Founded in 1958, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater consists of multiple departments:
With over sixty years of photography, program collateral, and video from each of these departments, Alvin Ailey’s digital archives run deep. When Chad Sutton was brought on board as director of information technology five years ago, he was faced with a six-year-old on-premise DAM (NetX Digital Asset Management Software) that had never been formally implemented due to a lack of time and ownership. Most of the team’s resources were aimed at running the solution, rather than configuring and using the system. None of the assets were tagged, no one could easily find what they were looking for, and Alvin Ailey’s digital history was in danger of slipping through the cracks.
Alvin Ailey needed a system that could allow parties in multiple departments to quickly find digital assets to support marketing efforts, educational initiatives, and community outreach. They required a DAM to be:
Alvin Ailey fixed the problem of findability by hiring a DAM consultant with a library sciences background to work with Sutton and other stakeholders throughout the organization to create an org-wide taxonomy and metadata schema.
Next, with all their digital assets properly categorized and tagged, Alvin Ailey took another look at their DAM to make sure NetX was still the right choice for them. After reviewing other vendors against the latest version of NetX, Alvin Ailey determined NetX was the best option available.
It met their criteria:
It made it simple to securely share links from within NetX with reviewers, venues, and others outside the organization
Sutton and his team went through NetX’s onboarding process to ensure the software was fully implemented and configured to their needs. This included building on the DAM consultant’s efforts by integrating the new taxonomy schema into the software in a way that best leveraged NetX’s functionality.
NetX’s team also helped Alvin Ailey convert their on-premise license to a cloud-based solution that requires less maintenance and upkeep.
After launching the newly rebuilt system, Sutton identified and trained content managers in every department to manage uploading and tagging assets.
Now, stakeholders from throughout the organization can quickly find what they’re looking for via top-level folders or the search interface. “The Brand Portal is night and day,” said Sutton. “There’s nothing distracting or confusing in the interface; it’s very clean and easy to use.”
Alvin Ailey can also more easily and securely share assets with reviewers, venues, and others outside the organization. Rather than searching for and uploading the correct assets to a file-sharing service, users can now simply and securely share links to assets in NetX.
Lastly, because Alvin Ailey no longer has to manage their own servers, their DAM is now less expensive — and less cumbersome — to run.
“Everyone we talked to on NetX’s consulting team — their professional services people, engineering people, and support people — they were all great to work with,” said Sutton. “NetX went from the vendor we were ready to cut loose to the vendor we all love.”
Photo by Andrew Eccles. Ailey company members Linda Celeste Sims and Glenn Allen Sims in Alvin Ailey’s Revelations.
Media courtesy of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.