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B2 center for media, arts and performance

Research Study, May 2023

Background

The B2 Center for Media, Arts & Performance values collaborative, cross-disciplinary experimentation that combines art, technology, media, science, performance, and radical innovation. The Black Box Experimental Studio and four studio laboratories with some of the most cutting-edge media creation and performance technology are available as facilities. While B2 has many opportunities, it struggles to understand how best to grow the creative community within existing constraints and limited resources. It recently underwent a transformational technological upgrade and has a unique opportunity to reimagine and remake how it fulfills its mission.

My Role: UX Researcher
My Contributions: User Interviews, Survey
Time Frame: May 2023 ( 1 month)

Research Goals

  • What does a creative community mean to B2 users?
  • What makes B2 users feel that they belong to the community?
  • How can user Interaction be improved in the B2 creative community?
  • What are the challenges when trying to engage with B2’s creative community?
  • What improves the sense of being connected to the B2 community?
  • What makes B2 unique?

Methodology

Desk Research

Goal: To identify what other universities have spaces like B2, how they are structured and what’s unique about B2.

Sample Size: 
3 spaces at other universities, similar to B2, that focus on interdisciplinary research at the intersections of art, science, technology and creativity.

Why: We used Desk Research methods in order to identify the structure of similar spaces and what makes B2 unique.

In-Depth Interviews

Goal: To understand how to grow and support B2’s creative community.

Sample Size:
5 users from the target audience who are actively using B2 space for their project or performance and are part of the radical creative community.

Platform: Zoom

Duration of the Interview: 30 minutes

Why: We used in-depth interviews to get detailed information about what and why from people who have used the B2 space and the faculty who have been part of B2’s community.

Intercept Interviews

Goal: Understand what users think about creative community and how B2 community interaction can be improved.

Sample Size:5 Grad students, 5 Undergrad students

Platform: In person at Grad Lab & B2 at ATLAS Institute

Why : We used intercept interviews to get a insight into students’ view on B2 community and how the community can be made more interactive.

Surveys

Goal: To identify how many students are aware of B2’s facilities, what type of events or activities users want to participate in, and the root cause of low engagement  to discover creative ways to enhance the discovery of B2 and offer new activities within the space.

Sample Size expected: 50-75 people 

Response: 13 people 

Platform: Qualtrics

Why: Surveys provide a quick and efficient way to collect data from a large number of people and can help to capture a broad range of opinions and perspectives.

Study Limitations

RESEARCH DIRECTION

We started our research before receiving a “looks good to me” from the client on the methodologies used, causing a misalignment. The questions we asked in the research study may have driven requirements from the Office of Academic and Learning Innovation.

The research team incorporated the client’s feedback, pivoted the research questions plus methodologies that were underway, and adopted the study protocols to fit within time constraints.

LOW RESPONSE

We expected the survey responses to be around 50-75 ATLAS students and faculty but we got response only from 13 people because of the finals week, EXPO and busy schedule for faculty.

Only 5 B2 users were able to participate in the in-depth interviews because they were given very short notice and had busy schedules due to the end of the semester.

Key Takeaways

B2 Community Overview

  • Creative Community for B2 users is defined as a gathering of like minded individuals from diverse creative disciplines to talk and share ideas, to give and receive feedback on creative work without judgement, and to discuss problems and find solutions.
  • B2 users want to have a community space where they can share their project ideas and get reviews from other people.
  • The B2 community is comprised of undergraduates, graduates, PHD students, and faculty from creative disciplines including, ATLAS, CMCI, College of Music etc

B2 Space Overview

  • Most of the B2 users used B2 space to attend or participate in events that are being organized. 
  • Most B2 users utilized the Black Box over the other spaces available while the most frequently used equipments are the ones for Motion Capture.
  • Most B2 users learn about B2, its offerings and events via word of mouth and posters.

B2 Community Pain Points

  • Prospective B2 users did not know how to use most of the equipment in B2, which caused a lack of interest and reduced interaction between people utilizing the space.
  • Existing B2 users want orientation workshops when new equipment is added, and prospective B2 users want training workshops for the existing equipment to be organized in the various spaces in B2 to improve the interaction and understanding of the community.

Community Building

  • Communities require connection and a feeling of belonging, which can be achieved through regular meetups and being around familiar individuals. This helps people “FEEL CONNECTED”.
  • Regularly scheduled events help to establish relationships and foster a sense of belonging as they provide a specific time and location for individuals to gather and connect with at least one other person in the community.
  • Relationships are formed by various means, such as sending invitations, making introductions, hosting meet-and-greets, workshops, events, and design critiques.
  • Activities are essential for communities to thrive. They enable individuals to share and exchange ideas, give and receive feedback, and discuss problems, ultimately promoting growth and development within the community. Examples:
    Dance performance, Project showcase, Idea Sessio

Insights

Community Overview

Most B2 users, think creative community is where they can collaborate with people with multiple creative disciplines and brainstorm crazy ideas because they don’t want to feel judged and fostered creativity.

"Community to me is where I can share my problems and get feedback on how to solve it best"

"Creative Community to me is about brainstorming new ideas and getting solution to problems with out of box ways"

Most B2 users believed that they were a part of B2’s creative community because they had on going relationship and active involvement and want to be involved in the future with B2.

