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How to communicate Culture, according to Pilar DM

BY Azucena Lozano
CloudGuide

Pilar DM (Salamanca, 1984) is one of the most well known Spanish bloggers  due to her work at El Dado del Arte, a blog created in 2006 where contemporary art is considered a poliedric reality where proposals happening at non-conventional circuits are specially voiced.

Pilar owes a degree in Art History and two MA in Communication, working on cultural projects focused on the usage and implementation of digital strategies. She teaches in different universities and is in charge of the art contemporary section at the online magazine UnBreak.

CloudGuide sent her an online quiz some weeks ago talking on the matter of the question, that is to say, how to communicate culture in the digital era.  This is her personal  point of view  about institutional practices  in communication,  the launching of  apps and other technologies, the problem of audiences , and many more things. So here we go.

CG Pilar, you have been working in El Dado del Arte as a chief and founder since 2006 and now it is considered one of the most influential blogs written in Spanish. How would you summarize the evolution in the way Culture is communicated, in general, from then to now?

PDM I have seen a great evolution in nine years, not only in the format but in the emergence of Internet and Social Media which have change dramatically the old concept communication. It is essential for any marketing strategy to focus on the online user now but the problem is  that unfortunatelly, sometimes is the only target under consideration. I think that is not a good idea: online and online approachs must be coordinated. In the cultural field, it has been tough to understand that there exists a virtual audience and an oportunity to show our collections and activities to people that would have never thought to visit our museum before. The Museum is now opening doors and  contents to leave secrecy behind, but there is a lot of work to do to arrive to the publics yet.

GC 'El Dado del Arte' aims to show those artistic practices which happens outside the institucional stream because there is already a channel working for that institution, with very well defined structures. Do you think this  barriers are getting thiner and thiner while the legitimacy is no longer inside the institutions? We think your blog could be an example of legitimacy from outside...

PDM I think form the very beginning of El Dado del Arte that there are lots of high quality proposals that are invisible to media because they happens in small cities or in small galleries or in  a non-convencional space. That is something that has nothing to see with legitimacy. My aim is to find those small festivals, exhibitions, artists that are harder or invisible to newspapers  but deserve a to be known, at least for fifteen minuts.

I do not think my blog legitimise any proposal, I am only a loudspeaker with a critical point of view. Anyway I only publish  projects that I believe in, whether because there is a team that has been able to enkindle enthusiasm whether because I have seen directly a good exhibit that needs to be shown to people.

CG What do you think, as an expert on 2.0 tools, about mobile technologies aplied to  culture and museums? ¿Did you know CloudGuide before we met for this quiz?

PDM I have seen a wide range of  experiences. I must admit that there are lots of apps in museums that I only use the day I download it. It is difficult for an app to have a continous presence. There is an exception that I love which is the app of La Panera (an art center in Lleida, Catalonia), that offers eventually specific artwoks created for mobile app. It's useless to replicate your website to try some mobile experience.

CG Our guest in  Talks on Culture agree on the lack of evaluations on communication strategies in museums and cultural institutions  practices. Do you agree too? Do you think there is a certain trend to join the techie devices without a previous plan?

PDM Sometimes there is a over interest on launchings or openings but after that it's like nobody pays attention to what happens after that day or to the required assessment .  As a community manager, I need to communicate an exhibition or event much longer than just some hours but I see most of the professionals in this area are too much focused on the launching day. Nowadays it is a must to have a schedule  including previous , present anf post event times as a tool to understand what we did right and what needs to be improved. This is as important as the hype. Another essential topic is Innovation: The new technologies are useful to discover new channels to get to the audience. We should try and analyze results, challenging for improvement  to know better our audience. It is important to know what's behind each 'like' in Facebook, behind every prolongued tour inside en exhibition. We should be able to read the data to enhance 'user' experience.

CG Throughout our experience as a global digital channel, we find there disfunctions too often: outdated or unusable apps, AR technologies which fail to work after two months, museums without wifi or forbidding to use the phone while they provide QR to download an app at the door entrance...What kind of experiences, positive or not, would you undercore?

PDM This are the kind of things I tried to explain. If we only think on the day we launch the app, we are missing the essential, which is  the unkeep of our efforts and there is a higher posibility of letting our app die. There is a case, Casa Batlló, where all those commonplaces are broken. They provide free wifi for visitors and an exceptional Augmented Reality videoguide  with no additional costs that truly enrich the visitors experience, who is invited to a trip to the early days of the XX century together with the Gaudi Universe enjoying forniture, iconography and the esence of the house with the eye catching allure of an actual tech design.

CG Linking to that, the engaging of the audiences is a essential issue in culture around the world, not only in Spain. What would you suggest to the institutions to increase citizen participation? Why do you think families do not consider spending an afternoon in a museum as a leisure offer when that is much more common in other contexts, like UK?

 PDM We simply are always be lagging behind the example of other european countries. Spain keeps thinking that art and museums are only for cultivated people. We consider that going to the cinema or to the theatre is a common practice, some people still thinking that visiting en exhibition is boring. Contemporary art is seen inscrutable or hard to understand and I think we need some more education in humanistics and art. New technologies will help us a lot to zoom in, like in enlightening pills to stimulate curiosity in the publics. If there is a person that finds nice or even interesting a certain artpiece, it is more likely that he or she publish that on FB so that a friend of him or her would see it and be interested as well. We are joined by motivation. But it is true that we must work their interest hard, starting from the web to the presential  guided visit and keep pushing after the visit. We may suggest to follow us on Social Media or get subscribed to our newsletter, so that the visitor keep being interested to be part of the museum community.

Regarding to the second question, it it logic that if  we think that going to the museum is something weird or 'just for experts', our kids will see an activity happening in a museum a strange or even unlikely experience. But In fact, I think that is changing in big cities. There are great educational proposals driven by museums which are truly engaging and funny, with children willing to repeat the experience over and over again.

CG Would you add something else?

PDM Thank you!



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