Social Contract Archaeology: a business case for the future

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In July 2012, DigVentures pioneered an entirely new procurement model for archaeology, hosting Europe’s first crowdfunded and crowdsourced excavation at the internationally significant Bronze Age site at Flag Fen (www.digventures.com). Crowdfunding has been most successful in creative industries such as film, music and drama, where supporters can launch projects such as films, records, exhibitions and runway shows through buying perks and rewards (such as invitations to premieres, performances, or limited edition artwork) with creative and social entrepreneurs retaining commercial and artistic ownership of their project. Ideas that may not fit the pattern required by conventional financiers therefore achieve traction in the marketplace, supported by what has been called the ‘wisdom of crowds.’ This new approach to funding (using social networks in the context of e-commerce transactions) was combined with crowdsourcing, inviting the public to join the excavation team – either via a robust digital platform from the comfort of their armchairs (in real time), or with their sleeves rolled up on the site itself. The DigVentures approach can best be described as ‘Social Contract Archaeology’ – a value-led archaeology situated within the emerging trend for social commerce, entering into a social contract with as wide a constituency of funders and stakeholders as possible. Assessing the success of this new business model in terms of audience reach and engagement, this paper will present key metrics for breadth, depth and diversity of on and off-line participation, evaluating our contribution to the public good.

Text of Social Contract Archaeology: a business case for the future

  • 1. Social Contract Archaeology: a business case for the future18th Annual Meeting of the EAA Helsinki Finland

2. Social Contract Archaeology Crisis and Opportunity Solution Crowdfunding/Crowdsourcing What is DigVentures and Flag Fen Lives Spectrum of Engagement Does it work? Value-led Archaeology Connected, Adaptive and Intelligent: A business case for the future 3. Crisis The Northants Effect looms large on the horizon, with anunofficial 11% cut in frontline local authority archaeologyposts creating black holes in service provision. Withdrawal of grant-in-aid for the Council for BritishArchaeology and English Heritage may yet see thoseorganisations change beyond recognition. The tripling of university fees for entry-level archaeologyqualifications, for which there is a substantially decreasingmarket. 4. Opportunity Membership of the National Trust, English Heritage, and theCouncil for British Archaeology is growing(Thomas 2010) The CM&S Select committee identified that heritage tourismcontributes 20.6 billion to the UK economy(HLF 2010) ...in some cases it may be possible to subsidise the publicgood attributes of a site through exploiting certain of its othermore marketable assets. (Garrod and Willis 2002) 5. What is Crowdfunding? Over 450 Crowdfunding Platforms Equity Based Crowdfunding Lending-based Crowdfunding Reward-based Crowdfunding Donation-based Crowdfunding 6. What is Crowdsourcing?Crowdsourcing is a when a company takesa job that was once performed by employeesand outsource it in the form of an open callto a large undefined group of peoplegenerally using the internet. Jeff Howe, May 2006 7. DigVenturesDigVentures Ltd is committed to providingseed capital and building audiences forarchaeology projects worldwideOur response to deepening economic issues and thedownward funding spiral of archaeology within theuniversity context is to do things differently: sourcingprivate money to create cost-neutral public researcharchaeologyWe believe current community archaeology andengagement models do not provide a sustainable solution,and devalue archaeological expertise 8. Flag Fen Lives Worked with English Heritage todevelop a MoRPHE compliantproject design for archaeologicalevaluation We launched our campaign on 29thFebruary 2012, raising over 27k forthe dig in 90 days Flag Fen Lives now stands asEuropes first-ever crowdfunded andcrowdsourced archaeologicalexcavation 9. Flag Fen LivesFlag Fen is internationally acknowledged as one of the mostimportant Bronze Age sites in the world. The archaeology is injeopardy due to extensive drainage and development of thesurrounding areaThe visitor attraction is failing: visitor numbers at the Flag FenArchaeology Park have sharply decreased since the end of liveexcavation in the early 2000s from a peak of over 20,000 tounder 14,000 in 2008 10. Flag Fen Lives Project Aims The overarching aim of the project is to contribute to the futuremanagement and presentation of the Flag Fen Scheduled AncientMonument, ensuring that appropriate management information isavailable to decision makers and that this is communicated aseffectively as possible to the community. (English Heritage SHAPEsub-programme number 11111.130) The Flag Fen Lives project had a three-fold mission: satisfy the archaeological imperative, provide field skills training, And reinvigorate the visitor experience 11. Building our Venturer communityAspiration: a research excavation on aninternationally important siteEngagement: Promoted the idea of team: Wewill be building a community with archaeology atits heart: our funding Venturers will be a part ofthe project from start to finishValue: Offering value for money was a keyaspect to our success, and an area that otherheritage-based crowdfunding projects have failedto capture Reach: Creating a robust online platformenabling us to offer exclusive daily content and aforum 12. The Spectrum of Engagement 13. Broadcast interviews BBC Radio 4 Today programme, Fri 13 Aug Francis Pryor, Brendon Wilkins (DV) 4.5mins BBC Radio Cambs Paul Stainton Show, Mon 30 July DV team (Lisa, Brendon, Raksha) promoting FFL and talks Peterborough Community Radio, Mon 30 July Interview with Sarah S BBC Radio Cambs Jane Smith (cross-county), Sat 28 July General + focus on Summer School BBC News - Look East, Thurs 26 July ITV News - About Anglia, Tuesday 24 July BBC Radio Cambs Paul Stainton x 4 (see below) 1. Fri 20 July: Interview with Francis Pryor 2. Fri 13 July: Interview with Sarah S and Lisa (DV) 3. Wed 16 May: Interview with Raksha Dave (DV) 4. Tue 24 April: Interview with Sarah S and Lisa (DV) 14. Print/web coverage BBC News website feature (Science & Envt) Evening Telegraph The Guide (cover) The Moment Magazine (feature and podcast) 4 x ET news articles (web) ET feature (web) 15. Amplified viaSocial media 16. One-Click EngagementSource: Kezia Evans, UCL. MA in Public Archaeology, thesis in process. 17. The Spectrum of Engagement 18. On-site VisitorsResulted in a 24% increase on Flag Fen visitors numbers 19. On-site Visitors Where did visitors come from?In addition to two from Netherlands, 1 France, 2 South Africa, 4 USA 20. New Audience Reach 12% of visitors completed survey 21. On-site Visitor EngagementThe breadth of engagement for on-site visitors 22. Venturer EngagementThe depth of engagement: what did you learn?Source: Kezia Evans, UCL. MA in Public Archaeology, thesis in process. 23. Venturer Geographic Reach (UK) 24. Digital Venturer Geographic Reach 25. Fit for Purpose: Value-led Archaeology Total Economic Value: defined as acombination of use value (public participationthrough outreach, open days and non-specialist publication); option value(conservation, consolidation and preservationof archaeology in situ for use by futuregenerations); and existence value (publishedand accessible results and finds for use byresearchers). 26. Value-led Archaeology 27. Current ProcurementModels 28. Triple Bottom Line 29. Social Contract ArchaeologyA value-led archaeology situated within theemerging trend for social commerce, enteringinto a social contract with an unlimitedconstituency of funders and stakeholders.