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Digital R&D Fund for the Arts to answer big questions about big data

Date: 28/05/2014

Four projects that will examine the potential of big data - high volume, high velocity information - in the arts and culture sector have been selected for funding through the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts.

The projects were developed in response to an open call by Arts Council England, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and Nesta for big data proposals and will explore how the industry can utilise data to grow reach and develop new business strategies.

The four big data projects to receive funding are:

ArtsAPI (£292,343)- A web-based service will aggregate, analyse and present data so that arts organisations can show the value and impact they generate through their networks, helping them to create new and refined business models and propositions.

Arts Data Impact (£299,985)- The ADI project will embed the first ever Data Scientist-In-Residence for the Arts at the Barbican, English National Opera (ENO) and National Theatre to interrogate their ever-growing data resources. In addition, a national data warehouse will be created to enable more comprehensive collection and sharing of data across the arts and cultural sector. ADI is delivered by The Audience Agency.

Culture Counts (£300,000)- Building on the insights from a recently completed pilot, this project will test a new set of metrics and an online platform to help arts and culture organisations across Manchester better understand the quality and impact of their work. Audiences, peers and programmers will be invited to give real-time feedback on the event they've just experienced.

The Unusual Suspects (£184,325)- Nine arts and cultural organisations in Newcastle and Gateshead will pool, profile and segment their audience data. The insights from this will enable them to develop a series of audience offers to test the most effective ways to re-engage infrequent attenders, encourage audience cross-over and deepen audience engagement.

In addition to these data-focused projects, funding has also been awarded to three more new initiatives that will experiment with digital technologies in the arts:

We are Colony (£124,993)- is a digital distribution platform to launch films earlier and build a following. It is developed through collaboration with Film London and their research partner is Professor Philip Drake, Edge Hill University. It allows filmmakers to release under-exploited additional and making-of content ahead of, or during, their film's release. The pilot will also provide video-on-demand audience behaviour insights around purchasing and engagement driven by additional content. The pilot website launched earlier this month at www.wearecolony.com.

Alan Moore & Mitch Jenkins at Orphans of the Storm, Ocasta Studios Ltd, Dr Alison Gazzard at the Institute of Education, University of London and Daniel M Goodbrey at The University of Hertfordshire are working on Electricomics (£118,989). It is an app enabling people to explore narrative structures, and create their own digital comics using an open-source toolset.

Hijack's project The Studio of Objects (£125,000) will create an iOS app using a 360-degree laser scan to record a studio, enabling audiences to explore artists' worlds and work. Eduardo Paolozzi's studio is the first to be captured using this technology. Their partners are Touch Press, Dacapo and Dr Christopher Horrocks, Kingston University.

Since its launch in 2012, the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts has supported 36 projects. Each project's findings, research and progress will be charted on Native,  the Fund's learning website, enabling other arts and cultural organisations to learn from the work the Fund is supporting.

Notes to editors:

Digital R&D Fund for the Arts:

The Digital R&D Fund for the Arts is a £7 million fund from Arts Council England, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and Nesta to support collaboration between arts projects, technology providers and researchers to explore the potential of increasing audience engagement or find new business models.

The Big Data strand within the main Digital R&D Fund was developed to support a consortium projects that specifically focus on data sharing and big data in the context of business model innovation. Big data refers to high-volume, high-velocity and high-variety information that demands cost-effective, innovative forms of information processing to enable enhanced insight and decision making.

The big data projects' partners are:

ArtsAPI: FutureEverything, Blast Theory, Contact Theatre, Culture 24, Forma, Red Eye, Warwick Arts Centre, Swirrl, Dr. Shaleph O'Neill at the University of Dundee

Arts Data Impact: The Audience Agency, Magic Lantern (Anthony Lilley) and Professor Paul Moore at the University of Ulster, working with the Barbican, English National Opera and the National Theatre

Culture Counts: Greater Manchester Arts Centre Ltd, Pracsys, Intelligence Agency and Dr Abigail Gilmore & Dr. Kostas Arvanitis from the University of Manchester with 12 arts organisation across Manchester

The Unusual Suspects: Dance City, BALTIC, Centre for Life, Live Theatre, Northern Stage, Sage Gateshead, Seven Stories, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums and Tyneside Cinema working with Morris Hargreaves McIntyre and Tariff Street

For all media enquiries contact: Laura Scarrott, press office, Nesta 020 7438 2697

Danielle Moore-Chick, AHRC: 07825 609 382 d.moore-chick@ahrc.ac.uk

  • 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. For more information, please see the Arts Council's website.
  • 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.
  • 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.
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