world cultures connect

World Cultures Connect

World Cultures Connect (WCC) is a new generation global cultural information site. It connects artists and cultural organizations across the globe. It allows them to promote their work, make new connections with other artists, identify opportunities for work and discover new partners, new markets and new audiences. It also gives the public a comprehensive insight into the cultural offer of countries and how to engage with arts and culture worldwide.

WCC has been developed by Visiting Arts, UK, Librios, UK, and with the support of Resource Center for Cultural Engagement, USA.

What is World Cultures Connect - WCC?
WCC is a new online solution to the problem: how do I know what is out there? how can I find the right kind of work for my festival? or the right kind of venue for my work? the right kind of market for my products?

These questions that have been identified by our research as the greatest barrier to international working for artists.

So why not use a directory?
Directories typically just have listings by category but have no real “intelligence” on what is the true nature of the organisation or individual listed - what kind of arts they are involved in, what kind of organisation or venue it is or what kind of audience to expect for the work. Directories also go out of date and the editor has a time consuming and expensive job to update them.

How does the WCC work? 
It overcomes these problems because it is a combination of detailed authoritative information on the cultural sector (the old Cultural Profiles directory) with a professional networking site (facebook/linked-in style) built in. It allows people to promote their own work through the creation of their profile page. The profile page gives them opportunities to show examples of their work, to advertise their upcoming events and to give details of their past work, their c.v. and credentials and to have a dialogue with supporters, peers and the public. The WCC approach combines discussion, debate and mediation by the users themselves and so allows the directory information to become “intelligent”. Users can see the kind of artist that is profiled by examples of the work, by the kind of connections they make, by endorsement by their peers and by following the kinds of venues, festivals or arts centers where they show their work. In the same way, artists wanting to show their work or to find new venues can match the venues and festivals to their work.

This is in the mould of professional networking sites, so what is new?
The difference with WCC is that there is also a large and growing database of the cultural infrastructure worldwide so that users can make new connections to enhance their networks, extend their tours or exhibitions by finding out more about the cultural offer of a country or region. It will also allow users to discover new work and artists and to develop new collaborations and partnerships.

At present, professional networking sites rely on connections to expand – a name is needed, this site has an in built directory that can be searched by name but also by, art form, theme and country so that it is not reliant on an existing connection.

What is the scope of the directory?
The directory includes museums and heritage sites, libraries and professional services for artists and the cultural sector. It follows a global classification system that was devised in partnership with UNESCO and has been updated and modernized to suit the contemporary cultural field. The value of the global classification system is that users can compare “like with like” across the globe. At present, the large number of websites classifies things according to very different scales and it is increasingly difficult to find work that fits your requirements by using the diversity of sites.

The WCC also allows sub groups “communities of interest” to form and to share ideas and work. This could be a group of museum curators or conservators working on a joint project across the globe where details of the work may be sensitive; it could be a group of festival directors sharing ideas about new work and developing joint productions. While this activity is possible on other sites, the combination of the network with the directory means that discussion and research can be carried out on the same site providing a richer experience and saving time.

Who updates it and why?
The fact that the site is interactive and invites comment and debate acts as the principal incentive for people to keep their profiles up to date. The proliferation of professional and social networking sites shows that this is the case. Our research also shows that most people are willing to keep one social network up to date and in addition have a sector specific professional networking site that they will also use daily and keep up to date. The site will be kept current and relevant by the end user who knows what their needs are rather than a remote editor who would modify the information according to a set of criteria that may no longer be the most useful.

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