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Digital Culture Award Winner Case Study: LeftCoast

An ariel view of hundreds of festival goers lining a street. They watch a parade of performers, led by a red van and white vehicle which has been altered to resemble a spaceship.
Photo credit: Garry Cook

LeftCoast delivers highly engaging and socially useful arts and cultural projects in Blackpool, co-producing with artists and neighbourhood communities across the town. Their vision is co-create artworks and projects that elevate local people’s voices, explore, play, and make a difference on both, a personal and a community level.

They were the first ever winners of the Tech Champions’ Choice award in the 2023 Digital Culture Awards.

The winning project

In the past 18 months, LeftCoast have invested in their digital development in many ways, including creating a new Digital Communications and Data Coordinator role. Since being in the role, Abigail has led an overhaul of their social media output, executed the launch of a new brand, and launched a new website to showcase their projects and build their legacy online, whilst also displaying the growth of their digital storytelling skills.

LeftCoast have engaged with the Digital Culture Network across several areas, including search engine optimisation (SEO), their website, and most notably to develop their digital content production skills to support social media strategies.

Get Dancing Film: The Blackpool Way, produced by LeftCoast

LeftCoast’s small team is impressively agile, unified in their decision making, and showed great commitment to embracing digital technology for innovation well before their interactions with the Digital Culture Network team. Their work over the past 18 months in particular, demonstrates the potential for audience reach, engagement and legacy building that comes with embedding digital technology into the heart of your activity or operations.

Abigail and the LeftCoast team have an incredible determination and commitment to developing their digital skills. They saw the long-term benefit of investing in new skills, and by appointing someone to focus on their digital channels, they’ve been able to build upon their strong online presence and lay down foundations for a lasting digital legacy of their incredible creative projects.

Dean Shaw, Digital Content Tech Champion

Let’s hear from Abigail Gillibrand, LeftCoast Digital Communications Coordinator, and Tina Redford, Artistic Director, about their experience of working with the Digital Culture Network and how their digital journey is impacting the company’s future.

What have you learned?

We have learned so much from the Digital Culture Network (DCN) over the past 18 months, that it is difficult to pin down our most important lesson. For instance, we have worked with the team to create and carry out an effective social media audit and in doing so, we have a greater understanding of how to analyse our data and pinpoint meaningful statistics; we have rebranded LeftCoast, taking advice on how to implement this across our digital platforms and how to reflect the same branding across all streams of communication; and when redesigning our website, we accessed support to further recognise the user journey and understand how to improve our search engine optimisation.

These impactful outcomes have together laid down a solid groundwork for our digital communications strategy. But by going through the process of making these changes, there are smaller outcomes that we implement daily, which carry just as much weight as developing the strong foundations to our digital channels.

  • Every post must serve a purpose. Our social media content has become much more strategic since creating an audit with the DCN’s Tech Champions, and there is now meaning and purpose to everything we share, and when we share it – this is informed by our three new content pillars.
  • Get inside the work. To develop our social media assets, and to showcase our work/commissions to the best of our ability, we have learned to get up close and personal with the art. At our SpareParts Festival in 2022, we took the camera inside of the parade, and filmed different perspectives that the audience wouldn’t necessarily be able to access from the crowd. We invite artists to take over our Instagram giving our audience an in depth look inside the creative process. We now show what happens behind the scenes and document our process as well as the final result.
  • Look for the meaningful engagement. Instead of getting hooked on the big numbers and statistics, we’ve learned where to find the meaningful engagement and now understand that some of the smaller numbers actually have the largest impact.
A group of people are walking around a large room with colourful carpet and lots of tables a chairs. Many of them are holding handmade flags on long sticks. A women in the forefront with long brown hair is smiling and taking a photo of the action on her phone.

A LeftCoast Supper Club. Photo credit: Lucy Hunter.

Would you have done anything differently?

We would have considered how to manage capacity and get the whole team on board earlier on in our digital journey. Working with the DCN has been an impactful and ongoing process. When we first connected with the team, we didn’t fully realise the scale of the work that would come out of the past 18 months.

While our digital communications are managed by one person, it quickly became evident that we needed to collectively source information and document our work, which we would then pass on to our Digital Communications Coordinator to share. We have started to develop this process and have made changes within the company to manage our Digital Communications Coordinator’s capacity.

