When we started exploring the world of arts and cultural listings data, part of the team were of the view that if we just put all the data in one place, made it open and shouted about it (with some support and possibly funding), we’d be in a good position to open up the world of listings publishing to a host of new entrants and allow people to start innovating. Ultimately, they thought, this would make the discovery of arts events easier for audiences.
This view wasn’t entirely wrong, but it’s turned out to be a little more complicated than that.
Over the course of about six months, we set about trying to better understand how we could make cultural listings data more useful.
We did this by undertaking a discovery project to better understand the problem space around arts and culture listings - testing our assumptions and attempting to answer the questions that emerged as a result of our research. We were graciously and generously supported in this by a huge number of people, both in the arts and outside it and to them we say a massive thank you.
We discovered lots of things, including:
There is evidence that where data is published against clear standards and via APIs that this will enable new and innovative services.
Our overwhelming conclusion from this is that, while something needs to happen to make the process of creating, distributing and accessing arts listings simpler, quicker and more effective, putting that data in a central database isn’t the answer.
Instead we need to encourage a healthy data ecosystem to develop where different organisations can publish and consume data, based on common standards and open licences. Instead of creating more silos (which will likely only survive as long as a funding stream does), we need to create business models that encourage investment in data infrastructure and open data.
As a result of our discovery work we make the following recommendations: