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£7 million Digital R&D fund launches

Date: 13/07/2012

Arts Council England, Nesta and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), have today (13 July 2012) launched a £7 million Digital Research and Development (Digital R&D) fund for the arts, following a pilot project which was opened in 2011.

The launch of the fund coincides with the publication of the Arts Council’s Creative media policy, which sets out how the organisation aims to stimulate a new era of digital access and growth in the arts and creative industries.

The Digital R&D fund is a strategic partnership between the Arts Council, NESTA and AHRC and is unique in encouraging collaboration between the arts, digital technology providers and the research community in order to undertake experiments from which the wider arts and cultural sector can learn.

The £7 million fund (including research spend) will be made available over three years (2012/13-2014/5) to support research and development projects that use digital technology to enhance arts audience reach and/or explore new business models.

The fund will focus on a range of key themes identified in collaboration with the arts sector such as user generated content and social media; digital distribution and exhibition; mobile, location and games; data and archives; resources and education and learning.

Alan Davey, Chief Executive, Arts Council England, said: The large number of applications to the pilot Digital R&D project clearly illustrated that there was significant unmet demand in this area.

The fact that we've been able to continue to work together in developing these useful partnerships on a large scale is a fantastic achievement and we look forward to seeing the terrific and radically creative ideas which will emerge and develop as we continue to work to encourage a resilient, sustainable and innovative arts and culture sector.

Geoff Mulgan, Chief Executive, Nesta, said: This fund tests how public R&D, with a strong focus on rigorous and systematic research, can bring wider benefits to the arts world through the creation and sharing of useful knowledge. Nesta believes that this approach can be used across the creative sector to provide both public funders and policymakers with good evidence to help shape their support for digital innovation.

Professor Rick Rylance, Chief Executive of the AHRC, said: The pilot programme of the Digital R&D Fund is not only resulting in some interesting and important outputs, but perhaps more significantly has also identified a set of relationships between arts organisations, technology providers and researchers that is central to digital innovation in the arts. The concept seemed a strong one, but now we can say with some certainty that the practice is too. We're delighted to be taking these ideas forward in what is now a significant and potentially far-reaching initiative.

The Digital R&D Fund for the Arts is an important strand of the AHRC’s activities to encourage interactions between researchers and the Creative Economy which can generate significant social, cultural and economic benefits. These activities include the creation of the Knowledge Exchange Hubs for the Creative Economy which have recently been launched.

Organisations can apply to the fund from today. More information on the application process, including key eligibility criteria, can be found here http://artsdigitalrnd.org.uk/.

The work undertaken will directly contribute to Arts Council England's 10-year strategic framework, achieving great art for everyone. It is a key development strand of the Arts Council's wider creative media policy which has been published today, alongside other work such as the Arts Council/BBC Building digital capacity for the arts programme and The Space.

In its Creative media policy, the Arts Council has identified nine development areas which will shape the focus of development, investment and advocacy activities in digital and creative media work. They are:

  • Skills and training
  • Talent development
  • Media production
  • Digital exhibition and distribution
  • Archives and collections
  • Data and metadata
  • Rights and Intellectual property
  • Audiences engagement and learning
  • Business models and organisational development

Partnerships and collaboration will be essential to deliver the creative media policy and address the development areas. Arts Council England will look to strengthen existing partnerships, build new relationships with partners from the wider creative industries and work closely with its National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs) and Major Partner Museums (MPMs) to develop more detailed and imaginative proposals.

The Creative media policy also provides greater detail on how the £20 million of Arts Council Lottery funding set aside in 2011 for digital innovation has been and will be allocated.

Included in the allocation is £8 million which is being set aside to allow for the possibility of The Space continuing as a freely-available digital arts service.

The BBC and Arts Council England are actively exploring the future of The Space which has a huge potential to make more of the arts available in new ways to new audiences. We expect to have more details in the autumn.

Digital innovation funding will be used to target gaps and large scale opportunities that are not addressed through the Arts Council's other funding streams. The breakdown is:

  • £3.5million – which has already been spent on the current Space pilot
  • £6 million – contribution to the Digital R&D fund
  • £2.5 million – to support the infrastructure for creative media content from the arts sector including support on IP, archives and data (funding to be available from autumn 2013)
  • £8 million – set aside for the next phase of The Space

For more information contact: Tamara Salhab, Media Relations Officer, Arts Council England, Tel: 0207 973 6890 / Email: Tamara.salhab@artscouncil.org.uk

Notes to editors

  • About Arts Council England - The Arts Council champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2011 and 2015, we will invest £1.4 billion of public money from government and an estimated £1 billion from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country. www.artscouncil.org.uk
  • About AHRC - The Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) - Each year the AHRC provides approximately £100 million from the Government to support research and postgraduate study in the arts and humanities. In any one year, the AHRC makes approximately 700 research awards and around 1,100 postgraduate awards. Awards are made after a rigorous peer review process, to ensure that only applications of the highest quality are funded. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK.
  • About NESTA - Nesta is an independent charity with a mission to help people and organisations bring great ideas to life. We do this by providing investments and grants and mobilising research, networks and skills. Nesta doesn’t work alone. We rely on the strength of the partnerships we form with other innovators, community organisations, educators and investors too. We are a charity registered in England and Wales with charity no. 1144091 and in Scotland with no. SC042833. Our full company name is “Nesta Operating Company”. Read more about our charitable objectives
  • About The Space - The Space is a new on-demand digital arts service available free of charge via the internet, smartphones, tablets and connected TV, on Freeview and Freeview HD, and has been developed by the Arts Council in partnership with the BBC.

    The Space is helping transform the way people connect with and experience the arts, music and film and is helping artists to innovate and experiment digitally.

    It launched on 1 May for a trial period running until the end of October, coinciding with and complementing the wealth of arts activity in 2012, including the London 2012 Festival and wider Cultural Olympiad.www.thespace.org



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