Barnsley Museums’ Digital Engagement Curator wins Emerging Digital Leader category

Barnsley Museums are delighted to announce their Digital Engagement Curator, Michael Hardy, has been recognised at the first ever Digital Culture Awards, run by Arts Council England’s Digital Culture Network in the Emerging Digital Leader category.

By embedding digital processes across the Barnsley Museums team, experimenting with playful content and tone of voice, fitting content into people’s daily routines and listening to what the audience are saying and responding to, Barnsley Museums’ content has reached nearly 17million people over the past 18 months.

Michael’s experiments with content and tone have marked a shift in the way the Museums use their social channels, with a more conversational output ensuring more people get involved in sharing and interacting.

‘I was so encouraged by the truly inspiring, informative and creative examples of digital innovation and engagement across the category as a whole. I was particularly struck by the care and attention brought to engaging with audiences. All entrants acknowledged the hugely challenging circumstances of our recent past - lockdowns, inequalities and social inclusion - and gave deep consideration to the limitations of participant time. They worked hard to combine ease of access with good quality provision that would be attractive, inspiring and stimulating thus making a positive contribution to creative wellbeing. Michael stood out for the breadth of activities he delivered and the admirable depth of engagement he achieved locally, nationally and internationally.’ Hilary Carty CCMI, Emerging Digital Leader Judge

The Digital Culture Awards recognise the best digital content, distribution and strategies in the arts, and received more than 400 entries from 279 arts organisations from all disciplines, from the world of creative arts, culture, opera, music, theatre and dance. The winners have each shown themselves to be trailblazers in the digital space, creating and sharing content which engages new audiences, increases organisational revenue, uses data to improve audience insights, or showcasing best practice in digital leadership.

'The last few years have been challenging, and due to these challenges posed by the pandemic we’ve all had to adapt the way we work, learn and socialise, including how we consume culture. We received hundreds of submissions and thousands of votes in this year’s Digital Culture Awards, demonstrating the need to acknowledge and celebrate the creativity of our sector. Arts and cultural organisations across the country have innovated how they connect and engage audiences in-person and online, whilst also embracing digital to adapt their ways of working and find new ways of generating income. We were delighted to see the sheer number of brilliant projects submitted, showing the incredible diversity of talent across the country’s cultural organisations, especially when so many organisations threw themselves into creating art, content and communities using digital technology they had never considered before the pandemic struck. The breadth, depth and number of projects submitted show how creativity and digital innovation so beautifully marry.' Tina Hill, Senior Manager, Digital Culture Network

Cllr Tim Cheetham, Cabinet Spokesperson for Place (Regeneration and Culture) said: “The digital work of Barnsley Museums has been outstanding throughout the pandemic, their primary aim has always been to stay connected to people and support them when they were needed most.  We are delighted that Michael has been recognised in this way and would like to thank him and the rest of the team for all their hard work during extremely challenging times. Barnsley Museums have great digital ambitions for the future with lots of exciting plans for the months and years ahead.”

To see a full list of winners in all categories, visit the DCN website: