Tate has been running projects that invite visitors to the galleries and the website to contribute their own content for many years. For example, the Tate Tales blog, where children submit stories inspired by art works, started in 2004, and some of the children who submitted those early stories are now adults. We have developed a number of different platforms from large online communities, such as Tate Kids, and turbinegeneration, where people contribute their creative content on an ongoing basis, to small projects on third party platforms that run for a fixed time period. We have showcased visitor generated content in the gallery, such as the current Family Matters display. Tate has also published visitor generated content in many different formats – books, t-shirts, audiobooks and most recently, the Hello Cube where young people tweeted instructions to an interactive installation at Tate Modern.
Vistor generated content has formed part of Tate’s core strategy to be more open and diverse, to encourage debate and present a range of different voices and perspectives. But does inviting visitor generated content really help fulfil these aims? I will look at the lessons that we have learned and think about what a successful visitor-generated-content project looks like and how we define ‘success’. I will look at how visitor generated content is used in the gallery space and the curatorial concerns around seeming to endorse creative work produced by the public. Over the years, Tate has consistently underestimated the amount of time and money it takes to manage and moderate projects of this kind. The volume of user generated content we host is continually increasing and at some point we have to ask ourselves, what are we going to do with this content? Has it served its purpose? Will we end up simply deleting it?