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Three Nationals Leaders from our national theatres share their digital visions

Already Here Ben Hammersley on why ordinary innovations are often the greatest

The F Word Mark Robinson on the taboo of talking openly about failure

Magazine of the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts


Magazine of the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts The Digital R&D Fund for the Arts is a £7 million fund to support collaboration between organisations with arts projects, technology providers, and researchers. The R&D Fund is supported by Nesta, Arts & Humanities Research Council and public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

— Issue 1 • July 2014 —


Foreword Sir Peter Bazalgette Chair, Arts Council England


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This is the digital millennium; it’s not quite fifteen years old but already digital technologies are expanding into all our lives, redefining the ways we connect, consume and create. The digital frontier is the creative and mercantile opportunity of our age, and because of the democratic ways in which digital technology delegates power to individuals and to communities, it’s one we can all participate in. It’s fair to say that overall, the arts sector has lagged behind the commercial sector in recognising this. We need to catch up if we are to reap the digital dividend. This is a golden opportunity for the arts. Digital technology offers new ways to create work, to market it and to distribute it. It can help us understand our public, reach new audiences and evolve new revenue streams. We are therefore delighted to partner with Nesta and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) on the Digital Research and Development Fund for the Arts. We’re supporting a large number of collaborative projects, each exploring how digital technology can develop audience engagement and new business models. This special edition print issue of Native and its accompanying online version is an important part of this programme. It shares knowledge gained through the R&D Fund and brings us some of the most original thinking on digital themes and how they relate to important strands of our work.

Foreword

For the Arts Council, digital strategies are a critical part of our mission to bring great art to everyone, increasing the reach and impact of our work in communities across the nation and in ways that make international audiences aware of the exceptional creative sector we possess in this country. It’s important to understand that the digital form does not detract from the live event  — as the National Theatre have found. They have played to packed houses while National Theatre Live broadcasts in regional venues have reached an additional two million people. The Arts Council Collection — a treasury of British art — toured to audiences of more than a million in 2012, but digitally it’s available on the Your Pictures portal, which is browsed by 430,000 people every month. Many of the organisations and projects we support are now venturing into this digital world; we’re seeing ingenious and stimulating collaborations across art-forms, for which we’re still evolving a descriptive vocabulary: ‘born digital’, ‘re-made digital’ and ‘surrogate digital’. We’re seeing improved online presences, streamed work and the use of smartphone and tablet apps to engage audiences. And arts organisations are learning how to orientate themselves towards data-driven marketing.

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But we know that we need to support the digital awareness, technical skills and leadership of the arts sector. This emerged strongly in the recent report Digital Culture: How arts and cultural organisations in England use technology. We believe that partnership is the best way forward — partnerships, for example, with the BBC, who we are working with on the relaunch of our digital platform, The Space; and with Google, with whom we collaborated on knowledge-sharing workshops last year. And of course our partnership with Nesta and the AHRC, through which the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts is delivered. Of particular interest in this issue is an article that brings together leaders from the Royal National Theatre, the National Theatre of Wales and the National Theatre of Scotland to discuss their digital strategy, learning and direction. On a different scale, there’s an interview with the team at Knowle West Media Centre in Bristol which looks at their work using digital tools and ideas to grow the capacity of their local community. Partnership brings diverse sectors together, makes strangers into allies and enables the exchange of crucial skills. It is important for experts from the technical world to see how artists think and function; and it’s equally valuable for arts organisations to understand how we can use Big Data. Our involvement in supporting R&D enables us to nurture collaborations that can bear fruit for all parties.


Welcome Helen Goulden Nesta


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Welcome to the magazine of the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts. Why ‘Native’? Digital ‘natives’ are those who have never known a life without digital technology. People born in this century have grown up with mobile games, 24  /   7 connectivity, and digital content available at the click of a button. Many arts organisations in England were formed in quite different times, and face the challenges and opportunities of bringing the works, collections and practices of previous centuries into the digital era. There are also new emerging creative practices to explore and new forms that are made possible by new technologies. As we move into a digitally native world, where the speed of technology development is getting ever-faster, it is important to embrace that change with a mindset of experimentation. Public R&D funding has a vital role to play here, enabling organisations to explore new models of audience engagement, new operating models or entirely new missions. Arts and cultural organisations need to be supported and incentivised to invest in R&D, just as the state funds and incentivises R&D in other sectors. And because funding is limited and resources are stretched, we have to share our experiences with one another  — our successes and our mistakes, so that others can learn and innovate further. The R&D Fund contributes to this vision. It sets out to rigorously test propositions as to how technologies can widen and deepen audience engagement or to develop new business models for organisations. The R&D process provides a ‘safe space’ for organisations to experiment with technologies through collaborations with digital producers and research teams, in a way they might not otherwise feel comfortable doing.

Welcome

Key to the Fund is the drive to gather evidence and make the results public; to disseminate the lessons, the data and the research findings so that organisations not directly participating in the fund will benefit. Digital R&D allows us to generate knowledge about the potential for technology, and it can be a powerful tool for making the most of the opportunities of the digital age. But R&D is not always easy! This limited edition print issue of Native aims to contribute to the learning process by telling some of the stories arising from the work of the R&D Fund in a way that is engaging, appealing and practical. It represents the diversity of the Fund and celebrates people and their creative experimentation with digital technologies. Native is made up of three sections. It starts with a collection of features  — profiles of people and organisations doing work worth knowing about. We spend time with Professor Jon Rogers, CultureLabel, Knowle West Media Centre and Script London as they share their experiences of R&D projects. Technology commentator Ben Hammersley gives us his insights into the potential for the arts, we get more perspectives from the Royal Shakespeare Company and Diane Ragsdale, and Mark Robinson talks about failure in his taboo-breaking article, The F Word. At the heart of the R&D Fund are the projects it supports, so at the heart of this magazine is a listing of the 36 projects funded at the time of publication. The third section is the Guide, providing articles and information that give practical insights and intelligence to support you on your own R&D journey. It includes useful practical advice for promoting your project on a budget, developing productive academic partnerships and quick snapshots of meaningful technology projects from arts organisations around the world.

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Importantly, all of the themes you find in Native — from young people and accessibility to co-design and remote working — stem from spending time with the R&D Fund projects as they go through their own individual journeys. Native reflects the experiences, investigations and lessons from many of the projects. We hope that they will bring you some useful insights as well as inspiring you to think about how digital experimentation might help your organisation meet its artistic purposes better. All the articles in this magazine can also be found on the Native website at: artsdigitalrnd.org.uk, along with many more features, insights and regular project updates. Please visit the website and join our e-newsletter mailing list to be the first to know when project results are released. If you have examples or case studies from anywhere in the world, we’d be pleased to showcase them on the Native website. We want Native to be a conversation as well as a magazine, so please get in touch with your ideas for how we as a community prepare for a digitally native world.

— artsdigitalrnd.org.uk — @digitalrnd #artsdigital —


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Contents

Contents

8· Three Nationals The National Theatre, National Theatre of Wales and the National Theatre of Scotland talk digital futures.

13· Interview / Diane Ragsdale Arts funding expert and leading blogger on innovation and how to support it.

14· Already Here Ben Hammersley on why the greatest innovations can be relatively ordinary.

16· Never Blending in A profile of Jon Rogers, Professor of Creative Technology at the University of Dundee.

21· Interview / Annette Mees Co-Director of Coney on blurring definitions & the future of broadcast theatre.

22· Attaining the Seemingly Impossible Jo Verrent on accessibilty, a theme explored by several R&D Fund projects.

26· More Than a Moment in Time Script are exploring how the album-app might open new possibilities for the music industry.

30· Interview / Andrew Prescott Professor of Digital Humanities on this important and growing academic discipline.


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31· Immersing Your Audience in Technology Blast Theory’s Matt Adams on the excitement of always looking for the next technology.

Contents

65–80· Project Directory

104· A Digital R&D Glossary

Details of the projects supported by the Digital R&D Fund in the Arts.

Key terms and concepts used across the R&D Fund.

36· Inside Knowle West

82· Achieving Your Digital Aspirations

How this Bristol-based centre is engaging young people through creative use of data.

Expert advice in response to the issues raised by the recent Digital Culture research report.

41· Interview / Skinder Hundal

88· Big Data /

The Chief Executive of New Art Exchange on what has changed in the last six years.

What does the data deluge mean for the arts?

42· Understanding What Young People Really Want

90· / small data

Insights from leading voices on how to create meaningful experiences for younger audiences.

46· Interview / Matt Locke The Director of Storythings on what makes the most progressive digital work.

47· The F Word Mark Robinson on the taboo of talking about failure in the arts.

53· Sharing the Shakespeare Experience Catherine Mallyon and Sarah Ellis on how the RSC are stepping up to the digital challenge.

56· Cultural Experiences Remixed How CultureLabel are working with museums, galleries and venues to create a new market.

58· Vive la Revolution Numérique!

Simple but powerful actions on making the most of your data whatever your size.

92· 5 Ways to Build Successful Academic Partnerships Professor Hamish Fyfe on expectations, language and having fun.

93· Budgeting for Innovation Suzy Glass shares a few things she wishes she’d known.

96· Sideshow No More: The Rise of Co-Design Andy Young on how the arts can engage audiences in the design process.

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108· 5 Ways to Make Remote Working Work Thriving alongside the growth of distributed project teams.

109· DIY R&D Key areas to consider when embarking on your own digital adventure.

114· Business Models: Ten Things to Think About A look at this central concept in digital R&D.

118· Global R&D Eight inspiring projects from around the world.

126· Further Reading Some suggested reading on the wider context for digital R&D in the arts.

127· Credits The people behind the magazine.

128· Meet the Cover Artist Data artist Stef Posavec on how she made the Native cover illustration.

100· 5 Ways to Promote Your Digital Project on a Budget Getting visibility and attention amidst all the competition.

101· Digital People The types of great people that make great digital work.

Chris Sharratt meets Jérôme Delormas, director of La Gâité Lyrique, the digital culture centre in Paris.

All content also available online. Visit artsdigitalrnd.org.uk if you’d prefer to read Native in a different way for accessibility or other reasons.


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Feature • Three Nationals

Three Nationals National Theatre of Wales, the National Theatre of Scotland and the National Theatre are all pushing new boundaries of how digital fits into their ongoing creative and organisational development. David Kettle went to meet all three.

1· NT Live broadcast of The Last of the Hausmanns. 2· Harry Ferrier, Michael Gilhooly in The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning, National Theatre of Wales (Richard Campbell). 3· National Theatre of Scotland host a press call for social media users.

“We’re in the business of telling stories The National Theatre’s NT Live project and providing content, and we’re kind of agnostic about what platform we use.” is the grand-daddy of all three national theatres’ digital projects, and by far That’s David Sabel, the National Theatre’s the most public example of the NT’s director of broadcast and digital, on the engagement with digital. An example of London institution’s attitude towards a genuinely transformative digital project, digital technologies in its work. The it was originally funded by Arts Council National Theatre of Scotland’s artistic England and Nesta and subsequently director Laurie Sansom takes things inspired thinking for the R&D Fund. further: “Digital technology used to be Founded in 2009, it transmits live relays seen as a way of audiences connecting and recorded performances of NT shows with the company, buying tickets, even to cinemas around the UK and the world, commenting on work. Now, it’s being reaching hundreds of thousands of used in its own terms to create brand viewers in more than 30 different new pieces of art.” And for National countries, as far and wide as Russia, Theatre Wales’s artistic director John Mexico and Japan. “In essence, we’re McGrath, it’s a fundamental part of his growing a virtual audience,” says Sabel. company’s identity: “I sometimes talk “If a member of the public goes to see about us being the first national theatre an NT production in one of their local to be set up on a social network.” cinemas, they may never even make The UK’s three national theatre it to the NT in person. That’s not a companies have enthusiastically second-class experience — it’s just embraced digital, and in a profusion a different one.” of different manners — understandably, Finding a halfway point between the given the seemingly limitless possibilities live and filmed experience is key to the sparked off at the point where project’s ethos, Sabel points out, and he technology and creativity intersect. feels that the digital distribution in itself And in ways rapid or creeping, smallis forging an entirely new format. scale or far-reaching, digital is having “We involve the stage director and a profound effect on all their activities  creative team very actively — we record — in the more traditional roles of a rehearsal as if it were live, then we go connecting with audiences (and away and watch it together in a cinema, responding to audiences’ new digital and the stage director and camera expectations), in the formats they can director will discuss the result. It’s a use to produce and distribute their hybrid experience. A lot of people are work, and also in a fundamental now saying that this kind of live-capture rethinking of what that work performance is actually its own genre.” might be.


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And it’s paid off elsewhere in the NT’s digital content, according to Sabel. The spectacular success of NT Live (to date an audience of 2 million people have enjoyed broadcasts in over 700 cinemas across 25 countries) has led to a broader audience engagement with the NT in general, and a stronger demand for other online content. “Because people who aren’t physically here can still see the bread and butter of what we create, that increases the traffic on all the other channels. They want to listen to a podcast where Alan Bennett talks about his latest play, for example, because they’ve seen it. All of a sudden, the ancilliary content shoots up in value.” But although NT Live is the company’s flagship digital project, Sabel is also keen that technology should play its rightful role in the NT’s broader artistic development work. “We have an amazing resource in the NT Studio. It’s a playground, a sandbox for artists to try new things, to experiment, to grow and test ideas. We’ve increasingly embedded digital into the work that goes on there.” He gives as an example a work that used Skype-style telepresence technology. “Me and My Shadow was a collaboration with a small digital arts company called body>data>space in East London. It was an installation in the NT foyer, and when you walked inside a little pod, you’d see a real-time image of yourself projected onto a screen, along with figures from other real-time portals in Paris, Brussels and Istanbul.” This particular project was closer to performance installation than traditional theatre, Sabel accepts, but he sees potential for theatrical uses. “You can see someone like director Katie Mitchell thinking it’s a really exciting technology, and using performers on a virtual stage in Istanbul, New York and London, for example.”

Feature • Three Nationals

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Feature • Three Nationals

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For Laurie Sansom at the National Theatre of Scotland, it’s natural that digital and live theatre should collide in the company’s work. “They share so much,” he says, “in terms of trying to create a community, one that can engage with ideas and imagination and play —  and a digital platform allows people around the world to do that in an instant.” And in the year when Scotland decides on its possible independence, that sense of technology enabling a community to engage with big ideas is more important than ever. The NTS’s Dear Scotland season this spring and summer involves several unconventional performances in the run-up to the big vote on 18 September, each with its own digital element, and the season’s centrepiece depends on technology for its very existence. “In the summer, we’re creating The Great Yes, No, Don’t Know, Five Minute Theatre Show, where audiences become the participants. People pitch to make a piece of fiveminute theatre, which they can perform, record and send to us using their tablet, mobile phone or computer. For 24 hours on 23 June, people around the world will be able to share a stream of five-minute theatre pieces on identity, borders, language, national identity. We can talk to Cairo, Montreal or Barcelona all at the same time, so it allows you to explore those questions in a much more inclusive and diverse way.”

It is, Sansom says, a way of democratising the way theatre is made, using the opportunities and ease of connectivity opened up by digital. It’s the third time that the NTS has hosted its Five-Minute Theatre project, and with the topicality of this year’s theme, Sansom predicts it will have the widest reach. “It creates a format where you can represent a multiplicity of viewpoints, and that’s very valuable when you’re asking a question such as whether Scotland should be independent or not. You can be truly representative.” Sansom feels that things have moved far beyond the time, just a few years ago, when digital elements in a production would have been solely focused on selling tickets. “It used to be about marketing the show digitally  — we’d make video trailers and post them online so that people could see what we were doing. Now the digital part of a project gets integrated into its very nature, and it absolutely affects the work itself.” Nevertheless, the NTS does indeed have a highly developed and effective digital strand to its marketing, holding special social media previews to encourage blogging and vlogging around its productions — thereby also responding to the demands and expectations of an ever diversifying critical sector. “It’s definitely changing the nature of reviewing and of how audiences receive work through previews,” says Sansom. “I think in general that’s a good thing — of course there’s still a lot to be said for the traditional theatre critic who’s been going to shows every night for 30 years, but anyone being able to share their views has also changed the way we view our audience.”

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4· NT Live broadcast of The Last of the Hausmanns. 5· Five Minute Theatre, National Theatre of Scotland, (James Mackie).

And it also provides new ways for audience members to engage regularly with the company. There’s that idea of community again — and in the NTS’s case, it’s strongly connected with the responsibilities to Scotland that it feels it has as a national company. There’s a similar suggestion of community in the assertion by National Theatre Wales artistic director John McGrath that NTW was the first national theatre to be set up on a social network. That happened, he feels, by encouraging the Welsh community to have a voice in what the nation’s theatre company would be. “When we started setting up the company in 2008, social networks had become a familiar part of the landscape. We built what’s still a very active NTW online community in the first part of 2009, before we programmed a single show. In many cases these things inevitably come after you have a programme and you’re talking about marketing it, but we used our online community as a way of imagining what the company might be.”


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Feature • Three Nationals

We’re learning that the earlier we can place the audience experience, digital or otherwise, at the very start of that process, the more exciting our offering to the audience will be.

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That all-pervasive sense of community, enabled by digital technologies, is there in the new audiences attracted by NT Live and the use they make of other NT content. It’s there in the NTS’s eagerness to democratise its productions questioning identity and nationhood. And it permeates almost everything that NTW does. “What digital has allowed us to do,” says McGrath, “is to be both hyper-local and also potentially global. Our work is often very specifically located, the digital conversation is obviously global, but I think there’s also the idea of Wales as an online space, which is very important to us as a national company.” The NTW Team programme, for example, works with a network of participants and advocates, whom NTW supports in their own artistic activities. A Digital Producers Lab, in collaboration with Arts Council Wales, supports independent artists and producers based in Wales in their own digital work. And the company’s Assembly strand uses online technologies to allow local performers to set the agenda for performances in their own neighbourhoods. ”We’ve used our online networks to ask people to put forward ideas for an Assembly — anyone anywhere in Wales could say they’d like to have a performance / debate on a particular issue, and we’d put it to an online vote.” This year for the first time, NTW is also livestreaming its Assembly events. “The issue for the next one is quite political — the group lives in Cardigan, where a lot of drones are tested, so it’s about who owns and controls the drones in our skies.”

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6· Kyle Rees, Matthew Aubrey and Matthew Gilhooly in The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning, National Theatre of Wales (Richard Campbell).

NTW has always been ready to tackle controversial political issues — not least in the production in which digital technology had the most elaborate impact on the artistic work itself. In The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning, McGrath found a fitting parallel between his own eagerness to embrace digital technologies and the narrative of a US soldier releasing the largest set of classified documents ever leaked to the public. “Our production about Bradley Manning and Wikileaks had to exist simultaneously in real and digital space, because the story itself exists in those two places — and Manning was living in those two spaces, too,” says McGrath. His production “put the show itself under surveillance”, as he puts it, with four security cameras streaming the live theatre show online, complemented by links that would update when key pieces of information were mentioned, and even a live chat stream. ”We were literally encouraging the audience almost to stop focusing on the play and to look sideways at this stuff. I think why people still talk about it is that it was using the way that the web behaves to view theatre, rather than trying to replicate the theatre-viewing experience on the web.”

All three men are at pains to stress, though, that they don’t view digital technology as a replacement for the live theatrical experience. “We see it very much as complementary,” says Sabel. “The live experience is always unique. But whereas in a lot of industries, digital might feel like it’s a threat to the core business model, we see it only as an opportunity — to take our work to wider audiences, and to change the kind of work we make.” McGrath agrees: “We want to create community around theatre, and we want people who come to us as audience members to feel that they have a range of ways of interacting with us — and that digital is one part of that.” But how do they deal with the expectations of audiences used to the instant connectivity and unforeseen facilities that digital technologies now offer? For Sabel, there are some areas of technology that should now be a given. “Does having a website and the ability to sell tickets online really count as digital? I’d say that nowadays that sits more within the realm of business-critical operations. Digital should be much more about content and innovation.” And it’s not simply a case as responding to the expectations of a single new audience, he feels. “There are different audiences for different things — so we try to tailor and target our content for different users, as best suits a particular platform or project.”


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Feature • Three Nationals

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7· The social media call for National Theatre of Scotland’s The Wickerman. 8· Me and My Shadow, National Theatre.

Whether responding to audiences’ expectations for online ticketing or social media contact, or connecting with them to foster a broader sense of engagement, these are simply different sides of the same issue: building a community. It’s an issue high on the agenda for organisations with the responsibilities of national theatre companies. And although it hasn’t been generated by digital technologies, they’ve certainly brought it into sharp focus — and provided new and exciting solutions. Sansom for one actively welcomes a demanding audience. “An audience that is hungry for new experiences and adventures in theatre is a great audience to be able to create work for. As artists, we aim to create worlds onstage that reflect back the contemporary concerns and realities of those of the spectators  — and digital is an essential part of those worlds.”

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How do the companies go about looking ahead to future possibilities and challenges, responding to or setting the digital agenda in their work? Unsurprisingly, all three leaders feel that flexibility is key. “People ask me what my five-year strategy is,” says Sabel, “and I tell them my strategy is not to have one. There is a strategy, of course, but the point is that it keeps changing. You have to be responsive, and bold enough to admit that yes, that was what we were talking about a year ago, but now we need to throw it out and start again from scratch.” Sansom is equally candid about the NTS’s future technological plans: “We are currently creating a digital strategy, which could end up going in any number of directions. Digital can’t be compartmentalised —  it could fundamentally change the way we work as an organisation. We have an artistic R&D engine room where all our work starts its life, and we’re learning that the earlier we can place the audience experience, digital or otherwise, at the very start of that process, the more exciting our offering to the audience will be.” And given the embedded nature of digital in NTW’s work, it’s not surprising that McGrath isn’t looking for an overarching digital strategy to apply across all of the company’s projects. “We encourage everyone we work with to imagine where things might be going. Each project we do is an opportunity to imagine where we’re going digitally.”

— David Kettle is an Edinburghbased arts writer, editor and music critic. — @DavidKettle1 — nationaltheatrewales.org nationaltheatrescotland.com nationaltheatre.org.uk —


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Interview • Diane Ragsdale

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Interview / Diane Ragsdale Diane Ragsdale (Joshua Feist).

Based at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, Diane Ragsdale researches and talks about cultural economics with a specialism in performing arts. Native: You’ve worked in the arts in various capacities since 1988. How do you think the relationship of the arts to society has changed in recent years? Diane Ragsdale: Over the last 30 years, changes in society have made things more challenging for arts organisations. There has been a loss in the sense of legitimacy, and we are increasingly put in the position of needing to defend the value of the arts. Audiences and their tastes, the ways that they like to participate in the arts, and what they consider to be art, have shifted. We’ve also seen income inequality grow in many regions, which also puts pressure on arts organisations that have historically catered to the upper middle class. These are real shifts in the larger environment that we have to deal with  — and many issues have become more acute in recent years in response to the recession. How can funders best support the innovation practice of arts organisations’? The processes that lead to innovation deserve more consideration. Additionally, we must know why we are trying to innovate — what problems are we trying to solve? It’s important to understand the social or artistic goals that we hope to achieve through innovation. Sometimes funding processes end up rewarding ‘known entities — that is, historically leading organisations — which are not necessarily the most innovative today. Another problem is that when funders invest in innovation they tend to shine a light on projects that are still being incubated and need the opportunity to fail. High profile funding seems to put pressure on organisations and funded projects to succeed; I worry that this constrains genuine experimentation and leads to limited learning. Arguably, funders should play a role in creating space for the experimentation and failure that are often critical to the process of innovation. What advice can you offer funding bodies in relation to technology? Some funders are difficult to communicate with, at times, and can seem a bit out of touch with the world. Just as we expect non-profits to be more transparent and open, to communicate with more people and give stakeholders the opportunity to provide input into their processes and programmes, I similarly think that foundations need to have greater transparency about how they are setting their priorities (including the factors and people that are influencing those priorities) and their formal and informal processes for making funding decisions.

In your experience, how are arts leaders dealing with changes in technology? I recently worked with a number of organisational leaders on scenario planning for the future of the arts. Almost all of them built scenarios based on a future assumption that a primary way in which people will receive artistic experiences is digitally, either small or large format. Arts organisations are now forced to decide whether they will exist to exclusively perpetuate the live experience, or whether they will, instead, seek to evolve themselves in response to the multiple ways that artists want to make work and audiences want to experience it. What kind of future for the arts would you like to see? First, we need to be in the centre of civil society, not at the margins. I believe everyone’s life could be improved through some kind of participation, and that it’s the role of arts organisations to collectively try and reach as many people as possible through options that are as diverse as possible. I also believe that it is arts organisations that need to take responsibility for educating people and helping them develop a taste for various forms of art and comfort with participation. Second, I’m excited by the potential for technology to change governance practices. It’s currently rather rare for the public to have influence on the strategic direction of an organisation in any coordinated way. How can the arts maximise the potential of technology? There was a time when we all looked at technology as a challenge to be overcome, but I’d like to think there’s an enthusiasm now, and a willingness to embrace technology, rather than feeling that we’re going to kill ourselves off. I gave a talk in 2010 called Surviving the culture change and even the title of it suggests a sense of threat. Today, I think more about how we are influencing the culture — not just preparing for it or surviving it. Technology can be a tool for us to have even greater influence, and that’s a really exciting thing.

— @deragsdale artsjournal.com/jumper —


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Comment • Ben Hammersley

Already Here Prolific writer, futurist and technologist Ben Hammersley suggests that you don’t have to look too far to improve the lives of audiences.

It’s easy to break out the toys. Asked to write about the possibilities that technology gives the arts, I could be forgiven for pimping out my favourite new thing. 3D printers! Drones! Lasers! Artificial Intelligences! Something on Facebook! But I’d be wrong to do that. Instead, I’ve grown to learn that the greatest innovations are not always with the new ways to tell stories, or the new ways to make a noise. Instead, the truly revolutionary are often somewhat banal. They’re the innovation that disappears as soon as it happens, that arrives and makes us immediately forget what it was like to live without it. Not showy, but subtle and just-so. This is harder to do than just ordering a big screen, or cribbing something from Wired. But as William Gibson, the novelist who invented the word cyberspace, once said, “The future is already here: it’s just not evenly distributed.” And he was especially right about the arts. There’s plenty around to borrow or, as true artists, steal.

Take ticketing as an example. Many major locations offer online ticket purchases, some of which you can print at home. An online ticket purchase requires a credit card, and that in turn requires your home address. It’s a matter of simple automation to take that address and augment the ticket or confirmation email with useful information. Here’s how to get to and from the venue from your address; here’s how long it will take given various public transport routes; here’s some recommended restaurants on the way (and here’s 10% off the bill of the pre-show fixed menu); here’s a local venue you might also like. It’s the day of the show, and the tubes are delayed, so here’s an email in the morning warning you of a slower than usual commute. It’s easy to hand-wave at such new features to an existing ticketing system, of course, but what I just described is genuinely not technically hard. It’s not showstoppingly impressive, but it’s good and thoughtful and useful — and how often can we say that?

Getting that sort of thing right is a matter of watching how your customers live their lives. Here’s another one: I recently visited the Surrealism show at the Pompidou Centre in Paris. They have online ticketing, to print at home, but in Paris I don’t have a printer. Alors, the ticket is a QR code and you get it by email. So there’s actually no need to print it out at all: a bit of schoolboy French, some zooming in and the placing of my phone screen on the scanner, and all was well. It doesn’t require an app to do this, or any more investment on their part, simply making the formatting of the confirmation email more friendly. All the people in the queue behind me, printedout tickets in hand, audibly realised how much easier their afternoon could have been, if only the Pompidou had thought through that particular customer touch-point. For tourists, especially, this was a missed opportunity to not annoy.


