Artsadmin - a new data solution for the arts sector

“It has been brilliant working with the team at GMV, who have not only brought strategic thinking and technical acumen but also a sense of fun to this project. As an organisation we have gained greatly from their insight into the cultural sector, their wide-ranging skills and their forward thinking.” Jennifer Tomkins, Head of Marketing and Development

Using a vision for data that we helped it develop, Artsadmin was awarded an Arts Council England Small Capital grant for a digital transformation project to turn its data – and the relationships and knowledge that it represents – into a strategic and organisational asset. We partnered with Artsadmin to deliver the project.

Artsadmin held data about its relationships and activities in many different formats and across many different, unconnected systems – including a large number of Excel spreadsheets, and the ‘little black books’ of individual staff members. None of this data was joined up, making it challenging and time-consuming to access, keep updated and use efficiently.

Working closely with Artsadmin’s marketing team, who led on the project, we set out to create an interconnected way of gathering and understanding the many types of data that Artsadmin collected, enabling it to more effectively connect the people it reached to the activities it delivered. The project also aimed to build better and more valuable connections throughout Artsadmin’s international networks and to facilitate data sharing with other arts organisations.

Over a year of intense activity, we worked as an integral part of the Artsadmin team, delivering expertise from project management to information architecture to design and technical delivery.

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We helped Artsadmin understand its data needs by:

  • Mapping the Artsadmin universe, from internal processes to the lifecycle of their projects to their professional and audience relationships
  • Creating unified views able to illustrate how people interacted and participated with Artsadmin touring productions, its artist development services, and Toynbee Studios with its café, rehearsal studios and performance spaces
  • Creating an information architecture, from a conceptual model to the details of individual data fields
  • Developing key KPIs and reporting requirements

We focused in on its technical requirements by:

  • Advising on system architecture: where data should be held and how systems should be integrated
  • Developing user and technical requirements for new systems and supporting the selection and procurement process
  • Working with staff to gather, cleanse and format existing data, ready to be uploaded into a new system

We also ensured that the solution reflected Artsadmin’s collaborative ways of working by:

  • Engaging with staff from across the organisation, and at board level, to ensure understanding and buy-in
  • Supporting the dissemination of knowledge through a series of events aimed at the wider arts sector

By the middle of the project, Artsadmin was already seeing benefits:

  • Better understanding of their own processes, success measures and relationships, creating a shared understanding and language of how Artsadmin works
  • Staff across the organisation becoming data capable and data confident and evangelists for the project, both within and outside the organisation
  • Understanding the links between the different types of people Artsadmin connects with and the products/services it provides

This led to a higher profile and growing reputation within the sector as a pioneer of joined-up data.

By the project’s completion, Artsadmin had a new home for its data, based on an extensively customised version of an open-source solution, SuiteCRM (one of the very few solutions capable of dealing with the complexities of Artsadmin’s needs). This included new modules that extended its functionality to cope with specific needs – in particular, a Projects module that allows tracking of artistic projects in a way that enables reporting across multiple events. In addition, integrations with both Spektrix and MailChimp combine information on events and ticketing together with email communications into one central view of individuals working with Artsadmin or attending its events.

For Artsadmin, this is only the beginning; it is busy training its in-house teams to get the most out of the solution, from improved reporting to using data to provide better insights into how they work.

Artsadmin is also actively seeking funding to develop new integrated solutions such as a space booking system, a visitor book, and a Wi-Fi captive portal.

In partnership with Golant Media Ventures, Artsadmin is working on sharing this solution with the wider cultural community. Together we aim to team up with other organisations to continue to develop features, creating a cost effective proposition that can be used across the UK cultural sector.

Interested in learning more? Read about the solution we've developed – and get in touch

“I could never have predicted how much we’d learn over the course of Project KIWI. Personally, I am much more data confident and can now add agile working and project management to my skill set. As a team, KIWI has been essential in helping us understand Artsadmin’s relationships, internal processes and wider impact.” Selma Willcocks, Marketing Manager