The Audience Agency series of audience development events in Istanbul...

Earlier in March members of The Audience Agency team were in Istanbul working together with the British Council, Outlandish and Technology Development Foundation (TTGV) on Tech4Culture - a series of events aimed at fostering collaboration and audience development between the Digital/ Tech and Culture sectors in Turkey.

Aside from nurturing our continuing relationship with the British Council, projects such as Tech4Culture are becoming increasingly important for us, because while we are based in the UK our international work not only enables us to share our own expertise and experience but also to learn from other cultural approaches and enrich our work here in the UK.

Starting with the Sandbox event, 35 participants from some of Istanbul’s most esteemed museums and galleries as well as from the technology sector in Turkey were brought together to attend a day of presentations and practical workshops delivered by The Audience Agency. At first there was an air of apprehension; the day ahead perhaps a little alien and therefore daunting – what were we going to be asking them to do and exactly how were they going to be doing it?

Challenging and rewarding in equal measure, the process involved coming up with a digital product idea to be developed by coders at the second event; a 24-hour Hackathon three days later. There was much to cover; three short presentations (Audience Development Planning, Market-place Knowledge and Audience Insight, and Enhanced Experiences) preceded individual 45 minute workshops, carried out in groups of six. Designed to provoke insight and debate, groups were ultimately being asked to develop a persona – an imaginary member of an audience with a distinctive character and needs – that their organisations may not ordinarily attract and then develop a concept for a digital product that could specifically serve them.

Throughout the day we were party to lively debates, mirroring what we so often hear in the UK – what is Big Data, how do we collaborate with each other, how and why should we share our data, how much do we really already know about our Turkish audiences, how can technology be used creatively in the arts and culture sector – and if so, how can we feasibly resource it? All the while groups continued to work towards their product concept and the results were highly impressive.

From VR experiences, Twitter-generated film reviews, sign language translation, notification apps, data sharers and how to match and meet new people through arts venues and events, groups were asked to address both the audience and tech issues in as much detail as they possibly could.

Following the success of the Sandbox, our next step was to present these ideas to all Hackathon applicants. Starting at midday on the Saturday, 70 developers, coders, graphic designers and data scientists started the task of realising the Sandbox (as well as their own) product ideas before presentations at midday the following day. Yet again, the results exceeded expectations, with a total of 14 groups delivering ambitious and well thought-out wireframes at varying stages of development. In the end, the panel of judges decided that it was ArtGo and their VR experience that won it overall, and deservedly so.

The judges said:

a great idea that is both creative and a compelling use of technology. It was a very ambitious project and yet through incredible productivity the team still managed to show us a good understanding of their product, their market and also the concept of audience segmentation as a whole.

Our aim for this project was to show those in the arts and culture sector how working with the digital/ tech sector can be a way for them to engage with their audiences and improve their experiences, while also helping individual organisations to improve their triple bottom line of artistic, social and business aims. All in all, we found the events to have been a great success, with excellent feedback from both participants of the sandbox and the Hackathon in both sectors.

ArtGo’s, and all of the other Hackathon presentations were shown on Facebook Live through the British Council page, during the final conference event on Thursday 16 March.

Take a look at some of the photographs from the events here.

For some other examples of The Audience Agency’s international work, please visit and

Louisa Hardinge