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AHRC supports £1/2 million research fund to stimulate digital innovation in Scottish Arts and Culture

Date: 17/01/2012

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Creative Scotland and the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) today announces the Digital R&D Fund for Scottish Arts and Culture, a new £500,000 fund to help projects harness digital technologies to connect with wider audiences and explore new ways of working.

Arts and cultural organisations of all sizes from across Scotland are being asked to work with those with digital expertise to help them understand the potential offered by new technologies and together develop innovative project proposals for submission to the new research fund.

It is hoped that the research and development projects, supported by the Digital R&D Fund for Arts and Culture, will not only support Scottish cultural organisations to innovate to increase their audiences and revenues, but will also ultimately have the potential to produce new data and research insights that can be shared with, and benefit, other organisations in the arts and culture sector.

Chief Executive of the AHRC Professor Rick Rylance said: We live in exciting times as we discover more about the interactions between the new digital technologies and the arts and the potential for innovation they bring. This joint project will enable us to understand these opportunities more fully and encourage their realisation. We are delighted to be working once more with NESTA in this area, and for the first time, with Creative Scotland. The AHRC has long supported the huge talent in the Scottish creative economy and it is thrilling to be developing this into a new phase.?

Jackie McKenzie, Head of Innovation Programmes in Scotland for NESTA said: ?The rapid development of digital technologies opens up exciting new opportunities for Scotland?s world-renowned arts and culture sector to reach new audiences and develop new business models. Through this programme we aim to explore and demonstrate what these opportunities are, and show how technology can benefit the sector.?

Iain Munro, Creative Director of Creative Scotland, said: Many creative organisations across Scotland already work successfully across digital platforms but, as the pace of technology accelerates, our cultural sector needs to source new opportunities to increase their audiences and improve their revenues. This new strategy ? our first commitment from our Cultural Economy programme ? is a dynamic new route to boosting Scotland?s digital presence and we welcome the co-investment from our other partners.

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, said: Scotland is a creative nation and our world renowned creative sector play a vital part in Scotland?s digital future ambitions. We already have world-class strengths in many areas relating to digital technology, and this new Digital R&D fund will help our artistic and cultural organisations become even more innovative, further enhancing the ways in which they use new technology to reach people across Scotland and worldwide.

The call for applications follows an online scoping exercise with the sector to determine the areas and themes of most importance. This exercise revealed several themes that the sector is keen to explore including:

  • Digital content distribution (delivering content in new ways)
  • Social media (using technology for interactive engagement)
  • Making the most of archives through digital technology
  • Mobile and location-based services
  • Fundraising (using technology to generate giving, sponsorship and membership)

Applications are invited from all sizes of arts and cultural organisation based in Scotland from today (Tuesday 17 January) until Friday 20th April. To be eligible organisations must be either predominately publically funded and/or registered charities and want to work with digital technologies.

Applicants will be asked to take part in one of a series of workshops to be held in Perth on 6th March, Glasgow on 14th March and Edinburgh on 16th March to help them collaborate with potential technology partners.

Following these workshops and an online application process, successful applications will be announced in May 2012. For further information and to submit an application, visit http://www.nesta.org.uk/digital_rnd_scotland

Notes to Editors:

For more information, please contact:
AHRC: Jake Gilmore 07970 99 4586 / j.gilmore@ahrc.ac.uk 
NESTA: Graeme Downie 07595 710 856 / graeme.downie@nesta.org.uk 
Creative Scotland:Michelle Jordan 0131 523 0016 / michelle.jordan@creativescotland.com

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, from languages and law, archaeology and English literature to design and creative and performing arts. 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.


NESTA is the UK?s foremost independent expert on how innovation can solve some of the country?s major economic and social challenges. Its work is enabled by an endowment, funded by the National Lottery, and it continues to operate at no cost to the taxpayer.

NESTA is a world leader in its field and carries out its work through a blend of experimental programmes, analytical research and investment in early-stage companies. For further information, and to read more about NT Live, which broadcast live theatre performances onto cinema screens across the UK and worldwide, visit www.nesta.org.uk

About Creative Scotland

Creative Scotland is the national leader for Scotland?s arts, screen and creative industries. It?s our job to help Scotland?s creativity shine at home and abroad. We invest in talented people and exciting ideas. We develop the creative industries and champion everything that?s good about Scottish creativity.

Scotland boasts an incredible range of talent, from award-winning directors and writers to widely recognised actors and internationally renowned visual artists, architects and digital companies. As a result of the wealth of indigenous talent, Scotland produces a huge volume of home-grown productions and products each year.

We think Scotland?s arts, screen and creative industries are worth shouting about. We?ll lead the shouting.

This is part of a £1.5m Cultural Economy / Digital Programme. Further announcements will follow shortly.

For more information on the other parts of Creative Scotland?s Cultural Economy Investment Programme go to http://www.creativescotland.com/funding/archive/cultural-economy​

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