LONDON.- Festivals are there to be enjoyed but how often have you run yourself ragged, traipsing from venue to venue, or missed a must-see artist because of faulty timetables or that mountain of leaflets you couldnt quite get through?
Logistical niggles can soon take the fun out of festivals but thanks to Apps for the Arts, a new scheme launched today 5/7/2012, future events are set to be slicker and more visitor-friendly than ever and joining the scheme is surprisingly cost-friendly, too.
How it works
Up until now, many arts organisations havent been able to splash out on their own smartphone app. But with Apps for the Arts, organisations can now share the development cost making it eminently affordable.
Victoria Forrest, an award-winning* designer and entrepreneur who works with Arts organisations throughout the UK says: An app of this kind can cost upwards of £20,000, making it out of reach for most Arts festivals. Much of this cost, however, falls within the programming development and user-testing stages.
After talking to Arts organisations up and down the UK, Victoria realised there was a solution. For some time now, Arts Council England has been pushing for meaningful collaboration among arts organisations as recently as last month Andrea Stark, ACE Area Director East and South East, outlined the potential benefits in her keynote presentation at a Creative Economies conference saying: "I want to see evidence of more cultural organisations working together, collaborating for greater public benefit"
This new Apps for the Arts scheme allows organisations to share the expensive back-end programming and development costs, and still allows the interface to look exactly how each organisation wants it to look, reflecting their own identity and unique branding.
Sue Jones, Director of Whitstable Biennale 2012 has already signed up to the scheme and says "Whitstable Biennale has multiple venues and sites all over town, the App will be a great tool for our audience, linking up artists and venues with GPS maps. We'll also be able to update programme information in an instant, as well as detect visiting patterns in a far more sophisticated and detailed way than our current evaluation allows. This detailed information will enable us to make more informed applications to funders, and improve plans for future festivals.
Not only will unreliable footfall counters be rendered redundant, the app's ability to gather anonymous visitor data means that organisers will learn more about where visitors go. They can also calculate how long festival goers spend in that location.
User benefits of Apps for the Arts
Stay in the loop / Automatic daily updates
Printed festival catalogues, which often feature typos and incorrect information, could become a thing of the past as audiences move over to interactive technologies that offer new content on the go.
Curate your own festival
Fed up of the fiddly cross-referencing of printed guides? Smartphone users can now filter events by Diary, Artist or Venue; follow a pre-curated tour, or personalised itinerary powered by the Favourites feature. Want to see a specific artist? Add this to your calendar, find out which other events are nearby and GPS mapping will take you there.
Spread the word
Users can also share events through social networking routes, Facebook, Twitter and email, so that event promotion is no longer limited to flyers and mailouts. Even more people can enjoy your festival, encouraging more visitors.
Despite these advances in communication, Victoria is continually looking to develop the scheme. Foreseeable updates include the ability for festivals to add rich audio and video trailers, allowing visitors to preview festival events in full, and ways to connect with local businesses. Want lunch in-between shows? The app could recommend a great place to snack on en-route. And with Victorias experience in print design (her last book with Thames & Hudson, Magnum Contact Sheets won the Gold Award for Photography at the Independent Publisher Awards 2012 earlier this month*), all apps are designed to work together with the traditional print and marketing materials, so even those without smartphones still navigate the festival with ease.
Join the club
Apps for the Arts is looking for more members to develop the scheme. To apply, just register your interest by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org before July 16th. Places on the scheme are limited.
To promote the scheme, a pre-release of the app design is available for free download for a limited period. The app is available on the Apple Store for iPhones and coming soon to Google Play for Android devices. Please note that the content in the prototype uses data from the Whistable Biennale 2010. The full version of the Whitstable Biennale 2012 app will be released in mid-August with the correct timetable of events.
To guarantee consideration for entry onto this scheme, please register your interest on or before 6pm on Monday July 16th 2012 by emailing