Dancing their way to digital engagement success

Nottingham-based Dance4 develops innovative digital engagement strategy with support from University of Nottingham Innovation Voucher Scheme

Dance4's new International Centre for Dance and Choreography

Dance4’s new International Centre for Choreography in Nottingham. Photo by Martine Hamilton Knight.

This summer Nottingham-based Dance4 opened a brand new International Centre for Choreography (iC4C). Now in their 25th year, Dance4 wished to develop their online presence to give artists and members of the public the ability to engage with the past, present and future of 21st century choreographic practice. A University of Nottingham Innovation Voucher has enabled them to develop an innovative strategy for digital engagement that will enable the public to connect with the work of Dance4 and the artists who have been supported by them.

Breathing new life into the east side of Nottingham

Dance4 has re-purposed an old hosiery factory in Dakeyne Street and created a creative facility to support the production and distribution of new choreographic work, whilst ‘breathing new life and possibilities into the east side of Nottingham’, writes Paul Russ, Chief Executive.

A University of Nottingham Innovation Voucher allowed Dance4 to work with Dr. Ben Bedwell from the University’s Horizon Digital Economy Hub to build an actionable digital strategy including the future design and maintenance of a new website. The voucher scheme is specifically designed to promote collaborative innovation between the University and UK businesses by offering vouchers to be used toward the costs of projects using the University’s facilities and/or its academic staff.

A strategy based on interconnectivity and customers’ needs
In July 2016, Ben worked with Dance4 to build a brief and strategy that specifically looked at the ‘interconnectivity’ of Dance4’s digital needs, their customers’ needs and its new building. It also considered the use of social media channels as creative content generation platforms that can be used by artists as well as the organisation itself. The brief looked at the key user groups and how the website can best serve them. For example, the customer goes to the site to not only book an exciting performance but also to be signposted to participation, knowledge exchange and conversation opportunities.

Sarah Tutt, Head of External Relations and Business Development at Dance4, wanted to create a more user centred visitor experience. She had identified Horizon as an ideal partner due to their previous experience with heritage centres such as the Tate and more locally, Broadway Media Centre. Ben worked with Sarah to explore the Dance4 archives, embracing iC4C’s unique new location alongside its business model. Ben then used his expertise to find innovative and interactive ways to present this back to the visitor and create a strategy that encapsulated both customer and organisational needs.

On the support they received from the University, Sarah said:

“Working with Dr Ben Bedwell from Horizon was invaluable for so many reasons. We really benefited from his understanding of the cultural sector and strategic thinking behind creating dynamic visitor destinations and his knowledge of new dynamic digital tools. His ability to understand our complex organisation and our customer needs made for an inspiring collaborative process. The support from the Innovation Voucher Scheme to work with Horizon has been crucial to a step change in our digital thinking.” 

For more information about Dance4 visit their website at www.dance4.co.uk. For more information about The University of Nottingham Innovation Voucher Scheme contact david.southall@nottingham.ac.uk.

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