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Comment • Ben Hammersley

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— Ben Hammersley’s current work includes being a contributing editor for Wired UK and writing & presenting a BBC series on cyber-security which will air in November 2014. — benhammersley.com @benhammersley —

Such design thinking is how many of us make our living, but it doesn’t take great applied-futurism to come up with such ideas, merely a sensitivity to the transferability of our other everyday experiences. Again, this is nothing to do with the actual art work or performance itself, but in the way that the modern world allows us to mediate all of our experiences. Consider this: how do people create their own social value from enjoying your work? One way today is by sharing their participation online —  which doesn’t just mean having a set of easily referenced digital entities (Twitter accounts, hashtags, Facebook pages, Foursquare locations that list events and so on) but also, to give a particularly youthful example, a place marked out to take a selfie with a really good background. No one could possibly think that an arm’s length reverse shot with the prized artwork behind is going to challenge visual copyright, damage catalogue sales or diminish the value of a piece. And it might give your venue an air of a place that actually lives in the twenty-first century. Selfies are kind of silly, yes, but they’re how many people create happy memories.

These aren’t gimmicks, even if they are transient features. They’re a response to the world of today. As a futurist, I actually spend most of my time interpreting the unevenly-distributed present: the truly futuristic has very little to do with it. In this, as with any other field, the trick is to see it as part of a whole. How does your event or venue fit in with the rest of the audience’s lives in the modern world? Fortunately, we all live in the modern world, so this is a thought process available to anyone. Indeed, once you think it through, it starts to alleviate a lot of the issues that much weighty infrastructure was developed to solve in the first place. Some forms of fixed venues exist solely because of the need for people to be able to know where it is and has always been, some types of ticket sales are dependent on the necessity to use paper, some types of marketing are used because we know next to nothing about the customer. All of these start to fade when we really consider the way we, as people, plan our lives, purchase our experiences, or learn of new opportunities.

Note that all of this comes even before a single artwork has been seen, or a note played, or an emotion induced. For every artform, the use of modern tools during and after the performance will differ. But again there are parallels with other modern experiences that might be explored. If you get ill, or decide to go somewhere on holiday, or consider a new job or course of study, or even a new partner, the first thing you would do is the entirely automatic, entirely understandable, Googling for relevant background. Whether it’s looking up the actual meaning of what your doctor just told you, or checking out IMDB mid-TV show to work out what else that guy has been in, we have a set of activities that society has more or less universally adapted. Curation of any form, therefore, needs to take this into account. The provision of context, whether historical context of the work in question, or the locational context of the venue and its proximity to the nearest vegetarian restaurant, is the opportunity that our new digital technologies can embrace. Those who do, I think, will be deeply rewarded, in a way that only those who truly reflect the modern condition can.


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Profile • Jon Rogers

Never  Blending in Jon Rogers is Professor of Creative Technology at the University of Dundee. He is also seemingly impossible to pigeon-hole given his project partners range from theatre companies to space agencies. Intrigued, Chris Sharratt pays him a visit.

We’re more than half way through an interview in which Jon Rogers has, amongst many other things, talked excitedly about Buffy The Vampire Slayer (he’s a big fan), internet-connected fridges (not impressed) and the Met Office (“where diverse talent, and intellect in its many forms, is celebrated”), and I’m still unsure how to describe what he does. Is it possible, I ask, to explain where he fits in across the spheres of design, the arts, technology, science and academia? He shakes his head and I feel daft for asking. “No,” he smiles. “I’m the opposite of a chameleon; wherever I go I don’t blend in. If there was an animal that, whatever environment it went into, adapted perfectly to stand out, then that animal would be me.” Rogers, who has been a research partner on two Digital R&D Fund projects — first through the pilot round with Punchdrunk and MIT, and more recently with Unlimited Theatre and Storythings —  is an academic at the University of Dundee, where he heads up the Product Design Research Studio at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design. That description, however, barely scratches the surface of what this fast-thinking, quick-talking polymath is interested in and does. In fact he admits with a smile that he’s not really sure what he is. Which is perhaps why, when the college of art offered him a professorship at the end of last year, he was both delighted and a little perplexed.


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Profile • Jon Rogers

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“My first thought when they told me was: a professor of what? I’ve never designed a product, I’m not even a designer. If it was a case of what I’m trained in, then I’m an engineer, but I wasn’t very good at that. So what is it that I do? What could I be a professor of? Eventually, I kind of realised that I’m a creative technologist, so now I am chair of creative technology. And I like it, because it’s not a discipline —  it’s an approach.” The Product Design Research Studio is tucked away on the seventh floor of the Matthew Building, an imposing slab of 1970s concrete recently given a glassfronted face-lift. Rogers and his team are housed in three shabbily utilitarian office-cum-studio spaces stuffed with books, computers, circuit boards, cardboard boxes and the remnants of previous and ongoing projects  — including a fold-up bike perched on a shelf and a white boiler suit pinned to the wall. Much of the time, though, Rogers can be found elsewhere, collaborating with a diverse range of organisations and individuals. “I work with lots of really talented people,” he says, “and I think that’s why I’m able to get away with being slightly eccentric within the middle of it all.”

I’m the opposite of a chameleon; wherever I go I don’t blend in.

That diverse collection of people and organisations includes the Mozilla Foundation (a Skype message pops up from its director half-way through our interview — Rogers is running late for a chat), The National Institute of Design India (he’s off to Ahmedabad the week after we meet) and NASA (there are currently no plans to send him into space). What connects these high-profile collaborators is a willingness to push boundaries and test ideas — and not be afraid to take risks when that’s the way to find out what works, and what doesn’t. 1· Rogers is based in Dundee, a city with a rich history of media, production, design and the creative industries which continues to grow with developments in digital technology.


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Profile • Jon Rogers

As for the Digital R&D Fund, Rogers counts it as an important and vital enabler in the journey of discovery and disruption that his work takes him on. “I think the act of bringing together the three different fund partners [Arts Council England, the Arts & Humanities Research Council and Nesta] with three different heads and three different points of view, is incredibly important. I expect there are some interesting conversations going on in the background, and I like that — it feels highly experimental. And having been involved in the pilot and then the first full round of the fund, it feels like it’s matured a lot, that there’s a real confidence around the grittiness of this sort of activity.”

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It was a nasa Hack Jam —where else would you meet a theatre director?

The differences started long before the project began. For Sleep No More, he was ‘parachuted in‘ after the application had been accepted — along with fellow researcher Dan Dixon from University of the West of England — and had no prior relationship with the project partners. Recognising that this could be done better — and that, when it comes to collaboration, three really is the magic number — for the second phase of applications, the fund required projects to have a trio of partners, including a researcher. So, with Unlimited he was an integral part of the team from the start.

“I actually first met Jon [Spooner, Artistic Director of Unlimited] at a Met Office event,” explains Rogers. “It was a NASA Hack Jam — where else would you meet It’s a mark of his excitement about the a theatre director? He was wearing an fund that, despite having had anything orange space suit, telling people that he but a smooth ride with 2012’s Sleep No was going into space the next day.” Six More, he had no hesitation about getting months later, his feet still firmly on the involved with the fund again for the Unlimited Theatre-led project, UNeditions, ground, Spooner emailed to say he was applying to the Fund and would Rogers which developed an immersive digital like to be involved? platform for playscripts. “I got a huge understanding of the space from working As with Sleep No More, Rogers’ research with Punchdrunk and MIT — well, who approach on UNeditions has involved better to be apprenticed to? But it what he describes as ‘insight journalism’  was a very different experience the — essentially a community-centred second time.” approach to reporting, drawing on ideas of citizen journalism developed in partnership with Paul Egglestone from the University of Central Lancashire. But whereas with Punchdrunk this was done as evaluative research, responding to the live performance as it happened in New York with a series of daily ‘newspapers’, for Unlimited it was part of a co-design process involving all the partners — and a community of 20 participants, who, through a series of labs, would create the parameters for the project.


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Profile • Jon Rogers

“With Sleep No More, we were playing that gritty role as academics and I don’t think that was a very supporting and positive role for Punchdrunk — and we learnt a lot from that. In the end, we didn’t get the editorial [of the newspapers] right, we didn’t get the relationships right, and we definitely didn’t get the reporting right, so it became much more of a friction than it should have been, and I’ve apologised for that. With Unlimited, we’ve done it as more of a collaborative process.”

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2· The practical and creative environment of the Product Research Studio. 3· Jon Rogers at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad (Unbox Labs). 4–5· UNeditions co-design workshops (Simon Allen).

As well as drawing on his time with Punchdrunk, the research process for Unlimited was informed by Rogers’ experience of attending one-off events, such as hackdays. “I’ve been to some great collaborative making events and hackdays with people like NASA, the BBC and Mozilla. But while some really quite clever stuff happens at these, I’d often think, where’s the follow up? So what I wanted to test with Unlimited — and I think successfully, I’m really proud of what we did — was to run an iterative hack process rather than just a one-off event.” The result of this approach was three separate days of community labs, the 20 participants split into two groups of ten for morning and afternoon sessions. With six weeks between each lab, there was time for ideas from one lab to be acted on and then discussed further in the next. It was, explains Rogers, a genuine co-design process. “Although they [the lab participants] weren’t writing the lines of code, they were setting the requirements and the agenda. And for me as a researcher, this long tail of iterating between labs really worked — they were testing rather than making, but they were making the requirements for the project. We’ve also blurred the boundaries with this project; Jon [Spooner] is very happy to comment on the processes of co-design and insight journalism, and get stuck in with the technology and what he thinks it should do — like me, he likes to boundary cross.”

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As befits the nature of the project, the labs themselves were also conceived as theatrical events, with props designed by Uniform, a Liverpool design studio with which Rogers regularly collaborates. There were, for example, beer mats for the ‘Rusty Compass’ pub and fold-out menus. Participants were asked to use these to respond to various questions and requests, such as “write five characteristics you expect from a play-script app.” “The first lab was really about arriving at a shared challenge,” explains Rogers. “All the participants read the script for the play, The Noise, and were told we wanted a digital app or publishing platform at the end of the process, but that was all. And what came out of it was some really clear insights about them wanting light and sound, the theatricals, key things around liveness and atmosphere. They also wanted it to be free, and open source.” Rogers clearly had fun with the project, particularly the blurriness of the roles and the physicality of the whole process. While the end product was destined to be a screen-based app, the labs didn’t involve any time staring at devices — the closest they came to this was a foam iPad with a roll of paper for a screen, and the ‘Unpad’, an A4 paper writing pad with an iPad-style black frame. Moving away from screens is something Rogers is keen to see more of. “We’re still predominantly delivering digital technology through a rectangular screen — all we ever do is change the size,” he says. “Even doing this [turns his laptop sideways] is seen as radical. And my real passion is saying: all this [taps the screen], how can it come into our world? Digital is the most empowering, technical revolution we’ve ever had — it’s like the social equivalent of penicillin. So it’s amazing to me that we are so limited in the way that it’s delivered.”


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Profile • Jon Rogers

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Rogers traces this desire to see digital technology reflected in a more everyday, tactile and physical way, back to when he first came into contact with computers as an 11 year old. Thanks to his ZX Spectrum console, he suddenly found himself able take control of the family TV — a privilege previously only bestowed on the BBC and ITV. “I learnt to code because I could re-shape the world around me, and it happened to be on my TV. But I’m very frustrated that, over 30 years on, I’m still stuck with the screen — and that’s nowhere near as exciting anymore, because everyone has one. I want to subvert the table we’re sitting at, I want to reprogram and hack it!” Rather than the Internet of Things, however, what Rogers wants to see is a Web of Things — an approach that operates within agreed and open protocols. It’s early days, but Rogers is already talking to the Mozilla Foundation about how they can start working towards this, in the same way Tim Berners-Lee and colleagues did when they were creating the universal standards for the world wide web.

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“I have a real issue with the Internet of Things — it’s so anti what the web should be,” he says. “I think if we really want cultural R&D to happen in this physical space, it has to happen in an open way. It can’t just be left to the market, and that’s why I’m an academic — to exist outside that system. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it can be delivered without commercial partners, but I don’t want to leave it to them entirely. It’s about a commercial, cultural, technology and research partner coming together to solve these bigger problems.”

— productresearch.dundee.ac.uk @ileddigital — Chris Sharratt is a Glasgowbased writer and editor. — @chrissharratt — Photo credits: Simon Allen and UnBox Labs —

The future for R&D in the arts then, believes Rogers, is more collaboration, more cutting across disciplines, more demolishing of ivory towers, whether they’re in academia, business, technology or the arts and culture sector itself. “The three partners approach of the Digital R&D Fund feels like the right way to fund things,” he says. “Put three different ingredients together and you’re going to get some exciting results.” And with that, he’s off to make a Skype call to the director of the Mozilla Foundation — ever the anti-chameleon, an academic on a mission to stand out and be counted.

Cross-disciplinarity

5· UNeditions co-design workshops in full flow. 6· Materials from the workshops.

Nesta’s online innovation toolkit includes Working with the Right People, a tool to help you gather a broad range of feedback from people outside your networks: bit.ly/therightpeople


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Interview • Annette Mees

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Interview / Annette Mees Annette Mees is Co-Director of Coney, the London-based theatre company that places the audience at the heart of its performances. Native: For those of us less familiar with Coney, what is common across your work? Annette Mees: A central idea of the shows we produce is that they are a reflection of the people who take part. The craft of our work is designing and hosting spaces and narratives that are interesting enough so that something remarkable will happen whoever comes, but at the same time critically dependent on who shows up and what they do. There’s a beautiful tension between openness and limitations, and what we’re good at is hosting that tension. Coney dances at the edge of theatre, performance art, games — do these definitions matter? No and yes. No, they don’t matter because we are all and none of those. I don’t care what I get called, I care about the audience experience. On the other hand, yes, these definitions matter because their framing changes the relationship we have with our audiences. Our work is understood differently when it’s part of a games festival than when it’s in a theatre festival, so we have to be sensitive to expectations. Thankfully, these definitions are more porous than they were ten years ago. Are digital tools enabling new forms of theatre? How we communicate is different to how it has ever been before. This new connectivity, and the resulting new relationships and behaviours, needs to be reflected in our art, whether that’s in a straight play or in how the cultural form itself evolves. Call and response has historically been important to theatre and performance, and the passive audience sitting in the dark looking at the lit space, whose actions make no difference to the narrative, is a relatively recent invention. Digital channels and tools are creating new spaces for that conversation between maker, actor and audience, and opening up new opportunities entirely. That is really exciting. Your R&D Fund project, Better Than Life, is all about about interactivity and broadcast. What questions are at the heart of this new show? On-demand content services like iPlayer and Netflix are significant and we’re interested in the counter-proposition  — how do we root audiences in the here and now of the live when you can watch drama whenever you want? We are also interested in impact — much of the best art is ephemeral and limited to small audiences, and so has a problem of scale. Digital channels allow you to ask how we measure the impact of a deep live experience which reaches a few hundred people against maybe a less deep experience which reaches a few hundred thousand.

How does Better Than Life compare to the theatre broadcast projects and services which already exist? Most of the existing work is in two categories. The first takes a performance that already exists and broadcasts it in cinemas or online, and the second category adds bolt-ons such as a ‘second-screen’ experience, where you can tweet-while-youwatch for example. While these can both be done well, we’re most interested in the possibility of what entirely new experiences are possible when the live and the online audiences engage with each other. We shall also be exploring some really interesting technical challenges and research questions about how to create meaningful real-time relationships between those attending in person and those taking part online. What had been your experience of working with technologists over the past five years? Working with developers and designers has become easier and easier. What is particularly interesting is that the way Coney creates work is close to how digital talent creates work: iteratively, in public and based on feedback. It has also been great to see how UX design has become a more dominant feature of digital work; that isn’t too far away from how we as a company understand audience experience. We’ve also seen the definition of ‘a technologist’ change and we’re now in a world where coders are being recognised as creatives in their own right.

— Coney are working with Showcaster and Goldsmiths on the R&D Fund project Better Than Life. — coneyhq.com @annettemees —


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R&D Theme • Accessibility

When I first heard about Zombies Run! at FutureEverything a few years ago, I loved everything about it — the mashup of exercise motivation, narrative and zombies, the crowdfunding success story, the sense of community it engendered. So when I came home I downloaded it right away. Only then did I realise I might not be able to access it. I’m hearing impaired and use a boneanchored hearing aid. This means I have a small titanium fixture implanted in the bone behind my ear that has osseointegrated with the living bone. On that, I have a percutaneous abutment, onto which I clip a sound processor when I want to hear. This transmits sound directly via the titanium to the inner ear using bone conduction. Since I only have one, I hear monaurally and use a specific audio adapter which allows direct input from external equipment to my sound processor. So yes, I can plug my phone, computer or sound system straight into my skull.

With the creation of new accessible routes into the arts a major driver behind many R&D Fund projects, producer Jo Verrent gives a very personal perspective.

I can’t really describe what I hear —  I’ve lived with my fluctuating hearing loss for so long I can’t remember what ‘normal’ hearing is. I know I find speech hard to determine if there aren’t visual clues, I seem to hear music ok although some specific notes hurt (mainly high oscillating frequencies), and I occasionally find myself singing along to a different song to the one that is being played because my brain just guessed wrong. So with Zombies Run! — a mobile app that feeds you story episodes while you run through an apocalyptic landscape trying to dodge hoards of the undead —  I can catch bits of the story, hear the music playlist I can associate with it and can tell when the zombies are coming. Overall that’s not a bad result since more often than not, when I try and access something not designed specifically for deaf or hearing impaired people, it’s much more frustrating.

But thanks to technology, things are looking up. Phones I try not to do —  I just don’t have the confidence in a work situation to constantly be grabbing at words. Skype though, now that’s a different story. Provided there is a good, high-speed broadband connection I can have my volume up loud, have my audio adapter in and check body language and lip patterns for context — perfect. It’s actually better for me than many face-to-face meetings as it’s usually one-on-one and people actually look at me when they talk. Captions are becoming more and more commonplace — not just for deaf people, but to meet the needs of the vast number of online surfers who have their phone / computer on silent or who have English as a second language. TED —  the hugely popular talk serie — now caption most of their material and you can choose from subtitles or a transcript. No Boundaries, this year’s State of the Arts conference supported by Arts Council England, managed to solve the previously impenetrable access barrier by providing live streamed captions and BSL interpretation as standard options for both the two geographic locations and the online audience. And they blogged exact instructions so now everyone can do it too. Impressive stuff.

Attaining the Seemingly Impossible


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As demonstrated by the R&D Fund project led by STAGETEXT, captioning in theatres is becoming increasingly high tech, with companies also starting to use it aesthetically such as Wendy Hoose by Glasgow-based Birds of Paradise. In this performance, captions are projected on set like text messages including animations and gifs, and are a central part of the look and style of the piece. Internationally, handheld subtitles in theatres, using iPads and iPhones are becoming more commonplace, and those of us who use captions are eagerly awaiting the promised access options that will be enabled through the wider adoption of heads-up displays such as Google Glass. All these developments are important but I get most excited when it comes to the creative work itself, when control is put firmly in the hands of disabled artists and we start to get entirely new perspectives emerging. An example of this was the Arts Council England South East-supported action research project Short Circuit. This looked at what happens when disability and digital collide and comprised a short development process, a creative weekend, a series of mini-commissions and a presentation at the 2013 Brighton Digital Festival. As part of my role as Senior Producer for Unlimited, we are looking at technology both as artistry and as access, and frequently both in fusion. We have a fantastic poet — Owen Lowery — who wants to take his words off the page and into performance. He’s tetraplegic and uses a ventilator to aid his breathing, so we are looking at live, recorded and enhanced performance options. Equally, with live artist Katherine Araniello, we want to explore live streaming for her piece, The Dinner Party Revisited, for geographic locations to which she cannot physically tour due to access.

R&D Theme • Accessibility

We know that with technology, the seemingly impossible is attainable. Look at musician Clarence Adoo’s use of technology to rebuild his career after an accident which left him paralysed. He has since gone on to perform at the Sage Gateshead, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre and the Paralympic opening ceremony. The shift just takes time, dedication and development. It can all stir up a bit of controversy too, and in my book that’s no bad thing. Remember the 1980 s-style ‘disability training’ that put blindfolds and ear muffs on people, shoved them in wheelchairs and told them to ‘experience disability’? They didn’t. They experienced having blindfolds on, wearing earmuffs and sitting in a chair. Disability is a societal construct not simply a list of what’s ‘wrong’ with you. It is argued that because technology can give people a much greater insight into different experiences, it can therefore give a greater understanding of impairment; see the work of Jane Gauntlett, who after a brain injury, was left experiencing epileptic seizures, short term memory and communication problems. In her performance work she leads audiences towards an experience of her situation, using Vuzix 920 Eyewear, wrap-around video glasses, earbuds connected to an iPod Touch and other tech elements to provide touch, taste and smell sensations. The modern tech equivalent of ear muffs or something more? So we know tech can do a lot, and we know it could do so much more. The simplest and cheapest solutions can provide access for thousands and yet still only a handful of companies and artists use them, despite the constant demand to get audience numbers up. But it’s still not all about the tech. The biggest barriers for disabled people aren’t around access but attitude. I’ve not been stopped by what I can or can’t hear, but by what people assume I can and can’t do.

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Technology can help create attitudinal shifts too, but it only works if it’s insight-driven, human-centred technology that aims to support behaviour change that is both sustainable and empowering. Not my words, they’re taken from the blog of Steven Johnson of Considered Creative. He considers how to convince heavy drug users to call for medical intervention when someone overdoses. Practically, there is a system set up so only medical teams and no police can attend, but how to spread the word? An app, a website, a media campaign are all suggested, but aren’t realistically going to reach this target audience. The solution —  and quite a radical, non-tech one —  only came by working directly with the affected communities. It involved producing a small orange card made up of ten ready-perforated roaches, each with the key message and number printed on them. Sometimes it’s not all about the tech. Several of the R&D Fund projects, such as the Flatland project led by Extant and UCAN Go led by UCAN Productions in Wales, have involved disabled users in the design process. This is very encouraging to see given that much technology designed to support, enable, provide access for, with, by and to disabled people can still be designed in a vacuum — without our input at concept and design stage. Yes, we are dragged in to test out the final outcomes, but by then it is often way too late. If we are really going to make sustainable, long term, empowering change, then this is the place to start. Let us in at the beginning — it will be worth it.

— Jo Verrent is Senior Producer of Unlimited, a three-year commissioning and support programme for disabled artists, and an Associate Artist for Dance Digital. — @joverrent —


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R&D Theme • Accessibility GALACTIG ry’n ni’n

creadigrwydd

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creativity

Creating accessible new cultural experiences and adapting existing ones for audiences with particular needs is a central theme for several R&D Fund projects.

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1· Part of the R&D Fund for the Arts in Wales, sibrwd is a real-time audio description app from Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru and Galactig (Additional credit to Warren Orchard).

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2–4· Also in Wales, UCAN Go from UCAN Productions and Calvium; a system which allows the visually impaired to navigate cultural venues. 5–6· Flatland led by Extant sees the development of a haptic performance installation for the visually impaired. 7· Show & Tell by Circus Starr will help autistic children and their carers engage with performance. 8· North London arts centre artsdepot are leading on Silver Service, a loyalty scheme for people over 65. 4

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9–10· STAGETEXT and partners are working on CaptionCue, an automated captioning system for theatre performances.


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Project Story • Script

Music and content agency Script believe that the music industry has given up too soon on the value of albums, and through their work on the album-app are opening up new possibilities for artists, audiences and labels. Iain Aitch investigates.

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Project Story • Script

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More Than a Moment in Time As the popularity of streaming services like Spotify continues to grow and with mp3s being the definitive format for digital downloads, it may look as if we are in the end game when it comes to the electronic distribution of music. We have become used to the largely imageless, context-free use of music and the industry does not look like moving to change this. After all, if we want visuals we can go to YouTube and watch the official video for the single on the artist’s dedicated channel. Add to this the fact that vinyl collectors are outliers and CD enthusiasts just look outmoded, and you can see why many have pronounced the death of the album. No one listens to the tracks in order anymore and we all skip the ones that aren’t hits anyway. But music producer Jonathan Shakhovskoy is not willing to let the album go without something of a technological fight. He believes that the concept can be updated and upgraded for the digital age, with his content agency Script’s R&D Fund project seeking to prove or disprove his theory. “I grew up with albums,” says Shakhovskoy. “I have worked with a lot of musicians and I believe in the body of songs as a package. I think that format still has something to offer, the idea of a body of work to be consumed in one hit.”

Script’s concept of an album for the twenty-first century is one that comes in the form of a self-contained app, where songs, artwork and other visuals sit as one. The design of the album-app will be bespoke for each artist and will be as absorbing as the gatefold 12-inch sleeve was to the vinyl generation. Flicking through album apps will be like browsing through your shelves of vinyl, with you pulling out old favourites or simply returning to your current favourite. “This is the first good deluxe digital format,” says Shakhovskoy. “As digital formats have progressed we have ended up with less artwork, lyrics, photos or other context. We want to return to the album as art form. The industry has not kept the value of its product.” Working with mobile specialists Agency Mobile and a team from Anglia Ruskin University, Script’s research sets out to discover how an album app can best work, and whether there is a commercial desire for it. To this end, they started the project proper with a live use of the format in March 2014, with the app for Fránçois and the Atlas Mountains’ Piano Ombre being launched by record label Domino alongside the vinyl, CD and download versions of the album. Working with an independent label and music publisher gave Script a degree of flexibility in terms of licensing and royalty payments, which was something that they have not yet seen in dealings with the better-known names in music.

This is the first good deluxe digital format. We want to return to the album as art form. The industry has not kept the value of its product.


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Project Story • Script

“There are lots of individuals within big labels who have jumped on the project and said they would love to be a part of it,” says Shakhovskoy. “But they can’t mess with their bottom line and there are a few things within the royalties landscape that makes it that bit more difficult. There is also not a groundswell around this within the industry as a whole. I don’t think the bulk of the industry is convinced that this is what consumers want.” So, with the big record labels not backing the idea and actually having a notion that there is not the demand for such a product, you could be forgiven for questioning whether Script’s album-app is something of a wild goose chase. However, the whole team behind the project believe that it is commercially viable and a product that can disrupt the status quo of music distribution. Unit costs will have to be reduced, difficulties with the way that royalties are paid negotiated and preconceptions overcome, but Script are working on all of these behind the scenes. “Part of our work is a White Paper, including a lot of consideration about the whole music publishing landscape,” says Shakhovskoy. “In the UK this is handled by the PRS [Performing Right Society]. They are actually quite a forward-looking and modern collection society, and they have been a great help. We do need to go back and have another meeting or two with them and really sort out whether our product is better handled by a new blanket licence. At the moment our product means that a label will have to pay a small amount of money to artists up-front, which is why a lot of them will not go near it.” Script will receive a production fee for each new album-app they create for a musician or their record label, but the ‘app-master’ remains the property of the artist or label. Accordingly, artists receive royalties in the same way that they would for a CD, LP or downloaded album. Importantly they also want each download of the app to count towards chart placings.

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These may seem less important than they were in the days of Top of the Pops, but they are still one of the major ways that a record label measures the success of their investment in an artist. Björk was one of the first recording artists to experiment with the idea of a music app, but her Biophilia app was not chart eligible and thus not seen as something her label should invest in further. It is therefore seen as both a benchmark of the technology and a sign that it does not work in business terms. “To be credible, we have to work on bringing costs down,” says Shakhovskoy. “But much of the imagery, the videos and the artwork we need will have already been produced to make the physical album and for promoting it online. We don’t create much more media than the original album will have created, although we will offer exclusive content, whether that is new mixes or something else. We also plan to offer other items such as tickets and merchandise sales through the app, which are important revenue drivers for artists.”

One of the major stumbling blocks for the album-app has been how it will be sold. It may seem like a small thing, but Script want the (for now) iOS-only app to be on sale in iTunes rather than in the App Store. This way it is in front of people looking to pay for music and not people looking for the latest free game or add-on for their smartphone. “Initial conversations on this did not yield anything,” says Shakhovskoy. “I would like to see it sold alongside every other music format, but it will be bought in the App Store for now, although we are hoping that Apple will cross promote album-apps. The change in royalty agreements we are after should eventually see it in the iTunes store, accepted as a music product and with sales data reported to the chart companies.”

1· Album cover for Piano Ombre by Fránçois and the Atlas Mountains. 2–5· iOS screen grabs from Piano Ombre album app.


