@MarDixon Passionate about culture. Champion for the next generation of Cultural visitors. Defender of Libraries. Digital, Wearable Tech Enthusiast. Sharing knowledge. Troublemaker and/or advocate, depending on what you need.
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    November 28th, 2017mardixonCulture, theatre

    Thank you to Sue Hillman from It’s Your London for writing this Guest Blog for our DrinksThing evening!

    DrinksThing outings are famous for being in top places combining fun networking with a great experience. I’ve been to Twitter HQ and the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy with them to give you an idea of what I mean. So when the chance to meet new folk and go to the opera came up, I jumped at the chance.

    We met in a nearby pub for a chance to chat to fellow DrinksThing folk and find out what interesting people they are with great jobs in the arts, heritage and museum world. Then we swept across to the Royal Opera House, stopping briefly to enjoy its imposing facade.

    Once in our seats in the Amphitheatre section, we settled in to enjoy a brilliant view of the stage, ceiling and orchestra for Lucia di Lammermoor.

    Donizetti’s tragic opera was given extra punch by the innovative staging but I need to make a slight digression here for those who don’t know the story (spoiler alert) and here is how this production plays it. Loosely based on a novel by Sir Walter Scott, Lucia di Lammermoor is the story of a doomed love affair between Lucia and Edgardo who is the sworn enemy of her brother Enrico. The lovers meet in secret but are discovered by Enrico who is outraged. Edgardo has gone to war but not before the lovers have pledged to marry when he returns. We see Lucia experiencing morning sickness so it seems more than letters were exchanged. Enrico arranges a marriage for Lucia to Arturo and persuades her that Edgardo has been unfaithful . Enrico claims he will be ruined and killed if she does not marry and disregards her feelings completely. She marries Arturo just as Edgardo returns and, enraged, he demands his ring back. On her wedding night Lucia kills Arturo, has a miscarriage and descends to madness, imagining she is marrying Edgardo. Edgardo decides he will die in a duel with Enrico but then learns that Lucia is dying, realises what’s happened, and kills himself to join her in heaven. Phew!

    The staging was brilliant in my view but has split opinions within the RoH going public. The opera is played out in a split screen format so we had 2 rooms, or a room and a graveyard, each taking up half of the stage with action happening simultaneously on both halves throughout This took some concentrating along with reading the very useful surtitles so no drifting off allowed For me this added a rich complexity to the storytelling and more visual entertainment but having looked at a thread about this, some found it distracting and unnecessary – go with it I say!

    The star of the show was Lisette Oropesa playing Lucia, her singing was powerful and had amazing range, especially with those really high notes. This is considered one of opera’s most challenging roles for its technical demands and emotional intensity, particularly during the descent into madness She managed to sing at full emotional power even when laying on the bed and her acting was wonderful. She brought life to every scene she was in and even when she was in the side of the split screen where the singing was not happening, I still wanted to follow what she was doing.

    So, thanks to DrinksThing for a memorable evening: drinks, great networking and world class opera in this iconic venue!

    [Edit to Add:  Huge shout out to Royal Opera House for hosting us and making opera fun!]

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    November 19th, 2017mardixonCulture, International, Personal
    At the end of October I ran a poll on twitter (but shared publicly on my Facebook page also asking a simple (so I thought) question:
    The options on the poll (which is limited to 4 on Twitter Polls):
    • Watch Netflix
    • Go to a museum/gallery
    • See a play/opera
    • Other (Please comment)
    Hindsight is beautiful as we all know as I really should have put something about reading in there but felt ‘Other’ would provide a catchall.
    Surprisingly on Twitter alone there were 501 votes.  Mainly felt originally that ‘my followers’ would skew the results to be (obviously) museums but I have to say a) my followers are diverse from museums/galleries, digital/tech, theatre/opera, publishing/book/libraries, and loads of just fun people that like to chat. Same goes for my Facebook (although add in family, friends and school mates who some I don’t even remember but our school was so small I am sure I know them).

    Read the rest of this entry »

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    May 26th, 2017mardixonCulture

    As Hull is City of Culture for UK, Linda Spurdle, Mark Macleod and I decided a few days there was needed. We arrived on Monday and left Thursday and took in so much culture!

    When we first arrived in the train station the first thing you notice is all the signage of how proud they are to be City of Culture. The next thing I noticed was all the volunteers – they were brightly colour uniforms and are so friendly!

    After dropping our bags off, we went down to see Spurn Lightship and walked around the Old Town. There are so many places to eat, drink, explore. Read the rest of this entry »

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    May 8th, 2017mardixonCulture, International

    Recently I was able to attend #SharingisCaring in Hamburg to run a workshop on using social media and being social about it.  I had a great time and challenge people to create social media content from random items I placed on their table.

    The brilliant thing about the timing of the conference is it fell in line with their Long Night in Museums program. I’ve been to a few Late Museums nights (in Europe and Russia) and what I really love about them is they are open ALL.  NIGHT.  Not just until 10 or 11pm – but 3-4-5 am.  In Hamburg the added bonus was the ticket price of €15 includes public transport – how amazing and inclusive is that?  Read the rest of this entry »

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    January 23rd, 2017mardixonCulture, International, Personal

    Re-sharing from MuseumCamp.org: Welcome to Museumcamp – the home of the museums unconference.  With a passion for cake! If you’ve previously attended one of our Museumcamp unconferences you’ll be pleased to know we’re planning more. And if you haven’t – good timing, you will get the chance soon.

