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Understanding Cultural Consumers Online

This project provided new insights into digital and online cultural consumption through a collaboration with The National Gallery, London .

Led by Dr Hye-Kyung Lee and Dr Fidele Vlavo, Department of Culture Media and Creative Industries, in collaboration with The National Gallery, this project sought to respond to the questions and challenges raised by the digitalisation of culture and cultural consumption and, in particular, the way in which these affect cultural organisations.

The phrase ‘going online’ is practically omnipresent in discussions about the future of cultural organisations. Despite this, there is still much to be understood about:

  • how and why consumers engage in cultural activities online, and
  • how the creativity, innovation, enthusiasm and gratification found in these activities can be brought into the organisations’ interaction with the public.

The project aimed to help cultural organisations broaden their perspective and enhance their understanding of consumers who are involved in making and remaking, mediating, curating and circulating cultural content within online settings.

As part of the project, two symposia were held, to gather media and culture researchers, students, and cultural organisations as well as specialists in cultural consumption and social media. Discussions focused on two central themes: ‘Online cultural consumers and museums’ in Autumn 2013, and ‘Public culture, museums and cultural communities’ in Summer 2014. The project also included talks, workshops and seminars. 

The project involved 15 students from the MA Creative and Cultural Industries as observers of the digital engagement of the National Gallery, experiencing its online presence and critically evaluating its online strategy.  All projects were under the supervision of Dr Hye-Kyung Lee and Dr Fidele Vlavo in partnership with The National Gallery, London. 

Understanding Cultural Consumers Online delivered brand new insights into digital and online cultural consumption, and will support cultural organisations in developing innovative strategies using the spaces opened up by digital technologies and online media. 

Project Team

Dr Hye-Kyung Lee

Hye-Kyung joined King’s College London in September 2004 immediately after obtaining a PhD from the University of Warwick. She grew up in Seoul, South Korea, and studied Chinese language and literature at Seoul National University. Before coming to the UK for her MA and PhD studies, she worked as an international cultural exchange coordinator at the Korea Foundation and organised various performances, exhibitions and festivals in Korea and many Asian countries.

Over the years, Hye-Kyung Lee has researched and written on state policies for culture, arts and creative industries from Western and East Asian perspectives. Her approach is focused on exploring institutional and historical perspectives of the dynamics between the state and culture, and de-Westernising and internationalising cultural policy ideas and frameworks

Dr Fidele Vlavo

Fidele was a teaching fellow in the Culture, Media & Creative Industries program at King's between 2012 and 2014. She has lectured at the Department of Arts and Media at London South Bank University where she completed her doctoral research. Fidele holds a BA (Hons) in Arts Management (London South Bank University) and a degree in Film studies (Sorbonne-Nouvelle Paris).

Her PhD examined the concept of electronic civil disobedience and the practice of online activism. It provided a discursive analysis of the use of cyberspace as an exclusive site for political protest. Prior to her PhD, Fidele worked on digital projects at the Courtauld Institute and the British Museum.

The National Gallery

The National Gallery is an art museum in Trafalgar Square, London. Founded in 1824, it houses a collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900.

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