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Project Story • Script

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A lot of the problems that Script have had thus far with their product is that it is a new concept that does not fit within the bounds of what is already out there. This difficulty alone shows that it certainly bears investment as an R&D project. The music industry likes technological advance to come from within and on its own terms, usually in a way that will make it more money. There is also exciting potential for the album-app delivered through next generation Smart TVs in high definition, but Script is sensibly focussing on the popular iOS platform for now. But with the concept of paid-for music still not fully recovered from the early days of pirated downloads and torrent sites, the industry may just be willing to get behind something that can be proven to work for them. The right backing from artists and the right figures will be a must, but Script firmly believe that this product has appeal for new material and retrospectives alike, refreshing the concept of the album and what a music release is.

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“There is a very modern reason for thinking that the album-app gives artists a possibility of breaking that paradigm,” says Shakhovskoy. “What if an album wasn’t just a moment in time? What if it was a portal for everything from the beginning of the songwriting to the end of the tour? It makes an album representative of the creative process. What if you were, say, a Coldplay fan and the album starts with an obscure piece of artwork dropping and grows from there? It is great marketing and gets people involved in a new album, changing the definition of the way that fans consume an album.”

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— The Piano Ombre album-app is available to download now via the App Store. Iain Aitch is a London-based author and journalist who has written on culture for the Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Independent on Sunday and the Times. — @ScriptLDN script.fm — Artwork courtesy of Domino Recording Company —


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Interview • Andrew Prescott

Interview / Andrew Prescott Andrew Prescott is Professor of Digital Humanities at King’s College London — the largest department of its kind in the world. Native: For those of us less familiar with this relatively new field of academic study, how do you define Digital Humanities? Andrew Prescott: The Digital Humanities are all about understanding how we make use of digital technology in the study of the humanities. That ranges from the automation of linguistics dictionaries to the use of 3D printers in archaeological reconstruction. Ultimately it’s what happens to the humanities when you allow technology in. New technology allows us to explore new research questions, and I find that fascinating. How important is collaboration to the Digital Humanities and how might we support more interdisciplinary working? As a community of researchers working in the Digital Humanities, we’re collaborative by default. The relatively loose definition of the domain means that we are not tied to a particular discipline; we’re interested in making new connections and building links with the arts. With my background as a curator (at the British Library), I’m very interested in doing new things with manuscripts and artefacts. As well as the R&D Fund, the Pervasive Media Studio (at Watershed in Bristol) is one of the places that is most inspirational in this regard. It may even point to what a future university may look like — combining research and practice with an understanding of how to grow spin-out companies, all set within the context of the arts. We need more spaces like this, which are outside the constraints of normal university structures. Can you point to some examples that represent the diversity of the work within the Digital Humanities? In the field of data analysis, the Old Bailey Online project has opened up 250 years of court proceedings, and the ability to use that data has resulted in new insights into eighteenth and nineteenth century life. With my background at the British Library, their release of a million free images on Flickr was a great example of a museum creating a platform for creative practice. It also gets very exciting when new forms of practice and scholarship start to emerge. Michael Takeo Magruder’s visual arts research practice at King’s College London is remarkable, as was the Jekyll 2·0 project by Anthony Mandell from Cardiff University working with Bristol-based games company SlingShot, which presented Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic in an extraordinary and very contemporary way. Hopefully these kinds of projects point to a future where the Digital Humanities are as much a creative practice as a didactic or analytic one. For me, the future is very much about hands-on practice-based research rather than abstract ideas.

You are the Leadership Fellow for the AHRC’s Digital Transformations theme. What does that mean? Digital Transformations is about showing the potential of digital technologies to transform research. It has three flagship projects, and my role is to champion the programme. The first three projects are so interesting: the Digital Panopticon links eighteenth-century legal records with Australian citizenship data to tell a new social history about the global impact of the London legal system; Fragmented Heritage is looking to create automated techniques to help archeologists radically speed up their research process; Transforming Musicology applies algorithmic analysis to allow for automated recognition of musical scores. Three very different projects just starting out, so they are definitely worth keeping an eye on. If you had the attention of everyone working in the arts what would you say to them? When I started working on digital projects in the ‘90s, we thought it was something we could plan for, control and manage. But when you really engage with digital you realise it’s a continuum, and you simply can’t encompass the whole thing. That has been a real journey for me and it’s now clear that the key is having better and wider networks. Don’t over-plan, don’t be over-strategic, otherwise you’ll never get out there and do anything. I would also encourage the opening up of every conceivable piece of data because that will support the conditions for innovation. You don’t have to do everything yourself, you just have to create the platform for it.

— kcl.ac.uk @ajprescott —


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R&D Theme • Public Space

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Matt Adams of Blast Theory talks to William Drew about the perks of working as an artist in a company that is constantly looking for the next technology.

Immersing Your Audience in Technology


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R&D Theme • Public Space

“I do use the A-word… sometimes,” Matt Adams of Blast Theory tells me. He means ‘artist’, which is also his job title at the company, along with the two other core creative members: Ju Row Farr and Nick Tandavanitj. He explains that the term has advantages because it doesn’t have to mean anything too specific. “I started off wanting to act and direct. So back then I called myself a theatre maker, but it got to the point where that stopped being appropriate. For a while, I might have called myself a games designer because we were making a lot of games. The word artist does recognise that there’s a continuity through the work even when it takes different forms. I don’t think that our work is ignobled in any way by being ‘art’ though. If someone engages with something we’ve done and doesn’t think it’s art, that’s fine. I don’t mind.”

Games were really something we stumbled upon as a solution to a longstanding problem about wanting audiences to interact with the work.

In the 22 years since its first piece, Blast Theory has consistently avoided being pigeon-holed. It started in 1991 with a promenade performance called Gunmen Kill Three at the Union Chapel in London, which attempted to engage with the issue of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland at that time. From early on, the company gravitated towards interaction but didn’t find a form it found entirely satisfactory until it started introducing game-like structures into the work: “Games were really something we stumbled upon as a solution to a long-standing problem about wanting audiences to interact with the work. We’d started off using experimental theatre techniques but there’s the danger of ending up in an experimental cul-desac. Games are the ur-language of interaction. A three-year-old can understand playing a game.”

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R&D Theme • Public Space

Its exploration of immersive games began with Desert Rain in 1999, a game in which you explored a fictional desert-style terrain where the players were shown projected imagery, some of which was real footage from the Gulf War. This was Blast Theory’s first foray into the idea of blurring the lines between reality and fiction.

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Just as Can You See Me Now? and the many mobile-based games like it that followed were introducing new ways of interacting with narratives and cityscapes, one of Blast Theory’s most recent projects, I’d Hide You, uses the possibilities afforded by the latest technology to open up new space artistically.

“We were able to make I’d Hide You Around the same time as Desert Rain, because of the Digital Art2 platform. a new technology was starting to emerge that captured Adams’ artistic imagination. The project was to explore how 4G might be useful for artists and art He went to a lecture at the Royal College organisations. Working with EE, the of Art about 3G, which was in University of Sheffield and Doc/Fest, development at the time. Typically, he we set up and tested a 4G network. didn’t wait until smart-phones became We were able to stream high definition ubiquitous to experiment with the video over the 4G network in bursts. cultural and artistic possibilities of having Although it was not able to stream full networked, mini-computers in everyone’s HD consistently we were able to achieve pockets. In 2001, Blast Theory made very high quality, full-screen video Can You See Me Now? btilled as “a game streaming for three hours at a time. of chase played online and on the This gave us the opportunity to explore streets,” it was one of the first locationthe artistic possibilities of high speed based mobile games. Since then, the networks.” use of mobile technology has become an integral part of the company’s work.

1–2· Images from Blast Theory’s I’d Hide You.


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R&D Theme • Public Space

In the game, three runners are hooked up with cameras that are connected to a 4G video feed, which is available on the I’d Hide You website. Online players interacted with the runners by giving them advice on where in the city to find the others. As soon as you see another runner on your screen (seen through your runner’s camera), you can gain points by clicking on them. If your runner is clicked on however, you lose a life. You are not obliged to stay loyal to one runner and can switch from one runner to the next at any time. For all its apparent simplicity as a player experience, I’d Hide You is actually doing something very radical in terms of its relationship with an audience and with public space.

The agency lies with the digitally present players rather than the physically present runners. In their lack of agency, the runners become like avatars, but avatars controlled by the unwieldy mechanism of a message board full of suggestions. Players have to try to work as a community to get the runner to do what they want. It opens up fascinating possibilities in terms of a large, physically disconnected audience interacting with a single individual. There’s one obvious direction this could lead, of course, and this is towards the evolution of television: an area that Adams tells me he’s very interested in at the moment. “What people have done so far in terms of TV and interaction are baby steps really. It feels like there’s so much more you could do.”

Of course, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Blast Theory move into television next. It is a company that you can interact with in almost any space, physical or digital, and the experience differs depending on that context. It is both restless and reflective, constantly questioning and demanding more of itself.

— blasttheory.co.uk @blasttheory sheffdocfest.com @sheffdocfest — William Drew is a writer and game designer. — @WJDDrew —

For all its simplicity as a player experience, I’d Hide You is doing something very radical in terms of its relationship with an audience and with public space.

I’d Hide You & Digital Art2 stats:

2,139 game site visits. Players from 48 countries. 9,700 player minutes. 2,000 people in Tudor Square, Sheffield.

Sheffield Doc/Fest have released a roadmap for arts organisations creating digital art spaces in public places: sheffdocfest.com/view/ digitalart2


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R&D Theme • Public Space

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The relationship between public space, technology and the arts is a central theme for several R&D Fund projects.

3· thisison led by Albow is a platform for discovering and supporting events especially useful for those in nontraditional spaces such as this game at Bristol’s Igfest (Kevan Davis).

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4· Talking Statues led by Sing London looks to animate city sculpture using near field communications technology. 5· Culture Finder led by Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge allows people to discover the venues and objects near them (Andy Field). 6· Being trialled at FACT and led by MeYou&Us, TILO is a display system which looks to animate our public buildings. 7· DanceTag led by Pavilion Dance South West is a mobile game which encourages us to dance wherever we are.

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Project Story • Knowle West Media Centre

I pick up a brick, take aim and hurl it against the window. Don’t worry, there’s no smashing glass, no running feet and no imminent ASBO. I’m at Knowle West Media Centre (kwmc) in Bristol, and this kind of anarchic interaction is encouraged. The ‘bricks’ I’m throwing are actually made of cardboard, as is everything else in KWMC’s incredibly inventive Cardboard Living Room —  there’s a TV, a bookshelf complete with books, some beautifully-realised umbrellas, a hat stand and a grandfather clock. Charming though this is in and of itself (and it is) there’s a lot more to this installation than just having fun. It’s actually a survey, collecting real-time data about people’s perceptions of their local area (Knowle West, one of the most deprived areas of Bristol).

The cardboard bricks can be thrown against a window featuring photos of various local problems (dog mess, drug use, anti-social behaviour, broken glass in children’s play areas, etc), and when the brick connects with a photo, a sensor is activated and despite there being no actual broken glass, you can hear a sound to that effect. By standing on a ‘submit’ button on the floor, you can send your top three concerns to be added to survey responses. If your brick misses, another button on the floor resets the survey so you can start again. The grandfather clock is about fear of crime / how safe people feel; the bookshelf feeds back data about eating habits, supermarket shopping, costs of food; the hat stand and umbrellas collect thoughts about employment and training.

This installation, currently set up in the Studio at KWMC, is just one of the centre’s innovative data collection and visualisation projects. Carolyn Hassan, Director of KWMC, tells me that the centre has “a focus on community engagement, technology and creativity, and the arts. Creativity and the arts are the driver, the glue, and community engagement is what we’re about.” The Cardboard Living Room project is a key part of this work. What makes this project special is that every piece of wiring and coding that makes the it work and save the information provided has been done by KWMC’s seven 18–24 year-old Junior Digital Producers or ‘jdps’ (there were eight jdp, but one enjoyed the things he was learning so much he left to start his own film company —  a success of a different kind), who were previously on Job Seekers’ Allowance.

Eleanor Turney spends an inspiring day in Bristol with the team at Knowle West Media Centre to find out more about their R&D Fund project.

Inside Knowle West


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Naomi Yates, Creative Skills Coordinator at KWMC, is clearly very proud of the JDPs: “Our overall R&D Fund project was a collaboration with IBM and the University of the West of England and the JDPs started with us at the end of September [2013]. And in that time I’ve coordinated their on-the-job skills training, to teach them things like HTML, CSS, Java Script. None of them could do any code before they started with us, but now they’ve built quite complex, animated Java Script web pages — they’re building a responsive web page that will work on any device. Not only have they learned how to do the building blocks of that, they’ve also honed their design skills and learned how to use Illustrator, Flash, PhotoShop, etc.” The JDPs got to put these skills to immediate use, too, in building the website version of the Cardboard Living Room survey. It has, says Yates, “been enormously beneficial to us as an organisation as well as to them.”

Project Story • Knowle West Media Centre

What resonates particularly with me listening to Yates and Hassan talking about their current and past projects with the local community, is that there is no feeling of ‘middle-class missionaries’ parachuting in ‘the arts’ as a cure-all. On the contrary, the current work visualises data provided by and about local people (their fears, lifestyle choices etc), and will be fed back to hopefully improve the area for those that live here. The survey questions asked by the Cardboard Sitting Room have been devised with a neighbourhood planning group, and it is designed to answer specific questions that will be most useful to future planning. As Yates puts it, the online version of the survey “doesn’t look like any other questionnaire you might fill out” as it takes you round an interactive space, and the installation part of the survey was built not only to bring people together in a physical space, but also to ensure that those who aren’t computer literate can still participate and have their views heard. Yates says that what’s pleased them most about this survey project is that ‘the vast majority’ of people who have interacted with the installation are new to the centre and not people who have participated in their projects before. After all, trying on cardboard hats or hurling bricks around is a lot more tempting than talking to a stranger with a clipboard.

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It doesn’t stop here, though. KWMC also spends a lot of time and effort on data visualisation — something that is increasingly trendy now but was barely used when they started, six years ago. What’s especially refreshing about speaking to the staff of KWMC, is that it never feels as though anyone is merely paying lipservice to ideas around the potential of digital technology and the importance of community engagement. The engagement that they speak of at KWMC is not tokenistic or designed to tick a box on an Arts Council England funding form (although it would fulfil those criteria in spades).

1· The Cardboard Living Room acted as a physical data capture system.


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Project Story • Knowle West Media Centre

Rather, this is grassroots work at its absolute best. KWMC’s beginnings are fascinating — a truly excellent example of a community involving itself in the arts: “Eighteen years ago,” explains Hassan, “I was commissioned as a photographer-in-residence, to look at the relationship between art and health. I was a photographer, but I also did a lot of work with digital stuff and we made films. So it started as a grassroots project; I was employed through the local health organisation in residency for five weeks, and I’ve been here ever since!” The centre has grown an astonishing amount since those beginnings, now inhabiting a shiny new building, still deep in the heart of Knowle West. Hassan reckons that they were slightly ahead of their time: “we got small amounts of regeneration funding, to look at ways that media might be used to address the needs, issues, skills gaps to be found in this community. This building’s now been open about five years, but everything comes through the power of arts, digital and technology, community engagement, young people…” Hassan gives me a tour of the building, proudly pointing out framed examples of work from the artists with whom they’ve worked over the life of the centre. A lot of the artwork is glancingly attractive, but on closer inspection, and with Hassan’s excellent guidance, I realise that they are almost all examples of data visualisation — local and international weather patterns, bus timetables, population data.

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As well as its purely artistic work, KWMC has a huge and expanding programme of work with education and young people. As previously mentioned, the seven Junior Digital Producers are coming to the end of their six month programme at the centre. The JDPs have all experienced unemployment and all had barriers to finding employment, although they come from very different backgrounds. Yates says: “One of the things we noticed when working with people who’d previously suffered barriers to employment, was that we needed to do a lot of work around their expectations of being an employee and what kinds of things an employer might look for. Aside from developing the JDPs’ personal skills, we’ve done a lot of work reaching out to employers to show them the work that they’ve been doing. We’ve invited local businesses who do a variety of things in different creative sectors, to come and see the work. I did a lot of work with the JDPs to find out what kinds of things they want to do next, where they think they could use their skills. The idea is that we’re going to try and support them into their next job — since they started we’ve always been thinking about what their next step might be.”

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What we’re actually teaching them is how to learn, how to keep abreast of what is happening, rather than just teaching them one programming language.

2–3· The Cardboard Living Room. Find out more at: datapatchwork.co.uk 4· Workshop in one of the KWMC meeting spaces (Lee Magpie Smith).


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Through the scheme, the JDPs have not only discovered and learnt new, employable skills, but also have learned a lot about themselves, their own areas of interest, and the kinds of jobs that might be available to them. “We haven’t predicted exactly what will happen,” says Hassan. “We’ve tried to give the JDPs as much freedom as possible while working to a brief and sticking to the spirit of the plans. The feedback we’ve had from businesses who’ve been to see the work is that this is exactly the right approach, but what we’re actually teaching them is how to learn, how to keep abreast of what is happening, rather than just teaching them one programming language. That was a lightbulb moment for us. We want these skills to be fit for the future — we’re teaching them how to think and how to solve problems.”

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Project Story • Knowle West Media Centre

The skills they are learning are quite new, and businesses “are beginning to cotton on to the fact that they might have a gap in their team for someone who can do data visualisation or gamification,” says Yates. “It’s a really good time for them to be emerging into the workplace, and we’ve trained them so that they have the kinds of skills that employers are looking for.” Hassan continues: “They might not be a conventional employee that you might take, ie they haven’t got a First in whatever, but actually, they can think for themselves! So we’ll see. That’s our aim — to get all of them into the next thing.” They also want to open the JDPs’ minds to the possibility of “not necessarily starting to work for someone else straight away,” adds Yates. “A lot of them are very nervous about the possibility of freelancing or working for themselves, because it’s not something that they’ve thought about, and they may not have the confidence in themselves to earn a living.”

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Although the focus is local, and intelligently so, the things that KWMC has learnt and taught are garnering attention on an international stage. “We have a very local focus,” explains Hassan, “but we share our learning and the context city-wide, regionally and internationally. Cultural partnerships, with businesses and across the city, are really important. We’ve worked with Toshiba, we’re working with IBM at the moment, but we also work a lot with universities and the city.” The lessons the centre has learned about truly engaging with its community, rather than tossing out buzzwords, are being replicated elsewhere. I get a distinct feeling from my visit that this organisation couldn’t exist anywhere other than Bristol — it feels very Bristolian  — but it holds lessons for grassroots organisations across the UK and beyond. “Bristol as a city is very important,” agrees Hassan. “The Mayor [George Ferguson] talks about it being two cities, a divided city, and the work we do tries to address the division and barriers, and look at what we can do to make it community‑ centric.


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Project Story • Knowle West Media Centre

Bristol itself is an astonishingly creative city (it has been compared to Berlin, and artists often comment on its European feel), and KWMC feels right here, somehow. Bristol attracts both ‘creatives’ and those who wish to use a more creative approach to non-arts work — Bristol Old Vic’s artistic director Tom Morris has referred to the ‘cocktail of enthusiasm’ to be found in Bristol, a city where the elected Mayor owns (and lives in!) the wonderful Tobacco Factory Theatre. It’s also a city with a forwardlooking local council, which seems to understand that arts and culture are vital drivers of economic growth and also social wellbeing — where other councils have cut funding, Bristol City Council raised its arts spend last year and maintained it this year. Elsewhere, the work KWMC does might feel like a case of trying to use the arts as a sticking plaster for social ills, here it feels genuinely worthwhile.

5· Knowle West Media Centre opened in 2008. 6· Making a music video for young artists.

However, a lot of the things that we discuss are true of any urban area, and as such the work KWMC does, while specific to Knowle West in its particulars, has implications on a far wider scale. As Hassan puts it, “The issues that are important to this community are common to lots of communities: fear of crime, health statistics, the fact that you’re more likely to die ten years younger here than anywhere else in Bristol, and education. Things are changing, but not fast enough.” With Hassan and her team on the case, I leave Knowle West cheered by the thought that change will continue apace.

— kwmc.org.uk @knowlewestmedia — Eleanor Turney can often be found in Bath, London or a train in between. Alongside her writing, she is the CoDirector of Incoming Festival, a celebration of emerging UK theatre companies held for the first time in May 2014. —

Creativity, technology and the arts are the driver, the glue, and community engagement is what we’re about.

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The Knowle West Data Toolkit now available As an output of their project, Knowle West Media Centre have published a toolkit for other arts organisations interested to work with young people on data-led creative projects. Find it at: datatoolkit.org.uk 6


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Interview • Skinder Hundal

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Interview / Skinder Hundal Chief Executive of New Art Exchange, the contemporary arts space in Nottingham dedicated to creating incredible encounters. Native: This is your 6th year at New Art Exchange. How do you feel the audiences and their behaviour has changed in your physical space in that time? Skinder Hundal: When you open a new space in an inner-city neighbourhood there is the challenge of bringing people into the building. If you had come here five years ago it would have felt empty but today it is alive with around 90,000 people through our doors every year and a further 160,000 through our touring work. While our audiences are very diverse, what they share is that they are not just looking for a straight art / audience experience, they want to understand more about the process. So this interest in what happens behind the scenes has really grown alongside people looking to share their experiences through social media or old fashioned conversations. How do you support your audiences to have a more social or conversational experience? There are three kinds of existence: the physical experience, your thoughts and imagination, and online exchange. We’ve always been pretty good at the first two but now there’s a whole new workload! It’s very much an emerging area and I don’t think we, as arts organisations, have necessarily cracked the code yet. The heart of our practice is sharing quality work in a physical space and allowing for genuine contribution and exchange. In support of that we’re now looking at how to use the data we have to communicate more meaningfully with people and indeed inform all our activities. Your R&D Fund pilot project CultureCloud was an experiment in democracy but visual arts is traditionally a very curator-led discipline. Do you see these as different ways of operating or do you see curatorial skill sets changing? The curatorial skill set has to change. Digital is opening up new participatory processes, and widening the appeal and expectation of our audiences — be that through things they are experiencing in the arts or just in general. People want to make and curate their own work, and the boundary between artist, audience and curator is swirling and merging. Those definitions are getting more confused but not to the extent that they will collapse; there will always be value in expertise.

Amongst all this potential we also have to recognise that changing the role of the curator isn’t everyone’s cup of tea — both from the curatorial and the audience side. People have a growing expectation about what they can do, but as a curatorial team we can’t afford to get bogged down. Nassim Nicolas Taleb talks about being antifragile — making sure we don’t shatter in the changing nature of the twenty-first century. So today’s curators need to be open to the idea of co-curatorial processes but that should not take away from the other skills and intelligence that they bring. Do you agree that there is a generational issue in how digital opportunities are understood by senior arts leaders? There is always going to be an element of that generational issue, since we tend to fully understand only what we’ve been brought up on — that’s just how we relate to technology. The key thing is to recognise that and find a way to expand your horizons, through strong networks or by hiring people who really understand this stuff, and empowering them to experiment and take risks. The last six years has seen massive changes in how we as a society relate to technology — what changes have you noticed in your own life in that time? Every year I tell my team that less is more and every time we end up doing more. It feels like I’m living life at 133% and what I used to do in a month I now do in a week. That leads to some insanely busy moments but we make it work, and a lot of that is due to being able to build and rely on great teams. I probably spend at least a third of my time in the digital sphere, surfing, connecting, working, talking. The ability to do more remote working has been really significant for me, and while I’m not a gamer my thing is podcasts. Although of course there are so many out there, the issue is the tyranny of choice!

— nae.org.uk @SkinsNAE —


Do arts organisations know what young people want? And can the arts compete for attention online? Eleanor Turney investigates.

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R&D Theme • Young People

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Understanding What Young People Really Want Never ask a child what they want for tea… offer a choice: fish fingers or pasta? Otherwise you may find yourself explaining why they can’t have chocolate cake and ketchup. So while you can ask whether arts organisations know what young people want, let’s start by turning it around: do young people know what they want from arts organisations? Of course, we want to offer them as much choice as possible, but perhaps in some cases the grown-ups really do know best — and how can young people tell you what they want if they don’t know what’s available? Let’s take the latter issue first. Carolyn Hassan, of Knowle West Media Centre in Bristol, agrees that it’s a problem: “You can’t ask people what they want if they have no idea where the world is at, particularly with technology… often young people haven’t experienced, in school, some of the things that we can provide. We run things like code clubs, hacks, work with robots, but we also have a programme of music, film-making and photography. We find out what young people are interested in by trying out different things.” This hands-on approach has a lot going for it, but unfortunately isn’t always practical for every organisation.

Opinions are mixed on whether young people actually know what they want, and adult experience does count for something. Sharna Jackson, now of Hopster and formerly of Tate Kids, points out: “Sometimes young people know what they want and actually, sometimes you know best.” The education and learning staff in arts organisations are, after all, professionals. Fiona Ross, Director of Creative Learning at Sadler’s Wells says: “The arts community is very, very good at putting young people first, thinking about their needs and concerns… The limitation can be access to young people — it’s about finding the right strategies and structures to involve them at the planning stage.” Tom MacAndrew, Education Manager at the Poetry Society is slightly more equivocal: “You may know best in saying ‘this venue is great’, but you may not always know what the young people will find fascinating.” He advocates seeking feedback about which parts of projects or resources young people found most enjoyable or useful. That’s less helpful when trying to start a new project, though.

Young people want to make stuff. It’s about making the content, not just consuming it. The arts are about doing.


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R&D Theme • Young People

Jackson thinks that arts organisations need to be braver about asking questions: “There’s a fear that it’ll be expensive to find out [what young people want], but you can start with your own audience — talk to people at events, talk to parents, talk to children that you know… it’s a bit anecdotal, but see what games they’re playing and what content they’re consuming.” She also cautions against diving in headfirst: “If you’re making a game, the rationale is often just ‘kids love games’. You have to have an understanding of who you’re developing the thing for, you can’t just say ‘it’s for kids’, as if they’re a homogenous mass.”

There’s a fear that it’ll be expensive to find out what young people want, but you can start with your own audience.

As ever, a lot of decisions come down to money. MacAndrew says the biggest problem “is always fundraising for more than one year, so that you can build the feedback into the project for the following year.” With budgets stretched ever-thinner and technology changing the way we live, work and interact, is trying to stay ahead of the curve vital to attracting and engaging young audiences and participants? I’m not convinced. In some ways, arts organisations are fighting a losing battle if they try to compete with well-funded digital platforms or resources. However, a lot of these platforms are available for other people to use. The arts also have an inherent advantage in that they are populated with creative people. That, combined with flexibility, may be crucial. For Jackson: “It’s about understanding that the budget you have will never match the commercial or private sector, so be realistic about what you can achieve. If you have £5 k there’s no point trying to make a first-person shoot-emup game, but you could make a beautifully written text adventure with a writer and an already-existing platform.”

In general, the arts have more to offer than just playing catch-up technologically; above all, they offer live performance. Purni Morell, Artistic Director of the Unicorn Theatre — which programmes work for young audiences  — says: “I don’t know that I believe in asking audiences what they want from the theatre — I think that the nature of theatre is that it’s a conversation between artist and audience. When you’re sitting in a theatre, that’s where that conversation is happening and that’s where it’s valuable. You can invest in audience research, but I think it very rarely tells you anything useful to you programming the theatre.” Ross thinks that the arts sector is “tuning into digital in a much more focused way… What we’re trying to do increasingly is to put arts work in an arena where young people can see it alongside the myriad other things that they can access. There are lots of really interesting ways that young people can interact with the arts online, but there’s something very special and immediate about the tangible live experience, and the arts need to continue to champion that alongside exploring digital and other platforms.” Alice King-Farlow, Director of Learning at the National Theatre, points out that you don’t have to choose between the digital and the live. She uses the example of listening to music on your phone compared with going to a festival — different ways of enjoying music that are appropriate to different times, places and budgets.

1–2· (previous spread) Circus Starr brings the joy of circus to disadvantaged and disabled children and their families. 3· Akram Khan working with the National Youth Dance Company (Zara Rush). 4· The winners of Poetry Society’s SLAMbassadors in 2013.


