Cultural Data Research in Europe: Data Pools for Offering Cultural Events on Websites

Culture Kent is not alone in its aims to centralise cultural events data. Other European countries also have conducted research or developed applications that enable a global audience to access their cultural data and events. Providing audiences with access to data covering cultural events offered by a many organisations requires a data pool, or a centralised repository of information.

Image Turner Contemporary

Turner Contemporary (photo: Benjamin Beker)

In Germany, CultureBase is a online database listing all cultural events, addresses and cultural active persons in Germany. Enabling its users to choose between German and English. this system can reach a broader audience, which ultimately can increase the number of tourists that can access Germany’s cultural information.

In contrast Kultur-online is only written in German. Information on this site might also be beneficial to travellers, but as it covers cultural events in German-speaking countries such as Austria, Switzerland and Southern Germany, perhaps offering information only in German will appeal to a specific audience.

In the area around France and Germany, is available in French or German and provides several search options (type, location, category, date) for searching cultural events in the region around Strasbourg and Lorraine in France and Badem-Württemberg, Germany .

Italy also has an online community for major art events in the main Italian Cities. Exibart Art Community, only offered in Italian. was also designed to share ideas and information on art and culture among researchers, students, artists, and the general public.

For cultural events across Europe, EuroNews Agenda has many language options and offers a calendar of major art exhibitions and other cultural events in different countries. Information can be accessed by country or region, making it easy for the user to find events that interest them.

Although these are just a few examples of how cultural events data pools are used in Europe, it is evident that these data and websites are important for many countries in informing people around the world about their events. The potential to gain new visitors and audiences is high, but a lot of time and effort is needed to gather this data. It is encouraging that Culture Kent is not alone in recognising the importance of sharing cultural data with a global audience.

Image Turner Contemporary

Turner Contemporary (photo: Nick Gutteridge)

Tracking Down Cultural Data (part 3)

This is the third blog summarising the challenges around setting parameters for our ambitious data pilot. At this point it is probably a good idea to remind ourselves of the guiding purpose of the pilot:

The aim is to create a single data source that can be used as the basis for a variety of digital platforms and applications that can, in turn, help to:

  • Showcase Kent’s cultural assets to the broadest audience possible.
  • Promote the county as a cultural destination for residents and local, national and international visitors.
  • Ensure people are aware of what’s going on in every part of the county, wherever they are.

It’s also important to remember that the project has grown a bit since its first inception and now includes more qualitative experiments in collaboration and engagement to achieve the three bullet-points – but which can also feed into the data-driven work.

As the last two posts have shown, with data collection and management, the devil is in the detail. We now have to wrestle with some specific decisions on how to progress.

It doesn’t seem reasonable to expect people to input data into a new, separate database so, if they only input data once, should it be into a central source from which relevant information is pushed out to their websites? Or should we make something that pulls that information from what they are already doing into our central data-pool? Or could we just select one of the data sources currently available and adapt it and encourage others to use it (e.g. the Visit Kent website, the Kent Online website)?

Which are the organisations whose information is essential to give us a worthwhile critical mass? How do we make sure it is still relevant and easy for smaller cultural organisations to take part? What’s our definition of cultural? Would it be useful to have information about restaurants, bars etc as well as the traditional arts / culture organisations? Could including this kind of information lead to an application which would help visitors plan whole itineraries? Or would it dilute our primary purpose?

Should we try to work out one big master plan? Or should we try to use more Agile-like processes?

And when we have our amazing data pool, what are we going to use it for? Probably not yet another website, given the proliferation of websites currently available … maybe an app or, what? And once whatever it is built, how will we market that tool? Questions that we will begin to answer over the next little while. We’ll let you know how we get on!

Read the previous post: Tracking Down Cultural Data in Kent (part 1)

Read the previous post: Tracking Down Cultural Data in Kent (part 2)

Tracking Down Cultural Data in Kent (part 2)

The last post talked about how difficult it is to define the categories of “cultural” data and decide what information to collect. This post is all about the problems of gathering information from lots of different sources. A much more detailed explanation can be found in the Culture 24 report – available to download at the bottom of this post.

“The mapping exercise attempted specifically to identify sources that either aggregate cultural data or publish aggregated cultural data” (Culture 24 report p9).

