By the end of the DART program, several outputs were measurable.
Each of our nine participant institutions (with 2 participants each) learned unique digital skills during this program. These were specific to their projects, whether SEO related or 3D modelling related. More broadly, participants could hone their Zoom skills during the workshop and mentoring sessions. And, beyond this, participants learned a new type of project management, through experimentation, which has become quite common in the digital sector. This is not a type of project management (iterative design) that is common in the cultural sector, but one that is important for digital development, which the pandemic has encouraged art galleries and museums to pursue. This is key to this sector acquiring further skills and developing the enthusiasm to pursue new projects they have never tried before.
Using experiment and iterative development allows projects to evolve over their lifecycle, allowing for adaptation to benefit stakeholders, work around a change in resources or funding, or evolve to adapt to changing circumstances, like a pandemic! Digital design has to be flexible, as digital is constantly influx and changing, even in basic website development. Following this sort of project management encourages those involved to try new things, learn new skills, adapt as they go, and ultimately serve their visitors/stakeholders better.
This type of training programming is something that has not previously been widely available within the Canadian cultural and arts sector. Though professional development is frequent, it focuses on more concrete training, like conservation of art, and less on skills development for managing projects and digital development. If this pandemic has taught our sector anything, it is that digital is a requirement for our continued existence, and that means learning how to engage in and undertake a vast array of digital projects, when many in the arts sector lack the skills and knowledge. Training programs like DART can fill a need, as we go forward and adapt to this post-digital world where our audiences now expect us to continue to engage online, virtually, and through digital media.
The sudden pivot to digital for this program was a lesson to us all. It required adapting what was a fairly firm course design to a digital sphere, something that many have had to do in the last 12 months. It was an opportunity for course mentors to develop their own skills where online learning and teaching was concerned, as well as putting their Zoom skills to the test. It was also a great opportunity to learn the dos and don’ts of online learning and mentoring, which will be very important for the next stage of the DART program, which, although we hope to run the workshops in person, will still have virtual mentoring sessions. We’ve learned what works and what doesn’t and can better adapt to changes in the future, our own iteration and experimentation.