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R&D Theme • Young People

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There’s also work to do teaching young people how to use already-existing platforms and digital resources for themselves. Hassan explains that Knowle West very much focuses on encouraging people to try things out: “Young people want to make stuff. It’s about making the content not just consuming it. The arts are about doing.” MacAndrew agrees: “Young people, especially teens, tend to want to set things up for themselves, they don’t want other people to get involved.”

Eleanor Turney is a freelance editor, writer and Managing Editor of A Younger Theatre. — @eleanorturney —

By remaining flexible and innovative, arts organisations can make work and resources for young people that suit the needs of different groups and ages at different times. Perhaps we can have our cake and eat it, too — with or without ketchup.

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Understanding audiences Culture Hive contains research and practical resources to understand the needs and interests of young people and other specialist groups: culturehive.co.uk 3

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Interview • Matt Locke

Interview / Matt Locke Matt Locke (Games for Change & the Collaborative).

Director of Storythings, which experiments with new ways of telling stories through consultancy, production, events and more. Native: How does Storythings operate as a company? Matt Locke: We are essentially a network with a very small centre, which takes on freelance specialists on a project by project basis. A lot of the best technical talent we work with have done their time in agencies and now want to work more like a film director or artist where you’re hired for a specific project. In time, I’d like Storythings to grow into a studio representing and helping to build the careers of digital talent, giving people the kind of opportunities to help them grow and build their skills and reputations. The talent-oriented model of working is well established in film, TV and music videos, but when it comes to digital unfortunately the market doesn’t work like that. But it will in time. You work with a lot of people, so what makes a good project partner? Most of the people we work with are genuinely curious about how their audiences are behaving, and how digital networks are changing that behaviour. They also understand that you need to run a project live as part of the design process to understand how people really use it. Too many people still want a one-off project and then don’t commit resources to continue iterating and learning after launch. Currently we’re also really interested in starting projects in conversation with actual users so we can test out assumptions right from the start. Our R&D Fund project, UNeditions, is an example of a new way of working for us, where the results are products or platforms rather than just stand-alone projects. While the use of iterative and prototyping production methods for digital projects in the arts is certainly growing, it is perhaps not quite mainstream. It is still often the case that many people approach something digital in the same way they approach a capital build project  — getting a lot of funding upfront, setting up a lot of requirements, nailing every potential problem down before you start building and then once you’ve built it not touching it again for another five years. We have to understand that you can be fast and iterative, and that there is more to digital than the website build that has probably been your main experience to date. You can be playful, you can muck around, get things wrong and fail quickly. And you can work in such a way so as to not commit to large expense until you’re really sure that the investment is worth it. The approach where you create a giant six-month Gantt chart when you want to do something digital is a fundamentally old way of thinking about things that we really need to get beyond.

Do you think that sometimes we can get too hung up on the technology, rather than the way it’s changing what we do and how we do it? Absolutely. Since most people in different industries don’t share the same language and vocabulary around technology, only talking about the technology can block the understanding of the creative opportunities that exist. What’s more, technology is changing so quickly that it’s just an endless game trying to keep up. I spent a lot of time at the BBC and Channel 4 trying to use words, metaphors and language that was about audiences’ behaviours and patterns of attention, so that we could be consistent about what we were trying to do, even if the technologies themselves were changing. If you had the ability to talk to everyone heading up an arts and culture organisations, what would you tell them? Find the shortest possible route for the great creative talent in your organisation to experiment with the ideas that they have. If you can only do that then you will do amazing things by default. Your digital strategy should not be about finding one big project, but identifying those people and finding how to let them experiment and play, creating the spaces to let them develop projects quickly and learn from them very fast. Storythings started as a crazy side project at a time when I had a full time job as a commissioner and two young babies. All of best things I’ve done in my career started as crazy side projects. Make space for them.

— Storythings worked with Unlimited and the University of Dundee on the R&D Fund project UNeditions. — storythings.com @matlock —


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Feature • The F Word

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The Word When was the last time you read an annual report that openly confessed failure? While startup & digital culture is well conversant in the language of experimentation, iteration and failure, within the arts — be it the funders or the funded  — it is still taboo to talk openly and honestly about what hasn’t worked. Mark Robinson offers a glimpse of a world where failure can be positively framed.


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Feature • The F Word

I write beneath a postcard on my office wall. It’s an image by Tom Phillips of Samuel Beckett incorporating the lines “No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail Better.” So when invited to write this piece, I thought, “Great. After all, what can go wrong? It’ll either be grand, or no one will notice, or it’ll be a failure —  which will be a comment in itself.” Well, I didn’t think exactly that, but it is the kind of irritating thing you hear cultural people say about failure. I want to argue that our attitude to the F word needs to move on from silence and flippancy. We need to be less romantic and more measured, so that we can take failure seriously, but also learn, succeed and change. ******* Some people have the word failure ringing in their ears — inhabiting and inhibiting. It makes them cautious, and over-compliant with fashion or instruction. In every potential project they see the things that might not work. Their work remains modest and safe, so they feel less vulnerable. They rarely go down in history. Others love failure. Artists and arts organisations must, they say, have the right to fail if they are to truly succeed. Insolvency and bankruptcy are just bumps in the road. They talk of ‘the glory of failure’. It can be exciting and liberating spending time with these people. Others mention failure only in passing. They hurry on to learning and how failure taught them everything they know. They say there’s no failure except the failure to learn. Some believe that one day things will turn to gold, if they just keep experimenting. And some people admit nothing. *******

There are different kinds of failure and they carry different weights. It is worth laying out some kinds of failure in arts and culture, so we can see what’s at stake. That a book, film or show may ‘fail’ artistically or commercially is not surprising. For an established artist we see it as a sign of ambition. Changes to some arts industries have made it more difficult for newer artists to not immediately succeed commercially. Fewer companies give novelists or musicians the time to develop a following if their first two books or albums don’t do well. But in general, no risk means no growth. Organisational failure is a much more serious, and often public, matter. It can end careers, lead to political ructions and land funders in front of the Public Accounts Committee, as well as in the local papers. Someone must be to blame. The learning and sharing of lessons is secondary to blame or justification. Most organisational change processes fail to meet their objectives. Saying this is often followed by a ripple of ‘why bother, then?’ Some who want the right to fail are less willing to give it to others, revealing something of the power dynamics at play. It’s one thing to take a risk in a space where we have some control of the stakes. It’s another for someone else to gamble with our jobs.

Funders fail too. Despite all the assessment and data, they sometimes pick options that prove to be wrong in some people’s eyes. I know because I did when I was a funder. Sometimes, to make sure (oh, the hubris!) we didn’t waste the money we’d invested, we invested more. Usually ‘disasters’ became ‘successful turnarounds’, but there were projects that my Nan would describe as failures — expensive ones. If we are to forgive any romanticism or machismo about failure, we need to take into account the costs of failure as well as the returns. The stakes vary. Paul Smith, founder of Newcastle-based start-up accelerator Ignite100, suggested that failure fetishisation is ‘gamifying failure as an accomplishment well earned’. This is a privilege open only to the powerful and those with resources. Those resources might be the position to ride out criticism. They might also be grants, investors, or simply a sense of ’being too big to fail’. *******


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We need to be less romantic and more measured, so that we can take failure seriously.

Feature • The F Word

Reflecting on what doesn’t go well is vital to create shared learning in each of those areas. It isn’t something that happens to organisations alone, but within a bigger picture. It needs to be done carefully. Encouraging this shared reflection has been central to the design of the Digital R&D Fund, including the evaluation methods. Many people in the arts feel a pressure to make out that nothing ever really goes wrong. Jon Kingsbury, Director of Creative Economy Programmes at Nesta, suggests this stems from a funding mix which discourages free sharing of mistakes and lessons learned. The partners in the R&D Fund wanted to change this, starting with the way they talked about learning: “Being open with the knowledge created and lessons for the wider benefit of the arts sector will encourage others to share experiences with their own digital R&D projects.” Kingsbury argues that more arts funding should be tolerant of failure. This is encouraging, but harder to apply to the majority of arts funding, even given the persuasive argument that it powers a kind of R&D wing for the commercial creative industries.

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Arts Council England (ACE) National Portfolio grants enable excellence and access, and while a ‘success rate’ of 6–7% might be good enough for R&D in the pharmaceuticals industry, it is unlikely to be an acceptable rate of return on core arts grants. Who would want to face a Select Committee and admit “93% of our grantees failed to reach their targets”, unless it was explicitly an experimental fund? There are tweaks that could reduce the amount of gaming in the system. Few would currently tell ACE that their Grants for the Arts funded project was such a success that they earned more money than predicted, as ACE reserve the right to reduce your grant accordingly. This discourages learning, individually and collectively. Instead of taking money off you, funders should let you keep it towards future development, in return for sharing how you managed it. Let’s not make subsidy a reward for failure but an investment in public learning. At the heart of people’s reluctance to talk about failure as if it mattered is what writer Brene Brown terms ‘vulnerability’. This lack of sharing is one reason capital projects seem to often reinvent each other’s mistakes. The considered framework of the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts gives a context for shared learning, as evidenced by the honesty and openness of participants so far. They create a safe space, which helps build confidence and uses vulnerability positively. Sharing experiences requires daring, self-confidence and a sense of humour. I saw this in action at a recent discussion about the high expectations surrounding a major new funding programme. As we closed someone commented: “So we’ll all get ready to fail brilliantly then, yes?” and everyone laughed. We stood up a little more empowered for it. *******


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Feature • The F Word

The Digital R&D Fund for the Arts is an experiment in funding, supporting several highly ambitious projects to create individual experiments and collective learning. All involved talk passionately about facilitating learning and the joys of a clear R&D framework. This turns risk from something to be managed to a tool for improvement, as is common in the start up support culture of ‘failing-forward’. Paul Gerhardt draws this key conclusion in his report on the pilot phase of the Fund: “We have also learnt something about risk taking, and how its value outweighs the negative feeling around ‘failure’.” Jon Kingsbury talks of championing those who admit failings as heroes. I asked Simon Mellor, Executive Director of Arts for ACE, about failure, and he quoted the exact words of Samuel Beckett above my desk. The notion of ‘failing better’ is implicit in the arts, Mellor believes. The R&D Fund creates what Mellor calls, “a structured environment and mindset for research and learning.” He contrasts this with an attitude to learning which is “too often inchoate and adhoc.” Fund projects define ‘what success looks like’, identifying targets against which one can test experience. A lack of this systematic, structured approach to learning more widely means much discussion of ‘failure’ or ‘success’ turns into anecdote — be it myth or gossip. Mellor hopes that more projects in the future will build researchers into their teams from the beginning, to make a learning dialogue inherent in the structure of the project. The arts are more prone than some sectors to ‘great man’ myths of charismatic leadership, without putting the methods of such leaders under structured scrutiny so others can benefit.

Beyond helping set the frameworks for peer-to-peer learning, the funding partners strive to be what Kingsbury calls ‘invisible’. Mellor is clear that ACE should not want everything to work: “If everything worked we’d all be playing too safely.” He is equally sure that one of the key things that can help people talk more comfortably about failure is changing the timeframe considered. Work is often taken to the public too soon, and its future decided upon by immediate reactions. Creating individual works, business model innovations and organisations alike requires a more iterative process, extending the interest in hack or scratch-and-remake methodologies to whole organisation issues. *******

Some who want the right to fail are less willing to give it to others, revealing something of the power dynamics at play in risk-taking.


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One of the key things that can help people talk more comfortably about failure is changing the timeframe considered. Work is often taken to the public too soon, and its future decided upon by immediate reactions.

Feature • The F Word

The experiences of those involved in the pilot phase of the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts suggest the kinds of approaches to shared reflection and learning are welcomed by cultural leaders, who want to embrace risk-taking and serious learning. Immersive theatre company Punchdrunk wanted to create a digital experience that connected people experiencing Sleep No More in New York with individuals online. R&D funding allowed for dreaming and experimentation, leading to something that Senior Producer Colin Nightingale describes as “ridiculously ambitious.” The project proved challenging technically and organisationally, not least in involving teams in three international locations. Nightingale pinpoints a key difference between a test and experimenting in the show itself, one with the public involved, another more purely learning. The lack of testing and other issues meant the experiences did not happen as envisaged. Nightingale does not, however, consider the project a failure. “The learning was huge so it was a massive success.” The lessons learnt and the technical development informed Punchdrunk’s next major project at the Aldeburgh Festival. This time, they used known, robust technology, albeit in new and different ways. They were able to build in face-to-face time, and to deliver the kind of storytelling experience to digital audiences that they aspire to in all their work. Nightingale’s advice is “to reach for the stars but make sure you are asking the right questions for the audience.” He is clear that playing safe is actually the most dangerous thing possible for Punchdrunk. “It’s in the culture of the company that ‘that was alright’ as a response is actually the biggest failure of all.”

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For Carolyn Royston, Head of Digital Media at the Imperial War Museum, its Social Interpretation project was an opportunity to avoid “the demand for perfection.” The project broke new ground technically and in public involvement, but was not without challenges in both areas. It was however, delivered using an agile methodology, testing early and then making changes. This iterative process proved much more difficult to do in a live and public environment than behind the scenes. For Royston, failing well means asking the right questions at the start. As she puts it, “Understanding the landscape is key to understanding the real risks.” Knowing the things to look for also helps with spotting warning signs early, which helps avoid the sometimes painful aspects of learning from experience. R&D processes, Royston believes, must feed back into the wider ambitions of the organisation if public money is being used, so that the returns can be clear, without an obligation to be successful every time. She points out that funders also need to develop the skills of this kind of reflection, to enable organisations to share learning well, especially in the digital arena. *******


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Feature • The F Word

In a skeptical mood, tired of the right to fail, you might ask, “Why learn from failure when you can learn from success?” Neuroscientists at MIT have found that brain cells in monkeys track the success of behaviour, and become more finely tuned when a behaviour is successful. Failure made little or no difference to either the brain or the behaviour. There are counter arguments that back up a focus on learning from things that don’t go as planned. According to Harvard academics Francesca Gino and Gary P Pisano, success tends to not inspire the kind of questions that difficulty does. They term this ‘failure to ask syndrome’. Even if we review successful projects, they found, we are likely to be overconfident about our own abilities, giving more credit to our own actions than to environmental factors. Research into After Action Reviews, often used in military situations where the stakes of failure can hardly be higher, suggests a way forward. Shmuel Ellis from Tel Aviv University found that After Action Reviews are useful whether an exercise has succeeded or failed. We learn more from successes, though, by focusing on what didn’t work within them than by what did. But soldiers who discussed both successes and failures learned at higher rates than those who discussed just failures.

So we need to move on from failure as taboo. We need to not be afraid of learning from success, but be sure to consider weaknesses within success. We need to think about how we extract maximum learning from what we do, in R&D and ‘everyday’ situations, because that’s what leads to change. How to do this is as much about bravery, risk-taking and ‘ridiculous ambition’, as some projects are. We should reflect together rather than alone, to avoid overemphasising either success or failure, and our roles in it. We should begin by trying to learn some lessons beforehand, from what others have done and learnt. We should know what success and failure mean to us, and track what we do and what happens closely. We should remember genuine failure usually has consequences as well as learning outcomes and find ways to involve the people bearing those consequences in our reflections. We should champion those who share their learning. *******

My Tom Phillips / Samuel Beckett postcard is next to one of Martin Luther King. King was less interested in the F word and more interested in the C word: change. Can we be as serious as that about what we do, no matter how playfully we do it? The successful use of failure rests in the change we make from it, despite the truth of Beckett’s other words: “Ever tried. Ever failed.” That means taking failure seriously, not shrugging it off, counting the cost of the learning as well as what’s gained from it. Not learning, not paying heed, would really be failure.

— Mark Robinson heads up the arts consultancy Thinking Practice and was Executive Director of Arts Council England, North East, from 2005–2010. His latest book of poems How I Learned to Sing was published earlier this year by Smokestack Books. — @ThinkinPractice —

*******

We need to think about how we extract maximum learning from what we do, because that’s what leads to change.


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Interview • Royal Shakespeare Company

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Sharing the Shakespeare Experience

In the 450th anniversary year of Shakespeare’s birth, Tandi Williams talks to Executive Director Catherine Mallyon and Digital Producer Sarah Ellis from the Royal Shakespeare Company about digital capacity, confidence, and what on earth you do with the attention of 30 million viewers.


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Interview • Royal Shakespeare Company

Native: What does digital technology mean for the RSC?

How did your partnership with Google come about?

Catherine Mallyon: Digital is now part of everything we do and want to do, and it’s hard to imagine how we could do a day’s work or engage an audience without the digital world. It opens a whole richness of activity in creation of content, enabling greater accessibility and engagement and reach. It’s about conversations with us, and the communities we can create now that we couldn’t in the past. Technology is also having a significant impact on our stage production. It’s how we work; we don’t have to treat it as some kind of difficult mystery. We recognise the tools it can provide us with, but at the same time, realise that it’s the people in the company that will use those.

Sarah Ellis: We wanted a partnership that would allow us to work at a large scale. Google was ideally placed, as we wanted to amplify our content across a broad platform to new places and frontier places for theatre. We wanted to be bold and ambitious in our thinking, and work with an organisation that really understands the culture of the internet. We tried to imagine a piece of theatre for the internet today — one that would inhabit the internet and share the RSC experience as widely as possible. Understanding that we were putting both organisations into a place of experimentation gave us permission to try some different things. We realised there were lots of similarities in how we work, such as how we looked at quality.

The RSC has produced two experimental digital works in recent years, what have you taken away from these experiences? CM: Both Midsummer Night’s Dreaming, our recent collaboration with Google, and our previous experiment, Such Tweet Sorrow, were new to us, and pretty new in themselves actually — although we’re always hesitant about claiming things like that. We connected with so many people who are invested in the RSC and care about this organisation. It provided an opportunity to be playful with something new and innovative. One of our front-ofhouse team members played the baker in one of the scenes. Another got their family involved and uploaded content. Our organisation can be brilliant in bringing people together. Some of those components won’t be seen by the public, but it’s important that they are recognised within the organisation at all levels. They are the most joyous moments that can’t be explained with statistics but are absolutely essential.

1· (Previous page) Richard II starring David Tennant was one of the RSC productions broadcast line in 2013. 2· Catherine Mallyon of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

CM: We had the confidence to press go because we have such strong teams within our organisation. As an organisation we are good, if not very good, at partnership working. That’s not to say it’s easy of course, but we understand the frameworks we’re working within. se: The project reached 30 million people on social media through all channels: Facebook, Twitter and Google+. We had a core community of 1,000 people over six weeks. We uploaded 3,000 pieces of content, of which 1,000 were audience members uploading their own and 2,000 were RSC commissions. And we entered the top 1,000 Google+ accounts worldwide. So the impact was great, but also very short and quick.

So what next? CM: That in itself is one of the challenges  — what we do next. If we’re dealing with a sell-out house it’s 1,000 people, if we’ve got three sell-out theatres, we’ve got 1,700 people. But if we’ve reached 30 million people, what does that mean for us as an organisation? Is it the same as our other productions, in that it has an audience, and we do another one? Or is there a way of keeping that engagement going? There are also potentially significant opportunities commercially. How do we make money a natural part of online engagement? We’d like to connect someone engaging online, who is enjoying the content, contributing themselves, and being part of that community, with our retail offering in a completely natural and appropriate way. We’ve just done our Live from Stratford upon Avon first transmission into cinemas and schools and over time that will become an income stream. There are a lot of our organisation’s activities that could be monetised, for instance extending our education programmes internationally.

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How do you approach digital planning and decision-making? CM: We have specific objectives around digital activities and projects we will undertake. In our overall objectives, we talk about reaching people every way we can: which includes online as much as in person. At the very top level, we focus on what the company wants to do in terms of quality of our work, the reach of that work, and the level of engagement of people with it — be that on the stages, online, education, events and exhibitions. An element of that will necessarily take place digitally, will be communicated digitally, and that’s how it is. It’s not another discrete strand. We want to make sure that we remain coherent as an organisation, and focus on our key objectives, while at the same time allowing people within our organisations to be creative and try new things. And that’s as much a challenge in any line of our work, digital is no different in that regard, it’s a part of the same approach to our organisation. How do we make sure the audience are getting what they want alongside our programme of work? What role does the board of trustees play in developing the RSC’s digital strategy? CM: There is a great commitment and enthusiasm for digital work — and they want to engage in a questioning and supportive way. I’m on the board, as well as our artistic director, and there are interesting connections because of that. In all areas, our board is good at pushing us to make sure we are engaging as we should, asking what we’re doing, and offering their expertise where appropriate, demonstrating that they’re open to new ideas, and want to see us trying new things. As with our work on stage, it’s about supporting focussed experimentation. There are risks  — some projects might not work, and that’s fine. We have to take those decisions and support the team in doing that. For the board, and for us, it’s about making sure the organisation is confident, as well as having the capacity to deliver.

Interview • Royal Shakespeare Company

How do you build confidence and capacity within the organisation? CM: I think we need to continue to invest in the right tools and in people  — both their numbers and capabilities, and find time for people to be creative in this area. We’re currently working on a business case for a new approach to our online activity: looking at what we need in terms of people and infrastructure. Within that we have enough room and potential for new projects, although we don’t necessarily know what these will be or will produce. We don’t have to discuss the detail of what those new things will be. But we know if we do this, we will make it possible for us to experiment and do new things. I see parallels with our physical capacity — we recently refurbished the theatre and put in a marvellously equipped auditorium. We don’t know every detail of how we will use it, but we know we have the infrastructure and capacity to respond to people’s imagination. How do you build a case for major investments in digital? CM: When we want to make significant investments in the digital domain, we need to be able to provide the evidence  — be it qualitative or quantitative —  to support that decision. We don’t necessarily know what all the outcomes of digital are going to be, but we have given thought to what we think they might achieve. It’s not solely data and bits of kit, but what we can use it for, and that’s what we need to inspire board members and ourselves to rise to the challenge and see what we can deliver.

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Some people say there is a digital literacy issue in senior arts management. Do you agree? CM: If you look around the arts world — across senior management teams and arts organisations — there are people that absolutely understand the potential and the reality of the digital world. It’s easy to get confused between technical competency and engagement, and the fact that leaders have to be open to new ways of working and new ways of creation. We might not do it ourselves, but what we have to do is enable, and I see a lot of that out there. It’s now part of the professional working world, a level of competence in digital areas. This varies from role to role and the particular requirements of the functions people are undertaking. But it’s a rare role that doesn’t require an ability to engage digitally. Externally, a lot more people are thinking about what digital means, and it’s important that we’re part of that debate. What do you think Shakespeare would make of your digital experiments? CM: The original Shakespearean plays used the cutting edge technologies of the time to produce extraordinary effects for example with masques. I would have thought that Shakespeare would be doing the same thing with the digital world now. Part of the challenge for us is to use exactly what we have now in our contemporary world, as Shakespeare did in his contemporary world.

— rsc.org.uk @TheRSC — Tandi Williams works at Nesta as the Research Manager for the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts. — @tandi_wil —


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Project Story • CultureLabel

Iain Aitch discovers more about the project led by CultureLabel which looks to reimagine how museums and galleries present events.

The R&D Fund project that brings together CultureLabel, Cambridge Judge Business School, Salford University and Fusion Research + Analytics as well as a group of partnering galleries is all about how cultural experiences can be rebooted, repackaged and marketed. The target? To increase gallery attendance and increase incomes.

“It’s a means of making these products widely available to the general public,” says Pete Barden, manager for the Cultural Experiences project at CultureLabel. “It will see a new revenue stream for arts institutions, some of whom traditionally struggle to sell out. They realise this is an innovative way to create a new business model based on experiences.”

CultureLabel is already a brand leader Many galleries and museums have in promoting and selling artist-made interesting events and programmes work, homewares and gifts. They have that can attract people from across great experience working in collaboration society, but often these could be with artists, galleries and museums as advertised or packaged in a more well as producing their series of Remix engaging way. Arts organisations can events across the world. It Therefore be great at creating exciting offerings, made sense for them to extend their but the business knowhow that comes offer and look into how galleries could from CultureLabel means that these can increase the appeal of their events. be tweaked or marketed in a way that Treating the idea of a gallery event in will bring both audience and income. much the same way that Red Letter Days treat a session at Brands Hatch, “It is often in how we deliver it to the CultureLabel are taking a fresh approach public,” says Barden. “What we do is that will see premium gallery and bring some innovation. So, for example, museum-based experiences being offered we’re doing a photography event with to the public. The fact that these will all the Royal Academy of Art in the coming be offered side-by-side through their new weeks focussed around an upcoming Cultural Experiences brand, rather than exhibition. We will use one of their just in the programmes of the galleries in-house photographers, exploring urban in question, means that cross-pollination photography. The event is not novel, should occur and that visitors will be but the participants will be using mobile attracted to venues they may have not phones and at the end you get a print previously considered. of your work, which is then framed. That is the added value for participants, which you don’t tend to get with arts programming — often they don’t have the time to do that extra part.”

Cultural Experiences Remixed

1–3· Participants at the first Coffee House Experiment event.


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Project Story • CultureLabel

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“We are looking to pull in people who In some cases CultureLabel will receive CultureLabel’s experience has taught are not our core audience,” says Kathryn a cut from selling experiences to the them how to make events stand out, Simpson, Strategic Relations Manager as well as how to turn a profit from them. public; in events created by them, at Whitechapel Gallery, one of the they hope to leave a new audience as With the increasing trend for the gifting partnering venues on the project. payment for the host venue. This allows of experiences over physical gifts, they “One of the things we are talking about them to help galleries to innovate while are in the right place to work with is having a quiz night in the gallery with also hosting their own events that speak galleries and museums to improve their an artist as the quiz master. We are also to an audience they know. offering. CultureLabel’s business sense thinking about making a more modular is backed up by their academic and “Our ultimate ambition is to change the collecting course that runs at various research partners who will be analysing landscape of cultural experiences,” says points throughout the year as a how effective the new offerings are. Barden. “It is not a market that has been CultureLabel product rather than fully developed and we spotted a massive Working together, the team can come a three-week course in the summer. opportunity to drive new audiences to up with ideas and ways of marketing Over the past few years we have seen these spaces. We want to break down existing programmes that have risk a massive growth in cool experienceinstitutional and cultural boundaries, attached. In normal circumstances these based products on the market from which you can get in the arts sector. new ways of thinking and selling ideas private companies and this being an R&D At the end of the day we want more may slip through the net or simply fall project gives us that security to try things people participating in culture. We foul of not being a part of any one out and see what works for Whitechapel will be experimenting with the set person’s job at an organisation. The Gallery, as well as hopefully generating up of events and things like charges, project also allows for the co-creation some extra income.” collaborations and the artists we need of entirely new events with galleries, This way of pushing artistic happenings to take part. In our first event we had which can mean delivering new may not appeal to all, but at a time when loads of actors, but subsequently we audiences. The first of these has galleries and museums want to produce stripped that back. I think where a lot been the creation of the Coffee House great shows whilst making ends meet, of organisations go wrong is being Experiment, which re-imagines the it is a great way to do so creatively. If worried about making a profit from popular meeting places of 17th century CultureLabel and their partners can the outset, but you need to be prepared London. get more people enjoying the art, more to lose on a few events to get the “They were something that had a massive people learning and participating and feeling right.” impact on the socio-political landscape more people through the door, very CultureLabel plan to help museums of London and then went dead at the few can argue with such an outcome. and galleries with marketing their events, end of the 18th century,” says Barden. but they also want to create events that “We have worked with a historic tour effectively market themselves, as well company called Unreal City Audio and — as the venues. Good ideas can make the Royal Academy to create a premium for great PR, as other organisations such event, with the Royal Academy getting culturelabel.com @CultureLabel as Secret Cinema have shown. When a new, young audience into the building. cultural events are made to feel more like Those we have attracted are outside of — special events then word-of-mouth and the regular RA demographic.” Follow the progress of social media can be worth far more than the Cultural Experiences project and many more advertising, which is something that the on the Native website: galleries and museums working with artsdigitalrnd.org.uk CultureLabel are realising. —

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Feature • La Gaîté Lyrique

We convinced the city to open their mind. We had to be more ambitious.