So how is data aggregated? And how is it published?

As the report outlines, there are three main ways to gather information:

  • Collect and input it yourself
  • Get people to input their own data
  • Automate the process

There are pros and cons with all three methods. Collecting it yourself is time-consuming (therefore expensive), and there is no guarantee the information is fully accurate. If you want to get people to input their own data you need to give them a very good reason for taking the time – so you have to prove your website(or other digital platform) reaches more people, or a specific group of people, than they can reach through their own sites. Automation can be useful but it can be costly and you still need to have a good, ongoing relationship with the providers.

And once you have the information? Online data sources themselves need to be marketed, so the way the information is presented may be:

  • Targeted at people with a particular interest (e.g. folk music or visual art)
  • or Centred on a geographical location (e.g a directory of information for local people or the tourist attractions of a specific town or city)
  • or For people with common needs (e.g. families).

Some sites just list the venues or organisations, while others include event information too.

In deciding how to collect and present data, Culture Kent will prioritise the way that best delivers the intention to increase the number of visitors to Kent’s cultural organisations.

Read the full report here: CKP Culture24 Data Mapping Research FINAL

Read the previous post: Tracking Down Cultural Data in Kent (part 1)

Tracking Down Cultural Data in Kent (part 1)

Culture Kent wanted to find out what cultural data is already available to people. We know that there is an enormous amount of information freely available on the web, from events listings to individual cultural organisations’ websites. What are the barriers preventing all that information being brought together in one place? We commissioned Culture24 to give us an overview of the situation and the next three posts are a summary of some of their findings.

So what is Cultural Data? We are thinking of information related to the following categories:

  • Comedy
  • Dance
  • Festivals
  • Film and Animation
  • Museums & Exhibitions
  • Cultural heritage sites
  • Live Music
  • Poetry & spoken word
  • Theatre & performance
  • Visual Art
  • Talks (if related to one of these other categories)

Hopefully, anything else you might think of will be a sub-category of one of these main groups. For tourism purposes, we might want to include other venues like nightclubs, bars, pubs and restaurants – but for the moment we are sticking to the categories above (unless one of those events is taking place in a nightclub, bar, pub or restaurant… confused? you will be!)

Now we’ve defined our categories, we can look at what kind of information is out there. There are really two sorts – functional information and cultural content. Generally, cultural ‘content’ is created information that is owned by, or attributed to, its creator. This includes digitised collections, editorial, user reviews or comments, photos, videos, and podcasts. Whilst this content is often used alongside venue and events listings data to make things more interesting for the audience, we are excluding any purely content-driven sources of information from our work.

At the moment, we need to keep things as simple as possible so we are focusing on the information about what is happening, when and where. We think there is core information we need to collect for every event.

  • Up to date opening hours/event timings and entrance rates
  • Accurate geo-locations
  • Name and a basic description of the venue or event
  • Venue or event website url
  • Breadth of coverage of relevant domain

Research shows that people like to easily find information about well-known places first – this gives reassurance that quality information is available. But people also want to find out about new, interesting and slightly different options.

Having got the basic information of a good range of venues and activities, it is then important to provide interesting and useful information. Listings might, therefore, include:

  • A relevant/interesting/appealing image, cleared for use, at the required size and resolution
  • Subject tags to facilitate discovery, personalisation and sharing
  • Target audience information
  • Detailed, audience-appropriate, descriptive copy
  • Direct route to booking service (if relevant)
  • ‘Special offer’ or discount information
  • Additional venue information (if relevant), such as:
    • Venue facilities (e.g. disabled access, parking, cafes, gardens)
    • Venue services (e.g. education or identification services, wedding or conference hire)
    • Exhibitions (e.g. permanent and temporary)
    • Collections (e.g. overviews of collections, key exhibits, key artists)
    • Resources (e.g. loan boxes, bookable learning sessions, books, podcasts, websites, leaflets, games, and teachers’ packs)
    • Associated events/venues
    • Associated content – video/audio/text

So, this is the kind of information we are looking to collect. In the next post, we’ll look at what is available already (online and in print) and how that information is currently gathered.

The full report is here for downloading

CKP Culture24 Data Mapping Research FINAL