AWS Public Sector Blog

Using AWS to help cultural institutions adapt to a digital world

woman and man ballerinas perform on stage

The humanities—including performing and visual arts—help us understand and interpret the world around us. Art and history shape our perception by shining a light on injustice, showing us beauty that words cannot articulate, and providing an avenue for healing through expression for the individual and society.

With the recent pandemic, cultural institutions are being challenged as attendance is slowing, funding is diminishing, and programs are being shut down. These cultural institutions must adapt to meet the challenges of this new world. Amazon and Amazon Web Services (AWS) have tools to help museums, performing arts centers, and other cultural organizations extend their sphere of influence and increase their engagement with patrons, to remain relevant and better engage audiences in a digital world.

Provide an in-depth or behind the scenes look

One way to drive interest in an institution is to deliver video content that provides patrons a more in-depth or behind the scenes look at the arts experience. For example, a concert hall can produce a behind-the-scenes video on how a symphony prepares for a concert or how different parts of a symphony sound with individual instruments. Museums can produce segments of their special collections or provide lectures on specific areas of interest. Prime Video Direct allows organizations to upload and provide access to video content. This video content can be provided as part of an existing Prime membership or can be made available to buy or rent. Prime Video Direct is a good mechanism for organizations to commoditize their existing or new video library. There is no cost to sign up for Prime Video Direct, and you are paid based on your Digital Video License Agreement.

Livestream your events and make them interactive

Amazon Interactive Video Service (Amazon IVS) is a new service from AWS that provides organizations with a managed live streaming solution that is simple to set up and manage. Amazon IVS is best suited for interactive and live stream events. Amazon IVS is designed for ultra low-latency live video, which can be integrated into web and mobile apps. Additionally, Amazon IVS includes a Timed Metadata API, which can be used to create real-time graphics, polls, or other synchronized components, making your live stream events interactive and engaging. For example, a museum curator can live stream her favorite artifacts while an interactive component displays museum trivia, collects user responses, or even pushes users to a donation page. Amazon IVS can be set up as either a public stream or one that requires authorization for playback. With Amazon IVS you pay for only what you use, depending on the number of viewers and the bandwidth of your content. Check out more information on Amazon IVS pricing.

Self-publish static or interactive eBooks

Kindle Direct Publishing helps authors self-publish eBooks and paperback books for free. Organizations can use the Kindle Create app to create Kindle books that look exactly like you want them to look. Kindle Create includes the ability to add interactive content to your eBooks—like audio, video, images, and hyperlinks—which can be accessed on 3rd+ generation Fire tablets or the Kindle app on Android or iOS devices. Through Kindle Direct Publishing, art institutions can easily create static or interactive Kindle content that provides a different way to interact with the organization’s artifacts. Kindle eBooks might include everything from scholarly works on an artist or set of artifacts, to an eBook version of a special collection that includes videos that show the techniques the artist used to create the work. Kindle Direct Publishing is free to use and you are paid royalties based on the price you set for your work. Learn more.

Chat “face-to-face” with your patrons

In some cases, patrons may want a personalized face-to-face experience with two-way video. Amazon Chime is a communications service that lets you meet and chat face-to-face. You can share your screen and interact with attendees virtually. Amazon Chime also includes advanced security features like allowing you to lock your meetings, preventing uninvited attendees from joining. Amazon Chime uses a pay-as-you-go model, with no upfront fees or commitments. Organizations might use Amazon Chime to provide private face-to-face lectures or other premium experiences in a small group setting. Check out more information on Amazon Chime pricing.

Improve customer experience through personalization

Personalization is a mechanism that uses machine learning (ML) to improve customer engagement by providing tailored content recommendations and targeted marketing promotions. Amazon Personalize can increase engagement on your site and help increase donations, and is based on over 20 years of recommendation experience and research in ML at You get started with Amazon Personalize with no prior ML experience by using simple APIs to integrate sophisticated personalization capabilities into your applications. Institutions can use Amazon Personalize to recommend different types of content to patrons, provide a list of the most popular content, and recommend a donation amount that the patron is more likely to select. You pay for only what you use with Amazon Personalize, and it includes a no-cost two-month trial for new users. Check out more information on Amazon Personalize pricing.

Art is a shared experience. But as we continue to operate in the virtual “new normal,” cultural institutions must look for new methods to support themselves as well as reach and inspire communities. Across Amazon, there are a number of tools and capabilities that can help arts institutions share art, create engaging digital experiences, and develop new avenues for funding. To learn more about how to best leverage any of these technologies, contact the AWS Nonprofit team, who can get you connected with the right technical experts to guide your journey. Learn more about the cloud for nonprofits.