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Feature • La Gaîté Lyrique

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Vive la Revolution Numérique! Jérôme Delormas is Director of La Gâité Lyrique in Paris. Considered a prototype for how France both funds and understands digital culture, Chris Sharratt meets him to find out about the story so far.

Jérôme Delormas is not interested in digital technologies; he is interested in what people do with them. It is, he believes, an important distinction. “It is not the technology itself,” he says. “My interest is in the relationship between creativity and society. This, for me, is the base; it explains the La Gâité Lyrique project.” Delormas has been involved in this Parisian experiment since 2004, first on an occasional basis and since 2008 as La Gâité’s full-time director. In March 2011, the former Belle Epoque theatre turned centre for digital culture finally opened to the public after an eight-year, €83m redevelopment financed by the City of Paris. Situated on a tree-lined square in the city’s bustling 3rd arrondissement, it is just 10 minutes walk from the Pompidou Centre and a similar distance from Gare Du Nord. Occupying a prime spot in a revitalised area of the city, after three years of public activity Delormas believes that, despite initial scepticism from many in the country’s cultural sector, La Gâité has now established itself as a dynamic part of the Paris arts scene.

1· Le Foyer Historique provides a striking contrast to the rest of the building (Philippe Ruault).

Overall visitor figures to the venue during 2013 are a respectable 186,000, a 12% increase on the previous year, with over half million visits since opening. A recent exhibition by the celebrated graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister, The Happy Show, saw 80,000 paid-for visits during its four-month run. Perhaps more impressively, last year saw nearly 60,000 people using its free to access public spaces, such as a library and resource centre, an increase of over 70%; a sign that it is carving out a physical, social space for its investigations into digital culture. “It’s like a hypertext,” says Delormas, “working with a lot of specialists and acting as the link between them.” There are those, of course, who question whether an expensive building — and it is expensive, not just to build but also to run, with an annual budget of €9.5m —  is really necessary at all when so much of what we do digitally is conducted online. Delormas, unsurprisingly, believes that the contrary is true. “Nothing strong and really important can just exist virtually; in fact the more you engage in a virtual life the more you need to share and meet with people. So the main justification for La Gâité Lyrique is that we need a place, a common ground, to share and discuss and debate.”


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Feature • La Gaîté Lyrique

The more you engage in a virtual life the more you need to share and meet with people.

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This nuanced approach — focusing on developing a space to exchange ideas and better understand the role and impact of digital, rather than simply promoting digital activity in the arts —  is fundamental to how Delormas sees the organisation’s role. Born in 1962 and with a background in contemporary art and dance, Delormas describes his move into digital as “like an infusion”  — a growing interest that has developed over many years. There was no Eureka! moment of digital conversion, in fact he traces his interest in the cultural impact of technology back to the early 1980s, when he was a student in Grenoble studying political science. “I was totally focused on the relationships between culture and politics and social life. Design and historical movements like the Constructivists in the Soviet Union — a time when art was not something in a bubble, but was really linked to society — was something I studied a lot. So design, culture, art and their relationship with technologies  — like cinema, like video — has interested me from the beginning of my adult life.” This intellectual and cultural grounding is key to where Delormas sees La Gâité Lyrique within the arts and creative industries in France. Long before its 80-plus team was recruited and the doors opened at the venue, his take on how digital technologies are facilitating profound changes in society was already shaping the approach of the project.

“At the very beginning, when the Paris city government made a call to choose the team who should run this project, they spoke about the building being for digital art and what we call in France ‘les musiques actuelles’ — contemporary music which is not jazz or classical. But we convinced the city to open their mind. If we had specialised in digital art, then of course that could be interesting. But digital art uses technology to exist as part of contemporary art, with curatorial specialists, galleries, a market. In that sense, it is nothing new — it just repeats an old system. That’s why I said, no, digital art for a place like La Gâité is not enough; we have to be more ambitious.” That ambition is reflected in the language the organisation uses to express its mission. Until recently, its strapline was ‘revolutions numérique’ (digital revolutions). “We discussed [the strapline] a lot, and we did have another option: ‘digital utopia’. That wasn’t too bad, but we didn’t choose it because a utopia is generally something impossible, while it also has some negative connotations in the 20th century. So, it was too ambiguous and we wanted something obvious. In the end we chose ‘digital revolutions’ because we feel that we’re living in a very important time, perhaps as important as the Renaissance. The point is that the way we think about the world is changing; it is a revolution.”

Digital, then, is for Delormas and his team as much about exploring how the way we relate to arts and culture is evolving, as it is actually working with digital tools. So while the venue has commissioned artists whose work draws heavily, if not exclusively, on digital technologies — such as work by UK artists Matt Pyke and United Visual Artists — it does not impose a digital straitjacket on projects. Sagmeister’s work, for example, predates digital and is often wholeheartedly analogue, yet at the same time he operates in and responds to the prevailing digital culture. It’s this sometimes messy and confusing cultural stew of ideas and possibilities that La Gâité is interested in. La Gâité represents a kind of revolution in other ways, too. Delormas feels his role is an opportunity to do things differently — it is, he says, the opposite of what he believes is the very particular and “closed approach” of the contemporary art world, for example. “I want to escape from that kind of approach, and that’s what La Gâité does. It is a tangential space. It is not a theatre, not a contemporary art space, not a music venue — but we do all those things.”


artsdigitalrnd.org.uk

Feature • La Gaîté Lyrique

2· Director Jérôme Delormas (Maxine Dufour). 3· Image from Stefan Sagmeister’s The Happy Show. 4· The entrance to the video game suite and resource centre. 5· Reception at FAME, the venue’s first film festival (Teddy Morellec). 6· The resources centre (Vinclane Verguethen). 3

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Feature • La Gaîté Lyrique

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Perhaps more significantly in terms of France’s arts ecology, La Gâité Lyrique represents a revolution in the state’s relationship with the funding and running of the arts. This is in the context of a sector less used to mixed economy funding models than in the UK, since like Germany, France has a historically higher level of public funding per capita. “We are the prototype in France for a new way to finance and run culture, so this is a revolution in our minds too,” says Delormas. “In France, the arts are always complaining and telling the politicians that they have to give more money. And I think it is good that people are asking for this, but we also have to act, to prove that there are other ways.” La Gâité’s annual budget from the city, agreed and set for seven years in 2008, is a whopping €5 m: “When we have that, we can open the doors, nothing more,” smiles Delormas. The rest of its total €9·5 m pot is raised from a variety of sources. Ticket sales plus profits from its bars and shop account for 22% of overall budget. High profile sponsorship (from the likes of Audi, Sennheiser and Adobe) and corporate hires make up another 15%. “The culture here is very different than in a lot of institutions in France, where traditionally it’s about negotiating a budget, having the budget and then spending it. Here, every budget is conceived and analysed with inputs and outputs.”

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Outside hires are an especially important revenue generator, and recent events have included a launch for a new Christian Dior perfume, a haute couture fashion show for Viktor and Rolf, and a product launch for Adidas. Of course such events can be problematic, impacting on public access and the flexibility of the venue’s programming. Yet it’s hardly surprising that La Gâité is so popular with corporate clients —  the facilities inside this beautiful, historic and at the same time thoroughly modern building are enough to make many creaking and less well-appointed arts organisations green with envy. With its 750 capacity Grand Salle performance space, 130 seat cinema auditorium, and flexible 1200 m2 exhibition area, it was conceived as a state of the art building for the digital age. It is, though, much more than a performance space. Delormas has in the past described it as “a tool box”, a place for doing as well as seeing. It has a recording studio and rehearsal room for performers, its top floor is dedicated to a co-working space, Creatis (another revenue earner), with 45 creative / digital start-ups — a relatively recent development which has been so popular another space has been opened in a nearby building — and the floor below is a warren of rooms and workspaces for technical and operations staff. On another floor, a maze of glass-walled offices is home to Delormas and the rest of his team.

It’s the public, free-to-access areas of the building, however, that in many ways capture the essence of how La Gâité Lyrique is both funded and run. While the building itself is owned by the city of Paris, the organisation that manages it on the city’s behalf is a private company with three private shareholders; Delormas is the company’s director as well as being La Gâité’s artistic director. Crucially, the company is bound by ‘delegation de service public’ status. This means it must fulfil specific public service criteria in order to receive its public funding: ticket prices have to be kept low, audiences need to be diverse, and it has to be seen to be involving people who might not otherwise step foot inside a space dedicated to digital culture. (A few days before I visited, the venue had hosted a video game event for OAPs.) The most visible aspect of this public service remit is the building’s first floor resource centre, which includes a well-stocked library of books and magazines, with staff on hand to provide help when needed. Next to this is the glass-walled Espace Jeux Vidéo (video games area), with eight screens to play on and a regularly changing programme of games. This simple idea says a lot about the sociable nature of this project, reclaiming gaming as a pastime to be enjoyed with others and in public, rather than just a closed-off relationship between you and your smartphone or computer.


artsdigitalrnd.org.uk

Feature • La Gaîté Lyrique

How can we, working with artists, build a world where technology is a way to improve our lives and well-being and not the contrary?

7· Espace enfants (Vinciane Verguethen). 8· La Gâité Lyrique has a popular shop within the main building (Maxime Dufour).

Still, while there’s much to recommend about the building, it has not been without its issues. Its architect, Manuelle Guatrand, was chosen through a separate process to Delormas and before he was director, meaning that his input into the venue’s design was minimal and only possible in the latter stages of the build. “The building is amazing and has amazing technology, but it can be cold and intimidating,” says Delormas. “So we needed to facilitate life in this building and it has been a challenge, because it is very complicated and closed.” Warming the place up and drawing people past the impressive but imposing marble foyer and into the heart of the building has meant rethinking how the space is used. This is most apparent in the first-floor public area known as Plateau Media. Situated adjacent to the video game area and conceived by the architect as a space for digital art installations, it is now an informal salon-cum-café-bar where regular discussions, debates, talks and workshops take place and are streamed live. “Plateau Media is about cutting out the hierarchy between audience and speaker,” explains Delormas. “It’s like a radio / TV studio, with all events streamed live and viewable afterwards on our website. The programme is done at short notice  — it’s a living, spontaneous space.”

While only a small aspect of a wideranging programme, Plateau Media  — fluid, informal and with a focus on conversation — feels most like the Delormas manifesto in action. It invites discussion and debate around culture, with a focus on people and ideas rather than the technology. It creates an atmosphere, sets a tone for what Delormas believes digital can and should be. Or as he puts it: “How can we, working with artists, build a world where technology is a way to improve our lives and wellbeing and not the contrary — because the contrary can happen. The global capitalistic and speculative logic could reproduce the old world using new technologies.” As for the wider La Gâité programme, the venue is enjoying good audiences: in 2013, concerts were 80% fully booked, workshops 90%, and conferences / film events 70%. In turn, the venue’s thoughtful, ideological approach is impacting on international partnerships, as arts and cultural organisations recognise that La Gâité is doing something that other venues in France aren’t. “They want this interface with pop cultures, the relationship with new technologies and networks which they won’t get elsewhere,” says Delormas. “The digital context is important.”

— gaite-lyrique.net @gaitelyrique —

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For more Native visit: artsdigitalrnd.org.uk

Regularly updated research, stories and guides to Digital R&D in the Arts from across the uk and beyond.


artsdigitalrnd.org.uk/projects

Project Directory

Project Directory

The projects supported through the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts so far.

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Project Directory

Project Themes

Since the R&D Fund was established in 2012, 36 collaborative projects have been awarded funding. Each of these year-long projects feature an arts partner, a technology provider and a research team. Four of these are ‘Big Data’ projects, and feature a consortium of arts organisations. Projects have been supported across a range of different art forms, and explore the potential of technologies ranging from augmented reality to HTML5, near field communication, high speed broadband and Raspberry Pi.

7 Themes User-Generated Content (UGC) & Social Media: harnessing the power of the internet and social media to reach audiences and to give them a platform for discussion, participation and creativity

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Distribution & Exhibition: using digital technologies to deliver artistic experiences and content in new ways through online and place-based environments, including exploring international distribution and exhibition Mobile, Location & Games: developing a new generation of mobile and location-based experiences and services, including games

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Data & Archives: making archives, collections and other data more widely available to other arts organisations and the general public Resources: using digital technologies to improve the way in which arts organisations are run, including business efficiency and income generation and the way in which they collaborate with each other Education & Learning: developing interactive education and learning resources for children, teachers, young people, adult learners and arts sector professionals Big Data: Using the burgeoning availability of data to inform new business models.

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1· Created by Unlimited Theatre and partners, The Noise is the first playscript experience available at: UNeditions.com. — More on p 80 2· The real-time event evaluation app Qualia, led by Cheltenham Festivals, is available to download for Android and iOS devices. — More on p 70 3· The social dance game DanceTag made by Pavilion Dance South West and Mobile Pie is available through the iOS App Store. — More on p 77


Albow

Social network for live events

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artsdepot

65+ loyalty scheme

69

Audience Agency et al

Open data insights

69

Cambridge Junction

Live coding of music

70

Cheltenham Festivals

Real-time event feedback

70

Circus Starr

Supporting autistic audiences

70

Coney

Interactive theatre from home

71

Cornerhouse et al

Big data value metrics

71

Culture Label

Gifting cultural experiences

71

Dance City et al

Cloud-based data commonwealth

72

Dance Digital

Dance education app

72

Degree Art

Online art marketplace

72

Extant

Haptic performance

73

Film London

Digital film distribution

73

Fitzwilliam Museum

Location-aware collections app

73

FutureEverything et al

Network analysis toolkit

74

Heart & Soul

Configuring digital tools

74

Hijack

Recreating the artist’s studio

74

Imperial War Museums

Crowdsourcing curation

75

Knowle West Media Centre

Data as creative material

75

Live @LICA with Peter Scott

Personalised augmented reality

75

MeYouandUs

In-venue interactive screens

76

Miracle Theatre Company

Rural distribution of live theatre

76

Museum of Design in Plastics

Collections game

76

Nottingham City Museums…

Augmented reality exhibition

77

Orphans of the Storm

Multimedia interactive comics

77

Pavilion Dance South West

Dance video game

77

Royal Opera House

Hybrid mobile app

78

Script

Album apps

78

Sheffield Doc/Fest

Digital public space

78

Sing London

Digital theatre statues

79

Spark Arts

Mixed reality play space

79

STAGETEXT

Subtitling for the theatre

79

Tyne & Wear Archives

User-friendly archives

80

Unlimited Theatre

Digital playscripts

80

Yorkshire Dance

Open choreography online

80

Big Data

Education & Learning

Resources

Data & Archives

Mobile & Location

Distribution & Exhibition

ugc & Social Media

Page Nº

Projects indexed by primary theme:


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Project Directory

Projects Indexed by Primary Artform

Combined Arts

Museums & Archives

Albow

Fitzwilliam Museum

artsdepot

Imperial War Museums

Audience Agency (Big Data)

Museum of Design in Plastics

Cornerhouse (Big Data)

Nottingham City Museums & Galleries

CultureLabel

Tyne & Wear Archives

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Dance City (Big Data) FutureEverything (Big Data) MeYouandUs Royal Opera House

Community Arts Circus Starr Knowle West Media Centre

Dance dancedigital Pavilion Dance South West Yorkshire Dance

Festivals

Music Cambridge Junction Heart & Soul Script

Film Theatre Coney Extant Miracle Theatre Company Sing London STAGETEXT

Cheltenham Festivals Sheffield Doc/Fest The Spark Arts for Children

Literature & Publishing Orphans of the Storm Unlimited Theatre

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Film London

Visual Arts DegreeArt.com Hijack Live @LICA with Peter Scott Gallery

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4· The new mobile site: m.roh.org.uk, from the Royal Opera House allows for a more sustainable platform for mobile development. — More on p 77 5–6· Screenshots from the Piano Ombre album app. See p26 for the full story behind the project. — More on p 26


artsdigitalrnd.org.uk/projects

Project Directory

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Directory Listings Arts lead

Arts lead

Arts lead

albow

artsdepot

The Audience Agency

Social network for live events

65+ loyalty scheme

Open data insights

Project name

Project name

Project name

thisison

Silver Service

Arts Data Impact

Technology partner

Technology partner

Technology partner

Calvium, Sam Machin

Ingelby

Research partner

Research partner

University of the West of England, The University of Exeter

University of the Arts London Question

Can a social events platform generate value for creative communities?

Can older people’s relationship with technology help us understand them better as an arts audience?

Description

Description

Question

This project will create a new platform for sharing, discovering, and supporting live events. Users can find out what’s on nearby, list their own events, or see what new projects their favourite companies are working on. Users will also be able to donate their time, money, contact details or written feedback to events holders in the system. The web app will be beta tested in partnership at Mayfest in Bristol, at Incoming Festival in London, and available in beta across the UK. Test location

UK-wide Launch date

May 2014 Artforms

Combined Arts Theme

UGC & Social Media Mobile, Location & Games Data & Archives

Whilst many older people are culturally active, others express an intention to get more involved in creative and social activities which is not always matched by action. This project is establishing a web-based membership scheme for the over 65s providing promotional offers at artsdepot and at local restaurants, such as complimentary drinks receptions, restaurant vouchers, and ticket discounts. The research explores barriers to participation around pricing, art-form, transport and health, and likes and dislikes around different communication methods. Test location

Key locations in England Launch date

Autumn 2014 Artforms

Combined Arts

Magic Lantern Research partner

University of Ulster Other arts partners

Barbican, English National Opera, National Theatre Question

How can we blend ‘digital’ and ‘real-life’ data sources to improve data-led decision-making in arts organisations? Description

Through the development of a platform which combines a variety of data sources, this project will make available wealth of new audience insight available through a new set of apps and data visualisations specifically geared toward strategic decision-making, demonstrating impact, and increasing audience reach. Data scientists-in-residence will be embedded within each partner organisation for six months to explore and teach data-driven decision-making techniques. Test location

UK Launch date

Spring 2015 Artforms

Theme

Combined Arts

UGC & Social Media

Theme

Big Data Education & Learning


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Project Directory

Directory Listings Arts lead

Arts lead

Arts lead

Cambridge Junction

Cheltenham Festivals

Circus Starr

Live coding of music

Real-time event feedback

Supporting autistic audiences

Project name

Project name

Project name

Sonic Pi: Live & Coding

Qualia

Show & Tell

Technology partner

Technology partner

Technology partner

Raspberry Pi Foundation

i-DAT

Therapy Box

Research partner

Research partner

Research partner

Cambridge University —  Faculty of Education

University of Warwick

GlyndŴr University

Other arts partners

Cambridgeshire Music, Hertfordshire Music Service, Norwich & Norfolk Festival Bridge, Royal Opera House Bridge Question

Can schools and arts organisations use live coding to create exciting routes into music making for young people? Description

The project is exploring the creative potential of live coding to provide new pathways for young people into digital music. It involves the creation of a customisable and codable musical instrument based on the Raspberry Pi computer. The project also explores the international phenomena of Live Coding as an emerging art-form and seeks to empower young people as co-producers. The project seeks to develop a new business model for art organisations to engage with schools that will make use of the open source, online tools developed. Test location

Cambridge Launch date

November 2014 Artforms

Music Theme

Education & Learning

Question

Question

How can we use digital technologies to capture real-time emotive / qualitative audience data to enhance engagement and reflexively programme cultural events?

Can a mobile app help improve arts experiences for children with an autism spectrum disorder and their families?

Description

The Qualia project is creating a real-time monitoring system to collect feedback and measure the impact of live arts and cultural events. It incorporates new ways to gather, analyse and visualise qualitative data, including sentiment analysis, social network feeds and SMS interactions, as well as on-site interactive installations. The Qualia system (including a cross platform mobile phone app) is available for re-use by arts organisations to help them improve their live events and broaden the conversation around cultural impact. Test location

Cheltenham Festivals Launch date

November 2013 Artforms

Combined arts Theme

UGC & Social media Data & Archives Resources

Description

Circus Starr is developing Show & Tell, an interactive app designed specifically for autistic children, their parents and carers, to enhance the experience of autistic audiences at arts events. The project is investigating how digital technologies can assist autistic children by creating visualisations and coping strategies. The app will enable children to gain prior understanding of an arts event and so encourage attendance by alleviating the fears associated with an unknown experience. Test location

North West Launch date

September 2014 Artforms

Community Arts Theme

Education & Learning Mobile, Location & Games


artsdigitalrnd.org.uk/projects

Project Directory

71

Directory Listings Arts lead

Arts lead

Arts lead

Coney

Cornerhouse

CultureLabel

Interactive theatre from home

Big data value metrics

Gifting cultural experiences

Project name

Project name

Project name

Better Than Life

Culture Counts

Cultural Experiences

Technology partner

Technology partner

Technology partner

Showcaster

Pracsys & Intelligence Agency

CultureLabel

Research partner

Research partner

Research partner

Goldsmiths

University of Manchester

Cambridge Judge Business School, Salford University, Fusion Research + Analytics

Question

Other arts partners

Can technology supplement the element of interactivity missing from experiences accessed at home?

The Royal Exchange Theatre, Contact, The Manchester Museum, Manchester Art Gallery, Halle Concerts Society, Manchester International Festival, Imperial War Museum North, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester Jazz Festival, Chinese Arts Centre, Octagon Theatre Bolton, Oldham Coliseum Theatre, Manchester Literature Festival

Description

By means of a new show called Better than Life, this project is developing a set of tools which gives audiences at home a new way to engage with the live performance. It builds on the one-way phenomenon of live broadcast of theatre by offering genuine engagement between the audience in the performance space and the audience online. Test location

London Launch date

Summer 2014 Artforms

Theatre Theme

Distribution & Exhibition, UGC & Social Media

Question

Can we define and measure the value of cultural experiences for artists, peers and the public? Description

Culture Counts plans to be the first system in the world to draw together comprehensive public value metrics within an electronically automated data collection platform. By gathering real-time intrinsic impact data from artists, peers and the public; and combining it with traditional instrumental data on attendances, funding, and box office, it aims to deliver comprehensive value analysis and reporting on a continuous basis that can be used for more effective data-driven decision-making. Test location

Manchester Launch date

May 2015 Artforms

All Theme

Big Data, Mobile, Location & Games Resources

Question

Who wants to buy cultural experience products, what type of experiences do they want and how does the experience impact on them? Description

CultureLabel is working with arts organisations to identify a range of cultural experiences, such as exhibitions, curatorial expertise, education programmes and events that could be put together as cultural experience packages. These can be bought as gifts in the way traditional ‘experience packages’ are. Partners at this stage include Whitechapel Gallery, Dulwich Picture Gallery, ENO, The Barbican and the Royal Academy. The project will create a group buying online platform, with a bespoke back end administration and shared front end. Test location

London Launch date

June 2014 Artforms

Combined Arts Theme

Distribution & Exhibition


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Project Directory

Directory Listings Arts lead

Arts lead

Arts lead

Dance City

dancedigital

DegreeArt.com

Cloud-based data commonwealth

Dance education app

Online art marketplace

Project name

Project name

Project name

The Unusual Suspects

FormXtended

Artellite

Technology partner

Technology partner

Technology partner

Tariff Street

Moviestorm

Snowflake Digital

Research partner

Research partner

Research partner

Morris Hargreaves McIntyre

University of Bedfordshire

Kingston University

Other arts partners

Question

Question

Tyneside Cinema, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, International Centre for Life, Sage Gateshead, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Seven Stories, Northern Stage, Live Theatre

Can a digital platform provide an entry point for children, especially those with disabilities, to participate in an artform which focussed on physical movement of various types. To explore best ways of participatory development and production of digital learning tools.

Can a centralised online platform help grow the art market?

Question

Can increased data sharing build audiences for cultural activity? Description

The organisations of the Newcastle and Gateshead Cultural Venues network are creating a ‘data commonwealth’ in which audience data is fully shared, enhanced and used strategically. They hope to encourage venue and artform cross-over and introduce audiences to a wider choice of activities. The project will develop a cloud-based database and a web-app for data collection, as well as a tested methodology for segmenting audiences.

Description

FormXtended is an interactive, animated digital learning tool that allows children and young people to create and devise dances. This project sees the development of an application in which an animated character can move, dance and interact with teachers and children. Test location

Description

For those in the arts today, the importance of having an effective online presence is at an all-time high, but resources are limited. Artellite will provide a centralised platform for online marketing and ecommerce, through which satellite websites can be provided to professional users such as artists and galleries. Along with the platform, the project will also publish guidance for artists and galleries to effectively use social media to market their work. Test location

UK-wide

East of England

Launch date

Launch date

July 2014

January 2015

Artforms

Artforms

Visual arts

Test location

Dance

Newcastle & Gateshead

Theme

Theme

Launch date

April 2015 Artforms

Combined Arts Theme

Big Data Resources

Education & Learning Mobile, Location & Games

Distribution & Exhibition UGC & Social Media Resources


artsdigitalrnd.org.uk/projects

Project Directory

73

Directory Listings Arts lead

Arts lead

Arts lead

Extant

Film London

Fitzwilliam Museum

Haptic performance

Digital distribution platform for independent film-makers

Location-aware collections app

Project name

Project name

Flatland

Project name

CultureFinder

Technology partner

We are Colony

Technology partner

Haunted Pliers

Technology partner

Deep Visuals

Research partner

We are Colony

Research partner

Open University

Research partner

CRASSH

Question

Edge Hill University

Can haptic technology make visual culture more accessible and meaningful to audiences with sight disabilities? Description

How can cultural experiences be created in which it makes no difference whether you are blind or sighted, as everyone would be using all their other senses to engage with what is there? This project allows blind and sighted people to engage with an artistic installation based on E A Abbott’s 1884 satirical novella Flatland. Set in total darkness it integrates and tests a personal haptic navigation device which guides people through the performance space. With 2 million people in the UK experiencing serious sight loss, this project hopes to offer a radical new approach to widening engagement through their uses of digital technology. Test location

England Launch date

March 2015 Artforms

Theatre Theme

Mobile, Location & Games Distribution & Exhibition

Question

Can releasing additional companion content build audiences for independent film before, during and after release? Description

The project will create an online platform that allows filmmakers to present content-rich digital companion products (using scripts, storyboards, photos etc) that complement their film’s release during both production and into distribution. The project is analysing the consumer experience (preference /  demand, pricing, sensitivity, satisfaction) and the value for independent filmmakers. It is also testing an ultra-videoon-demand” service where digital release precedes other windows in order to establish market demand. Test location

UK Launch date

August 2014 Artforms

Film Theme

Distribution & Exhibition Data & Archives

Question

Can an app help users to explore connections between cultural objects and events within a city? Description

The project is creating CultureFinder, a responsive web app that uses images of objects, art-forms or events in a town or city to create visitor trails across multiple sites. The purpose of the app is to help discover of cultural venues and objects with users able to create their own tours or choose from a selection of ready-made tours. Test location

Cambridge Launch date

June 2014 Artforms

Museums Theme

Mobile, Location & Games


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Project Directory

Directory Listings Arts lead

Arts lead

Arts lead

FutureEverything

Heart & Soul

Hijack

Network analysis toolkit

Configuring digital tools

Recreating the artist’s studio

Project name

Project name

Project name

ArtsAPI

SoundLabs

Studio of Objects

Technology partner

Technology partner

Technology partner

Swirrl IT

Public Domain Corporation

Touch Press

Research partner

Research partner

Research partner

University of Dundee

Goldsmiths

Kingston University

Other arts partners

Question

Question

Blast Theory, Culture 24, Forma, Red Eye, Warwick Arts Centre, Contact Theatre

How can digital tools be combined to create sound and music experiences in a way that makes them easy and creatively rewarding to use?

How can you deliver efficient, useful and innovative ways of capturing images and objects so users can interact with art history narratives, objects and spaces?

Question

Can network analysis be used to make better business decisions in arts organisations? Description

ArtsAPI will create a software toolkit and web platform to help arts organisations evidence the relational value and impacts of their networks. The toolkit will integrate and structure data from a range of sources (email, social media, audience data) and produce visualisations and analysis. As well as the toolkit, they will commission an artist to interpret the dataset, produce ‘how to’ guides and an associated events programme.

