Let’s Get Real 10 Years On: How to evaluate online success

Let’s Get Real: 10 Years ran between February and September 2021 with a fantastic cohort of 46 diverse organisations taking part. If you would like to be kept up to date with future Let’s Get Real programmes please sign up to receive our email newsletter.

Let's Get Real 10 years on: how to evaluate online success, revised format for 2021

What was the focus of Let’s Get Real 10 Years On and why?

Since January 2020 the cultural sector has been thrown in at the digital deep end. Organisations reacted, jumped or were forced to shift to digital working at a speed of change that would have been unthinkable before.  

Across the sector we have seen the republishing and repackaging of existing digital content, the creation of some new content and a shift to putting events and services online. In many ways, 2020 has been a kind of renaissance of digital, with cultural organisations having to step up, shift their thinking and find digital ways to maintain a relevant offer to their audiences.

There are high profile examples of some online content (in particular from larger museums and performing arts organisations) that have attracted big audiences. However some content, as before Covid, has lacked targeted, user-driven planning and is having little impact with audiences. The question now is how to move from reactive mode to more strategic digital planning, resourcing and activity? 

Let’s Get Real 10 Years On is a collaborative action research programme that will bring together 46 organisations to explore the challenges of evaluating online success in the current climate. Using our long-established Let’s Get Real (LGR) methodology, we will support the cohort to understand the issues more deeply and experiment with solutions, finding ways to effect and embed positive organisational change.

How to evaluate online success was the theme of our first Let’s Get Real back in 2010 and that first report has been downloaded nearly 24,000 times in the ten years since, so we know that this is still a big question that the sector has struggled to answer for a long time. Coming back to this theme in our new Covid world feels like perfect timing for a sector that is working hard to survive and thrive. 

Over the six months of the project we will cover fundamental issues such as: what success means to you; how to set up and use analytics tools; how to interpret that data and act on it; how to ensure digital activities map to your core values and how to work in an integrated way across your organisation. In addition, we will consider more nuanced issues such as how we understand success beyond the numbers and the role of values-led digital practice.   

Participants will be guided by Culture24’s experienced leadership team – Jane Finnis and Anra Kennedy, working in partnership with expert digital analyst and user researcher Chris Unitt. Chris will be supporting our content design, webinar programme and the participants’ self-directed learning: this article explains why he feels the LGR project is so important for the cultural sector now.

A range of guest speakers from within and beyond the cultural sector will contribute their expertise and of course the cohort will have each other – a supportive, engaged community of peers with a shared sense of purpose.

Structure of the programme

Culture24 has reimagined this Let’s Get Real in response to the pandemic, reflecting the need for online delivery but also responding to the reality of the financial pressures the sector is facing. 

The Let’s Get Real methodology is based on:

  • Learning from others – LGR brings in a variety of voices and perspectives from within and beyond the cultural sector, to inform, support, guide and reflect on the challenges at hand
  • Learning by doing – LGR encourages practical action research. We support participants to experiment in the context of their everyday work, testing out hunches developed through our collaborative discussions. This is a different type of R&D. It is innovation from the inside, using what they already have and trying to make more of it
  • Learning together – LGR creates a community of supportive peers with a shared sense of purpose. We actively seek out ways to foster and promote collaborative exchange, combining and analysing people’s wealth of individual experiences, expertise and knowledge, turning them into invaluable shared sources of understanding for their peers across the arts and heritage sector.

We’ve reshaped the programme to make the most of the advantages that online working can offer. Our usual four full-day, in-person workshops will switch to a series of whole-group webinars to share theory and content, combined with participatory online activities, reflections and discussions in groups of varying sizes and make-up; regular expert-led ‘surgeries’; individual mentoring and a range of informal social opportunities. 

