The decision to be made
What would you do if your key success metric went to zero? COVID-19 caused the Gallery of Photography’s ‘Visitor numbers’ - the key success metric by which most cultural institutions are judged - to go from 200,000 per year to zero. Physically accommodating people, inviting them into the space to visit the bookshop, use the production facilities, attend talks, and visit the exhibitions became impossible due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. The Gallery simply wasn’t allowed to welcome people into their space.
The Gallery, like many organisations and businesses, had to quickly re-orientate their business model - their way of doing things - to the new reality. They were able to move their shop online, and deliver talks and seminars over zoom. Where they fell short was in their artists' support.
Time was short. The Gallery needed to build consensus around a set of actions and best options to re-orientate the Gallery. The Gallery’s team is small, overworked, and super absorbed in their work. Finding time in schedules to address a problem before the impact of COVID was fully felt was challenging. They were also up against a tight funding application deadline - €20,000 was available from the Arts Council to fund special projects - the deadline was imminent.
A Decision Jam is a perfect tool for gathering information for a funding application:
The Gallery applied the GetReal’s Decision Jam process to help the team figure what should be in their funding application. A decision Jam is a quick way to work through a complex problem to figure out what needs to be done to get it solved. The Decision JAM question we addressed during the sprint was ‘What would you do with €20,000 if you could never host another person in the Gallery at an exhibition, in the bookshop, in the darkroom?'
We met virtually on a Zoom and over 60 minutes gathered ideas, made everyone heard, created solutions and decided next steps. Everyone in the team was able to articulate their ideas. We created, evaluated and filtered ideas. We then as a team decided which ideas to include in the funding application. We tapped the team’s expertise and built consensus.
The team quickly coalesced around artists needs - how the Gallery could continue to support artists growth during COVID-19. During the Decision Jam we came up with and agreed a set of actions and key results
We decided that we would apply for funding to help us re-orientate so that we could:
- Run an exhibition that can live physically in the Gallery, outside in the city, and in online distributed channels;
- Replicate for the artist, the rich experience of developing a physical show in a virtual context;
- Continue to innovate how the Gallery employ technology to deliver on their mission.
The Zoom session was recorded. The Decision JAM knowledge was captured on a virtual whiteboard. We were able to use this information to quickly complete the funding application in just a couple of hours. The whole process took 10 man hours to complete.
A decision Jam is a quick way to work through a complex problem to figure out what needs to be done - you may not solve the actual problem during the Jam - but you’ll work through the problem enough to understand the actions that need to be undertaken to get it solved.
The Arts Council awarded the Gallery of Photography €20,000 in funding.