In the lead-up to the Oxfordshire Creative Industries Showcase on 27 June, we will be featuring a number of blogs from partner organisations taking part in the event at Oxford Brookes University.
The Arts Council takes the role of technology in arts, culture and creativity seriously; so seriously that we created three new Innovation teams to ensure that we are in a position to support the organisations we fund and the wider sector. These teams work across Arts and Technology; Audience Insight; and Enterprise.
Across all these teams is the ambition to encourage the sector to harness and exploit the incredible opportunities that new technologies can, and do, offer. Not just in the creation of content, but in how they are reaching new and more diverse audiences; and in establishing new business models and revenue streams that can support their long-term sustainability.
A recent focus for us has been on encouraging the creation of new content for immersive technologies, like AR, VR and MR and this is most evident in our partnership with Digital Catapult and the CreativeXR programme. This is an incredibly exciting area to be working in, with enormous potential for creative practitioners, artists and organisations to experiment with new forms of storytelling, curation and much more.
It’s been really exciting for us to see what happens when you bring together arts and culture organisations with production and tech companies and give them resources to experiment. The programme has seen artistic experimentation go hand-in-hand with technological innovation. And, now in its second year, the 20 prototypes are showing that creative thinking on how to use new technology is developing as fast as the tech itself!
Whilst the creative possibilities that new technologies offer are hugely exciting, technology is changing much more than just the way we create and share work. From CRM and ticketing systems through to websites, social media and ecommerce, technology is driving development across business practices as well.
We know that not all our organisations have access to the expertise needed to commission a new website or instigate an exciting social media campaign. And so, we’ve created the Digital Culture Network; a group of nine Tech Champions spread across England who are there to provide on-the-ground support to our funded organisations and the sector.
Each of them is an expert in their field, but with an excellent understanding of the broader digital sector; together these Champions will help ensure our funded organisations and the arts and culture sector are able to capitalise the exciting possibilities that 21st century technology offers.
We’re incredibly excited by what our Tech Champions will be able to achieve and, from the reaction we’ve had so far, so are our organisations.
The Digital Culture Network was one of the initiatives born out of the DCMS Culture is Digital report. The Arts Council is leading on 7 of the 12 recommendations made by Culture is Digital, including the development of a Digital Culture Code and Maturity Index.
Working in partnership with the National Lottery Heritage Fund, this initiative will provide organisations with a self-diagnosis toolkit. It will show them where they are implementing digital across their businesses and support them to set targets to improve. We will launch this as a freely available online tool in the autumn.
These are some of the big areas of work that are occupying the Arts Council. It is vital that our sector is actively playing in the digital space, exploring opportunities to reach audiences, driving creative innovation and developing new ways to generate income.
We want our sector to be a leading innovator in the use of new technologies. And through the introduction of initiatives like the Digital Culture Network and Digital Culture Code and Maturity Index and funding programmes like CreativeXR, I hope that we are giving them the tools to realise this ambition.
I’m looking forward to being part of the Digital Catapult led session around New Technology and New Audiences. And four of my colleagues will also be there on the day manning the Pod, ready to answer questions and let you know more about our work.
Senior Manager, Enterprise and Innovation,
Arts Council England