CT Consults

Archive for November, 2018

Engaging a new generation of folk

Posted on: November 15th, 2018 by ctceditor

Open air museums are amazing places. They invite visitors to step back into a time and place more normally only available in museum cabinets, publishing and sepia photographs. You can discover ways of life and living, (near) lost skills and crafts, and perhaps try a few yourself. But museums cannot stay fixed in time as the stories they tell are. Why? Because their audiences certainly do not stand still. How can you interpret a century-old village in a time of digital technology without ruining the experience? How can the stories of Ulster be told – and importantly with the active involvement of its people – for the next generation? And how can the Museum be a central part of Northern Ireland’s offer to visitors – a must-see?

That’s the exciting challenge we have been invited to jump into – to create a vision and route map that can help enable National Museums Northern Ireland to transform the visitor experience of the Ulster Folk Museum without losing what is so exceptional about it already.

View case study – Northern Ireland – Starting to share its cultural power

It is great to be invited to speak at conferences but… it’s what we learn that matters most

Posted on: November 7th, 2018 by ctceditor

It is great to be invited to speak at conferences – the idea that we might have something interesting and instructive to say is rewarding and encourages us in our work. But a good conference is a two-way process and what we take away matters as much as what we input. Our director Alex Saint has been busy being inspired (as well as inspiring) this Autumn. The Tourism Management Institute met in Bristol in October, and we were on the workshop rosta, with our client Martin Pople of Bristol & Bath Cultural Destinations Partnership, facilitating discussions about building collaboration between the tourism and cultural sectors. During the session we picked up an explicit shift in thinking about tourism’s partnership with culture. Tourism partners expressed how they increasingly value and champion culture as more than just campaign content and visitor product offer, recognising that culture delivers the local social value activities that underpin progressive and holistic placemaking – essential for healthy economies including tourism.

We were also in Bucharest as a keynote speaker at the 2nd meeting of the Museum Meets Museums, a new network, looking to inspire the development of Romania’s museums and galleries through international exemplar.  (A side note on Bucharest – this is a fascinating city where Byzantine architecture nestles alongside the Art Nouveau and Communist-era. Regeneration is being led by a new generation of entrepreneurs, artists and creative industries, who are leading the charge in finding new purposes and tenants for Bucharest’s old buildings. It is exciting to see and somewhere we will definitely return for a weekend break).

But back to the conference. International speakers were united in exploring the theme of ‘leadership’, and whilst we were there to pass on our thoughts and learnings about leadership and collaborative working, we also came away with some intriguing new case-studies for our portfolio.

The War Childhood Museum in Sarajevo, which won the 2018 Council of Europe Museum prize just one year after its opening is one to look at for interesting practice in digital engagement, and community buy-in. The museum began its life in 2013 as a digital platform, a mechanism to crowd-source memories from a very particular and dispersed community – for a book. The powerful stories and ongoing participant commitment and support led to the founding of a museum which includes 3000 objects and 60 oral testimonies of Bosnian war-children.

A second one would be the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature in Paris, where a private collection of ‘out-of-fashion’ objects of hunting and colonialism, (and with a resulting decline in visitor interest), has been reimagined into one of Paris’s most stylish, must-see small museums. They have done it by being brave and repurposing the collection, turning it inside out, inviting contemporary artists to respond, reinterpret and make fresh, provocative, issue-based displays and exhibitions relevant for our times. Visitor figures are now close to capacity.

Finally, on Romania itself. This is a fast rising tourism destination, emerging post-communism, post Ceaușescu-atrocities. Its cultural-heritage is immense, and a key part of the nation’s tourism destination messaging; but political change is slow and the museum-heritage partners need investment and more international connection and ambition. This is something that the Museum Meets Museums network is hoping to achieve and the green shoots of change are evident.


