Hybrid horizons, are they here?

Hybrid Horizons: Cultivating Creativity and Audience Engagement. Knowledge sharing session Collab4HySustCCI, Nova Iskra, KSS3 May 10
Hybrid horizons, are they here?
May 20, 2024 11:02 am

Article by Petya Koleva  Intercultura Consult, photos by Izabela Milanovic

Yes, hybridity is here ???? and though still needing some human-machine attunement it powered the knowledge sharing session to gather 60+ participants of which two-third engaged online and 1/3 on site at  in Belgrade. This worked both for sharing advances of the piloted  15 innovations as well learning about hybrid audience engagement and impact measurement approaches in meeting their challenge.

The onsite experience dedicated to connecting the SouthEast Europe region enabled conversations in real time and embodied the mission of innovation incubators for CCIs.


Hybrid engagement is probably never going to replace the warmth and non-verbal communication that humans have in physical attendance. However, it is a real solution in the reality of most (micro) cultural and creative organisations, whose small teams could not attend because they often micro-manage urgent tasks on other sites. Only 1 of the 15 CCIs engaged in incubation activities could not present their progress and current challenges. For an event in May, when most SEE art festivals and creative projects are in full swing, this  is a great achievement.

Audience engagement in hybrid mode cannot replace but it can add volumes to real-time experiences.


Particularly, for those participants who cannot attend due to financial, time or other constraints. Hybrid forms are being tested by  5 CCI of the pilots supported by Collab4HySustCCI. Can hybrid audience engagement be useful for offering meaningful live interaction?  cornered this question with a key lesson – target groups often overlap but they mostly occupy different online spaces/channels. So, they should be approached separately to enable effective communication in advance of the event or of the partnerships. These two steps – reaching out + engaging – seem to overlap but they are distinct!

How can CCIs validate, or assess the value of hybrid/tech enhanced experiences?


Some feedback (data) can be part of the impact measurement based on targets of audience reach, e.g. N of people attending or reacting. The critical advice by Ivana Stancic  in feedback to CCIs (prep task) on challenges is to be realistic and prioritise your key target group or create a persona for a small N of key groups. Get to know them better, are they urban dwellers or rural public or you want to mix the groups, do you know their education level, their digital skills and channels?  …  Get 1 or 2 people of this ‘persona’ and always test your assumptions about this group with real people. (You can do the same with fundraising partners or partners to co-create the experience in arts or other sectors). Prior to setting benchmarks on what data/info would be collected, researching the profile of the key group is a key. There is plenty of summarised data online, e.g. European youth and Music or how many families have access to culture in rural Europe. Yet, also always verify if the foreseen method of reaching/engaging/changing something for the audience will work. Get with 1-2 real people from the target group and collect their views. This will save much effort and time and may bring valuable participatory feedback. Collecting less data and info is better than not trying at all.

How can CCI’s foresee the future -long-term impact of their cultural/creative activity on key target groups?  Fundraiser hacks?

This is the hardest question as few organisations can measure impact (positive or negative change) retroactively (2 or 5 years past the event or project). Yet, there is a vision of what is expected that can be pitched against the expectation of the ‘group’ members and, if possible, validated in time. For example, is the online (artist) radio piloted by Community centre Krov  used in ways that were expected, are their target audiences growing or being more active over time, scaling to other Balkan region countries?  Are young musicians collaborating more because they worked with similar age more experienced musicians after the workshops piloted by Ot nota do Cviat? Will there be more   artistic interventions transforming communities ownership of orchards and farms after the pilots of Acey Europe and Rural cultural centre Markovac in the next 2 years? How can a CCI implement innovation and manage its impact on the organisation itself, so it has a more stable connection to its (professional and target audiences ?  Will the   effectively engage the SEE region using a hybrid platform for instance?

This is the fundraiser hack! One can start by applying basic research skills such as setting up 4-5 questions and having an open discussion on them (meeting/interview). One can set up an arrangement for collecting on site traces / feedback from the audience by using a board for messages or other gamified assessment of the experience. Digital surveys can be integrated in the online experience of hybrid offers or integrated in cross-service cultural offer marketing etc. These efforts are what the 15 pilots need to resort to in projecting their own impact measurement of whether the innovation has achieved the expected ????or rather some unforeseen results.

The bottom line is that impact assessment is also part of any funding or grant proposal writing experience and for each organisation the self-assessment of objectives, outcomes, impact foreseen are the norm, also in view of building partnerships and agreements.

Some of the tips Jovana gave us on “how to measure and not give up?” are

  1. Plan the collection of data – set some time to analyse and prepare this
  2. Start simple -what can you collect easily?
  3. Plan time to check the offer/pilot action you want to propose with an audience/target group member?
  4. Learn from your mistakes, if you need to adapt your method do so and measure again

Opening horizons for communities & sustainable partnerships

Six of the Collab4HySystCCI pilots are deeply involved with communities, building sustainable and inclusive activities that engage local people, particularly bridging island -urban compartmentalization of cultural participation or offering access to specific groups. When mentor  presented the participants with a challenge of designing an active promotional campaign for a ‘street festival’ that should engage the audience of diverse neighbourhoods she harvested a handful of clear strategies. Most of them pointed at techniques that are participatory co-creation of the campaign with local communities and some cleverly combining on-site-online communication strategies.

The Belgradeonsite experience took us on:

  • a visit to The Magacin Cultural Centre (multipurpose venue of DIY type for the independent arts scene of Belgrade)
  • a lively learning experience of ‘know your graffiti’ from your street art led by ‘Street art Belgrade’ who have already piloted 3D street art for visually impaired visitors but are not challenging the frame of what else can be done with 3D and virtual modes? via a tour of Dorćol district
  • as well as a visit to the Community Centar Krov (the CCIs in the project which piloted an online radio programme that aims to reach EU audiences).

What is next on the program of Collab4HySustCCI?

Currently the focus is on connecting the 15 innovation pilots and supporting them with targeted conversation among them, and with the mentor experts from across the EU who guide their incubation of activities.  The upcoming event in September 2024 will prioritise mentors’ feedback, exchange on innovation impact measurement and further growth.

Follow the project via all the channels of the partners and the dedicated online space.