Description

Description

The project explores how best to enable people with learning disabilities to create sound and music experiences using accessible digital tools. Through a series of SoundLabs and other events, it will test which configurations of affordable digital tools — including touchscreens, 3D cameras and haptic sensors — are most effective in enabling creative expression and increasing digital inclusion.

The project is creating an app that allows the user to explore Eduardo Paolozzi’s studio as if they were in the room and discover stories and information associated with the objects within it.

London

The studio and objects are being scanned using 360° laser scanner photography using high definition rendering. The virtual studio will also bring together film, photography, archive material and artworks to tell the artist’s story in new ways.

Test location Launch date

Test location

Test location

February 2015

London

UK

Artforms

Launch date

Launch date

Music

May 2015

Autumn 2015

Theme

Artforms

Education & Learning UGC & Social Media Resources

Visual Arts

Artforms

Combined Arts Theme

Big Data Resources

Theme

Data & Archives Distribution & Exhibition Education & Learning


artsdigitalrnd.org.uk/projects

Project Directory

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Directory Listings Arts lead

Arts lead

Arts lead

Imperial War Museums

Knowle West Media Centre

Live at lica

Crowdsourcing curation

Data as creative material

Project name

Project name

Putting Art on the Map

Curating Activism

Technology partner

Technology partner

Historypin

IBM

Research partner

Research partner

University of Edinburgh

University of the West of England

Question

Question

Can depth of engagement with public art collections be increased through metadata crowdsourcing on multiple platforms?

Can data be used to enhance engagement with creative community practice?

Description

Working with young people, this project explores how live and open data can be used as the basis of community-based creative projects. The project creates and curates data streams, apps, widgets and ideas that use technology together with arts and activism. An arts data toolkit will be published online, including guidance notes for arts organisations working with data and young people in the arts.

As part of the 2014 centenary commemorations of the First World War, the IWM is inviting the public to help curate the content in its First World War paintings collection. Using specially developed crowdsourcing tools, the public is able to view artworks, locate them on a map, add contextual information and their emotional responses and contribute to online discussion. Public and curatorial voices are being given a platform on the Historypin website and in an online exhibition on Google Cultural Institute. This project will also deliver a new Historypin tool specifically for crowdsourcing contextual information for art collections. Test location

UK-wide Launch date

July 2013 Artforms

Museums Theme

Data & Archives, UGC & Social Media, Education & Learning

Description

Test location

Bristol Launch date

May 2014 Artforms

Community arts Theme

Data & Archives, Education & Learning

Personalised augmented reality exhibitions Project name

Taking the Artwork Home Technology partner

m-ventions Research partner

Imagination Lancaster, University of Lancaster Question

Can mobile augmented reality help enhance people’s engagement with curation and visual art collections? Description

Using augmented reality and social media, this project invites the public to curate personal virtual collections, by bringing images of paintings and artefacts from the Peter Scott Gallery collection into their homes and any other space they choose. The project will develop a prototype app and toolkit together with open source software for use by other arts organisations. Test location

Lancaster Launch date

Summer 2014 Artforms

Visual arts Theme

Data & Archives, Mobile, Location & Games, Education & Learning


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Project Directory

Arts lead

Arts lead

Arts lead

MeYouAndUs

Miracle Theatre

In-venue smart screens

Rural distribution of live theatre

Museum of Design in Plastics

Project name

Project name

TILO

Miracle Live & Digital

Technology partner

Technology partner

Pixel Inspiration, Amaze

Golant Media Ventures & Dogbite

Research partner

Research partner

cx at Lancaster University, iocp

Falmouth University

Question

Question

Can digital interactive screens help arts venues deepen engagement with visitors?

Can digital distribution be an economically viable way to deliver intimate small-scale theatre experiences to rural audiences?

Description

Arts practice MeYouAndUs is producing TILO, a hybrid display system for cultural venues. It uses digital screens situated in the public spaces of a venue, combined with live feeds and sensors, to display engaging, interactive and personalised content. TILO aims to create a dialogue between the arts organisation, the building and its visitors, and will allow artists to carry out their own interventions. The system will be piloted at FACT in Liverpool and Phoenix Leicester. Test location

Liverpool Launch date

July 2013 Artforms

Creative Business Theme

Education & Learning Mobile, Location & Games

Description

The project will test and pilot the new Cinegi platform and identify straightforward and affordable live streaming technology to deliver new arts experiences to rural communities. By offering pre-recorded, ‘as live’ and live-streamed screenings to focus groups in remote venues, it will also evaluate audience experience, measure demand, appropriate ticket pricing and test suitable methods of marketing and promotion. Test location

Cornwall Launch date

Late 2014 Artforms

Theatre Theme

Distribution & Exhibition Resources

Collections game Project name

Ten Most Wanted Technology partner

Adaptive Technologies Research partner

University of Brighton Question

Can game-based crowdsourcing build curatorial understanding and enhance audience engagement with collections? Description

Inspired by the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted website, this project uses game mechanics to encourage the public to hunt down ‘missing information’ about objects from the museum’s collection. It provides an accessible platform for people to work together towards a common goal, foster a feeling of ownership by the attribution of contributed information and enrich public collections with new information. The project will produce an open-source platform, guidelines for game-based crowdsourcing in the arts sector, and an intellectual property rights framework with reusable templates for integrating user-generated content into professionally curated collections. Test location

UK-wide Launch date

November 2013 Artforms

Museums Theme

Data & Archives Mobile, Location & Games UGC & Social Media


artsdigitalrnd.org.uk/projects

Project Directory

Arts lead

Arts lead

Arts lead

Nottingham City Museums & Galleries

Orphans of the Storm

Pavilion Dance South West

Augmented reality exhibition Project name

RIOT 1831@ Nottingham Castle Technology partner

Hot Knife Digital Media Research partner

Nottingham Trent University, University of Nottingham Question

Can augmented reality increase interpretive understanding of a heritage site? Description

This project aims to promote debate and support learning about protest and rebellion by creating a new, exciting way to tell the story of Nottingham’s 1831 National Reform Bill Riots. RIOT 1831@ Nottingham Castle is developing a mobile augmented reality app that offers visitors an active role in creating their narrative experience. The project will publish guidelines and tools to support other arts organisation in using AR and 3D models in their exhibitions.

Multimedia interactive comics Project name

Electricomics Technology partner

Ocasta Studios Research partner

Institute of Education Question

Can easy-to-use open-source tools facilitate the creation of interactive comics? Description

The project aims to develop a new open source toolset for the creation of digital comics that offer novel interactive experiences. The toolset and guidance developed will enable creators to use tablet and smartphone devices to create enhanced multimedia comic narratives. It will deliver a content creation toolset, server capabilities for content delivery and a mobile app for distribution. Test location

UK Launch date

Test location

January 2015

Nottingham

Artforms

Launch date

Literature & Publishing

July 2014

Theme

Artforms

Mobile, Location & Games, UGC & Social Media

Museums Theme

Mobile, Location & Games Data & Archives Education & Learning

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Dance video game Project name

DanceTag Technology partner

Mobile Pie Research partner

University of the West of England Question

Can a playful mobile platform enhance and extend engagement and participation for a particular art form? Description

DanceTag is a dance game that invites you to create 15 second films of you and your friends dancing in all sorts of locations and tag those locations with your dance. You can choose to play just for fun or you can challenge others and become dance champion of your favourite place. You can share your films on social media and make friends with other taggers whose style you like. DanceTag evolved from watching outdoors dance pieces and thinking about how we could enable everyone to dance and share their dance with others — to feel connected to others through dance. The website gives the links to the dance sector, case studies, links to the musicians and lists competitions on offer at the moment. Test location

South West England Launch date

November 2013 Artforms

Dance Theme

Mobile, Location & Games, UGC & Social Media, Education & Learning


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Project Directory

Directory Listings Arts lead

Arts lead

Arts lead

Royal Opera House

Script

Sheffield Doc/Fest

Hybrid mobile app

Mobile apps as a digital music format

Digital public space

Project name

Project name

m.roh.org.uk

Project name

Technology partner

The Album-App

Technology partner

POP

Technology partner

EE

Research partner

Agency Mobile

Research partner

King’s College London

Research partner

Sheffield Hallam University

Question

Anglia Ruskin University

Can HTML5 help performing arts venues generate new revenue streams from audiences online?

Are apps a viable way to distribute rich content to music fans?

Description

Description

This project is developing a new mobile service to allow existing and new audiences to enjoy rich media content about ballet and opera. It is exploring innovative location–based ways of engaging with the public, increasing revenues through mobile ticketing and giving, and is especially interested in broadening reach among its younger audiences. The team hope to develop a more sustainable model for creating mobile cultural services, and will openly share code developed for the project, along with a toolkit of best practice guidelines. Test location

UK Launch date

Question

Script are working with indie label Domino Records and Domino artist, Francois & The Atlas Mountains, to test the viability of mobile apps as a new digital music format — one that can act as the primary consumer-facing product. This project seeks to improve the experience of recorded music by providing a format that natively includes artwork, video, liner notes and lyrics as well as expanded revenue streams through subscriptions, merchandising and ticketing. As well as making the app available for five other artists, the project will publish research to show whether a richer music format will improve the connection between artist and fan and drive greater revenues for artists.

Digital Art²

Question

How can arts organisations use highspeed broadband to turn public places into digital art spaces? Description

Digital Art² is exploring the potential for arts organisations to use 4G technology to turn city streets into creative playgrounds for artists and audiences. Using Blast Theory’s I’d Hide You — an online, immersive game played out on the streets of Sheffield — the project identified the technical and administrative challenges for using the places of everyday life as the locations of creative practice, performance and interaction. Following testing at the 2013 Sheffield Doc/Fest, the project has launched Unlocking Digital Artspace, a roadmap for arts organisations looking to stage non-traditional digital works to audiences in public places. Test location

Sheffield

December 2013

Test location

Artforms

UK music market

Launch date

Combined Arts

Launch date

June 2013

Theme

Available now in the App Store

Artforms

Artforms

Combined Arts

Music

Theme

Theme

Mobile, Location, & Games

Distribution & Exhibition Mobile, Location & Games Resources

Distribution & Exhibition Mobile, Location & Games UGC & Social Media


artsdigitalrnd.org.uk/projects

Project Directory

79

Directory Listings Arts lead

Arts lead

Arts lead

Sing London

The Spark Arts for Children

stagetext

Animating the city’s statues Project name

Talking Statues Technology partner

Antenna International Research partner

University of Leicester Question

How can museums and arts organisations use emerging NFC technology to engage audiences? Description

If statues could talk, what would they say? Participatory arts specialists Sing London’s Talking Statues uses playwrights, actors and mobile technology to put words into the mouths of statues. You pass a talking statue, swipe your phone on a nearby tab, your phone rings and… it’s Queen Victoria on the line. The project will result in the development of open access software for small arts organisations to create NFC content.

Mixed reality play space Project name

Pop-up-Play Technology partner

LJW Digital Creatives Research partner

De Montfort University Question

Can a mixed reality digital playspace enhance children’s creativity, play, literacy and communication skills? Description

Launch date

Pop-up-Play will use mixed reality to take images relating to museum exhibits, theatrical productions, children’s books or curriculum topics and project them into a play space. Video cameras and motion tracking are placing participants into these projected worlds for creative play and open-ended learning. As the play advances the tracking system replaces their image with that of a book’s character, turning their actions into those of, say, The Gruffalo or Private Peaceful and allowing them to explore their new environment and re-enact scenarios.

August 2014

Test location

Artforms

East Midlands

Combined Arts

Launch date

Theme

31 April 2015

Mobile, Location & Games Education & Learning

Artforms

Test location

London and Manchester

Combined Arts Theme

Education & learning UGC & Social Media

Subtitling for the theatre Project name

CaptionCue Technology partner

Screen Subtitling Systems Research partner

Roehampton University Question

Can automated captioning and subtitle translations provide a high quality, cost-effective way to improve access to arts events? Description

CaptionCue will be an automatic captioning cue system that will improve the performance experience for audiences with hearing impairments. It also aims to create a foreign translation facility to benefit audiences whose first language is not English. The project will also look to optimize captioning by studying where users are looking during an event, as well as establishing what makes good captioning. Further possibilities include increasing access to the arts for the visually impaired by providing pre-recorded audio-description. Test location

London Launch date

31 March 2015 Artforms

Theatre Theme

Distribution & Exhibition, Resources


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Project Directory

Directory Listings Arts lead

Arts lead

Arts lead

Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

Unlimited Theatre

Yorkshire Dance

Digital playscripts

Open choreography

Improvement of cultural digital archives Project name

Past Paths Technology partner

Microsoft Research Research partner

Newcastle University Question

Can archives improve public access and engagement with their online collection through adopting novel web interfaces and systems? Description

Past Paths is transforming online museum and gallery collections into living, interactive digital archives. They also want to change the way users engage with online collections, creating tools that encourage serendipitous discovery. By using a software development kit and open source code, Past Paths enables organizations to adapt the web tools for their own websites. The project builds on audience research in motivation for exploring collections. Test location

Newcastle Upon Tyne Launch date

16 March 2015 Artforms

Museums Theme

Data and Archives UGC & Social Media

Project name

Project name

UNeditions

Respond_

Technology partner

Technology partner

Storythings

Breakfast Creatives

Research partner

Research partner

University of Dundee

University of Leeds

Question

Question

How can mobile digital storytelling develop and broaden audience engagement with playscripts?

Can an online feedback process enhance audience engagement and the creation of new dance works?

Description

Description

This project started with the playscript from Unlimited’s show, The Noise and applied techniques of digital storytelling and co-design to create a new reading experience which combines theatre and literature. The aim was to create a ‘digital bottle’ that recreated the unique sound, lighting and atmosphere produced through live theatre performance, crafted using technology for people to open at home.

Yorkshire Dance are creating a responsive online platform that will encourage audiences and the wider public to become more actively engaged in the creation and interpretation of contemporary dance.

The first playscript is currently available online, and Unlimited have gone on to work with the RSC and Third Angel on two further playscripts which will be launched later this year.

The project will learn about how to reach people who might normally feel excluded from attending dance and test how artists can use feedback received through digital channels.

Test location

Test location

Leeds & London Launch date

Structured around the Critical Response Process methodology developed by Liz Lerman, the public will be able to feed their responses and opinions into the making process of new dance pieces.

Leeds Launch date

January 2014

September 2014

Artforms

Artforms

Theatre Theme

Distribution & Exhibition Mobile, Location & Games

Dance Theme

UGC & Social Media Distribution & Exhibition


artsdigitalrnd.org.uk

Native Guide

Native Guide

Insight & advice to help make Digital R&D a reality in your organisation.

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Guide • Achieving Your Digital Aspirations

Achieving Your Digital Aspirations

Time, money and expertise were among the top barriers identified in the 2013 study Digital Culture: How arts and cultural organisations in England use technology. Five leading voices from around the country share advice on how to overcome these common challenges.

From funding announcements to networking events, blogs and conferences, there is no denying the arts is abuzz with all things digital. But for those charged with putting it all into practice, getting started can feel a little daunting. How do you begin to access funding and resources? Where do you find the time amongst several other demanding projects? Who do you ask for advice or knowledge? As part of the R&D Fund, Arts Council England, the AHRC, and Nesta commissioned the independent research agency MTM London to measure digital activities, barriers, enablers and impacts for arts and cultural organisations in England. This Digital Culture Survey will be conducted annually to track the use of digital technology in the sector between 2013 and 2015.


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Guide • Achieving Your Digital Aspirations

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Proportion of arts and cultural organisations who experience barriers:

Lack of in-house staff time

68%

Lack of funding to allocate to digital projects

68%

Difficulty in accessing external funding

61%

Lack of in-house skills / knowledge

37%

Lack of expert advice

34%

Slow / limited it systems or networks

33%

No senior manager with a digital remit

31%

Lack of in-house confidence

27%

Lack of control of it systems / infrastructure

26%

Lack of strategy / planning

23%

Lack of understanding of what digital can do

23%

Lack of suitable external suppliers / freelance staff

22%

In its first year, the survey was taken by some 891 organisations and, as well as demonstrating how progressive many parts of the sector are, it also identified a number of barriers that organisations experience, which stops them from achieving their digital aspirations. It might not surprise you to hear the most common perceived barriers included the lack of money, time, knowledge, skills and advice. Recognising these very real issues, we asked five practitioners from organisations across England who are known for their leadership in arts and digital work, to lend some practical advice to those facing these barriers.


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Guide • Achieving Your Digital Aspirations

The Experts

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Clare Reddington is Director of Watershed’s iShed and Pervasive Media Studio, a multi-disciplinary research lab in Bristol. Clare is also Executive Producer of the AHRC-supported REACT collaboration and has featured in Wired magazine’s 100 people who shape the Wired world for the last three years. Dave Moutrey is Chief Executive of Cornerhouse in Manchester. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, BAFTA member and a Board Member of AND Festival and the Manchester Corridor Partnership. Dave will also head up Home, the exciting new space formed by the merger of Cornerhouse and Library Theatre Company. Mike Stubbs is Director of FACT, the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology, a leading organisation for the commissioning and presentation of film, video and new media art forms in Liverpool. Mike is also a Professor of Art, Media and Curating at Liverpool’s John Moores University.

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Georgina Voss is currently a Resident at Lighthouse in Brighton, where she is leading research on speculative futures and policy implications of digital fabrication, grassroots innovation and sexual healthcare. Georgina also writes about technology, politics and culture for The Guardian’s political science section. Marcus Romer is Artistic Director of Pilot Theatre in York. He was invited to attend the TED conference in California in 2007 and 2011 where he furthered his interest in technology in the arts, and in 2008 he set up the Shift Happens conferences for Pilot Theatre in partnership with Arts Council England. Marcus is also a playwright, director and actor.

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Guide • Achieving Your Digital Aspirations

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challenge:

We’re struggling to find funding for our Digital R&D ambitions

Dave Moutrey: The first place to look is within your own budget. Widening distribution and engagement platforms really ought to be part of an arts organisation’s core activity, so starting to move internal funds around from, say, print to digital is a legitimate use of existing budgets. This is in the same way as we experiment with art forms or site-specific work. Working with artists who like to push digital media is a good way to do this. It’s also good to remember that R&D does not have to be on a large scale. Small-scale incremental research projects make a difference and are easier to get off the ground. Another way of looking at this is through potential partners who can bring resources, rather than funding, to the party. Other arts organisations, commercial agencies and academic institutions look for partners for R&D activity, and building a relationship with a local university could open up access to research funding  — as Watershed in Bristol has done very successfully. Pilot Theatre, based in York, has built very successful relationships with its local HEI and commercial sector.

Marcus Romer: There are the traditional arts funding routes that have R&D funding, but it’s also good to look for alternatives. For example, we just received funding for a commission for the Tour de France, which involves an interactive geo-located Song Cycle for the Cambridge to London stage. It’s a different way of telling stories and the sharing of those stories, so don’t limit yourself. It’s good to find R&D funds that are flexible about time and compatible with the nature of your programme and objectives. That way you can benefit from the maximum amount of R&D time. Mike Stubbs: Our approach has been to build partnerships with HEI s and common companies, even though they are working on tight margins and there is no financial incentive to buy their time, so this can be difficult. The difference between artistic and commercial precedents do overlap around digital agendas but we do recognise there can be different core objectives.

It’s much more fruitful to talk in terms of collaboration rather than subcontracting.


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Guide • Achieving Your Digital Aspirations

challenge:

challenge:

We’re not sure exactly what we can do with digital technology

We don’t have the skills or knowledge we need in-house

Clare Reddington: Digital capacity tends not to respect organisational hierarchies. Look around your organisation — who is using social media in your team? Perhaps you have projects and programmes that bring in new talent — it’s likely that there are many people in your organisation who do have access to or interest in digital talent networks, however they may not be in the leadership team. Empower them to share their thinking and lead the way.

Talk in terms of collaboration rather than subcontracting. It’s much more fruitful. However, you also need to be honest about the collaboration your organisation can and can’t offer. Digital ways of working are disruptive to traditional ways of working and many fine people have found themselves delivering a culture change project they weren’t expecting to, when organisations were not honest about their capacity or ability to change.

Clare Reddington: If you’re recruiting a new person, be clear about what skills and capacities you need and what money you have. Write a clear and excitingsounding brief — talk about your organisational culture and the projects you do, as well as the specific work you are offering.

You also need to reach out; find out where the networking events for the digital media industry in your area are. Go along and make friends — digital agencies are often keen to work with cultural organisations. Find out what interests them and see where your organisational objectives might align. User Experience people (UX) are particularly good to make friends with, as they can help you structure your thinking in an audience-centred way and won’t be as closely aligned to specific platforms or products.

Georgina Voss: Collaborating with those from other disciplines will bring in new skills that you’re unlikely to find in your own sector and will give your project that extra edge — the Brighton Fuse research project found that organisations which were able to ‘fuse’ technical and creative capabilities generated new forms of competitive advantage and were linked to higher levels of economic growth. You’ll also learn about new ways of working —  arts organisations that participated in the Happenstance project learnt, through their technologistsin-residence, how to make technology in the same way that they made art, including project management methods and ways to approach problems.

You may not be able to beat agency day rates but you can make sure it sounds like a valuable project in which to be involved. Work with your staff, audiences and networks to spread the word and find the right person. Plenty of agencies offer rewards if you help them to find the right person for a role. This is something to consider.

Georgina Voss: If you have a specific project, my first instinct would be to throw the challenge out to Twitter as it’ll be circulated widely, far beyond your usual networks, and you should get some good suggestions. Do be clear about what kind of skills you’re after, and the details of the project, including timings and budget. Also check out your local freelancer and technology networks, meet-up events and co-working spaces if you’re keen to work with someone nearby — they’re easy enough to find online. Also, ask any other groups which have done similar work to see if there’s anyone they could recommend.

Again, find out where the digital people play (it’s amazing how many people don’t actually try an internet search for this) and go and talk to them.

Collaborating with people from other disciplines will give your project that extra edge.


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Guide • Achieving Your Digital Aspirations

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challenge:

We lack expert advice, suppliers or freelance staff

Dave Moutrey: Go to universities, hack labs, artists working in digital media, trade associations. Time spent networking at media arts festivals is never wasted. Mike Stubbs: The best person to go to is someone prepared to share and who knows more than you do. That said, FACT is currently running a series of presentations called Everybody Knows Something. These work on the premise that knowledge is everywhere. Generally speaking, if you need very specific advice, most companies, digital designers and scientists are more than happy to share time and expertise when approached with the right question or a novel artistic project. Georgina Voss: There are a number of resources you can tap into. Look for local organisations, like Lighthouse Studio in Brighton, Pervasive Media Studio in Bristol and Caper in London, which know a lot about this stuff and might be able to either advise you or recommend someone nearby who can help. The Digital R&D Fund for the Arts itself of course has very many organisations who you can talk to.

Also take a look at the projects themselves, to see who was involved and whether they’d be up for talking to you. Finally, there are a growing number of grassroots initiatives, such as Chris Unitt’s Culture Digital forum where you can jump in and ask people directly. Marcus Romer: For me it’s all about connections and people. We started the Shift Happens programme, which invites engaging speakers and people to be part of a series of conversations which spark debate and provoke people into asking questions. By going to such festivals and events you start to realise that this is where those interesting intersections happen between people.

Time spent networking at media arts festivals is never wasted.

— Compiled by Emmie McKay with Tandi Williams — Read the full report at: artsdigitalrnd.org.uk/ digitalcultureresearch —

It’s also really important to look to other sectors, as we are dealing with a hybrid activity. There are synergies and complementarities within different organisations and sectors, which is a very positive thing. Of course there is the fear factor, but that is often associated with an excitement factor. For me it’s like adding a whole new set of toys to a toy box — what’s not to like? More insights Arts Council England’s video channel features more insights from people working on digital projects in the arts: bit.ly/acechannel


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Guide • Big Data / small data

With a great deal of excitement around the impact of big data on innovation and growth, Juan Mateos-Garcia explores the implications of a data deluge for the arts and cultural sector.

We are currently producing and collecting data at an explosive pace. Consider the ‘data trail’ each of us leaves every day by carrying and using a mobile phone, participating in a social network, or shopping online. The web reflects our actions, and it can provide insights into our behaviour and even our desires. We are also becoming better at extracting knowledge from this data, using techniques such as machine learning (algorithms that learn from data), network science (which maps our position in relational networks) and text mining (which identifies patterns in unstructured content), to name a few. The results are products, services and platforms that we use every day —  email spam filters, collaborative recommendation systems on websites like Amazon, matchmaking features on dating websites, fraud detection in the banking sector, and so on. Aside from being the basis for the development of new products, data can also be a source of insights that allow organisations to make better decisions. All of these elements come together in the idea of ‘big data’ (the capture and analysis of large volumes of information to create new insights) which has taken the business world by storm. But how relevant is all of this for the arts and cultural sector, where commercial value and profit are often less important than cultural and public value? Big data is, potentially, highly relevant. We just need to be careful about definitions.

It is clear that most arts and cultural organisations don’t generate petabytes (millions of gigabytes) of data, and don’t need to use scalable parallel processing services such as Hadoop to deal with them. In this sense, they don’t operate in a big data world. But it is also true that many of these organisations can now access more data about their users than ever before. This data is also increasingly diverse: it includes the usual tabular data (eg visits to websites over time), network data (from social media platforms), text (user feedback and comments) and even video, audio and sensor data. When we take all of these together and add open data (for example, government data, or the big cultural datasets used in hackdays), things start to get bigger and more complex. And what about the uses of this data? Can it help create the types of value that matter to arts and cultural organisations? We need to consider the role of big data in the types of arts and cultural innovation identified by my colleague Hasan Bakhshi and Australian Economist David Throsby in the Nesta report: A Culture of Innovation.

Big Data /


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Broadening and deepening relationships with audiences Art and culture involve communication and community: in order to thrive, arts and cultural organisations need to know who their audience is, and find ways to broaden it and connect with it in innovative ways. Data plays a crucial role, because analysing it can help organisations to understand current users, and to identify gaps that can be addressed through new initiatives and programmes. An example of an organisation using data in this way is Channel 4, which is collecting vast amounts of data about its audiences and building up the skills to analyse it, with the goals of increasing viewer loyalty, generating insights for its negotiation with advertisers, and developing new programmes and formats. Creating and measuring value Cultural and public value are clearly at the heart of arts and cultural organisations. It has often proved difficult to measure these non-monetary types of value, and to communicate their importance to funding bodies, sponsors and the public. Today, arts and cultural organisations can use social media data to measure how their activities contribute to building social capital in local communities, and they can trawl user-generated sites for evidence of their popularity and influence.

Guide • Big Data / small data

Developing new business models Digital distribution creates new opportunities to diversify revenue streams in the arts and cultural sector, thus boosting its resilience. At the same time, there is great uncertainty about which business models will work. For example, how much will audiences be willing to pay for an innovative product or service, like the live-stream of a theatre performance? How much will they pay to download it? The best way to find out what works is by running experiments to collect data and learn. This is what filmmaker Ben Wheatley did with A Field in England, a film supported by the British Film Institute that premiered simultaneously in cinemas, on TV and on video-on-demand services across the UK. Data was collected from all these channels, as well as social media sites, to assess the impact of this strategy on the visibility of the film. The results of this experiment have been published by the BFI for the benefit of independent filmmakers across the UK. Encouraging creative experimentation Too often, there’s a tendency to see a dichotomy between creative experimentation and data, as if analytical organisations were less creative by definition. Although it is true that a data obsession can lead organisations to focus excessively on what can be measured rather than on what matters, if it is used judiciously, data can support creativity by making it easier to assess project risks, identify problems and resolve them. Moreover, the opportunity to learn means that failures become valuable, and makes the idea of trying new things more attractive. One example of this is the Alice in Wonderland exhibition organised by Tate Liverpool in late 2011, which included the specificallycommissioned video game Wondermind, targeted at web visitors. The data that Tate collected revealed high levels of user engagement with the game, consistent with the idea that this creative pilot had been successful, and encouraging future experiments along similar lines.

