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portrait of Nicholas Jarrett

Nicholas Jarrett

Marketing Campaign Manager , Europeana Foundation

Building capacity in our sector - where we are

In May we launched a phased project to help us identify and shape a capacity-building framework for digital transformation. Here, we recap on the project so far and share our thoughts on the process as we move towards scaling up the second phase.

main image

Title: Europeana Strategy meeting “Migration and culture: how can our past educate our present”,

Creator: Sebastiaan Ter Burg

Institution: Europeana Foundation

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The project so far 

2020 has been quite a year. COVID-19 brought about an arguably unparalleled examination of what ‘digital’ is, means and can be for the cultural heritage sector, for our audiences, stakeholders, and us - professionals working in cultural heritage. It has provided us all with challenges and opportunities, and in May we launched a phased project to help us identify and shape a capacity-building framework for digital transformation based on the needs of our sector.

In the first phase of this project we wanted to gain a greater understanding of how our sector was doing in this time of crisis - to make sense of ‘the now’. We aimed to do this in two ways.

Firstly, throughout June our ‘Digital transformation in the time of COVID-19’ workshops brought together the perspective, experience and expertise of thought-leaders and do-ers in the sector to help identify new paths through - and beyond - the COVID-19 crisis for digital cultural heritage. Facilitated by Michael Peter Edson and Jasper Visser, 64 participants from 22 countries came together to identify opportunities for growth and positive action whilst also shedding light on Europeana’s strategic mission to ‘empower the cultural heritage sector in its digital transformation’.

While our workshops were exploring issues and needs on the ground, a separate but complementary report undertaken by Culture 24 looked to explore what is happening in our sector to support digital capacity and what terms like ‘digital transformation’ mean in practice for GLAM institutions.

Sensemaking our reports 

Both of these processes have now concluded, and as a result, we have an immense amount of information, insight and inspiration contained in two very rich reports. These respectively bring out the themes and ideas collaboratively brought together during the workshops sessions in June, and offer a scan of sectoral initiatives and eight interviews with digital thought-leaders. 

With a combined length of over 120 pages, the reports raise new questions and possibilities on each reading. The insights they offer, and possibilities they suggest, are immensely rich, and we are looking forward to sharing them. However, we want to make sure that we do this in a way that makes them meaningful, accessible and valuable for the professionals who make up our wide and diverse sector. We want to be clear on what they mean for us as an organisation and wider network, and to present them in a way that allows us to support the sector in building capacity for its digital transformation. 

So over the summer, we will be going through a structured process to perform a number of ‘deep dives’ on these reports.  We are looking into the shared findings, interrogating our own assumptions and planning ways to package, build on and develop the findings from the reports. Once we have completed this process, we will share these reports with you in September, and offer a number of different ways to engage with, and understand, the insight they offer. 

How to contribute and stay informed

From start to finish this project has been designed to be collaborative, and your collective input has been, and will continue to be vital. In the next stage of this project we will look to scale up, involving more voices and perspectives from across the sector. If you are interested in contributing to this process, we encourage you to complete this short form. You’ll be the first to hear about the next steps for the project and opportunities to get involved. 

Looking a little further ahead, we’re planning November’s Europeana 2020 conference to reflect new directions and processes influenced by the collaborative output from this project. 

In the meantime, over the next five or six weeks you can look out for some Pro News posts from participants in the workshops, register to to ensure you are the first to hear when we publish the report and about other opportunities to contribute to the project, and share your thoughts with us and others using the hashtag #BuildDigitalCapacity.

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