Reimaging ‘rural’

‘It is the visible and real world in its primitiveness and strength that is the natural subject of the thinking mind, and is able more easily than anything else to rouse it.’ Arthur Schopenhauer

Many rural areas suffer from depopulation due to the fast migration to urban areas that has taken place very rapidily in western countries over the last decades. Often, people in cities have lost part of their own identity and connection to their culture or traditions. Perhaps this is one of the reasons behind the interest in rural tourism as a way to reconnect with the real world and with oneself.

Of course rural tourism still a niche option; other type of tourism such as sun and beach continues to be the most common summer holiday for most of holidaymakers.

Although the traditional obstacles and limitations of rural areas remain in many people’s mind, such as the isolation, poor infrastructure, difficult access to technology and internent, there are not anymore such a barrier in many rural areas, particularly in Europe.

Nowadays you can enjoy the summer break in a rural spot while reading your favourite newspaper online or checking your emails (the entrepreur life!) without much difficulty. At the same time you can reconnect with nature (hiking, horseriding, cycling, etc.) and with the seasons: from the shining green of the trees in the forest, to bird watching or the yellow wheatfields ready to be harvested; and develop your creative skills (painting and photography and crafts, for example). And, more importantly, you can exchange life experiences with local inhabitants and (re)discover traditions and the wisdom of living a sustainable life.

Rural tourism provides also benefits to rural areas such as:

  • economic growth, economic diversification and stabilization,
  • employement creation
  • reducing out migration and contributing to re-population
  • protection and improvement of both the natural and built environtment
  • revitalizing traditions and cultual heritage
  • increasing recognition of rural priorities and potential by policy makers

The essential task by rural tourism boards, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders in rural areas is to change the perception that still remains in many people’s mind identifying ‘rural’ with ‘undeveloped’ places lacking of ‘things to do’ or ‘boring’. They have to develop a dynamic dialogue with urban audiences to reimaging ‘rural’ and the meanings of ‘rural life’ in a contemporary way; without forgetting that rural areas have always insipired thinkers, writers and painters such as Van Gogh or Brueggel; they are a source of inspiration and as Schopenhauer points out, nothing can harness more creativity than contemplating nature itself.

Applying audience development and creative storytelling to rural areas destination marketing provides unlimited opportunities to build narratives to reimaging rural with the active participation of both local inhabitants and tourists through online and offline actions.

This exchange will benefit both ‘city’ and ‘rural’ people and will set the ground to new projects fostering the social, cultural and economic integration of the territories.

I am leaving you now, I am off to my bike ride! Wishing you a great summer holidays!

Get in touch for master plan strategies and capacity building workshops on tourism audience development, storytelling and destination marketing

Crowdfunding for Cultural and Creative Entrepreneurs / EU – LATAM

Crowdfunding is the process of funding projects for both individuals and organizations through online platforms by launching campaigns with the objective of obtaining financial support by a crowd of donors/investors.
Crowdfunding starts to represent an opportunity for the cultural and creative industries (CCI –Architecture, Video Games, Music, Heritage, Music, Literature, Books & Press, Visual Arts, Performing Arts, Design, TV, Film & Radio) funding and also for building a ‘community’ and communicate new artistic and cultural projects, improving visibility and awareness among the public.

At the recent Crowdfunding for Culture Conference held in Brussels on 20th June, Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Culture, Education and Youth, highlighted that crowdfunding campaigns help develop new financial, entrepreneurial and communication skills among creative and cultural entrepreneurs, artists and professionals.

Also in Brussels, I have had recently the pleasure to deliver a workshop with crowdfunding for culture as one of the key topics (on 17 May): ‘Tools for creative entrepreneurs: crowdfunding, branding and storytelling / Focus UE – Latin America’ organized by Spanish Embassy, delivered by Economía Creativa Consultancy, in Cooperation with Iberoamerican Embassies and the collaboration of Finnova, Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Open Earth Foundation.

During the workshop I have presented crowdfunding key aspects for CCI, essential factors for successful campaigns and examples of cultural and creative projects that have been funded through crowdfunding from both the UE and Latin America.

