundCloud and, hopefully, putting more financial and staff resources towards digital engagement.
Listen to the interview
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