Another big change is to the number of organisations – going from approx. 20 in previous, in-person cohorts to up to 60 this time round. With two people taking part from each organisation that gives us the potential for a rich and rewarding community of practice. Participants will be invited to join our online community network which will hold the programme’s resources, conversations and peer support. We will also use participatory digital tools to capture collaborative working and group feedback.

What did it cost?

The cost of participation has been dramatically reduced from previous years with prices starting at £350 for small organisations and going up to a maximum of £750 for large national organisations. There are also five subsidised places on offer at £150 each.  

Let’s Get Real 10 Years On is based on a collaborative funding model where each participating organisation contributes towards the overall cost of the project. This model represents significant value for money for each participating organisation due to the high cost of accessing expert advice, the huge value derived from shared learning across the project cohort and the practical approaches to embedding long term organisational change.  

The cost is based on a sliding scale, according to size as follows:

Type of organisation Cost for 2 people (excl VAT)
National or Major Regional Museums (as defined as members of NMDC), or Large organisations – total income from all sources, including grants, in the last reported financial year is greater than £1 Million £750
Medium organisations – total income from all sources, including grants, in the last reported financial year of between £250,000 and £1 Million £550
One small organisation – total income from all sources, including grants, in the last reported financial year of under £250,000 £350
Two small organisations – each with a total income from all sources, including grants, in the last reported financial year of under £250,000.  These ‘shared’ applications can be from 2 small organisations who are already working together and will cover the fee of £350 between them. £350
Five subsidised places – for organisations who exist to champion diversity and accessibility or who have a total income from all sources, including grants, in the last reported financial year of under £50,000. These five places are by application.  £150

Using this sliding scale for participants is the fairest way to encourage a cross-section of participating organisations, including smaller ones. We feel it’s important that this project is accessible to these organisations. 

Please note that we are open to participants paying for their place either before the end of the financial year (31 March) or after the start of the next financial year (from 1 April), and that payments can also be split across both years.

Discount for previous participants: We are offering a 10% discount to any of the organisations who took part in either the first Let’s Get Real or the most recent LGR7.

What do you get for your money?

This is a seven month project which runs from 22 February to w/c 13 September 2021. Two members of staff from each organisation (or per shared application) will have the chance to participate in the following sessions:

  • 10 webinars  – live or on catch-up, for participants and their wider teams beginning w/c 22 February. 
  • 5 group activity and discussion workshops  starting w/c 1 March. 
  • 4 trouble shooting sessions on key themes 
  • 4 support sessions (either in pairs or groups of 4) – to help as you test out practical, small-scale experiments in your existing digital channels
  • Regular social ‘drop-in’ sessions
  • Membership of our Let’s Get Real online community platform that underpins all the elements and keeps everything connected
  • Opportunity for additional staff to access and watch selected webinars

Whilst we will encourage people to attend webinars live, we’ll share recordings for catch-up too. We’ll also offer choices of dates and times for support and social sessions, so you can join when it suits you.  

Not included in the cost is:

  • The cost of your staff time
  • Any internal or external costs needed to support your own research experiments

What is the commitment for me and my organisation?

  • Two nominated participants to attend all webinars, workshops and relevant support sessions. We appreciate that for some smaller organisations this might be difficult and would encourage you to consider a shared place, where you join with a partner organisation, splitting the cost and sending one person each.
  • Commitment to a minimum of 12 days staff time across the project – approximately 2 days per month – to run your experiments in your setting, (Jan to June) plus attendance at the online sessions outlined above. 
  • Support of your leadership to participate fully in the project, embed any appropriate learning back into the organisation and share learning more widely with the sector
  • Commitment to support, encourage and provide advice to fellow peers within the project
  • Commitment to be open and honest and work experimentally and collaboratively both as part of the project cohort and also within your organisation

What is Culture24’s role?