We have created a new Administrator role to help collect data and provide effective support for the team, helping with the smooth organisational delivery of our creative engagement programme, both on the ground and digitally. We now work with four associate photographers to capture events and document our work through high quality photos. In the absence of our photographers, the team are becoming more proactive in taking photos for social media.

Getting the whole team to think digitally is still a work in progress, but we are learning that our online presence and social media channels are our shop front, and so for us to be artistically ambitious, and for people to see our work, we need to continue to produce our digital communications to a high standard and need the whole team on board to support this.

A graphic explaining the design of the LeftCoast logo featuring a row of 4 iterations of the logo. The logos is a line drawing of an equilateral triangle pointing to the left. Inside the triangle 3 more lines connect the sides. From left to right, logo 1 is black and white and LeftCoast is written below it. In logo 2, the section of the triangle pointing left (the ‘front’) is green and ‘Spotlight on people & places’ is written below it. Logo 3 has the ‘middle’ section coloured in red, with ‘Community at the core’ written below it. The final logo has the ‘back’ section coloured in yellow, with the words ‘Lighting up the way’ written below it.

LeftCoast logo breakdown.

How has the work impacted your strategy or ambitions?

Creating a strong foundation for our digital communications has already had an impact on our work. Through using three, clear content pillars when generating social media content, we have been able to reach a wider audience and grow our online following across all of our channels.

Since we appointed our Digital Communications Coordinator 18 months ago, and started to work with the DCN, our Facebook following has increased by 13 per cent, Instagram by 19 per cent, and our LinkedIn following has doubled in size, increasing by 126 per cent. Engagement has grown across all of our platforms too. Facebook has increased by 136 per cent, LinkedIn by 240 per cent, Instagram by 26 per cent, and Twitter by 37 per cent.

We have seen a rise in comments on our posts, people asking questions, and sending us direct messages about our work. One of the smaller, but more meaningful, conversions was when a resident private messaged our Facebook page asking to join our Laundry Club after learning about the project through our social media channels. We responded immediately and on the same day, signed them up to the Laundry Club, gave them an induction on the washing machines, and encouraged them to take part in our artist workshop. They have since been to all of our weekly workshops and have become one our Supper Club attendees.

While looking at the larger statistics and ‘reach’ enables us to see how many people have potentially seen our posts, it’s the smaller numbers and individual cases that often have the biggest impact.

A LeftCoast post on Instagram from April 2023. The image shoss a colourful graphic imagination of an art installation in a public place. The text invites people to attendee a drop-in session with the installation artists so the public can consult on the planning of the work.

A post from the LeftCoast instagram.

What’s next on your digital journey?

LeftCoast is commissioned to work in six areas across Blackpool, so our next step in our digital journey is to take this further and see our online community as the ‘seventh neighbourhood’. With this in mind, we want to continue the development of our digital communications by generating more exclusive digital content for our followers who may not be able to attend our work in person. For example, we have commissioned an upcoming comedy series called Do Not Read that takes an in depth look at local musician Catlow’s teenage diaries. This will be available on our Instagram account as well as featuring on a TikTok account made especially to house the series. We have also commissioned writer Sarah Butler to produce an essay based on our artist residencies which took place from 2018 to 2021. This has been turned into a digital magazine, featuring a creative voice over recorded by our volunteers, which is available on our website.

We want to create meaningful and exciting new content for our online audience; grow our digital following; all while continuing to spread the news of the work we do in and around the town. There’s also talk of us working with a digital artist for our 10-year birthday celebrations – so watch this space!


About the Tech Champions’ Choice category

Tech Champions’ Choice recognises outstanding commitment to digital skills development or implementation of digital technology to drive change within an organisation or by an individual. LeftCoast won this category in the 2023 Digital Culture Awards for their agile approach to utilising digital technology to share their mission.

2023 Digital Culture Award Winners

Meet and be inspired by more of the brilliant Winners in the 2023 Digital Culture Awards. The nine categories celebrate innovation in areas including digital content creation and distribution, online audience engagement, digital income development strategies, data-led decision-making and overall commitment to digital skills development and capacity building.


Want to discuss your digital ambitions?

Maybe the Digital Culture Network can help! Our digital experts can provide free 1-2-1 support to all creative and cultural individuals and organisations who are in receipt of, or eligible for, Arts Council England funding. If you need help with a specific issue or would just like to chat about your digital ambitions, please get in touch.

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