Let’s Get Real

This is our flagship collaborative action research programme that each year support a cohort of supports arts and heritage organisations to become more relevant, resilient and responsive to digital cultural changes.

Let’s Get Real (LGR) is leading a quiet revolution in our participants’ working methods. It isn’t organisations that struggle to adapt to digital change, it’s the people within them. We know that real innovation lies in changing people’s working rhythms and building their confidence.

LGR projects build and use knowledge to effect practical change for the arts and heritage sector. This happens at four levels: individual, organisational, in peer networks and at a sector level. The action research our project groups collectively explore do this by:

  • Nurturing the personal confidence of participating individuals by building the digital literacies they need in their work environments
  • Building organisational capacity by supporting participating organisations to identify, design and embed relevant changes
  • Fostering collaborative working and best practice across relevant peer networks
  • Developing shared understanding for the sector, analysing and addressing the strategic and practical impact of key societal changes and ideas.

Our model

For the last ten years we have gathered cohorts of people from groups of 15-45 cultural organisations to tackle digital challenges together in a collaboratively-funded annual project. We run several workshops across several months (flexing timescales according to need), with the cohort working on self-directed learning and experimentation projects in between workshops, supported by our team. The LGR approach is always tailored to the cohort’s needs and contexts and takes a human-centred design approach characterised by:

  • Learning from others – LGR brings in a variety of voices and perspectives from within and beyond the cultural sector, to inform, support, guide and reflect on the challenges at hand
  • Learning by doing – We support participants to test out new ways of working in the context of their everyday activities
  • Learning together – LGR creates a community of supportive peers with a shared sense of purpose. We actively seek out ways to foster and promote collaborative exchange, combining and analysing people’s wealth of individual experiences, expertise and knowledge, turning them into invaluable shared sources of understanding for their peers across the cohort.

Our process

Once the participants have been recruited, the programme has two phases:

  • Phase one ‘front-loads’ the workshop programme, framing the topic, framing how we think about digital and setting participants up to create the conditions for change in their museums. We establishing the online community of practice and support them individually to plan and begin self-directed, experimental working.
  • Phase two moves away from workshops and focusses more on individual support for each organisation and lighter-touch community interaction in the online community space. Support sessions help each pair of participants to maintain momentum as they implement learning and develop their ability to be an agent of change inside their own organisation.  

Each LGR project follows a structured process that combines collaborative discussion with expert input and individual practical action. All sessions built the personal confidence, understanding and digital literacy of the two participating individuals. They also gave them the opportunity to collaborate with and learn from a supportive, engaged community of peers with a shared sense of purpose. 

Our reach

Over the last decade our LGR work has helped a significant number of people and organisations.

250+ organisations
280+ project participants
10 years
9 action research projects
8 conferences
6 reports
34,000+ downloads

History of past LGR projects

There have been 9 LGR projects to date, each exploring a different question around digital change for arts and heritage organisations. You can download reports here from some of these projects, as well as from our other research projects.

  • Let’s Get Real 1: How do we evaluate success online? (June 2010 to September 2011)
  • Let’s Get Real 2: How do we understand and measure digital engagement? (July 2012 to July 2013)
  • Let’s Get Real 3: Is your content fit for purpose? (April 2014 to November 2014)
  • Let’s Get Real 4: What’s the story? (April 2015 to February 2016)
  • Let’s Get Real Young Audiences: How do we digitally engage young audiences? (September 2015 to April 2016)
  • Let’s Get Real 5: What’s the brand? (July 2016 to February 2017)
  • Let’s Get Real 6: How do we connect digital practice and social purpose? (January 2018 to October 2018)
  • Let’s Get Real 7: Developing deeper human connection across digital channels (March 2019 to November 2019)
  • Let’s Get Real 10 Years On: How to evaluate online success