The Culture Diary

The Culture Diary is a free worldwide events calendar of private, media, industry and public events produced by over 4,000 UK organisations covering every art form.

A unique industry-only tool, The Culture Diary also features a business directory to connect with other arts organisations and develop partnerships to support major campaigns and international exchanges.

Rachel McDermott, CVAN Web Editor, spoke to Reshma Gumani, The Culture Diary, about ways in which cultural organisations can benefit from membership.

Where did the idea of The Culture Diary come from?

The number of UK cultural organisations touring abroad is on the rise.  But many are not taking advantage of the opportunities that international touring offers available even including a raised profile, new audiences, increasing artistic ambition and an extra income stream . Many cultural organisation simply don’t know where to start and this is where The Culture Diary comes in.  The Culture Diary is a resource to support the sector in national and international activity – supported by our partners The Culture Diary connects arts and culture organisations working internationally with British Council offices and UKTI staff in Embassies across the world and helps promote their activities abroad.

Why is it important for cultural organisations to share information on a national level?

Cultural organisations need to look beyond their immediate catchment area not only to grow audiences but to learn and be part of the cultural landscape conversation. Peer to peer learning is essential for growth and survival for any type of organisation. Audiences are also savvier and willing to travel a lot further as they are looking for the latest cultural experiences - Dismaland is an excellent example of this. Sharing information about forthcoming events, audiences insights, future campaign plans also brings about opportunity for collaboration, learning and exchange and practical benefits such assharing risk and resources.

The Culture Diary’s membership includes large institutions, such as Tate, London Symphony Orchestra and Shakespeare’s Globe. How can small independent organisations benefit from membership?

The Culture Diary’s membership also includes small and medium organisations including Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art , Hepworth Wakefield, Whitechapel Gallery,  NoFit State and Forced Entertainment.

All organisations have equal membership and access to a service which provides:

•    An international calendar to upload and view aspirational and confirmed events
•    A directory of UK Trade & Investment, British Council, Foreign Office advisors
•    Case studies and tips for touring
•    Resources including The Art of Export
•    Support in marketing, business planning and embassy support, regardless of size when touring internationally
•    On hand support from The Culture Diary team who can respond to organisations to find out what their needs are and look to leverage support from the Culture Diary partners.

Small and large cultural organisations across the UK continue to struggle economically, and institutions competing against one another for funding can create rifts within the sector. How does The Culture Diary promote partnerships and collaborations in spite of financial challenges facing its’ members?

Working with members across our network of over 4,000 cultural organisations, we understand the real impact and strain that any cultural business, whether large or small, faces in these challenging economic times.  The Culture Diary can provide the resources for organisations to learn and share experiences, get in contact with each other and potentially partner up on new initiatives eg joint marketing to support collaborative working.  The Culture Diary is also a place to raise profile for organisations to an audience of industry colleagues.

As one of our contributors Eileen Evans from Forced Entertainment has said when sharing advice for organisations new to international touring.  

‘We went to peers for advice - other companies, artists or project producers who already had experience working outside of the UK. This practical, often rather pragmatic advice was what we most needed.’  

And this is echoed by other organisations, some of who are featured in our latest publication, The Art of Export guide.

The Culture Diary is delivered by The Greater London Authority, can members outside of London reap the same benefits as those within the capital?

The Culture Diary is a resource for the whole of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland not just London. There is an extraordinary variety of cultural activity being produced across every part of the country and a key aim is to ensure arts organisations wherever they are able to maximise the potential to reach audience, locally and further afield, including overseas. The Culture Diary is an exciting piece of collaboration, between organisations large and small, both near and far, which we hope will benefit the sector as a whole. The Culture Diary is funded byArts Council England, British Council, Foreign & Commonwealth Office, the GREAT campaign and VisitBritain who all have a national focus and the GLA is proud to be the delivery partner of this great resource for all arts organisations across the UK. We have a real spread of organisations using the Diary including Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Compton Verney, National Museums Scotland and the Wales Millennium Centre. We are also working closely with partnership networks such as Working Internationally Regional Project, Performing Arts Network Development Agency, Dance Manchester, Merseyside Dance Initiative and Yorkshire Festivals Network.

To find out more about The Culture Diary and register for access, click here

Rachel McDermott is an arts writer and editor based in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. She is an editor of Corridor8 Contemporary Art and Writing Journal and contributor to This is Tomorrow.  McDermott works in communications at BALTIC and supports CVAN's digital communications.