We’re Dig It! 2017 and we work in partnership all the time. In fact, partnership is essential to our success. However, it can be challenging and scary at times. In that spirit, we’re sharing four reasons why you should definitely NOT work with external partners:
1. They think it’s all fun and games
When we first heard about a “virtual Lego” game called Minecraft, it sounded like the perfect way to engage young people on their terms – until we realised that we had no idea how to use it. The game was already wildly popular, but it hadn’t quite hit the heritage sector yet. We wanted to get ahead of the craze, so we reached out to a few contacts and were introduced to Stephen Reid from ImmersiveMinds, who immediately sold us on the idea of live digs and 1:1 scale builds. Skip ahead to today and ImmersiveMinds has become a regular feature in the heritage sector, while our Crafting the Past project is attracting major press attention, featuring at massing gaming festivals and engaging with hundreds of young people across Scotland (and the world).
Topographically accurate Minecraft recreation of Penicuik House as part of Crafting the Past (Credit: ImmersiveMind)
2. They like to show off
We knew that we needed our project to stand out from the crowd before it launched, but we didn’t have the necessary branding skills to make that happen. After identifying this gap, we went along to a networking event where we met Jump Marketing. We chatted about our respective visions over a drink (or two) and the rest is history. Our bright pink brand, website and marketing materials are all thanks to their team (who now work on several heritage projects) and our mutual trust and different expertise means that we have continued to team up for projects and funding bids.
Jump Marketing‘s Dig It! 2015 website has promoted hundreds of events across Scotland
3. They run with a different crowd
Our Your Future in the Past programme brought careers events across Scotland, often with an emphasis on “unexpected” heritage careers. We knew that one of the biggest challenges would be getting young people through the doors if they already thought that “history isn’t for me”. Luckily, we were approached by North Ayrshire Council about a different event and the idea for the Irvine fair was developed from there. Working together with the Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce and North Ayrshire Council meant that we could tackle their biggest challenges, while they could tackle ours. Thanks to their school contacts, the Irvine fair was one of the most popular events in the entire Your Future in the Past programme.
4. They’ll tell you tall tales
Capacity is always tricky when you have a small team, especially when it comes to events. As the Scottish Storytelling Centre hosts the fantastic International Scottish Storytelling Festival each year, we knew that we could learn a thing or two. When they approached us about a partnership, we jumped at the opportunity to create a joint campaign. By combining staff resources for Dig Where You Stand, we were able to co-host events, create themed learning materials and promote both programmes. Keep your eyes peeled for even more archaeology-storytelling crossovers next year!
We’ve worked strategically by teaming up with organisations who share our aims or target audiences, but we’ve also been flexible and open to opportunities as they pop up. The resulting partnerships have required investment, upkeep and communication, but in return, they’ve allowed us to try new things, access different skill sets, reach a wider audience and double our resources.
With Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology (HHA2017) just around the corner, now is the perfect time to ignore our advice, embrace these valuable partnerships and see what happens. We’ll be working with Museums Galleries Scotland on next year’s Festival of Museums by helping anyone who wants to run events with an archaeology flair and spreading the HHA2107 celebrations. If you have any questions or want to chat about teaming up for Festival of Museums, HHA2017 or anything else, please don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.