Culture Kent was a cross arts and tourism project that aimed to promote Kent as a national and international cultural destination. The project ran for three years, from 2014 to 2017.
At the project’s heart is collaboration, partnership working, and developing pilots both real and virtual which showcase Kent’s cultural assets and extend its reach by attracting new audiences. During its lifetime, Culture Kent aimed to create new strategic relationships between the cultural and tourism sectors in order to drive economic growth and develop the information and knowledge core that strengthens Kent Cultural Tourism offer.
How can we better share the inspiring work of Kent’s cultural icons, and let people know about the fantastic year-round diary of arts events? How can we excite residents and visitors alike? How can arts, culture and tourism better work together to show the world why exploring Kent could fill a life-time?
These questions were the starting point for Culture Kent and, one of the ambitious aims was to create a single data source that can be used as the basis for a variety of digital platforms. With the data available digitally, it can be used in all sorts of interesting ways to showcase our cultural assets, attract new visitors, promote events across the whole of Kent and encourage visitors to stay longer. But one small caveat is that the data source must automatically and dynamically draw on existing data without duplicating or adding effort for hard-pressed and time-poor cultural providers. It is anticipated that the combined data will be shared and accessed via a variety of channels and platforms – perhaps a smartphone app or other digital opportunities. We don’t yet know all of opportunities that this data pool could provide. Establishing a single data pool is challenging, with the technical aspects needing to be fully integrated into the wider experience of culture and tourism working together. So, just as important as the end result (a data-driven platform) was the process of getting there.
But Culture Kent wasn’t just about data. Over the three years, we delivered a wide range of pilots which tested new initiatives and new cultural offers that generated visits and income for cultural and tourism businesses (of all sizes, from large organisations to individual practitioners) and contributed to the sustainability of the sector. From marketing initiatives to training, from shared cultural products in different locations across Kent to art where you least expect it – Culture Kent worked to attract 1000s more visitors to the area.
The project was led and supported by a pathfinder group of organisations who provided financial investment, supported delivery and acted as advocates for the project. Culture Kent was part of the wider Cultural Destination Programme funded by Arts Council England and Visit England, and was the preceding project to Culture Coasting.
Culture Kent project team
Sarah Dance, Culture Kent Project Director, @SarahCDance
Bryony Bishop, Culture Kent Project Manager, @TCMargate
Gen Alelis, Culture Kent Digital & Data Researcher, @gcalelis