Digital Works #13: Money

Author: Ash Mann

Digital Works is our programme of content and events which brings people from across the arts, cultural, heritage and creative sectors to share best practice around digital.

On Thursday 14th January, Digital Works #13 examined the issue of money in the context of digital activity.

Digital activity has always had a strange relationship with money.

Historically digital has been seen most obviously as marketing and sales activity so that’s where it has lived within organisational structures (and budgets). It has mostly been thought of as a way to talk about or sell tickets for, physical, in-person experiences

It has also often been seen by funders as ‘innovation’ and often funding for digital projects seems more likely to succeed if it engages with some totally new piece of technology or concept. Rarely, if ever, is this type of work expected to ‘pay its way’.

This context means that, until recently, the impact of digital on how the core cultural proposition was made, delivered and experienced, was minimal.

And when significant ‘cultural content’ was made available by organisations it was often made available at no cost.

All of these factors inform the fact that digital is not well understood or explored as a channel or lens through which cultural organisations can meaningfully reach and serve their audiences. Equally there is little or no expectation or understanding on the part of audiences and users that they may have to pay for access to this content.

We will be exploring questions such as: what does digital work cost to make; how can you charge for it (and what should you expect people to pay); what changes to your contracting and artistic relationships might you need to consider; what cost models make sense (e.g. can you create digital subscriptions) and more.


Aubrey Bergauer

Hailed as “the Steve Jobs of classical music” (Observer), Aubrey Bergauer is known for her results-driven, customer-centric, data-obsessed pursuit of changing the narrative for symphony orchestras. A “dynamic administrator” with an “unquenchable drive for canny innovation” (San Francisco Chronicle), her leadership as Executive Director of the California Symphony propelled the organization to double the size of its audience and nearly quadruple the donor base.

Bergauer’s ability to cast and communicate vision moves large teams forward and brings stakeholders together across the institution, earning her “a reputation for coming up with great ideas and then realizing them” (San Francisco Classical Voice). Her drive to see opportunity in place of unsolvable challenges or irreversible trends produces different results than the norm, secures new revenue streams, and galvanizes audiences and donors. Bergauer builds strategic plans and organizations, leverages technology and new media to elevate and extend the brand, and prioritizes diversity and inclusion to create a stronger product on stage and off.

A graduate of Rice University with degrees in Music Performance and Business, her work and leadership has been covered in national publications including Entrepreneur, Thrive Global, Wall Street Journal, and Southwest Airlines and Symphony magazines, and she is a frequent speaker at universities and conferences across North America, including Adobe’s Magento, TEDx, Opera America, the League of American Orchestras, and Orchestras Canada. In 2020, she launched the Center for Innovative Leadership at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music while continuing her consulting practice empowering large nonprofits to deliver game-changing results.

Tarek Iskander, CEO and Artistic Director – Battersea Arts Centre

Tarek Iskander became Artistic Director and CEO of Battersea Arts Centre in May 2019. He was previously Interim Director for Theatre at Arts Council England. He has also been an Artistic Director as part of Up Next – a takeover initiative by Artistic Directors of the Future, Battersea Arts Centre and Bush Theatre, designed to catapult visionary artists into leadership roles in the UK’s theatre industry and broaden representation.

Tarek was one of the founders and Associate Artistic Director of the Yard Theatre in Hackney and also Resident Director at the National Theatre Studio. Credits as Director include Qudz and Shiver (both at the Yard Theatre and also written by Tarek Iskander), Minotaur (Unicorn Theatre) and A Winter’s Tale (Batumi Drama Theatre/ British Council Georgia). Prior to embarking on a career in theatre, Tarek worked for many years in senior and executive roles with the National Health Service.

Robin Cantrill-Fenwick, CEO – Baker Richards

Robin has specialised in using data and digital systems to transform organisations across numerous sectors for more than two decades.

At the Association for Cultural Enterprises, Robin founded the Cultural Enterprises Academy, an online learning environment for people leading and working in revenue-generating functions across the culture, heritage, visitor attractions and arts sectors in the UK and Europe.

Robin was Deputy Executive Director of the mid-scale producing/presenting Mercury Theatre Colchester until July 2018, responsible for organisational strategy, marketing, audience development, visitor experience, and operations. He led the creation of a successful ticket sales agency, providing Box Office services to clients including English Touring Opera and Invitation to View, as well as literary festivals, schools, and local authorities.

As a freelance consultant and strategist, Robin advised theatres, festivals and concert venues on communications strategy and marketing campaigns. He is a trustee of Newcastle’s Live Theatre.

Previously Robin led digital transformation for organisations including the National Trust, The Royal Society, and the University of Westminster. He was a digital campaigns strategist for the Liberal Democrat party, and began his career as a journalist and commissioning editor with Future Publishing.

Digital Works #13 took place on Thursday 14th January, 4.00pm-5.30pm (GMT)

Find out more about Digital Works #11 (People & Skills) and Digital Works #12 (Audiences).