Two days ago– as part of my #digicaparts blog I posted one of my doodles exploring the functions of an arts organisations on line presence – at the same time admitting that it was a doodle based on my own digital behaviour and not on indepth academic research.
In the early hours of Friday morning @yorkshireccc held aloft the Barbados 2012 cup. I’d been following their progress tucked up in bed on twitter (well until I fell fast asleep anyway having had a wonderful evening at the @cadoganhall watching @fitkinuk premiere his 20×12 commission the Olympic javelin train inspired Track to Track).
The two things are intrinsically linked. How does – one might reasonably ask – a man become so obsessed he is eagerly awaiting a twitter update from a relatively meaningless warm up cup final in the West Indies. Whats more what the hell has that got to do with a digital model?
I grew up in Horsforth just down the road from Headingly, the home of Yorkshire CCC. As a teenager if I wasn’t at the theatre I’d be loitering around the pavilion taking advantage of the ‘free hour’ at the end of a days play.
When I first moved away I would follow Yorkshire religiously through the papers and occasionally Ceefax. But as time passed – as I got further away from the live game, and as coverage of county cricket dropped out of the Guardian and other papers – my interest waned.
Then something happened.
The BBC started broadcasting (online) commentary from certain county games. I suddenly found myself able to ‘be at the cricket’. It wasn’t the same as being at the game itself – but it was an experience – a different experience and equally valid at that. Further the commentators continual pleas for their audience to engage (via initially e mail and then twitter and facebook etc) made you feel part of a community, a feeling further enhanced by the plethora of forums that were springing up. Several of the clubs started to pick up on this online interest – added value would be provided by blogs, videos with players, back of house / fly on the wall mini documentaries – allowing me into the places that I wouldn’t usually be able to see.
Fast forward a number of years and the net result – well despite the fact I barely get to a game a year I feel as though I experience the thrill of county cricket (although it’s a different experience). And once again I’m a member of Yorkshire CCC – which on the face of it seems perverse (as the principle benefit is access to the games) – but is actually a reflection of my engagement (I feel involved). And of course it means real money flows back into the coffers of the county team.
Unfortunately it also means that I can occasionally be found in the early hours of the morning awaiting updates….’Is this progress or madness’ I tweeted last night ‘I’m following @yorkshireccc by twitter’. There can be no hope…
Quite what you might ask has this got to do with the arts world? Well quite a bit I‘d argue. The arts world could learn quite a lot from the sports model – a point recognised by the conference chair – Michael Nutley (@mikenutley) – when he referenced Manchester City FC. For the likes of @surreycricket and @yorkshireccc the focus of the organisation remains the sport itself played live in real time – yet both have developed different – but strong – online presences which provide cricket fans with opportunities to engage, experience, find out more (added value) and provide the club with opportunities to get their message across. And ultimately I see no reason why the journey I’ve been on (enthusiasm in youth, falling out, to re ignited interest) can happen in the arts world as well as sport…
Might just be tempted to explore that one a little further now that the cricket season looms!