Tejshvi Jain is the Founding Director of ReReeti and an ATSA and NTICVA Fellow. She is passionate about making heritage and culture more accessible. She has been an arts writer, teacher and curator prior to setting up this non-profit organization. Team EventLinked recently had the pleasure of interviewing her and getting to know her perspective on the Events space in India.
EL: Please tell us about ReReeti & the Team behind it.
TJ: ReReeti is a Bangalore based not-for-profit organization which works towards revitalizing museums and bringing them closer to and making them more relevant to people. Rereeti conducts events and workshops for museum professionals as well as schools and families to bridge the gap between museums and their audiences.
Rereeti works with museums and cultural heritage spaces to observe, evaluate and then provide multiple solutions for audiences as well as museums and staff. Our solutions include audience development, capacity-building programmes focusing on visitor outreach and engagement, digital communications strategies, exhibit interpretation, and creating educational modules for schools and families to highlight museum collections. Our blog is the first in India that specifically addresses Indian museums and Indian museum professionals and facilitates knowledge sharing in this domain.
We are a very small team. We prefer to work with experts relevant to the content of the museums we work with. This helps us in generating good content and solutions and keeping our quality standards high. We have a lot of partners with whom we work depending on the requirement of the project. This helps us also in keeping our operational costs low and focus on quality and impact.
EL: Please tell us more about the Events conducted by ReReeti.
At ReReeti we realise that museums (the word here means to encompass not only museums but heritage sites and galleries as well) at their core play two roles: firstly, they act as repositories of tangible objects that manifest and best represent our history, culture and abstract ideas; secondly, they act as mediums of learning and actively engage the people they are meant to serve.
Taking this into account we organize events for three segments:
Individuals, families and schools – We curate experiences at museums that are interesting and interactive for the participants. It encourages them to look at the museum spaces more closely with renewed interest and enable them to learn about the collections in a fun way. For instance we hold treasure hunts for which the visitors have to actually go around the museums looking for specific exhibits to answer clues given on their smartphones OR in the handout. It combines the sense of mystery solving as well as discovery. We organize museum walkthroughs which are very different from the guided tours one can get in museums. They are full of interesting and funny trivia and involve the visitors in a greater manner. We also have interesting educational modules for schools and educational institutions to cater to a large number of students at the same time.
For individuals – we mentor teens interested in history, culture and heritage. Designing learning programs within museums and art galleries go beyond being a set of mere educational activities for kids. Learners get hands-on experience with reasoning and analytical skills, research and writing, photography and video, and presentation and oratory skills. This program is offered only once a year.
For museum professionals – we facilitate workshops and training programmes covering important aspects of museum management. These sessions too are interactive and highly participatory in nature. Along with sharing best practices in a given area we also collectively try to solve the challenges the participants face in the museums.
EL: How has Events, as a medium, helped your organization?
TJ: Hosting Events is a great way of spreading awareness about the organization as well as the cause we support. They provide the much needed nudge to parents, individuals and children toward taking the rich cultural heritage that our museums have to provide and give them an opportunity to marvel at the wonders firsthand instead of browsing through images on the internet.
We have seen a growth in the number of people coming to museums with their children as well as children being more proactive in their wanting to know about the exhibits, their histories and creating art and content by themselves. In fact, we have also hosted birthday parties in the museums at the request of children.
EL: What are the guiding principles that you follow while planning an Event?
TJ: We first consider the museums and the collection it houses. The collection dictates the content. Second, but equally important to us, is the purpose the event needs to serve. Are we trying to bring awareness, facilitate knowledge sharing or just entertainment or as is the case most of the times – it’s a combination of any two. Then we look at the kind of audience we are catering to. If it is children and families our experience would have activities that require two different age groups (adult and child). If it is for schools, then the activities need to cater to large peer groups.
EL: What are the innovative ways in which you have engaged your target audience at events?
TJ: We firmly believe that learning happens only when it is flowing in both directions instead of just one (from the instructor to the student). Which is why our activities, questions and challenges are open ended with no one right answer. In cases of treasure hunt where there is one answer it is always followed by a statement that helps them to think, wonder or ponder upon.
We encourage our participants to actively engage in the games and activities and enter a creative space through writing stories, small performances, lively discussions and sharing their own take on what they have seen and learnt. We believe in always making it relevant to them and hence show them the connect with contemporary life.
EL: What are the challenges/ pain points that you face as an Event Organizer?
TJ: Since we are not event organizer per say the expectations from us too are different. Our challenge areas are ironically the museums themselves. We cannot change the display and hence work with whatever is available. To create excitement within a visually dull space is our greatest challenge.
EL: Have you ever raised sponsorship or got strategic partners on board for an event? If yes, how was the process… was it simple or tedious?
TJ: Yes we have a few strategic partners on board but have not actively worked with them. Getting them on board was easy but figuring out how to work and which projects to work on has taken some time.
EL: Compared to other media, such as Print, Radio, TV, Online etc., what do you like about Events?
TJ: Events are more organic. They are more tangible for the attendees and give them the kind of first-hand experience that other mediums like print or radio or the web can never provide. And greater learning comes from first-hand experience of the things when the participant or visitor is right there in the middle of the museum learning and discovering things all by themselves.
EL: What changes do you wish to see in the Events space in India?
TJ: Would like to see a greater involvement of the central and state governments by providing grants, sponsorships and extensive promotions to good quality events.
Logistics. It would be great if the events did not have to be restricted to the residents of the city alone. Our IMD 17 event had a large number of tourists as well who happened to be in Bangalore at the time. It would be good if such interested people could be given the experience through virtual media in case they are not able to be physically present. Using technology pre, during and post for audience engagement would take event hosting at a different level. It is presently done in small pockets.
EL: What is your message for Brands that sponsor and Event Organizers?
TJ: Our message to the event organizers and brands would be to be mindful in their activities. There are limited natural resources and climate change is real and we should endeavor to work towards a sustainable future. It would be great if we could all be conscious towards the social, economic and environmental impact that our events and activities have.
EL: EventLinked is an online platform that helps Event Organizers reach out to interested Brands and raise event sponsorship money online. Listing (creating an Event Sponsorship Proposal) is free and the only fee charged to Event Organizers is 2% of the total sponsorship money raised.
What is your take on EventLinked?
TJ: It’s a great concept. Usually we come across platforms which list and publicize events. Connecting brands to find the right marketing opportunity to reach out to and engage the right target audience is very effective use of resources.
EL: Would you ever consider listing an event on EventLinked?
EL: What is your most memorable moment from an Event and what makes it such?
TJ: There have been many. We get some valuable feedback and comments which encourage us to keep going. The common thread to all is- “they exceeded my expectations” or “it was my first time and I experienced something wonderful which I had not done before”.
Tejshvi Jain can be reached at email@example.com.
Please note: the opinions expressed in this interview are those of the respondent and do not reflect the views of the organization to which she is affiliated.