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New support for innovation within the arts announced

Date: 09/07/2013

New support has opened up for arts projects exploring the possibilities of digital technology in Britain, with new backing for big data and research projects through the Digital R&D fund for the Arts in England and the launch of the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts in Wales.

The Digital R&D fund for the Arts in England, which opened for applications in 2012, has announced two additional application streams. 

The first, Big Data (Funding Opportunity), will provide funding to consortia of arts organisations working with a technology partner and a research partner who wish to investigate Big Data to improve or implement new business models within the arts sector.

Big data is a term used to describe large sets of data often used to understand an organisation's audiences and enhances their decision making processes. The importance of Big Data and what changes are needed within the arts and culture sector to harness its potential were discussed in a recent report from Nesta and Arts Council England: Counting What Counts. The report's findings have influenced the instigation of the call for big data projects to apply to the fund. The deadline for applications to the Big Data stream is Friday 13th September 2013.

The second, Research+ (Funding opportunity), is to support existing art and digital collaborations by providing research funding for projects that have just begun or are underway and are currently not being supported by the Digital R&D fund for the Arts in England.  Working with a researcher will allow funded projects to gain insights into the impact and successes of their work. The knowledge that researchers acquire through collaborating with arts and technology partners on funded projects will go on to benefit the wider cultural sector when learning is shared by the fund. 

Jon Kingsbury, Nesta's director of Creative Economy programmes, said: "'Big Data' is a buzz-phrase at the moment, but we believe that there are fantastic opportunities for arts organisations to use their data better to generate revenue. This new call encourages arts organisations to co-operate with each other to find new forms of value from their information."

Professor Andrew Prescott, AHRC Leadership Fellow for Digital transformations comments: "'Big Data' is more usually associated with science projects like the Large Hadron Collider but is becoming increasingly important in arts and humanities. The servers holding family history data are among the biggest on the planet, while artists are starting to use big data to create new types of scientific visualisation. Movies, TV, Facebook, and Twitter: all these everyday activities are producing data on a vast scale which offer new opportunities and challenges for researchers in all disciplines. Big data is one of the most exciting areas in which artists, humanities scholars and scientists are beginning to find common areas of interest."

Simon Mellor, Executive Director, Arts and Culture, Arts Council England, said: "Nearly one year on from the launch of Digital R&D Fund for the Arts we have been able to widen its offer to give more organisations the opportunity to work together to use data to make themselves more sustainable. 

"This is great news for the sector as a whole as we'll all benefit from sharing the learning which is coming out of this work."

The launch of the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts in Wales - run by Nesta, Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Arts Council Wales - was announced at the Digital Economy Day conference in Wales last week. The £400,000 fund will support Welsh cultural organisations to innovate, helping them to increase their audience reach and revenues. New data and research insights that arise from funded projects will be shared to benefit organisations across the arts and culture sector.

In Scotland the Digital R&D fund for arts and culture, run in partnership with Creative Scotland and AHRC, recently awarded over £230,000 to four arts organisations to develop technology that increases audience engagement in the arts. These four organisations were The National Theatre of Scotland, The Scottish Documentary Institute, Publishing Scotland and The Audience Business. 

Applications to the Big Data or Research+ funding streams of the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts can be made via the Arts Digital R&D website. Applications to the main Digital R&D fund for the Arts in England and Research+ can be made until the end of December 2013.

To apply for the Welsh fund visit Nesta Digital R&D Wales webpage. The deadline for applications is Monday 9 September 2013. 

For further information on the Digital R&D Fund for the arts, contact:

Applicants applying for the Big Data stream are required to form a consortium of a minimum of three arts organisations with one leading the project.

About Digital R&D Fund for the Arts:

There are three Digital R&D funds for the Arts, in England, Scotland and Wales.

Each of the Funds supports projects that use digital technology to enhance audience reach and/or develop new business models for the arts sector. With a dedicated researcher or research team as part of the three-way collaboration, learning from the project can be captured and disseminated to the wider arts sector. 

For more information on the Welsh fund visit the Nesta Digital R&D Wales webpage.

For more information on the Scottish fund visit the Nesta Digital R&D Scotland webpage.

For more information on the English fund visit the Nesta Digital R&D webpage.

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