July 6, 2021

Digital Transformation in Culture About People, Not Technology

The international online Digital Transformation in Culture conference took place today, July 6th, with the participation of a range of culture professionals from world-renowned organisations and projects. 

You can watch the Digital Transformation in Culture recording on the Facebook page of the organisers, the international Riga Jurmala Music Festival; the recording will soon be available on the conference website at riga-jurmala.com/conference.

“Digitalisation is an all-encompassing, never-ending process centered around people and their ability to use modern technology and data to their advantage,” explained Zane Čulkstēna, Executive Director of the Riga Jurmala Music Festival, at the end of the conference. As speakers acknowledged, digital development is not set by the availability of the latest, most up-to-date technology, but by how these are used. Furthermore, organisations should develop a digital strategy for the whole company, not merely within the digital department. Organisations must dare to risk and should act innovatively, allowing themselves to step out of their comfort zones. The options offered by digitalisation allow the expansion of audiences not just numerically, but also regionally and demographically, often reaching audiences who have found it more difficult until now to access physical cultural spaces.

To promote digital growth, cultural organisations must acknowledge and evaluate the digital skills of their employees and encourage an exchange of experience not just within the communications or digital department, but also between different sectors of the organisation, such as marketing and education. If an organisation does not have its own human resources for digital growth, it is worth bringing in external help. As the speakers acknowledged,  it will be interesting to see how audience behaviour and attitudes will change both in-person and digitally as events return to their usual format after the pandemic ends: will people return to enjoying in-person culture in full, will they consume culture digitally, or will hybrid events become the norm?

Speakers included Ben Lane, Senior Manager of Enterprise and Innovation at Arts Council England;  Johan Magnusson, Director of the Swedish Center for Digital Innovation; Hilary Knight, Director of Digital at Tate; David Burke, Chief Executive of the London Philharmonic Orchestra; Bettina Jaggi, Head of Marketing at the Lucerne Festival; Michaela Braun, Head of Marketing at the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich; Daniel Hengst and Clemens Schöll, Curators and Creators of virtual reality project In VR we trust; Raitis Šmits, Artistic Director of RIXC, The Center for New Media Culture; as well as Alain Dufaux, Digitisation Project Manager of the Montreux Jazz Festival.

The international speakers were also joined by representatives from Latvia: Uldis Zariņš, Deputy State Secretary for Cultural Policy; Raimonds Aleksejenko, Deputy State Secretary of the Ministry of Economics; Sandis Voldiņš, Board Member at the Latvian National Opera and Ballet; Timurs Tomsons, General Manager of the Great Amber Concert Hall; Ieva Irbina, Director of Hanzas Perons; and Gundega Laiviņa, Curator of the New Theatre Institute of Latvia.

The Digital Transformation in Culture conference was organised by the Rīga Jūrmala Festival with financial support from the Embassy of Switzerland in Latvia and the Society Integration Foundation from state budget funds issued by the Ministry of Culture.