"I can reapply for B2 creative residency as an alumni, and I want to come back and be part of B2, because I know a lot of cool people working at B2 and they're like very interesting people, and always like evolving."

"I feel that I am a part of B2. I've been involved in this space for a few years now, and so, I have ongoing relationships with like the technical crew, the people, like the staff that are in charge of production."

Community Building

  • Most of the B2 users expressed a desire to attend workshops because they wanted to acquire the necessary skills to efficiently utilize the B2 space, given their current unfamiliarity with it.

"Workshops! Workshops! Workshops! I want to be a part of B2 Community but I have only attended events there. I want to know how to use and be a part of the space"

“I know about B2 but I don’t know how use anything there. I would like some workshops to learn how to use things that are available”

  • Most B2 users felt that there should be reoccurring weekly/monthly meetups because this would help to understand the community and its capabilities

"We need to have, like, the creative happy hours or like meetups but they're not really happening,"

"Some sort of repetitive events that people count on. Like, once or twice a month. Get the students more involved, so that they can kind of do this more regularly"

  • Few B2 users desired to present their work to B2 staff and other creative practitioners because it would have given critical feedback on their work.

"Being Able to discuss things and get review makes me feel i am a part of the lab. Being a productive member and contribute is important to me and makes feel a part of the community."

"I did not have any chance to present my work to staff at B2 or like have a critic session with them or other creative practitioners"

Community Pain Points

  • Many prospective B2 users expressed a lack of interest and reduced interaction between people utilizing the space because of not knowing how to use the equipment in B2.

"I know about B2 but I don’t know how use anything there. I would like some workshops to learn how to use things that are available"

  • Few B2 users felt that they couldn’t use the B2 space because they have busy schedules and they don’t come down there unless they have a specific activity to attend.

"The biggest challenge in building up a community is that it is very difficult to meet new people and talk to them and actually get to know them when they are busy with their work"

"Everyone's really busy, so I'm like, what's the enticing thing that's not happening? That just gets people to do that naturally, where you don't have to schedule like a formal restart and plan an event every time"

  • Few B2 users felt that they couldn’t use the B2 space because it is located in the basement with no proper wifi and mobile network signal and ventilation.

"When you go to B2, there's no network connection. Couldn't go to the basement B2 because the Atlas was locked. It has to be more visible because it's a very valuable asset for CU Boulder"

"I think part of it is because it's in the basement and there's no light."

  • One of the B2 users felt that no one showed up to their event because there was not enough publicity.

"There's not a lot of publicity for the events happening in B2. There was this one event that I organized, called a pioneer but no one showed up. So I called a bunch of people from BTU and they said after the event that this was one of the best events that they've attended."

What makes B2 unique?

Although all the spaces we compared have similar spaces and their own unique features, what makes B2 unique are the facilities like

  • Ambisonic sound system
  • 360 Projected Environment Capabilities
  • Dante

B2 provides its facilities for free for students, faculty, or residents to use the space. It does not charge the people for using the space

Structure of Similar Spaces

Movement Lab at Barnard College

  • Facilities-MeMoSa or Media, Movement Salon, Stillness Lab, Virtual Lab
  • Types of events at other spaces that can be implemented in B2, to grow its creative community -Collaborations with other spaces on campus, workshops.

Advanced Computing Center for Art & Design at Ohio State University

  • Facilities-Motion Lab, Simulation Lab, Sonic Arts Lab, Video Lab
  • Types of events at other spaces that can be implemented in B2, to grow its creative community -Annual summer mentoring program focused on collaborative learning opportunities.

ArtLab at Harvard

  • Facilities-Artist Studios, Workshop, Common space, Group studio
  • Types of events at other spaces that can be implemented in B2, to grow its creative community -Public Screenings, Podcasts.

Recommendations from participants

“Having each graduate fellow curate something. So like if it was me, I could bring dance in and have different folks in the dance department do it. Like curating a showcase or an event or something every so often.”

“More creative residencies and each one longer like 2-3 weeks or month. They can demo their practice. They can work on their projects, build their projects, have the show there, and then take the words out of Colorado and just say loud that they had this experience.”

“It would be really helpful if there was a crash course or certification for the faculty at least on how to use the Blackbox space. It will also help the staff to trust them to not break the equipment and also decrease the load on them.”

“I would like an event where there’s sound playing and everyone could bring their own pillows and just lie down and listen to the sounds. There’s a lot less setup and clean up that needs to be done before and after for such events, and I think that can help build the community.”

“I would like to have a button where if I click it, it can show what the black box is capable of and then go back to the previous configuration so as to not disturb the person working in the black box. This will be a helpful way to show the students what the space is capable of.”

“We need to bring some people who are pioneers of their field so that the place is more noticeable.”

Our Recommendations

  • To display events hosted by B2 on the website.
  • The B2 community could leverage word of mouth, digital (social media, email), and hallway posters to increase awareness of the community.
  • Prospective community member could benefit from an orientation to learn more about this community, what they have to offer, and how to use the space.
  • Existing community members could benefit from a formal gathering on a regular basis (e.g., monthly work showcase) to meet other community members, exchange ideas, and give/receive feedback on work without judgement.