Blaugust Day 8: Live Streaming in the cultural sectors 

A few weeks ago I fell down an Arts Council report rabbit hole on live streaming – specifically on live steaming for the cultural sectors.

Considering how widespread live streaming is now, I was surprised at some of the results. According to this report from the Arts Council, the number of arts organisations in England involved in live streaming and similar activities declined from 15% to 12% between 2013 and 2015.

Looking into why, I realised that many of these organisations had assumed that live streaming needed to be a high tech, high production-value affair, perhaps worrying that their audiences wouldn’t be interested if the quality wasn’t as good as live, perhaps following articles like this one. Live streaming is seen as time consuming, expensive, lacking a wide enough audience to make it worthwhile, and potentially even damaging to a brand if low quality.

However, if live streaming isn’t treated as an equivalent to the live event, but as added value for audience engagement, many new, low cost avenues open up, particularly using platforms such as Facebook Live or Periscope which don’t require much tech set-up. This article from Cambridge Museums is great – they are able to engage with viewers about their exhibits, and expand their educational reach, on a simple platform for short periods, without taking away from the actual experience of someone visiting them. I think there’s a lot of potential in a number of different cultural sectors to provide this kind of product, and I hope that we’ll see this in the next few years.