  • Programme and content design
  • Hosting of the online sessions (webinars, workshops, support and troubleshooting session) and access to all recorded presentations (for the duration of the project)
  • Coordination of the group’s shared communication channel through Mighty Networks 
  • Coordination of all external experts at workshops to present their thinking, provide strategic advice and facilitate sessions as appropriate
  • Analysis and sharing of insights and data from the research
  • The writing and production of a final project report for publication and advocacy

Who is Let’s Get Real 10 Years On for?

This programme is for museums, galleries, heritage and arts organisations that want to explore and analyse their digital engagement more effectively; to better understand the impact of their digital activity and to develop a more strategic approach to their digital content and services. 

We’re keen to gather a diverse mix of roles and subject focus within this cohort – that mix of perspectives and priorities will make the community of practice useful and relevant. Whether your role is in digital, marketing, learning, community engagement, curation, leadership, enterprise, events, something entirely different or all of the above, this programme is for you.  

The programme will suit people who want the support, inspiration and motivation to tackle these issues as part of a collaborative community of practice. We’ll work with you to develop your personal practice and will also support you to reflect on ways of applying your learning to embed lasting change within your organisation.   

We have found that taking part in LGR projects works just as well for small, medium or larger organisations as lots can be learned from collaborations across different types of practice, expertise, contexts, leadership and approaches to change and risk. You can also be based outside the UK, but your project participants would need to be able to attend all the online sessions that will take place within UK GMT working hours.  

You do not have to have participated in any of our previous projects to take part in, or benefit from this programme – we welcome LGR first-timers!

Let’s Get Real history

There have been eight LGR projects to date, each exploring a different question around digital change for arts and heritage organisations. You can download the reports from previous projects.

What will my organisation gain by participating?

  • A deeper understanding of what online success means for your organisation strategically, in relation to mission and purpose and practically, looking at ways of tracking, measuring and analysing online engagement and then using those insights to guide digital decisions  
  • Tactics for effecting and embedding positive organisational change – participants will be supported to reflect on their current practice, design small-scale experiments to develop their learning and explore practical opportunities to embed insights and new ways of working back into the organisation
  • A CPD opportunity to build the personal confidence, understanding and digital literacy of the two participating individuals. They will have the opportunity to collaborate with and learn from a supportive, engaged community of peers with a shared sense of purpose and to develop the confidence, language and digital literacies necessary to become agents for change within their own organisations 
  • The opportunity for other staff members to have access to and view presentations from the programme in order to share the learning more widely within teams 
  • The opportunity to develop strategic influence within the wider arts and heritage sector. Your organisation’s experience on the project will inform collaborative research findings that will be used to inform best practice across the sector. Culture24 has established trusted relationships with a broad range of cultural stakeholders, both in the UK and internationally. We will publish the project’s key findings in a final report to be shared and discussed with funders, policymakers, strategic sector bodies and academia.

Participating organisations

Aberdeen Archives, Gallery & Museums

Amgueddfa Cymru / National Museum Wales

Barnsley Museums

Birmingham Museums Trust



Bristol Museums

Chester Zoo

Chippenham Museum

CofGar – Carmarthenshire Museums

Creative Bexley

Como No



GEM, Group for Education in Museums

Historic England

Impressions Gallery

Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust

Kids in Museums

Kirklees Libraries

Leeds University Library Galleries and Special Collections

Markenfield Hall

Marlborough Productions

Migration Museum Project

Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture

Museum of London

National Gallery of Ireland

National Museum of Scotland

National Museums Northern Ireland

National Portrait Gallery

North Hertfordshire Museum

Oriel Môn

Photo Fringe

Photo Voice

Ripon Museum Trust

Scarborough Museums Trust

St Albans Museums

Stevenage Museum

The Autism Museum

The Box, Plymouth

The Devil’s Porridge Museum

The Francis Crick Institute

The Hunterian, University of Glasgow

Tower Bridge (City of London Corporation)

Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

University of Cambridge Museums

University of Edinburgh Library


If you have any questions, please contact Jane Finnis on jane@culture24.org.uk.