Nearly three years ago now, our friend Rohan Gunatillake wrote a blog post around how Service Design is the next big thing in cultural innovation.  It’s a poignant and still very relevant article today given what we’re working on now.

Andy and Alex have been developing Know How, a programme designed to take organisations in the East Midland’s arts, cultural and heritage sector on a journey placing design and digital thinking at the heart of what they do.

The programme is in partnership with Broadway, based in Nottingham and is part of their larger Near Now programme.

I asked Alex to give us the low down on what they’ve been up to over the past 4 months.

We have developed a supportive and structured process to be delivered over a six month period.  We aim to encourage organisations to conceive new ideas enabled by digital tech, assisting in bringing them to life and exploring their potential, before refining the ideas through prototyping.

This project is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund 2007 to 2013 and supported using public funding by Arts Council England, with additional support contributed by regional universities.


There are six stages to Know How: Think, Develop, Play, Test, Build and Launch.  There will be two cohorts; the first programme began in June 2014 consisting of 16 organisations, and the second is due to begin in January 2015. Eight organisations will advance to the Build stage, where they will pitch their concept to the People’s Panel to access grants of up to £5000 to progress their project further.

Over two days in June, the organisations came together to discuss and discover innovative ways to incorporate digital tech within their organisations. In order to do this, participants were asked to consider the challenges faced by the sector, their ambitions and also their target audience. We provided tools for idea generation, Gillian Easson gave a fantastic keynote presentation and the event culminated in a wide array of fascinating concepts to be developed further during July/August.

With the next module Play on our doorstep, we have been busy arranging more tools and techniques to help our organisations to develop their concepts further and place them in a strong position to apply for the Build process. What’s more exciting is the variety of technology that will be available for them to get their hands on; from littleBits to a GoPano, from Makey Makey to Sugru… We’re hoping to have a range of tech experts on hand to give guidance, and there will be another inspirational keynote presentation, this time from Ben Templeton.  We’re excited through playing with various elements of tech to see our cohort get their heads in the digital thinking space and transfer some of this informal learning into their own projects.


We have been blown away by the enthusiasm and open-mindedness of the participants and are extremely excited for the PLAY/TEST event, let alone the potential future of a number of these projects and in-house developments. We’ll keep you posted, but one thing is for sure – over the next year, the East Midlands arts, cultural and heritage sector is one to watch.

Keep your eyes on our project site where we’ll be uploading content, talks and our organisation’s progress over the next 3 months.