Image: Ștefan Jurcă, Bucharest – Smârdan Street

Showing off the best of Manchester and the North

Posted on: November 5th, 2018 by ctceditor

The story of our organisation really begins with our consumer-facing whats on guide creativetourist.com, which, back in 2007, we were tasked to create as a means to showcase Manchester’s vibrant cultural offer. The project brought together the nucleus of what became the Creative Tourist Consults team and we have kept the site running ever since, helping connect thousands of people with cultural happenings in Manchester and across the North.

2-years ago we gave creativetourist.com a much needed relaunch, taking away many of the site’s more magazine-like opinion pieces and instead focusing on a structured approach of events and venues to make up a series of more usable guides. Although initially a bit of a shock to the system, our readers and partners responded well to the new never-mind-the-bollocks-here’s-what’s-good approach.

A couple of years on from the relaunch, creativetourist.com is reporting its best ever results, reaching an all-time high for traffic in September 2018.

The site is powered by Culture Hosts, our collaboration and listings platform, which allows our editors to pull event data into creativetourist.com from the content which partners share with us on Culture Hosts. It’s a win-win. This approach gives the editorial team more time to focus on getting content on the site and makes it easier for our partners to share with us (and others) what’s on. Partners’ events enjoy all the benefits of Culture Hosts, such as being shared direct with visitmanchester.com and with front of house Culture Hosts in hotels and visitor centres across the city.  

We are blessed with a talented team of editors who work well with our sales team to develop long-lasting relationships with partners from across Manchester and the North. We have managed to keep creativetourist.com adfree by creating affordable packages for artists, venues, promoters and even shops, bars and restaurants to help promote their venues and events.

We’ve worked on big projects like Manchester International Festival and Liverpool Biennial, producing full campaign packages as well as weekend city guides, and also with partners with more limited budgets, promoting events in local libraries, schools and even coffee shops.

In total, we have covered nearly 2,500 events since the relaunch with an average click-through rate of around 13%, well above sector averages. These results are impressive and improving year-on-year, testament to our belief that working with carefully-selected partners via a mixture of free listings and paid-for posts can develop trust with our audience. Our posts are always written independently, while we can’t guarantee that everything we preview will turn out to be brilliant, we won’t work with partners who we don’t think can be brilliant.

One of the big contributions to the successful relaunch of creativetourist.com was our partnership work with the Northern Festivals Network and Wild Rumpus, which, though an Arts Council England Strategic Touring Fund, helped us to secure an editor and launch our families section to promote family-friendly cultural events. During that 2-year funding period, we have featured nearly 350 family events with a click-through rate of over 14%. Since establishing itself as a valuable asset to partner venues, we will be continuing to promote family things to do in Manchester and the North.

The audience for creativetourist.com is smaller than regional news websites, but with a team passionate about their content and a good relationship with our partners, we have created something which really does get our readers interested in what our partners are doing and, ultimately, helping them get bums on seats.

If you would like to find out more about creativetourist.com, contact Ben Williams or to talk about promoting your events, contact the sales team.

View our case study – Manchester – The rise of a Northern cultural powerhouse

Making a weekend of it – MIF ‘Weekender Packages’

Posted on: November 1st, 2018 by ctceditor

It’s been an exciting few weeks for Manchester International Festival (MIF) with their two pre-Factory commissions at Mayfield Depot and the launch of their first three shows of the 2019 Festival – with Yoko Ono’s Bells For Peace, Idris Elba & Kwame Kwei-Armah’s Tree and Grime star Skepta’s DYSTOPIA987. These three new commissions are the first of over 20 that will feature in next year’s Festival.

We’ve been working with the MIF team and Marketing Manchester to create bespoke MIF Weekender Packages specifically for the travel trade market. As tickets for MIF shows often sell out well in advance, we’ve created a series of special packages for international visitors to experience both the Festival and the city, to be sold through travel operators targeting both the USA and European markets.  This is another first for the Festival and signals the start of a new approach to attract and help international visitors to experience the best of the city’s cultural offer.

Image: Festival Square, courtesy of Manchester International Festival

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