A Culture of Lates

I believe that Lates can potentially do for arts and heritage venues’ empty spaces what Airbnb’s platform does for homeowners’ spare bedrooms – create a channel by which new people can be attracted in and new income generated.

As the night-time economy contributes £66bn to the UK annually, if we can develop Lates as a distinct strand of museum practice the sector can build capacity and reach untapped demand, creating new and increased income streams and attracting new people into their spaces.

Culture24’s recently published research – A Culture of Lates – backs this up with evidence and data from 9 years of running the Museums at Night festival and aggregating listings data, extensive interviews with practitioners and international visits to Lates hotspots around the globe.

We use the term ‘A Culture of Lates’ to define the type of commitment needed from policymakers and museum programmers. A ‘Culture of Lates’ means. investing in Lates as our industry’s contribution to the UK’s night-time economy. It is a mentality which once adopted would make Lates and extended openings essential components of a location’s diverse night-time cultural offer and help keep museums at the heart of their communities.

The report represents a first attempt at lifting the lid on this strand of museum public programming to give an insight into the contribution Lates make to the NTE, the issues they raise and the value they have in the context of reduced public funding but increasing public demand for more choice in after-work leisure activities.

We have calculated the current UK Lates event market to be worth £9.6m in ticket earnings annually but this is just the start. If the sector implements the report’s recommendations, then it could lead to year-on-year growth in ticket capacity, sales and earnings of 5%, which will add an additional £7.7m to ticket income over a five year period. This increased economic activity will also lead to growth in venues’ food and beverage income and increased earnings for surrounding local businesses and supply chains.

Since the turn of the century, the occasions on which arts & heritage venues are open after ‪5pm‬, alongside their performing arts cousins, have become much more numerous. Over the next fifteen years, if the sector is supported, it could be as normal to walk through the doors of a museum at night as it is to enter a theatre. Crucially, it is the element of theatrical experience that marks out after-hours events in a museum or gallery as something different to a daytime visit. Lates can be seen by audiences as a more social, experiential and affordable alternative or complement to their other after-hours choices.

At a time where the whole arts and heritage sector is urgently looking for new income streams and purposing a commitment to developing new audiences, this is a seriously exciting opportunity that no one can afford to ignore.

So, if you work in an arts or heritage organisation and are interested in how Lates could help you with these challenges then make sure you come to Culture24’s one day conference on the subject ‪on Friday 1st June at the National Gallery‬.

Come and explore the role of after-hours events in the context of the night-time economy, meet and network with museum programmers and event organisers from all over the UK, join the debate, learn how after-hours programming will generate income for your organisation and take home top tips on running a successful and unique event. We’ve got a stellar line-up of speakers already confirmed including:

· Kim Streets, CEO, Museums Sheffield

· Tatiana Getman, Head of special projects & events, The State Tretyakov Gallery, Russia

· Neil Mendoza, entrepreneur and consultant who recently published the DCMS Mendoza Review

· Marilyn Scott, Director of the Lightbox in Woking, whose Thursday Lates attract a new audience of local young professionals

· Ojay McDonald, Chief Executive, Association of Town & City Management

· Tim Ross, Australian comedian, TV presenter and host of 2017’s ‘Man about the BT Tower’ event, who will explain how he uses comedy to create original heritage interpretation events and Instagram to market them

· Abigail Daikin, Events Director at Time Out, the media outlet that supports Lates all over the world

· Sam Bompas, Experience Designer and Jellymonger from Bompas & Parr, who flooded the ss Great Britain with 55,000 litres of luminous jelly for Museums at Night 2012

And loads more!

Tickets are only £109 and can be booked here.

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