Culture Funding Watch (CFW) is a network of people and content that supports equal access to information, provides services to facilitate access to resources, and advocates for transparent and responsible financing for the Arts and Culture.
In May 2021, CFW hosted Resources Mobilisation Digithon (RMDigithon). The annual global event connects funders and actors in the arts, culture, and creative sector. This year, however, the event was hosted virtually using Airmeet as a platform.
The RMDigithon was a 24-hour interactive event that saw 500+ attendees. Ouafa Belgacem, CEO at CFW, shares the journey and outcome of hosting the RMDigithon on Airmeet. Ouafa has 15 years of global experience in resource mobilization, funding, and resource management. Apart from CFW, Ouafa also heads many start-up bodies in Tunisia.
Ouafa said, “We host the Digithon as a physical event where attendees can participate in talks, panel discussions, and training. Apart from that, they also have an opportunity to meet and engage with donors. Last year we had 150 people in a room. This year, given the global pandemic, we couldn’t host a physical event.” While the team was brainstorming on how to host the Digithon this year, she said she attended another event hosted via Airmeet.
“The event was a mind-blowing experience,” said Ouafa. “Airmeet offered everything that I visualized in a virtual event. In Airmeet, I saw an opportunity to hold an event without the constraints of space and time. In our physical event, we have a room full of tables. Cultural enterprises seeking funds go and meet potential donors.”
Ouafa and her team realized that via Airmeet, they could connect global donors with cultural and creative enterprises, NGOs and Artists . They started working on it and eventually hosted a 24-hour event that consisted of networking (speed meetings), master classes, training, a business fair and panel discussions.
Challenges (And Solutions)
Challenge : To plan and host an event without much support
The shift from physical to virtual was very new for the cultural and creative community, but Ouafa wasn’t worried. She had already seen the Airmeet platform in use and knew that her team could design and execute the entire event by themselves.
Ease of Use: Ouafa said, “Airmeet is so easy to use and set up. I am not very tech-savvy myself, but I could navigate through Airmeet without any problem. We set up the entire event with the help of our interns.”
Support Lounge: “Airmeet’s technology was glitch-free and we had no complaints. All our attendees found the information at a click with our support desk and could navigate very easily.
Analytics: Analytics is offered to all Airmeet users. Ouafa found the analytics to be of great help because it helped CFW understand which sessions were well attended, which booths got maximum attendees, they could see which engagement features were most used, etc. Ouafa also said that the insight that they got through the analytics was very valuable and would help them plan the next event.
Challenge: Creating the experience of a physical event
The cultural & creative community thrives on meeting people and having one-one interactions. Not everyone in this community is inclined towards technology and virtual events. Ouafa said that when you do something new, there is a lot of explanation and education that organizers need to do. CFW did the same to get people to sign up for the event.
Ouafa said, “People were skeptical about a virtual event on an online platform. But when they logged onto the platform, our attendees were so excited. They enjoyed interacting with donors and fellow workers from regions and countries. We had signed up for a 24-hour event. But when I logged in after the event time, I saw people still there, having discussions. We had to ask them to leave!”
Ouafa also added, “ I know that most of the event’s success has to be credited to the platform. I am getting such positive feedback from exhibitors, donors, and other attendees. They were so happy to have speed meetings and just talk. Everyone is talking about Airmeet as much as the event per se.”
Social Lounge: Ouafa gushed over the social lounge and tables at Airmeet. She said that the barriers of different time zones didn’t matter to the attendees. Whenever someone logged in, they found someone and started talking. All attendees were delighted to network, something they hadn’t done since the pandemic began.
Ouafa added, “ On Airmeet, attendees are not a hostage of the organizer. On most platforms, attendees do not have the liberty to connect by their choice. Airmeet lowers this barrier. The idea of the RMDigithon is that people can connect and talk and network with others. We were able to achieve this goal thanks to Airmeet.”
Since the RMDigithon was a 24-hour event, CFW foresaw that the social lounge may get too crowded or may be left empty. To avoid this situation, CFW asked attendees to select a 4-hour time slot. The vision was that in this time, the attendees could have 8-speed meetings of 30 minutes each. Apart from crowd management, this planning also helped to ensure that attendees from all time zones could network at their convenience.
Backstage: Ouafa was highly appreciative of the backstage feature of Airmeet. She said that even if a meet-and-greet session is planned with speakers, none of them attend these sessions. But by using the backstage feature, they could meet the speakers before their session/panel discussion and brief them.
Exhibition and stalls: CFW organized an international competition and selected the 50 best culture creative projects from across the globe. These winners were given free booths. That was a big boost for these projects because they got a global platform to showcase their work and reach out to donors.
Ouafa said, “We helped the exhibitors set up their booths and assigned one person from CFW to each exhibitor. The entire process of setting up the booths was straightforward, and our exhibitors are quite tech-savvy compared to me, so that help was actually not needed. All exhibitors got their table and could interact with B2Bs as well. They were very happy.”
Ouafa also said, “A few days back, I attended an event on another platform. But I felt that the exhibitor booths on Airmeet are much better. I feel connected with Airmeet and like everything about it.”
Emojis: The other interactive feature used at the RMDigithon was emojis. Ouafa said, “I like emojis because it makes you feel that people are interacting and reacting.” Ouafa also said that being their first big digital event, the team at CFW didn’t explore or use all of the interactive features. They didn’t want to overwhelm their participants. But with the success of this event, CFW is all set to explore Airmeet for their second one.
Ouafa said that the event was a success for CFW. Overall the event saw 442 rounds of speed meetings, 12 parallel panel discussions and training sessions, 49 exhibitors, and 12-15 speakers in parallel sessions. The organizers were delighted with this achievement and are sure they will surpass these in the next RMDigithon.
Ouafa said that CFW was always hosting small virtual events. But with the pandemic, the size of the events and the frequency have increased. She said, “The first RMDigithon was such a success. Attendees enjoyed it and are asking us when the next event will be. We also have a donor who is ready to sponsor the next Digithon and wants to sign-up for the complete package with Airmeet.”
She said that she is working with the Department of Culture in Tunisia and is creating a service that will help them organize live performances in virtual art festivals. That would be a new experience for the audience. Ouafa said that future live events of similar kinds would be ticketed events.
Ouafa also mentioned that they were exploring smaller RMDigithons at the national level. She said, “Various corporations want to partner with us and host Digithons. So, we plan to host smaller Digithon events and focus on one ecosystem in each Digithon.”
Ouafa signed off saying, “We will be hosting many events with Airmeet as I find it to be the perfect platform for all kinds of virtual events.”
Visit the Airmeet, site or Book a Demo with us to understand how you can hold similar events for your organization.