This month, David Hevey, NDACA Project Director, on digital story-telling.

NDACA is a unique archive about the Disability Arts Movement: NDACA will employ many original digital features to tell the Disability Arts Movement’s heritage story, such as our plans for touring digital cinema, our plans for pop-up digital prints in pop up galleries, our plans for several series of interlinking documentary digital films, and much more. 

But, like many other organisations, we know that digital’s attractions can lead one into a narcissistic echo chamber, whereby one’s digital tools speak to a closed-group or niche: we want NDACA to reach out to both our natural audiences and those yet to know our heritage story. And we know how to achieve this, ours achieved a third of a million social media users and audiences alone!

So we are prepared and have a strategy on how to get our digital stories out to reach audiences in the several millions. Our launch, carried on over 20 platforms including the Huffington Post, showed Shape and NDACA knows how to get our story-across-platforms out to users.    

But telling stories digitally has levels. Before one even thinks of the story we are intending to tell, what about the mountains of other stuff: the digital ‘back end’, the hosting, the digitising, the testing, the market research, the users digital needs and much more: all that stuff behind the scenes that makes viewing and using our digital tools not only exciting and stimulating, but technically possible and easy to use? What about those horrible periods of ‘pre-production’, ‘beta-testing’ and, particularly, making sure one’s digital assets, files and tools are ‘best practice’? By the time some projects go live, many in the production no longer care what the public think or do – the miracle is that the offer exists and on budget - sod the public and their ‘zero likes’! Story is the last thing on many digital peoples’ minds.

For us, it is about never losing sight of both story, and the key ingredients of story: characters, drive, barriers, their pledges as meaning in their lives, their fights to get recognition, their fights to change the law – our NDACA digital strategy is, in reality, about the drama of how disabled people and their allies broke barriers, helped change the law, and making great culture about that fight. Digital is what we are employing to get that story out, but Story is our driver – the lives people lived and how they lived them. Without story, so much digital is pointless.

So, in the maelstrom to build powerful digital stories across platforms, as NDACA and our production team is doing, we never forget that, for all our best practice, high-end digital capture, we are doing all this digital heritage for one clear purpose – to tell our powerful story to people, and that we create a heritage story that people will care about in the millions. NDACA is all about our story out there through digital to people in the millions – digital is just the conduit, peoples’ heritage story is the real driver.

Image above Jo Bannon, Alba from the Unlimited Project, depositing to NDACA.

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