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It is still early days for data-driven innovation in the arts and cultural sector, but the examples discussed above suggest that it has great potential. If arts and cultural organisations are going to fulfil this potential, they will need to access new data skills, develop an analytical culture, adapt their processes and think innovatively about how to measure the value that they generate. They will also need to learn how to address data pitfalls and biases, and maintain a critical attitude. Funding bodies should explore ways to encourage experimentation with data in the arts and cultural sector, by means of targeted interventions like the R&D Fund. This is not just important for the sector, which stands to gain from transforming its data into an asset, but also for the sake of the rest of society, which has much to learn from innovative uses of data in the arts and cultural sector, and from a critical engagement with data — one of the defining aspects of our time.

— Juan Mateos-Garcia is a Research Fellow in Economics in Nesta’s Creative Economy team for Policy and Research. — @JMateosGarcia. — This article was originally published by the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona. — cccb.org —

More Big Data Find out more about the R&D Fund’s Big Data projects in the Project Directory and online at: artsdigitalrnd.org.uk


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Guide • Big Data / small data

Given that not everyone may be ready to go on a big data adventure, Jon Pratty outlines six practical ways to be smarter about understanding and working with the basics.

Everywhere you turn these days people are talking about big, real-time or open data. So while this world may feel a little far away for some us, here are five practical steps we can take right now to start on the road to counting what counts. Making your culture findable —  police how people find you online! We were nearly there. An hour-and-ahalf in the car with really impatient teenagers, and we were almost at the gallery we’d scoped out for a weekend visit. But it wasn’t there. Google Maps said it was, but a note on the door said the gallery had moved two years ago. Whose fault was it? When we’d stopped shouting, we realised the Google Maps pin had been added by a member of the public, not someone from the gallery. Who knew? Just goes to show, you can prevent a lot of grief with potential visitors by keeping up-to-date all the places — social media, web, Google — where people find info about you or your event, or venue, or theatre, or show. Simple, effective and you just need to regularly timetable an online data check to make sure all is correct. Whatever you’re doing creatively, you are the single most important source of info about what you do. No-one else is tasked with getting your info right.

/ small data

Thinking about what data is —  it’s much simpler than you think Of course, it’s possible to make talking and writing about data really complicated; just eavesdrop on the organisations who do that professionally, like the W3C, LODLAM or Schema.org and you’ll soon realise there’s another world of deeply puzzling terminologies out there to keep initiates happy. But at a simple level, for our non-expert purposes, data is information. In many culture places, that might be info about your venue, your work or the things you have collected in your museum. Where is it? When does it open? What’s the most popular object? Getting a bit deeper, it could be info about something that only you have or do — you might own the only collection of Victorian lawnmowers in the world, for example. And that’s where info — or data —  becomes useful to us all, whether we’re the British Museum or the British Lawnmower Museum. You might be the smallest museum in the world, but if you have the only remaining 1830 Budding and Ferrabee push-along mower in the world, then you’ve got a uniquely important piece of information that is also uniquely searchable online. It’s the only one left, and it’s your job to tell people about that via web, search and social media. That’s a key philosophical point about the value of all individual points of data: someone, somewhere will be searching for that mower and your information about it is very valuable indeed. All info sources are important, big or small. Your valuable info mixes into a bigger pot of data that people search online. So get it right, and keep it up to date.


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How can you make a start, being data-centric? Interestingly, being data-centric isn’t really about being digital at all. It requires you to be thinking about your stuff, your collection, your performances, your exhibition. Then it’s about picking out the most important facts about it that might be relevant to other people. Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? These are the questions that can help you form the basic building blocks of an information strategy. It’d be pretty impossible to know everything about all the objects in your museum collection, but the key thing is to know the basic big stories, what the most important items are and what the distinctive characteristics might be. Thinking about linking — how do things connect?

Guide • Big Data / small data

What might the National Curriculum links be to that? Thinking about linking means thinking about deeper relationships between objects, eras, subject areas. When you’ve done some of that, the digital practice of building more relationships outwards from your content becomes easier. Why is it your job? It’s because you are the expert here. People need to come to you to find out about this. It is your responsibility to keep your information about your stuff up-to-date. And that’s it really. Knowing your key facts and info is the start of being data-centric. This is the info that gets inputted to databases of events online by you or other people. It’s the info source that feeds all external audiences, journalists and social media sites. How do you actually feel about data?

Data is all around us — apparently  — and for some, along with ‘digital’, the term is becoming lifeless and losing its meaning, rather like ‘innovation’ or ‘culture’. But when information isn’t correct, or is out of date, we often understand very quickly indeed how bad we feel about it. Checking your Back to our lawnmower museum: bank balance online requires it to be there are five or six major lawn-mowing absolutely up-to-date or your time is innovations in the last 200 years. Two wasted, and you risk a stiff letter from or three manufacturers made the running. the bank. Meet someone nice online Electricity made mowing lawns easier. and their relationship status on Facebook Some people don’t bother because they needs to be up-to-date. Go for a country like wild lawns. Each of these points is walk on a sunny day and the map needs an information opportunity, and for to show the new bypass cutting across even the smallest historical venue, it’s the valley. So while info is great when a chance to make much wider digital it works for you, it’s not so good when relationships with audiences, searchers, it doesn’t. Considering these qualities  learners and databases. So that’s — or failings — is how we might begin about curatorial thinking, about taking to work out a value system about data. one story about your early electric lawnmower, and maybe making the connection to transport or social history websites or databases.

Things connect in all kinds of ways: via search engines, through social media like Reddit, on Twitter, as part of the National Curriculum, via online archives such as Europeana, via Youtube or Vimeo tags… But how would you decide how or what to connect?

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What are the brand values of data? Just like everything else we make, good information or data can have qualities that lead us to trust it: it’s up-to-date, it’s authoritative, it’s correct. It’s helpful if it’s rich in terms of information, if it doesn’t just tell you one facet of the story, it gives you everything you need to know. Good data will have some technical qualities, too; it might be an easily readable format, and maybe be accessible and sustainable for years ahead too. Keeping those qualities in mind is important if you want to begin to have an information or data strategy within your cultural organisation. Keeping information up-to-date takes time; making sure things are correct requires fact-checking; making useful connections outwards needs research and curatorial expertise; keeping these things working over time, in a sustainable way, needs planning and costing like everything else. So, at a basic level, it’s possibly wise to plan to explore information and data creatively in stages, so that you can incrementally acquire the right skills, deploy some resources, evaluate how it works, and gather some feelings and feedback from colleagues and audiences alike.

— Jon Pratty is a Relationship Manager, Creative Media at Arts Council England. — @jon_pratty —


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How to • Research Partnerships

5 Ways to Build Successful Academic Partnerships Hamish Fyfe is Professor of the Arts and Society at the University of South Wales. He shares his top tips on what works when it comes to partnership working. Most people are involved in some kind of professional partnership these days. Institutions and organisations, especially complex ones, simply cannot do all the things that are asked of them without sharing, to some extent, their central tasks and purposes. The rhetoric of partnership is relatively easy to develop, but successful working partnerships are often difficult to establish and maintain. Here are five tips based on my experience of building partnerships which helps communication, grows transferable skills amongst staff, raises the profile of the research activity and develops relationships with different public audiences. 1· Be clear about why you need a research partner — what’s in it for me? There are many different types of research partnerships, and many different reasons to get into them. Some will help to generate ideas, or develop content; others will help you to design your activity; some will be able to share their skills and knowledge to ensure your activity is a success; others may be prepared to put resources into the activity. Academic partners can also help you to develop relationships with different audiences and to disseminate your work widely. Ensure you have a frank conversation with your potential university partner before you get started. This will help you get to know each other’s audiences, pressures, operating environments and expectations.

2· Look out for complexity — we all speak different languages sometimes

4· Make a clear distinction between research and evaluation

Written language can be dense and often has a varied and specialist vocabulary, which can be particular to a discipline or area of study and lead to terms being misinterpreted. Make sure that academic partners don’t make assumptions about your own knowledge base any more than you do about theirs, and that there is a shared understanding of what everyone is saying. This can be done by something as simple as sharing articles or publications and assessing what levels of understanding exist. Misunderstandings can lead to problems further down the track.

A number of terms related to research processes can become elided and this can be dangerous. For example, evaluation and measurement are two very different things but can sometimes be used interchangeably. The notion of value is intrinsic to evaluation processes, but measurement does not, in itself, tell you anything about the values of an organisation. The fact that a thousand people attend a cultural event does not necessarily say anything about the quality or success of the event. It is also important for all parties to be clear about who the audience of any particular report actually is.

3· Be realistic — don’t expect a miracle or an easy ‘fix’ It is often believed that academic research, particularly scientific writing, is factual, simply conveying facts and information. However, an important feature of many academic processes is the principle of caution, which leads to cautious language, which can be a disappointment to those who feel they need an indisputable assessment of the worth of their activity. Organisations are under increasing pressure to provide particular kinds of information which are required by funders to ensure the success of the next funding application. This is a process, which can deny us the evaluation that actually makes us better at what we do. Be sure you are clear about what you want and the potential of the kind of research methodology that is used to answer the questions you want to be answered.

5· Be ready and able to provide an agreed ‘data-set’ Much of the research activity that goes on between universities and other organisations requires the provision of ‘data’ of one sort or another by the partner. The current emphasis on the co-design and co-production of research blurs the role between the researcher and the ‘researched’, and involves everyone in the developmental process. Organisations may be required to establish and facilitate focus groups or interviews, provide audience demographics or share information about creative processes. Partners need to be clear about their ability to provide this and about what is expected of them in relation to the research process in general. This can be mutually demanding. And finally… enjoy it! Academic partnerships can inspire great ideas, provide essential insights, increase capacity and strengthen relationships.


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Guide • Budgeting

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Budgeting for Innovation: a Few Things I  Wish I’d Known Producer Suzy Glass shares her tips and insights into budgeting for digital innovation projects.

While budgeting can be a natural skill for many people, not everyone is so fortunate. What happens though when you’re starting work in a space that you haven’t encountered before? Projects that have innovation at their core are by definition dealing with the unexplored to some degree. How do you budget for that? When faced with a significant but necessary level of uncertainty, you need flexible, fluid and responsive budget management. Not only is that a difficult thing to do, it is also an almost impossible thing to offer generic advice about. However, having worked in this space for the last five years, there are a few things I’ve learnt — often the hard way — that I wished I had known before.

Fight hard for a decent contingency Add a couple of percentage points and build up defences because this is a contingency you’ll need. You will discover barriers you had never anticipated and those resources you’ve safe-guarded in your contingency line will be vital as you attempt to clear them. You may be told your contingency is too high — after all you’re probably not dealing with huge health and safety risks, or items that are subject to overnight price inflation. You will therefore need to have a strong and cogent argument that illustrates the inherent instability of the space you’re working in and explores the type of impact this could have on your process and therefore your budget. A decent risk assessment can be helpful here, focussing on the unpredictable nature of your innovation practice.


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Guide • Budgeting

A theatre-maker may be working with a graphic designer, a mobile developer and an academic fellow.

Both testing and marketing are very necessary but costly

Collaborative practice can cost more, not less

The first time I worked on a digital project, I hadn’t understood how important both testing and marketing were to the process. Not only were we under-resourced, but the end of the project was fraught and as a result the outcomes weren’t as good as they could have been.

If you are budgeting to bring a dispersed team together to work in a genuinely collaborative fashion, it’s going to take time. Relationships take a while to develop, and sustaining a cluster-mind that is working together to push the boundaries of existing practice involves a lot of time in the same room overlapping on several tasks —  particularly in the early stages of project development.

First of all, make sure you build enough time into your schedule for a thorough testing period that includes time to make any amends based on issues your users bring to light. You may want to build a number of test phases into your process, allowing you to gently and iteratively adjust your plans as you go. This can be a lot easier than waiting until the eleventh hour, at which point so much of what you have done is set in stone and can’t be reversed. And remember that it’s not just the testing itself but also the potential amends that you need enough budget to accommodate. Secondly, recognise that the product build is only the first part of the story  — what’s needed next is a set of activities to build usership, and that marketing and promotion requires intelligence and resources. This is especially true if making native apps where competition to get noticed is considerable.

That time can be really expensive, particularly if you’re working with some people whose rates may be significantly more than others. To make remarkable digital work, we need to bring together people from different sectors to work alongside one another as equals. A theatre-maker may be working with a graphic designer, a mobile developer and an academic fellow. One may be pleased with a £250 day rate, while another is more used to charging £700 plus per day. Be prepared for this: do your research and budget accordingly.


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Agile or iterative methodologies need agile budget management It sounds so obvious, doesn’t it? But this is a tricky thing to impress on the people who wield the financial power — maybe your funders, your board or your client. In the arts we tend to work in frontloaded environments with schedules, budgets and even outputs having to be articulated ahead of the project start. In the best cases, good communications with your stakeholders can lead to a healthy understanding of the needs of the project, and that in turn should mean there’s room for a bit of shape-shifting. However, the bottom line often can’t and doesn’t change. The reality with agile methodologies is that your research will lead you to discoveries that may fundamentally undermine the assumptions you made in the early more conceptual stages of your project. Before you start using these methodologies, think hard about whether, financially, you will be able to accommodate the changes they point towards. Do you have access or can you generate additional funds you may need to increase the scope or complexity of your project?

Guide • Budgeting

Think about the future When you’re working in the digital realm it’s easy to forget that you’re about to generate a bunch of collateral materials which while intangible still require looking after, such as a website that requires ongoing hosting costs. So if you’re building a website, you’ll either need to plan to take it down at the end of the funded period, include a line in your project budget for x years of ongoing hosting, or build the hosting costs into your core operating costs. The same applies to other ongoing elements of your project such as community management, ongoing technical maintenance, editorial, etc. Therefore, when you’re setting up your initial project budget it can be a good idea to build sustainability planning in as a specific line. If you’re making something that you think should have a life beyond the scope of your initial funding, somebody — either someone from within your organisation or possibly a consultant — will need to spend significant amounts of time working on a business plan and associated funding applications or investment rounds. It’s a much easier task to take on if you have the available resources and expect to use them.

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— Suzy Glass is a producer involved in cross-artform processes and strategy and policy work that enable progressive working practices. — suzyglass.co.uk @suzyGlass — Image courtesy of Adrian Serghie —

Financial modelling Nesta’s Creative Business Toolkit contains a guide to financial modelling, to help you become aware of the financial impact of decisions before you make them: bit.ly/creativetoolkit


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Guide • Co-Design

Sideshow No More: The Rise of Co-Design With many of the R&D Fund projects using the techniques and principles of co-design as a central part of their development process, Native asked designer Andy Young to share more about this increasingly popular practice in the arts.

Andy Young is a Glasgow-based designer who, in the past two years, has worked on several digital projects in the arts. Organisations he has worked with include the Edinburgh Festivals, macrobert arts centre in Stirling and the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, and all of those projects have included co-design as part of his wider design practice. Andy, over to you. The definition of co-design Put simply, co-design is the process of involving the end-users of something  — be that a product, service or experience  — in its design phase. In the arts, that most typically means including your target audience in the design process. Whatever it is that’s being designed, the key thing is the involvement of end-users.


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Guide • Co-Design

Why co-design is different to market research The key word here is ‘design’, and the creativity implied in that. Market research tends to have a set agenda whereas co-design, when done well, should start in a much more open place. Co-design is not just about harvesting insights from your audience but about giving them the permission, the agency and a process by which to allow them to respond creatively to address a challenge. The ask is not just information and opinion but creative input. The benefits of co-design… The key benefit is getting more than just the organisational view. I remember at the beginning of one of our arts projects, what they said they wanted was a particular type of music-based app  — but there was no evidence that was something their audience really wanted. So by engaging with people at the show over several nights, we came up with a project that allows the audience to become more involved in the performance. It is something they’d never have thought of themselves but they love the project so much more than their original ideas. … and the dangers

1· Andy Young delivers a workshop (Snook).

The danger is just doing exactly what people say they want — remember that classic Henry Ford quote about if you asked people what they wanted, they would have said ‘faster horses’. There needs to be a level of synthesis, taking all feedback as creative input and then allowing the designer to bring their expertise to curate all the information available. Co-design allows you to have that balanced perspective from both the organisational and the user view; it’s not just top down or just giving people what users want, it’s working in that middle space. There is also the danger that organisations aren’t clear about what their objectives are — that they enter into co-design half-heartedly or as a PR exercise and don’t really want user input in the first place. That can be problematic.

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When co-design is most valuable The obvious time to use it is when you know a question but don’t know the answer, for example how do we engage more people under 35 with our work? But in my experience it’s just as valuable when you think you know the answer but you’re ready and open to having your assumptions challenged, and come up with a different solution. Finding the right people to involve in a co-design process If you decide to host a workshop, then you’ll find that people who already like your work will turn up and so you are unlikely to find as wide a range of ideas as you might otherwise — especially if your aim is to engage new audiences. Therefore my biggest piece of advice is to go to the people rather than having them come to you, or as I often say, “bums off seats and onto the streets!” If you go to where people are, you can be surprised at how quickly you can get useful insights. Using a third party vs running the process as an arts organisation You need to be careful when running a co-design process by yourself. Firstly, the whole point of the exercise is that the organisational view is often very different to the audience or user view and so the process must be run in such a way that does not privilege the former over the latter. Secondly, many of the tools that are central to co-design are rarely native to the arts organisation and so having an external facilitator or designer can really help get the most out of them.


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Guide • Co-Design

Examples of simple and effective co-design tools

Surprises in working on co-design processes within the arts

If I had to choose my top tools, there are two that stand out for me: storyboarding and personas. Storyboarding is great since it places the narrative around your product or project as the most important thing — not just what it is but why and how people will engage with it. If you don’t get that right then no matter how beautiful or elegant your product is, people won’t use it, and that can be something often missed out. Personas are profiles of audience types and working them up in significant detail can really bring a sense of target audience to life, and help you make important decisions on how a project is built and then marketed. It can be tempting to have loads and loads of personas but what I recommend is condensing some of your key audience types down into around three superpersonas. This means it is much easier to keep a range of behaviours and types in their head. And remember, these are creative tools, because when you give people creative tools they will be creative, and design is fundamental to facilitating that creativity.

It always surprises — and delights —  me that even though organisations are convinced about what they need, with a good co-design process you can deliver something so far away from what they originally came up with themselves and they will love it even more. For example, with macrobert, had we just made it the student-focused app it originally wanted, we would not have made the social media persona tool that will impact how it thinks about and engages with audiences across everything it does. There’s always an idea as a starting point, but then co-design lets you deconstruct those early assumptions and take it to a place that is much more informed in a collaborative way. The biggest learning has been that transition: we wanted x and we ended up with y, and y is so much better than x.

The difference between co-creation and co-design What co-creation shares with co-design is the ‘co-’ bit, the involvement of users. However, co-design is solely about the start of the process — it’s what happens when you give users a creative role in defining what something will be like. Co-creation can include co-design but has a bigger scope in that it refers to when the actions of your users or your audience change the creative experience or artwork itself. For example, the Unlimited Theatre-led Digital R&D project uses co-design to define what its new play-script reading experience will be like, but the actual app is not made by the user in any way. And the Imperial War Museum-led Digital R&D project uses co-creation in that users take part in the curation and exhibition process itself but they did not design the web platform on which it sits.

— Creative Director of Snook, Andy Young is a Glasgow-based designer whose work in the arts has included Festivals Design DNA for the Edinburgh Festivals and being the lead designer associated with Sync’s Geeks-in-Residence programme. — @andyyoungdesign —

Co-design as competitive advantage Competitive advantage doesn’t even do it justice. It’s about culture, engagement, listening, it’s about twenty-first century practice. People like to feel that they are close to the organisations, the products and creative work that they love. Engaging in co-design will deepen people’s loyalty and it satisfies the wish to want to feel a part of it. There will be commercial returns and therefore a competitive advantage, but it’s much more than that. And it will also be the norm in three to four years, so it’s best that the arts get used to it now before it’s too late. Design used to be the icing but now it’s the flour that makes the cake, and that makes this a very exciting time.

Prototyping protocol This Nesta tool can help you prototype your idea and visualise it with a storyboard: bit.ly/protoprotocol


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Guide • Co-Design

The discipline of service or experience design has a wealth of tools which can be useful in a co-design process.

2· Touchpoint analysis maps all the different ways a user can engage with a service, how they relate and how it can be optimised (Snook).

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3· Storyboarding a user experience can identify key issues or ‘pain points’. 4· Getting target users to identify their principal needs may unearth new insights. 5· Detailed user journey mapping is an involved process but results in an end-to-end understanding of your project. 6· The team behind R&D Fund project UNeditions used paper prototyping to test the concept of their iPad experience quickly and cheaply (Simon Allen). 3

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How to • Promotion

5 Ways to Promote Your Digital Project on a Budget With so much competition for attention, what are the best ways to promote your project without it costing the earth? Rohan Gunatillake shares his experience. Whether it’s the Apple or Android app stores, or just the web in general, with so much competition for attention, it can be a real challenge to get your app or project out there for people to discover and enjoy. This was a hot topic at a recent learning event for Digital R&D Fund project teams and, given that most projects do not have large marketing budgets, the discussion explored relatively cheap ways with which to give your project the best chance of exposure. 1· Consider your marketing approach from the very beginning With so much energy going into project delivery, marketing is often only thought about once the product is made. Given that the overall success of a product is as much about user acquisition as product development, if marketing and promotion is something that only starts to be considered near the launch of the product then it can be too late. Marketing and promotion should therefore be built into the project plan and also have a realistic level of resources allocated to it in your budget. 2· Identify and refine your PR message For good or for ill, today’s digital world is one of small attention spans — be that of journalists and promoters or the general public. It can be valuable to start to identify your project’s PR-friendly ‘hook’. You are likely to know a communications or media professional, so talk to them early in the project development to test what they feel would be the most attractive hook or angle for the media. Once this hook is identified you can start to optimise parts of your product and overall marketing approach around it.

3· Build a community of interest around your product while it’s being made If you end up making your product essentially in secret and then reveal it only at the very end with a big ‘ta-dah!’ moment, you’ve missed a big opportunity. By having some sort of public-facing information about your product and a way for potential users to engage with it, when you do launch you can have built a community of 20 / 50 / 100 / 1000 early adopters who are empowered to act as advocates and tell their networks. There are a number of different ways to do this, such as setting up a good search-engineoptimised, pre-launch page, building a mailing list using a service like Launchrock, running a Kickstarter campaign for a small amount of money to attract possible users, or engaging in co-design processes with people ‘in real life’ to make them feel part of the team. 4· Play the long game with journalists and promotion partners Unless you are a very large arts organisation with a giant Twitter following or mailing list, it is most likely that the biggest promotion channels for your project are owned by other people — journalists, blog / media owners or other organisations. It can be really valuable to reach out to your top targets early on in your project process just to let them know what you’re doing and warming them up to the fact that you will be contacting them again at launch time. This can be especially effective if you’ve identified people who are already talking about your project’s area — and finding who those people are is just a Google search away. This is also true for event organisers; getting a speaker slot for a conference or event leads to other media exposure and finding which of these are happening around the time of your launch is relatively straightforward.

5· Be realistic about market sizing If you are new to digital publishing, there can be a tendency to think that the potential market for your product is bigger than it really is — perhaps due to all the media attention for the ‘super’ products such as Candy Crush Saga and Angry Birds. While digital distribution channels have the potential for relatively large audiences, it is sensible to do some analysis of what your particular product’s market size can be so that you can create some realistic targets when you’re ready to launch. You can do this in two ways — analyse similar products or make market size estimates. If there is a similar product in, say, Google Play (the Android app store), that app store will let you know the general ballpark number of downloads. You can also make estimates using the number of reviews in the Apple app store, assuming that 1% of users write reviews or rate an app. The other approach is to use social media tools such as those included in Facebook’s advertising service to estimate, for example, the number of people between 18–45 in the UK interested in dance and games.

Appreciated?

23% of arts organisations

say a lack of strategy/planning is a barrier to achieving their digital aspirations. Source: Digital R&D Digital Culture survey

40% of marketers are

planning for developing a mobile app in the next year. Source: AerIcon

22% of apps are only used

once before being completely abandoned. Source: Localytics


artsdigitalrnd.org.uk

Guide • Digital People

Great digital projects require digital people. Building the right team is an important first step on the way to a successful R&D project. Based on the experience of the R&D Fund projects to date, there are some key things to consider: • Make sure you speak to someone who has delivered a project similar to yours to help assess the resourcing needs. • Budget limitations will mean that compromises are made. Be aware of the roles you are not filling as well as those you are and work out mitigation strategies accordingly. • Understand which roles can be performed by existing staff and what needs to be outsourced or contracted in. • When working with partners and contractors, think about how their skills can have a transferable impact on the capacity of your own organisation’s team and vice versa.

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Digital People Exploring the many different roles that can make up Digital R&D teams.

1· R&D Fund participants at a quarterly learning event.

• Not everyone is needed for all phases of the project so think about what the most appropriate resourcing is over time. • Be aware of the people implications if the project is so successful that it continues to grow and grow. • Communication matters. In an inter-disciplinary team, the more people who have experience working across different roles and sectors, the better. As you will have seen from the Project Directory, the R&D Fund is made up of dozens of teams with each involving a research partner, a technology partner, and an arts partner. These are of course very broad categories and there are often multiple roles, and multiple skillsets within each element of the team. While each team is unique, looking across the R&D Fund, we can identify twelve of the most common specialist roles within successful digital R&D teams.

Project Manager Why you need me To make sure things get done — on time, under budget. What I do Oversees the overall project process, managing stakeholders, schedules and resourcing. Likely to have a core specialism either in one of the arts, technology or research. Most likely to say ‘Check out this thing I just did with Excel.’ Least likely to say ‘My inbox is empty. Please send me more emails.’

Producer Why you need me To steer the creative and business direction of the project Description Has strong ownership over the project, which they may have come up with in the first place. Likely to have worked both in the digital and the arts context during their career to date. You’re more likely to have a producer over a project manager if the project lead is to have creative agency over the overall work. Most likely to say ‘Yes, and… Least likely to say ‘Let’s just make an app.’

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Service Designer

Community Manager Why you need me To build a user base and make them feel special. What I do Helps build a user base and then primarily responsible for supporting those users to get the most out the new product or service. Especially important role if the project has a social component. Most likely to say ‘How can we help make your experience better?’ Least likely to say ‘I am not a people person.’

Front-end Developer Why you need me To ensure your project is visually appealing and accessible. What I do Responsible for building the elements of the app or service that the user primarily engages with. Likely to have a strong combination of design and technical skills.

Back-end Developer Why you need me To build an intelligent, strong, scalable and efficient system. What I do Responsible for the databases, algorithms, logic models and other technical infrastructure that sit behind a product or service. The more complex and ambitious the project the more important this role becomes. Most likely to say A word you don’t understand. Least likely to say ‘No more coffee for me thanks.’

ux Designer Why you need me To understand people’s needs and make your product a joy to use. What I do Responsible for designing the elements of the product which people interact with so that they are as valuable and enjoyable as possible. Likely to also be a graphic specialist and lead on the creation of the project’s visual identity. Most likely to lead on user testing.

Most likely to say ‘It has to look as good on mobile and tablet as it does on desktop.’

Most likely to say ‘My cat’s name is Helvetica.’

Least likely to say ‘Yes, making the logo spin around is a good idea.’

Least likely to say ‘I’ve never bought an Apple product.’

Why you need me To help your project fit into people’s real lives from start to finish. What I do Responsible for understanding all elements of how someone engages with your product, from just hearing about it to stopping using it. An increasingly common role, most likely to lead any co-design activities with users. Most likely to say ‘But why would anyone actually use it?’ Least likely to say ‘Don’t worry about what our user group said, let’s just work off our original assumptions.’

Researcher Why you need me To generate new knowledge and measure your success. What I do Articulates the research proposition for the overall project and creates the research approach and manages all the related activities. Data included in the research approach has a wide range of forms including competitor analyses, analytics and user group insights. Most likely to say ‘Here’s a really useful article about that issue we’re facing.’ Least likely to say ‘Don’t worry about installing analytics software, let’s just do that later.’

Learning Lead Why you need me To help you learn from your (and others) experiences. What I do Helps the team to reflect on strategic, operational and governance processes. This ensures that as much internal learning is captured and understood as possible so as to not only inform the current project but also future work. Unlikely to be a whole job in itself. Most likely to say ‘What has surprised you most during this project phase?’ Least likely to say ‘It doesn’t matter if the team learns anything as long as we get the job done.’

