The pandemic has made it challenging for events and tourism. Organizations need to find new ways to encourage both locals and visitors to interact with all the things that make each city unique. To date, nine municipalities across the world have used the Story City platform to create interactive experiences allowing over 25,000 users to interact with local stories and public spaces.

So how does it work?

We could tell you how it works, but let’s look at Street Reads, a multi-year project that Creative Communities, the Arts & Culture division of Brisbane City Council, started within the Story City platform.

The details

  • Who: Creative Communities at Brisbane City Council
  • City: Brisbane, Australia
  • Festival size: 45 locations around Brisbane per year
  • 20 local creators tapped into for storytelling content, 100 additional creator provided with professional development and upskilling
  • 10,000 participants
  • 3 fictional Choose your Own Adventures per year

The Ask

The Creative Communities at Brisbane City Council wanted to find a creative and memorable way to encourage locals (and visitors) to explore what’s happening in their own back yards. They wanted to find a way to help people rediscover or discover everything that Brisbane and surrounding areas has to offer.

The Challenges

Municipalities constantly have to find ways to engage the local community and tourists. Cities are always changing, and with COVID decimating the events industry in the past year, it’s more important than ever to find safe ways to activate public spaces to get more people out enjoying the city and all it has to offer.

In this case, Creative Communities at Brisbane City Council wanted to find ways to:

  • Engage a younger demographic in certain geographic areas.
  • Provide professional development and opportunities for local creatives.
  • Increase foot-traffic at local businesses.
  • Encourage locals to explore not only downtown but beyond the downtown area.
  • Increase interest and engagement within public areas.

The Ultimate Plan

At Story City, we help municipalities find new and creative ways to tell local stories and upskill and build their local creative economy at the same time. Furthermore, it is the local storytellers that help to shape the local culture and unique character of each community. We wanted to find a way to tap into local Brisbane stories while reinvigorating how locals and visitors experience public spaces. Using locative storytelling and our GPS technology, Story City and Brisbane City Council developed Street Reads, an interactive Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) experience that ran for multiple years across 45 different locations per year throughout Brisbane and surrounding areas. We brought a festival to life with cutting edge digital applications and transformed city streets and public spaces into an adventure.

Each year we chose to incorporate three full storylines to ensure that there were plenty of variety for locals and visitors to choose from. With so many options, Street Reads could be experienced multiple times with different locations visited and different outcomes over multiple days. The way it works is that the Story City GPS app only unlocks the next step in the story once you are at the right location. Each location’s part of the storyline highlighted the history, unique character, and landmarks of the area. The creative side of the CYOA storyline also means that you can experience all of this history and character in a way that you would never find in a guidebook.

With a laser focus on keeping things local and bringing a high level of value to the community, a team of local content creators and artists was hired to build the experience. The only “outsiders” brought in for the project were Story City producer Ben Carey and CEO Emily Craven. With over a decade of experience in training and producing interactive experiences, they mentored the local creatives throughout the whole process. This allowed for local creatives to have the opportunity to enhance their skills and find new ways to present their work. The reality is that creatives are finding it harder and harder to find paid opportunities, so this injects some life into the creative economy through innovation. To ensure that more creatives have this opportunity, we put on a series of workshops for a shortlist of applicants throughout the selection process.

Results

Unlike many creative arts events or festivals, the interactive experience created by Story City and the local team was available 24/7. Katie Pack (former) Creative Communities Manager for Brisbane City Council said that “it surpassed all our expected KPIs, had great general public feedback, provided personal development for local creatives, engaged with local businesses, encouraged general public engagement with highlighted areas, and received fantastic media coverage. As a result, we contracted Story City to run the project for another 2 years.” There are now 24 exciting interactive adventures available in Brisbane on the Story City platform.

Because Street Reads was a digital experience, the fact that it has run for multiple years makes it an extremely economical free event for the city to run while showcasing local talent, businesses, and public spaces. For the initial project, we were able to collect data for Brisbane to use to see how people interacted with each location and measure foot traffic in the area to see how the experience increased visibility. All of this data and analytics was shared directly with the city allowing them to accurately report on their return on investment and the surpassing of their KPIs.

In terms of the creative community, in addition to the job creation opportunity for the city, the small group of creatives who participated in the workshops had access to skills building that allows them to create their own interactive projects and exhibits beyond the Street Reads project. And as of 2021, they can even use the Story City platform itself to create experiences for their city beyond the projects funded by the city – increasing the areas activated, the foot traffic passing small business, and the money entering the economy.

Ready to unlock the true power of interactive storytelling for your city? We’re happy to guide you through the process.

How Can Story City Help You?

Story City is an international leader in locative storytelling and cultural tourism. The GPS app is the only one of its kind that runs this type of interactive digital/real world experience.

If you’re a tourism or municipal organization that is looking for ways to promote foot traffic and help to increase overall engagement in your city’s public spaces, contact Story City to see how we can help you connect to locals and visitors in an interactive and entertaining way. Just email: ecraven (at) storycity (dot) com (dot) au