Arts organisations frequently fail to exploit possible synergies between them. Often they see themselves as competitors when in fact they have more in common than they think. What is more, visitors and audience members don't usually buy into such rivalries. Brand loyalty is not really an issue in the arts. The same people who visit one gallery or exhibition, will just as easily visit another "competitor" museum a few weeks later.
So it is good to see a host of major British museums, galleries and arts companies combining their resources to create a new online shop called Culture Label. Museum online shops have up to now been pretty basic when compared to other major online shopping options. Online selling via a state-of-the-art website can be expensive and resource intensive. But museums and galleries are becoming ever more dependent on their retail departments for cash as funds from the public purse become scarce. So an initiative like Culture Label may be an important step in the direction of greater profits and better service for shoppers.
The site is still in the Beta testing phase, but it allows shoppers to buy products from the Tate, The British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Barbican, Shakespeare's Globe and many more. The site seems well organised and user-friendly and the range of products on sale reaches from homewares and kids clothing through to original artworks. The Director, Peter Tullin, says that the "time for cultural shopping has arrived". Maybe the arts industry is about to discover strength in numbers is better than a lone-wolf existence.
For more info' check out this YouTube video.
© Brian Long 2009