In Europe and Latin America there are hundreds of crowdfunding platforms, so one of the first tasks for entrepreneurs is to choose which one best adjust to their project. Essentially there are two types of platforms: ‘All or nothing’ vs. ‘Take it all’: the principal difference is that on ‘all or nothing’ platforms projects can only receive the funding if they reach the target they have established for their project initially whereas ‘take it all’ means that even if they do not reach their target amount, they can still keep the funds raised through the campaign. Some platforms charge a fee for uploading the project; however normally they just charge a commission for the funding obtained that can varies from 3% to 12%, depending of the platform.

There are four types of crowdfunding: donation, reward, peer to peer and equity. However I have focused during the workshop on the reward crowdfunding because it is, by far, the most used within cultural and creative industries.

The reward crowdfunding is especially appropriate for artistic, cultural and social projects; it offers a reward to the donors that it is normally merchandising or experiences (for example a personalized postcard, a performance, etc.)

The following points are essential for successful crowdfunding for CCI:

  • It is essential not to underestimate the necessary investment on time, resources and compromise for the success of the campaign (including enough time before the launching for the design of the project, communication strategy and network evaluation)
  • Combining in a team the skills of a project manager, a marketer and accountant will be ideal
  • The quality of the project, its description, including details and the background of the team/artist (portfolio, how has been developed the idea/project, etc.)
  • The size of the ‘network’ initially and the ‘audience development’ strategy to enlarge it
  • Keeping your ‘community’ informed during the whole campaign
  • Pitching video (max. 2’) engaging and original, showing passion and professionalism
  • Stimulating reward for the donors, offering ‘value for money’ and feasible (for example geographically: if the reward it is a concert, the musician has to consider the cost of performing it for a donor in other city/region/country)
  • Reasonable ratio community-target to be funded. Research proves that each donor on average contribute with 1-2% of the total amount to be funded for the project. This means that, for example, to fund a new exhibition for a gallery that needs 5000 euros, if each donor contributes with 2%, the community of donors should be at least of 100 people.

In conclusion, crowdfunding is a funding alternative for cultural and creative projects both in the EU and Latin America and also a ‘marketing tool’ for building the community and increase visibility. However artists, entrepreneurs and professionals have to be aware of the importance of: choosing the right platform, model of crowdfunding, project design and communication strategy; and not underestimate the investment of time and resources for the campaign success.

Creative storytelling for tourism audience development

I take the opportunity to share with you the publication of ‘Creative Storytelling for Tourism Audience Development’ at 2017 International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development – UNWTO for promoting mutual understanding, inclusion and sustainability on destination management.

The study develops a model for applying creative storytelling to tourism audience development improving the civic engagement between all stakeholders, local inhabitants and tourists, inclusion and competitiveness of the destination.
This model is based on establishing a Destination Storytelling Stakeholders Network (DSSN) in which stakeholders from tourism, both private and public, are to be represented together with actors from creative industries, ICT, researchers, scientific, artists and local inhabitants. The DSSN will consists of a web 3.0 platform and will combined both offline workshops, trainings and symposiums and online webinars, contests and social media campaigns in order to explore the identity of the destination and identify themes to create the storyline through an iterative process. The second part of the model is the Destination Storytelling Process that guides the DSSN through several iterative stages to build a robust storyline for the destination: SWOT analysis, audience research, creative thinking and open innovation, narrative conceptualization, commercialization, transmedia dissemination, audience engagement and evaluation.

Creative storytelling offers multiple benefits for tourism destination development, such improving the destination image, competitiveness and sustainability by contributing to reduce seasonality; it is a factor for job creation and of higher quality and stability, promoting training, attracting creative talent and harnessing entrepreneurship. It generates an explorative scenario in which both local inhabitants and tourists can discover the destination multiple dimensions through different narratives on culture, traditions, nature, sport, history, gastronomy, etc. It stimulates also a dialogue among the audience, promoting their own content creation that they can share using proposed hashtags on social media, taking an active role in shaping the destination narrative.

For design and implementing Destination Marketing, Audience Development & Creative Storytelling strategies or capacity building workshops, please contact at