Arts organisations wanting to get their IT up to scratch now have a template to work from, thanks to a new IT management programme, called IT4arts, launched this summer.
Funded by the Baring Foundation, working with the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists, IT4arts is currently looking for arts organisations interested in taking part in its Best Practice in IT Management programme.
The main objective of the scheme is to develop and maintain a best practice model for arts organisations to help them manage their information, systems and technology more effectively.
IT4arts comprises a series of seminars on managing IT, a web resource, and a peer support community.
The first beneficiary is the English Touring Opera. Two years ago its outmoded system had reached breaking point and was affecting its ability to co-ordinate its 100 performers and support staff when on tour.
Typical of many creative arts organisations, the English Touring Opera had little IT knowledge and was in a state of "barely-disguised chaos", according to its finance manager David Burke.
The Worshipful Company of Information Technologists worked with the English Touring Opera to map out its precise IT requirements and come up with a realistically budgeted plan for a system that was robust and which met the organisation's needs. The input covered IT infrastructure, equipment and training.
Each arts organisation that participates in IT4arts gets access to an "IT friend" who provides advice and support.
The content of the programme, which demands full senior management commitment, is based on simplified versions of international and national standards. For example, BS15000 for IT operations management, Prince2 for project management, ISO17799 for information security and Investors in People for IT training and development.
The "mission" is to introduce these standards and other IT management issues in a structured and easily understood form.
The next IT4arts seminar will take place on 28 September. Anyone interested in attending can find details on the organisation's website.
The Worshipful Company of Information Technologists
Founded in 1992, on the initiative of a group of successful IT professionals who wanted to give something back to society, the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists is the 100th, and one of the newest City of London livery companies.
The 650 or so members do not sit on their laurels. Members comprise a dynamic cross-section of the IT community who use their own time, talent and resources to help the disadvantaged lead better lives and share in society.
The 800-year-old livery tradition was originally created to provide an ecosystem for core skills in each profession. It trained apprentices, set and ensured high professional standards and supported members in times of hardship or at the end of their careers. That is why education and charity feature so strongly today.
A good example of the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists' work is the Lifelites scheme to help terminally ill children communicate with each other, their families and carers. A well thought out system was set up for one children's hospice and, using that as a template, similar systems have since been rolled out to all the children's hospices in the UK.
The organisation is currently in the process of building a template for using technology to help improve standards in a poor-performing London school - the Lilian Baylis School in Lambeth - which it expects to help other such schools.
In addition to its charitable and educational activities, the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists aims to promote the use of IT by influencing decision makers and identifying areas where IT is essential to future business success through seminars, conferences and other events. '