    We haven’t had a Museumcamp unconference for a while, although it isn’t for the want of trying. Despite the huge success of the Museumcamps in Birmingham it has been difficult to obtain funding, and unfortunately due to the economic climate we can’t get the same level of sponsorship as in the past. However, funding issues aren’t what I’m blogging about today, rather it is about some thoughts on unconferences that came from a recent Unconference conference and my own experiences at unconferences.

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    January 1st, 2017mardixonCulture, International, Tech

    For the past few months (cough 2016 cough) I’ve been observing the lack of conversations and rise of marketing on ALL social media (I know Twitter gets blame a lot for this but really Facebook and Instagram aren’t much better and Snapchat isn’t really known in the museum world yet and most young people prefer it that way).

    Yes most cultural venues will get involved with hashtags and things like @52Museums but on a daily basis it seems social media has turned into one massive scheduled marketing job and quite frankly it’s doing the sector a dis-justice. If you don’t have the time to spend a few minutes a day being SOCIAL then why should we (the public) find the time to visit? As I said before, I feel the visitors are looking for an emotive experience now (as oppose to academia) and marketing is NOT emotive.

    Yes we understand the burden. You have to tell people what is available so that they visit (and hopefully spend money) but there are ways of marketing in a social tone. The public can smell scheduled updates.

    In fairness, I feel I’m also at fault in this. I’ve been so busy in 2016 that I seem to only post when sharing events for others or hashtags. So I’m putting my money where my mouth is an I’m going to try to chat to at least 3 people a day on social media and respond to as many as I can.

    Sounds simple but like most comms people, traveling, life and hectic schedule sometimes gets in the way but really it shouldn’t be hard for me to reach out and engage.

    Cultural Sector can easily pick three people to say:

    • ‘Did you enjoy your visit?’
    • ‘What was your favourite item/piece?’
    • ‘Thanks for visiting!’

    Even better they can share some of the experience of what is happening in the venue at the time – for example share a few overheard conversations from visitors or staff.

    Stephen Fry once said Twitter is like falling leaves, you catch a few as the come down and admire the beauty of those on the ground. We need to do more of this.

    So who is up for the challenge to #BringSocialBacktoSocialMedia?

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    October 21st, 2016mardixonCulture, International

    ltd-2#LoveTheatreDay is Back November 16th 2016!  
    –>>>SIGN UP FORM IS HERE<<–

    Please know although this is #LoveTheatreDay we’re asking Museums, art galleries, national trust and ALL cultural venues to get involved and share your theatre collection with us! For more information on how it worked last couple of years, see this article.

    If you choose to share a live video broadcast on Periscope, please send an email to asultan@twitter.com to let the editorial team at Periscope know, as they will be looking for content to feature in the app. 

    How #LoveTheatre Day Works

    Throughout the day, we encourage everyone to tweet using #LoveTheatre and say why they love theatres.  This is open for the general public of course but I want people who have been (or are in) am dram productions to also tweet.  I also asked museums and galleries to share their collection that is theatre related and publishers to share books related to theatres. Read the rest of this entry »

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    August 15th, 2016mardixonCulture, International, Tech

    IMG_3696Something I’ve been thinking about lately is stories.  No not intellectual novels (although I do love a good book!) but stories on Snapchat and Instagram.  I’m the first to admit I’m not a strong Snapchat user but Instagram I get.

    However, since Instagram brought out Stories I’ve been trying to get my head around why… I mean yes I know it’s trying to compete with Snapchat but why do platforms feel the need to morph into it’s ‘competition’ instead of just letting it be? [Edit to add this article Snapchat is acquiring mobile search app Vurb for $110M+  Aug 15]

    I took to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram today to ask the simple question:

    What are your thoughts on @instagram Stories vs @Snapchat Stories? Do you use either? Trying to get more of an idea about them. Which do you prefer and why? #socialmedia

    Read the rest of this entry »

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    July 13th, 2016mardixonCulture, Tech

    Hi, my name’s Chris and I am a Pokémon addict.

    pokemon-team-mystic-01-2016If you’ve been out in any major city over the past week or so you will no doubt have noticed gangs of 20-30 year olds huddled round monuments, churches and landmarks, madly swiping at smartphones. No, gang culture isn’t on the rise (not to this extent anyway). It’s the return of a 20-year-old craze, which didn’t really go away properly. Pokémon is back and it’s taking over lives in the form of a new smarphone app from Nintendo and Niantic Labs.

    Pokémon Go is a “real world adventure” which uses GPS and augmented reality to allow users to track down, catch and train their favourite little monsters in a bid to become the best trainer in the land. Although only available in a handful of countries at the moment, fans of the franchise have been using all means possible to obtain a copy of the game.

    I am one of those fans.

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    April 24th, 2016mardixonCulture, International
    A ban on pencils … the V&A now forbids sketching in its temporary exhibitions. Photograph: Oliver Wainwright/Guardian

    Credit Photograph: Oliver Wainwright/Guardian

    Ok, I’m sure everyone at this point saw the sign with the article ”No sketching’: V&A signs betray everything the museum stands for‘ by Oliver Wainwright

    I was with Mark Macleod (from The Infirmary Museum) and Silvia Filippini Fantoni (from the IMA) when Silvia first saw the picture but held off on sharing it until I read the article. I then tweeted it.

    And the storm was started. (See Storify here.)

    First of all, as Oliver probably wanted, it was total click bait worth title but honestly many of the people responding didn’t read the whole article. I soon spent my day almost defending the Victoria and Albert as it turns out, it’s not the WHOLE of V&A being asked not to sketch, but instead a temporary exhibition.

    Read the rest of this entry »

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