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Let’s Get Real Conference 2019 Reviewed

Last Wednesday, I attended the Let’s Get Real Conference, organised by Culture24. Talks focused on connecting digital practice with social purpose. In short, it was an amazing experience, so allow me to tell you what I liked the most!

Let's Get Real Conference by Culture24 at Wellcome Collection
Photo by Melisa Palferro
Pre-conference mood

In the beginning, I was a bit nervous to attend this conference because I thought I’d be like a fish out of water. You see, I’m a linguist and even though I have studied Arts History, internally I felt this wasn’t a place for me.

Above all, I identify as a linguist. So, I have always attended translation and linguistics conferences, where I feel at home.

However, this year I decided to break that cycle! Mainly, because I’ve come to realise how important it is for translators to ‘hang out’ with the professionals they work with.

I believe a good translator has to specialise in one field. My field is museums. Therefore, I need to be part of this community, participate in the conversation and have a better understanding of the needs and worries of museum professionals.


Let’s Get Real Conference — The highlights

This year, Let’s Get Real Conference focused on connecting digital practice with social purpose. Certainly, a big concern in this digital age is: where do museums and cultural institutions stand?

While I was talking to different professionals, they all seemed to know they needed to incorporate and improve their digital practice. But they didn’t always know where to start.

Let’s Get Real Conference offered a range of talks aimed at challenging, reframing, analysing, inspiring and providing specific tools for action.

Each talk was fascinating and different. Similarly, speakers had different backgrounds, mainly, museums, universities, and private companies.

Here are the highlights (for me)!


CHALLENGE: Matt Adams, from Blast Theory

Matt Adams presented an artistic project he delivered, as part of Blast Theory, in 2017. The project allowed them to successfully use digital with a clear social purpose.

Titled 2097: We Made Ourselves Over, the project was “a science fiction project that took audiences on a journey into an imagined future.” Blast Theory worked in partnership with different communities from Hull (UK) and Aarhus (Denmark) to develop a speculative vision of the world in 2097.

They had some interesting objectives. For instance:

  • activating people’s imagination about their possible future
  • listening to resident’s ideas, i.e. giving people a voice
  • providing residents with new skills and visibility
  • putting their city on the big screen
  • taking the project to marginalised areas
  • providing a moment for feeling

The message was clear: to create change you need to break it down to individuals. In other words, with a big digital project like this, the only way to actually change people’s lives is to link it to their personal experience!


REFRAME: Tony Bhajam, from Doink

Tony Bhajam’s talk really impressed me. I don’t think there was a single person in the room who didn’t love the ideas and projects he presented.

Tony Bhajam, from Doink, showed different ways in which his company has successfully ‘humanised data.’ In other words, they have managed to make data entertaining and engaging. Yes, DATA!

“Statistics are confusing;” “Surveys interrupt all the fun,” were some of his ideas. We couldn’t help but agree with him!

Let’s Get Real about this: When have you ever wanted to stop having fun in an exhibition to reply to a bunch of questions about why you are having fun (which would effectively kill all the fun)?

Well, take a look at these kids QUEUING to evaluate their experience and you might get an idea of what he was talking about!


INSPIRE: Katrina Sluis, from The Photographer’s Gallery

The Photographer’s Gallery presented a project we all loved and are now dying to implement: a feminist Wikipedia edit-a-thon! YES!

The gallery, in collaboration with Art+Feminism, hosted a 3/4-hour session where people edited Wikipedia entries, focusing specifically on women photographers.

Why is this necessary? Take a look?


ACT: Panel discussion for navigating the next steps and final Q&A

The final reflection panel was really inspiring and dealt with some deep topics. For example, the place museums have in the world, the return of investment they provide to society, political neutrality and underlying values.

These are some insights:

There was so much more, but I couldn’t possibly reproduce it all. Every talk was different and eye-opening in its own way.

The morning sessions were more abstract and focused on analysing and defining ideas. On the other hand, the afternoon sessions included practical tips and real-life examples on how to apply these ideas on the daily practice.


Summary of my experience

All in all, this was a wonderful experience. Topics were current, and you could see they were actual concerns for the professionals in the room.

Moreover, the Wellcome Collection as a venue was fantastic, and the organisation of the event flawless.

In short, I am extremely glad I attended. I learned a lot and, most importantly, met really nice people!

If you were there, please connect. Add me to LinkedIn, follow me on Twitter or Instagram, so we can keep in touch.

As I said before, I was scared. However, this experience has changed my entire perception.

So, future conferences, here I come! ?


2 comments on “Let’s Get Real Conference 2019 Reviewed”

  1. Hi Melisa, I’m so pleased that you enjoyed the day so much, and that you found it so valuable! What a lovely write-up! The museum world is full of really friendly and helpful people, so I’m glad that you felt welcomed and included. Hope our paths cross again in future, perhaps at our conference next year 🙂

    1. Hi Rosie, thank you for your comment! I do too hope we’ll cross paths away, and I’m certainly planning to attend next year if life doesn’t get in the way. So I hope I’ll see you there! It was a lovely experience that has really given me that little push I needed to attend other conferences as well. Thank you!

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