Artist Why you need me To set the artistic vision and create the core elements of the experience. What I do Either the artistic lead of a new creative project or the artist behind an existing work which is being extended through digital means to engage new audiences. Not relevant to all projects depending on the scope. Most likely to say ‘How would the app add to the experience?’ Least likely to say ‘Just do what you want with my work, I don’t really care.’


artsdigitalrnd.org.uk

Guide • Digital People

2· R&D Fund participants Naomi Yates, Ad Spiers, Laura Griffiths, Adrian Davies, Rebekkah Abraham, Jane Audas, Andrew Whitney, Roma Patel, Collette Hiller, Susan Lambert, Phil Blume, Marcus Winter, Jonathan Shakhovskoy, Rob Toulson, Tom Melamed & Seth Honnor.

Project Champion Why you need me To ensure the project is guided, supported and embedded into host organisations.

External Comms Lead Why you need me To make sure the right people find out about the project. What I do Responsible for promoting the project to users, media and other communities of interest. Primarily to grow an audience for the product, this role can be further broken down into sales, marketing and PR specialisms depending on the scope of the particular project. Most likely to say ‘What’s the hook here?’ Least likely to say ‘Let’s just take a scattergun approach to who we target our messages to.’

What I do Responsible for ensuring the R&D project has profile within the host organisation and ensuring that it is properly resourced and embedded within the organisation’s overall strategic objectives and direction. This role is most relevant within larger arts organisations, where there is a risk that project work is sidelined. This person is unlikely to be directly involved in the day-to-day project work but may have a senior digital or strategic role. Most likely to say ‘We need to understand the medium and long term impacts of this project.’ Least likely to say ‘This digital stuff is just a fad.’

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— Written by Emmie McKay with Rohan Gunatillake —

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Guide • Digital People

A Digital R&D Glossary Words, concepts and tools that have been important to the R&D Fund projects so far. Defined.

10 Basic Terms 1· Software is the general name for the programs and other operating information that run on a computer or device. 2· Hardware is the general name for any of the physical components of a computer, device or indeed any intelligent or connected system.

6· Platform is a foundational piece of technology which can be used and re-used for a number of different purposes. 7· App is a software application which is interacted with through a particular piece of hardware. 8· Development is a general term for the process of making a software or hardware product.

3· Code or program denotes any set of instructions which comprise a piece of software or when used as a verb is the ability to write software.

9· Interaction refers to how a person engages with a particular piece of software or hardware.

4· Data is a general term to denote any kind of information that can be represented in a digital format.

10· Coding languages contain all the linguistic elements that are used to write software, with different languages used for different platforms and / or objectives.

5· Analytics is the discovery and subsequent communication of meaningful patterns in a set of data.


artsdigitalrnd.org.uk

Guide • Glossary

10 Methodologies

10 Concepts 1· The Internet of Things describes how all kinds of everyday objects can be connected and share information. Also known as pervasive or ubiquitous computing. 2· Cross-platform applies to when a project, product or service can be experienced across a range of platforms such as mobile, web or even physical devices. 3· Platforming refers to the creation of reusable infrastructure as part of a project build so that these elements can be re-used even if the initial project is over. 4· Open data is the practice of providing third parties with open access to proprietary data under licence, increasingly common in the cultural context. 5· Open source generally refers to how a piece of software’s source code is made freely available under licence for usage, modification and extension.

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6· Crowdfunding is the use of web platforms such as Kickstarter to source finance for a project and is now available to fund startup companies. 7· Hackdays are intensive and often playful events where digital and other talent work together to create new prototype projects. 8· Haptic technology works to evolve our relationship with technology beyond keyboards and touch screens by bringing more dimensions to our sense of touch. 9· Augmented Reality is the ability to add layers of digital information over our view of the physical world, perceived either through mobile devices or heads-up displays. Different to Virtual Reality which places the user in a fully computersimulated environment. 10· The Maker Movement is a term to cover the hobbyists and professionals involved in making hardware products involving technology which also includes new fabrication techniques such as 3D printing.

1· Agile is shorthand for a group of software development methods based on the principles of adaptation and iteration. Agile is in contrast to more linear or stage-based development known as waterfall methodologies.

6· Crowdsourcing is the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, and especially from an online community, rather than from traditional employees or suppliers.

2· Lean Startup is a popular evidence-based methodology in which products are iteratively developed using customer feedback so as to use resources efficiently while maximising value.

7· Action research is a disciplined process of inquiry conducted by and for those taking the action in order to help them improve their own practices, which in turn can enhance their working environment and the working environments of those who are part of it.

3· Co-design is the process of involving the end-users of a product, service or experience in its design phase and allowing their genuine input rather than just feeding back on your existing plans. Related to user-centred design in which user needs are prioritised. 4· Gamification is the usage of game mechanics, points and achievements in nongame contexts. 5· Data-driven decision making is an approach where technological, creative or organisational decisions are made, based on the capture of often large sets of quantitative data.

8· Insight Journalism is a design methodology which blends journalism’s storytelling and critical /  investigative capacity with the skills of designers and makers to result in bespoke solutions. 9· Participant observation is a method where researchers take an active engaged part in a process such as product development rather than acting as a hands-off, neutral agent. 10· Webnography (or netnography) is the use of ethnographic techniques when studying online communities and their cultures.


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Guide • Digital People

10 Acronyms 1· HTML5 Hypertext Markup Language 5 is the fifth version of the fundamental language used for structuring and presenting content for the web, and increasingly used for cross-platform projects as an alternative to native mobile apps. 2· QR Quick Response codes are a square matrix-style barcode which when read by a device most commonly push that device to a specific website. 3· NFC Near Field Communications allows smartcards, smartphones and other devices to transfer data when in close proximity. This is the technology used in contactless payment systems and is closely related to radio-frequency identification. 4· QA Quality Assurance is the set of processes and standards to verify that your software meets business objectives and that code is relatively bug free prior to release. 5·SAAS Software as a Service is a model by which users access software and associated data on the internet, so that the relationship is more like rental or subscription than purchase.

10 Other Project Terms 6· UX User Experience and user experience design are all the considerations related to how users engage and relate to a digital product.

1· Live streaming refers to content delivered live over the internet and is often called live broadcast if the stream is to cinemas.

6· A hybrid app combines elements of the native and web experience, and looks like a native app but are served through the browser.

7· SEO Search Engine Optimisation is a set of tools and techniques for improving the visibility of your website or content in a search engine’s results.

2· Second screen refers to the use of a laptop or mobile device to add an interactive experience alongside another content experience, such as engaging on Twitter while watching Sherlock.

7· Responsive websites automatically adjust their display according to the user’s screen size, to help improve the user experience.

8· API An Application Programming interface is the means by which your data source can be used by a third party in a managed way eg embedding Google Maps data on your own website 9· CTR Click Through Rate is a core metric for assessing the success of online advertising campaigns and other web analytics. 10· JFDI One of the most effective ways of cutting through the barriers that innovation projects face.

3· Bandwidth is a measurement of how much data can be served to you at any time — either upload or download. The more you have, the more you can do.

8· Discovery refers to the ability of people to find your content, and is often a challenge for marketing apps within the various App Stores.

4· A web app is a software service that is provided through the browser, be that on mobile or desktop.

9· Freemium is currently the dominant business model in large-scale mobile games where the main product is given away for free and there are in-app or in-game purchases.

5· A native app is a mobile or tablet app that is written in the device’s base operating system such as Android or iOS (Apple).

10· Re-playability is a key metric for many apps since the vast majority of mobile apps are deleted after one use or even less.


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Guide • Glossary

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10 Project Tools 1· Trello is a task-based online project management tool designed specifically for distributed teams. 2· Launchrock is a quick and simple service for putting a website for forthcoming products and projects with associated services and tips for growing a community of users. 3· Balsamiq Mockups is a desktop application which provides all the elements you need to create a wireframes and prototype interface for your mobile, tablet or desktop projects. 4· Buffer allows you to schedule posts to your social media accounts in advance through a single system and also provides tools to maximise engagement 5· Flurry is a detailed analytics service for how people are using your mobile apps. Their large user base also means they provide powerful market intelligence.

6· App Annie is also an app analytics tool with great associated market insights and provides tracking of downloads, sales, revenue and review of your apps with detailed geographical breakdown. 7· Hipchat is an instant messaging tool increasingly popular for quick group or one-to-one communication in co-located or distributed teams. 8· Blossom is a powerful project management service made for teams using agile methodologies. 9· Typeform makes visually appealing online surveys that your audience may even enjoy completing. 10· Github is a web-based code repository which allows remote teams to work together and also provides a platform for publishing or using open source projects.

— Compiled and edited by Athina Balopoulou, Andreea Bocioaga, Eleanor Turney, Tandi Williams, Rohan Gunatillake and our friends at Wikipedia. —


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How to • Remote Working

5 Ways to Make Remote Working Work With many R&D Fund teams working across different locations, Rohan Gunatillake and Hannah Nicklin share their tips on how to make the most out of a distributed team. Collaborating with others is an increasingly common feature of project work today, and core to successful digital R&D. But with collaboration comes the challenge of teams distributed across different parts of the country (or the world). Here are five tips sourced from across the Digital R&D Fund of how to make remote working work. 1· Take time to build strong relationships Unless you already have a good relationship with your team members from past work, it is likely to take time to build trust and understand each others working style. It is therefore worth ‘front-loading’ your project with opportunities to learn from and with each other. Make sure you build a shared understanding of each other’s goals, pressures and operating environments. 2· Find the collaboration tools that work for you There are now a core suite of free tools that are very commonly used as the basis for project work. These are Basecamp for a closed project space, Google Drive and Dropbox for document management and Google Hangouts and Skype for video / phone real-time communication. The world of project delivery tools is constantly innovating and there are some new, less well-known tools available. One of the most useful is Trello — an app which allows you to manage workloads, to-do lists and activities across a remote team. The key advice is to use tools which actually work for your team and so it may require some research and trialling to see what fits best.

3· Ensure you have a regular schedule of check-ins Keeping regular contact — ideally weekly or at least fortnightly — means that everyone knows what everyone else is working on and where help is most required. Check-in meetings should be done in real-time ie using some sort of video / phone conferencing and even if they are really short — even 20–30 mins  — they can be a very effective way of ensuring that no-one in the team feels isolated or is stuck on any particular problem. 4· Develop your own language In a collaborative project where team members come from very different backgrounds, it is often the case that people can use the same words but are not necessarily talking about the same thing! For example, the word development means very different things if you are a technologist, an arts administrator or a researcher. Working out or at least clarifying the language for the specifics of your project that everyone understands can avoid problems down the line and ensure efficient communication. 5· Don’t underestimate the importance of face-to-face It may sound a little contrary, but one of the best ways to make remote working work is to try and spend as much time as you can afford to in the same room together. Nothing builds relationships like face-to-face contact and this is especially true if that time spent together is in some part social rather than exclusively task-oriented. Building in time for face-to-face sessions can really pay dividends later in the project should the road get rocky at all.


DIY R&D artsdigitalrnd.org.uk

Guide • DIY R&D

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While there is certainly no one-size-fits-all approach to ensuring your digital R&D project will be a success, the R&D Fund community has identified a number of key building blocks that, when kept in mind, give your bread a better chance of landing butter-side up. These building blocks cover areas to be considered right at the beginning of the process, before you’ve come up with any project ideas, all the way to delivery and beyond, and are relevant for projects of all scales and contexts. They are not, however, presented in a linear way since (a) they are relevant at many different points in the development process and (b) that’s not how the world works.


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Guide • DIY R&D

Strategic alignment

Ensuring leadership

If your R&D work is not clearly in sync with where your organisation is currently going or where it wants to go in the future, then it risks always being positioned as a side-show. R&D is experimental work, but without a clear connection to your creative and/or commercial mission there is little chance of it being integrated into core practice, even if successful.

The smaller the organisation, the more likely that the organisation’s leadership will be actively involved in or have direct oversight of any R&D projects currently underway. However, if you are part of a larger organisation, having some kind of sponsorship or championing at as senior a level as possible can make a big difference. It’s often underestimated how much a project needs to be promoted and supported inside the organisation, let alone outside it.

Choosing methodology

The R&D mindset

The way you choose to run your project is related to how your project evolves. Traditional linear, milestone-driven methodologies are very different from the more iterative, user-feedback driven ones, such as those derived from agile or lean thinking. If working with a technology partner, they are likely to be be proficient in the latter and so your project can be a good opportunity for you to learn a new style of working.

It is the nature of experimental work that only a relatively small proportion will be suitable for development into a full product or a full performance. Taking a portfolio approach to a mix of different R&D projects will allow for that risk, and it is worth setting realistic expectations as to what your tolerance of risk actually is. Without some generously realistic expectations, there can be too much pressure on often fragile projects.


artsdigitalrnd.org.uk

Guide • DIY R&D

Idea generation and parking

Recruiting talent

The more voices and perspectives you can involve in idea generation, the more well-rounded your project ideas are likely to be. Projects typically start from either needs (organisational or audience) or opportunities (technological or through partnership), and so both these starting points should be explored. As you analyse and discount a set of ideas, make sure you catalogue or park these somewhere, since they may be useful later.

It may well be the case that the R&D project you identify requires skills that don’t currently exist within your organisation or indeed your network. The choice is to either have someone with an arts / culture background grow their digital production skills, or to have someone experienced in digital projects work in the arts / culture context. What you choose depends on your budget, appetite for risk and the quality and capacity of your existing people.

Clarifying the question

User research

While you may not have a formal researcher on your project, it is still very much worthwhile articulating the question that you are looking to explore and how you plan to answer it. The clearer the question, the more straightforward it will be to define success criteria and learning objectives. Clarity will also help you set up the data collection processes you need when you’ve hit your mark.

It is often assumed that what our audiences want is the same as what we want. Despite the poverty of that assumption, many projects are built around the organisational need rather than the user perspective. Carrying out research using tools from disciplines such as service design will unearth insights about the real issues that your audience cares about.

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Guide • DIY R&D

Be realistic

The joy of platforming

While our newspapers may be full of billion-dollar tech takeovers and apps with hundreds of millions of users, the reality is that the vast majority of web and mobile app publishers and startups struggle to grow a user base and become profitable. It’s therefore worth doing some rigorous market-sizing exercises and making some realistic models for what income opportunities exist.

It is often the case that digital projects are built as one-offs, even though elements of what has been made could be used for future projects, either for yourself or others. ‘Platforming’ is doing just that: setting up your project so that it is creating an architecture that can be used multiple times rather than just once — the digital equivalent of repertory theatre.

The benefits of co-design

Growing networks

Involving users of a product during design and development can increase the chance of adoption, and generally optimise the efficiency of your overall process. Codesign does of course have its own costs — it requires skilled facilitation, the willingness to listen to sometimes difficult input, and the skill of curating all the data you capture into the overall direction of the project. While a full end-to-end co-design process may not be in scope for everyone, whatever your scale it’s worth getting design input from likely users, not just feedback on your own ideas.

Not everyone has a range of technology companies or digital specialists that they can call on to work up and deliver project ideas. Therefore, it’s important to have a way of creating and continuing to develop those relationships. Good ways to do this include taking part in meetups and hackdays near you, getting recommendations from other arts organisations you trust and admire, or finding the technologists who are already in your audience and inviting them in for a coffee.


artsdigitalrnd.org.uk

Guide • DIY R&D

Reflective spaces

Checking quality with peers

R&D is as much about the resultant transferable learning as it is about the product itself. However, given all the drama and excitement of delivery, and despite our best intentions to protect time and space for reflection, this often ends up dropping off the bottom of the to-do list. Solve this by making learning outputs a core metric, building reflective sessions into normal meetings, and using a critical friend to listen to project progress and help you with any issues.

One of the things that makes the arts in the UK so strong is that it has a long history of critical discourse. This makes an important contribution to ensuring the general quality of work is high, and also that the best work receives appropriate recognition. This is not currently so established with digital projects and so it can be valuable to recruit some critical friends to review your project throughout its development, with a brief to assess quality — be that in concept, aesthetic or delivery.

Appropriate metrics Data strategy and capture is central to an R&D project and is likely to be a mix of quantitative and qualitative information. It’s important to make sure that you are capturing data which has meaning for your learning and project objectives, and remember that you can never capture more data once the opportunity has passed so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

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Guide • Business Models

With the exploration of new business models being one of the R&D Fund’s key objectives, Rohan Gunatillake takes a look at this important concept.

1· Definitions, definitions. Whilst widely thrown around as a term, getting people to give you a clear and accurate definition of a business model is not always straightforward. Thankfully all is not lost. The R&D Fund uses the helpful Falk and Sheppard definition where a business model is the mechanism by which a business intends to manage its costs and generate its outcomes — in the case of for-profits, the outcomes are primarily revenues earned, and in the case of non-profits, the outcome is primarily the public good created. And Osterwalder, Pigneur et al, creators of the enormously popular Business Model Canvas, are even more succinct when they say that a business model describes the rationale of how an organisation creates, delivers, and captures value. 2· ‘Inside-out’ business model innovation. Business model innovation for existing arts organisations comes in two main flavours. The first is where an element of your existing business model is extended. For example if you are a performance venue and you create a new ticketing offer for a current show to attract students (eg the Student Pulse app) or a premium child-care service offer to attract parents. Or you are a gallery that gets access to a new exhibition space which grows your ability to show new work. Both these examples are based on skills and experience that already exist within the organisation.

Business Models: Ten Things to Think About

3· ‘Outside-in’ business model innovation. The second main flavour of business model innovation for arts organisations is when you are looking to develop a whole new area of practice that has no direct equivalent in your existing model. One common example is a venue deciding to open a cafe. Or when a theatre company starts to distribute performances directly into people’s homes through a digital platform (eg Digital Theatre). As ‘outside-in’ development, this type of innovation practice is most likely to require skills that currently do not exist within the organisation and therefore need suppliers and / or partners. There is a third category of business model innovation in the arts — Third Party-Led — which by definition starts not with arts organisations but when external entrepreneurs spot an opportunity that arts organisations are creating but do not necessarily have the direct interest, mandate or resources to exploit.


artsdigitalrnd.org.uk

4· More than just money. The conversation about business models is very often conflated with the conversation about funding and by extension, funding uncertainty. For example when someone says ‘let’s explore new business models’ this is often code for ‘we have a hole in our balance sheet and we need to fix it’. This can lead to a lack of clarity about the primary drive for an innovation agenda. The influential US-based Nonprofit Finance Fund have their useful iron triangle concept which says that when assessing business model change you have to recognise that not only is the money affected but so is the mission and the operating model. Therefore if the primary issue is still money, it can be more effective to be entirely explicit about that rather than hide it in the language of business models which are a bigger frame than purely the financial. 5· Getting past the B word. The word business has baggage in the arts. The long history of public funding for the arts in the UK can in some quarters lead to the erroneous opinion that the arts do not understand markets and that they are effectively propped up by grant funding. While of course the arts understand commercial pressures as well as any industry, a result of having to work in a mixed economy is that the arts often have to hold the tension between commercial, creative and public value. While it is out of scope to get into that well-worn value debate here, what is important to recognise is that has often led to the all too easy and political (with a small p) soundbite that progress will take place when the arts becomes more ‘business-like’. The upshot is that the word business is deeply entangled in the issues of value and so when the very neutral term that is the business model is used, it often provokes a reaction that carries all that baggage, despite not having to. This is a real issue and one just has to be named, recognised and mitigated.

Guide • Business Models

6· The challenge of capacity. The arts and cultural sector is full of very well run organisations who over time have optimised themselves to perform the functions required of their particular situation — whether that’s a festival, a venue, a producing company and the rest. Well managed budgets and well managed resourcing profiles mean that while operations have just enough muscle to deliver, they are often so streamlined that there is very little spare capacity for anything other than what absolutely has to get done. Therefore if an organisation is looking to innovate in any way — whatever the motivation  — there is often just not enough spare people power to do the work. And if external people are brought in, there are no skills transferred to the core team after project completion. 7· The challenges of risk & vested interests. Business model innovation opportunity can involve a high level of risk —  especially if it requires significant upfront investment. Additionally, if the innovation is sufficiently disruptive it might even undermine elements of existing business models such as cannibalising existing audiences. Therefore when undertaking any business model innovation process, it is important to put in place a good research process that can measure and evaluate the external and internal impact of any innovation practice.

9· Business Model Canvas. Already mentioned elsewhere in Native, one of the best and most practical places to start is the Business Model Canvas, a widely used tool by organisations and entrepreneurs of all shapes, sizes and sectors. The Canvas is especially powerful since it is easy to pick up but can be used with great depth. Depending on whether your approach is inside-out, outside-in or you are an entrepreneur looking to take advantage of third party markets, you can either map existing models to help you identify new opportunities or design new business models entirely from scratch. 10· The one model to rule them all. During a panel discussion on business models at the Americans For The Arts conference in 2010, Clara Miller, Director of the Nonprofit Finance Fund, famously said: “There is one business model: reliable revenue that meets or exceeds expenses. Any questions?” As Andrew Taylor wrote on his excellent blog The Artful Manager, Miller’s comment was ‘a helpful reminder that business models are means, not ends. And, in fact, artistic endeavors can reach similar ends by many means. The essential first step in any enterprise is not to select a method, but to define the principles. Which suggests that most of our conversations in the arts about new business models have the question exactly upside-down.’

8· Taking an asset-based approach. One of the most powerful ways to start thinking about business model innovation is not to start with the gaps in your budget or in your audience but to start the other way around entirely. An audit of your assets may highlight things your organisation has which are being underused or not used at all but could be reframed and recognised as a source of value. These assets can be in all sorts of categories such as data, existing audiences, physical space, brand value, partnerships, talent network, archives and staff.

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DIY Toolkit The business model canvas tool is available online as a part of Nesta’s DIY Toolkit: diytoolkit.org/tools/ business-model-canvas


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Guide • Business Models

Examples of digital business models from arts organisations and creative businesses:

Festival Open Listings api Listings is a key data asset for any festival and none more so than the Edinburgh Festivals. Since 2011, the twelve Edinburgh Festivals have been providing their listings data through an API serving both media partners and software developers. Providing the listings to the media in this automated fashion has saved money and given partners more flexibility. Providing the listings to digital agencies and independent developers has created new innovative services which use the data in ways the festivals would never have had the ability to do by themselves and ultimately led to more people becoming aware of what tickets are available. — api.festivalslab.com

CultureLabel The team behind CultureLabel recognised that the types of customer interested in products sold by one museum or cultural institution is also likely to be interested in those from another. This web platform and shop aggregates products from across a range of cultural vendors and takes a percentage on sales, together with a range of their own products. CultureLabel is also involved in a R&D Fund project to extend this productbased model to services, exploring a new way of gifting cultural experiences. — culturelabel.com

Considering different funding models? Nesta’s Funding Sources Guide evaluates the pros and cons of different funding sources, such as grant funding and crowd funding: bit.ly/fundingsources

Digital Theatre Another very elegant aggregator platform, alongside NT Live, Digital Theatre has played a central part in the growth of broadcast theatre in the last five years. Working with partners such as the Royal Court and the RSC, the company works on the technical production and distribution of performances with the two general customer groups being general audiences and educators. — digitaltheatre.com

Student Pulse With its origins as LSO Pulse — the R&D Fund project in the fund’s pilot phase  — the now-expanded Student Pulse is a discounted ticket and loyalty scheme for classical music concerts, run jointly by ten London orchestras and venues. Through the mobile app, students are able to purchase discounted tickets and also accumulate points based on referrals to friends, which can be redeemed against rewards. All sales through the app are ticketless. — studentpulselondon.co.uk


artsdigitalrnd.org.uk

Guide • Business Models

Club de Autores

Distrify

In just 5 years, Brazil’s first self-publishing platform has grown into the largest company of its type, responsible for 10% of all books published in Brazil per year. Initially focussing on print publication and physical fulfilment, it also publishes e-books. Club de Autores has also created additional products on top of their main platform, including a skills marketplace which allows authors and publishers the opportunity to source specialist skills such as cover design and editing.

Distrify solves the problem of film-makers’ and other content-creators’ videos already being shared online but without direct monetisation. They have created an elegant service with associated analytics which allow any video you own to include a shop function. For example when someone has finished watching, your film trailer they directly have the option within the video to buy or stream the full film. — distrify.com

— clubedeautores.com.br

Be a Playwright

Getty Images

With its celebrated history as a home for new writing, Newcastle-based Live Theatre have successfully converted an in-person writing course into a popular online course. Comprising five separate modules, the course it taught by two expert tutors Gez Casey & Jeremy Herrin. Users can either choose a materials-only course at a reduced rate or enjoy the full course which includes community elements and personalised tuition.

This vast photography archive has made 35 million of its images free for non-commercial use as long as users give appropriate attribution. The content available is approximately 20% of Getty’s overall archive and is a response to the fact that many of its images are simply being copied anyway. The company makes most of its revenue from commercial accounts with media agencies and a spokesperson for Getty Images stated that ‘it’s a little premature to talk of a specific business model’.

beaplaywright.com

gettyimages.co.uk

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Showcase • Global R&D

Global R&D Eight inspiring projects from across the world.

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1

Culture Shift Egypt, South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria Can rapid prototyping stimulate the development of new creative startups? Convened by the British Council’s Creative Economy programme, Culture Shift is a season of hackdays that brings together creative businesses and digital talent to make new digital projects in just 48 hours. Evolving the hackday model into new contexts, Culture Shift has taken place so far in Egypt, South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria. Two recent startups which have come out of the process are Yoruba, a film streaming service, and a fashion label which allows customers to input into the design process. — creativeconomy.britishcouncil.org


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Rubens House Belgium How can museums deliver locationspecific content to visitors to enhance their experience of the collection? Rather than wait for visitors to seek out additional content, Rubens House in Antwerp working — with Prophets Digital Agency — are using iBeacons to push contextual information to visitors based on their precise location. This low-cost, low-power technology enables the museum to deliver rich information about both the artwork and the architectural details to users, overcoming the shortcomings of ‘pull’ technologies such as QR codes, which wait for visitors to activate them. — rubenshuis.be


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World Online Orchestra Denmark How can a chamber orchestra tap into the Guitar Hero phenomenon?

3

Created by the Copenhagen Phil and Helios Design Labs, World Online Orchestra (WOO) is an interactive chamber music platform where you can engage with the 40-strong orchestra. In its current form, you can choose to have players play their individual parts of Beethoven’s 7th, hear it all together or mix and match performers. Still in a prototype phase, the WOO creators want to enable users to upload their own recordings and become part of the orchestra, connecting musicians from all over the world. — worldonlineorchestra.com


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4

The Digital Museum

5

Viewpoint of Billions

Romania

United States

What if a remote museum brought the world’s best art to it instead of taking their collection to the world?

How can artists use wearable technology to create new experiences for audiences?

Locals and tourists in Pecica, a remote small town in Romania, now have the chance to see art objects and visit museum galleries from around the world on their doorstep. The new state of the art Digital Museum designed by Claudiu Ionescu aims to create a global blockbuster museum experience in just 126 square metres. Making use of 3D technologies and access to a wide range of collections, this bold project tests the idea of the small-scale museum as a window to the world.

American artist David Datuna has used wearable technology Google Glass to create an interactive cultural experience for audiences. His work includes a 12-foot American flag with hundreds of optical lenses looking back at the viewer, uncovering hidden layers of information. The exhibition drew 23,000 visitors to the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, the largest attendance for a show in more than three decades.

— claudiuionescu.ro

— datuna.com — Viewpoint of Billions: David Datuna, Portrait of America (2013) 78 x 140 inches, Viewpoint of Billions series.


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Showcase • Global R&D

new inc United States What happens when cultural institutions reframe their buildings as spaces for startups and creative entrepreneurs? Hosted by the New Museum in New York, NEW INC is the first museum-led incubator space for startups and entrepreneurs working in technology, art and design. Launching this summer, NEW INC will host and support a curated community of individuals and small companies with the intention to foster inter-disciplinary practice and build on the museum’s commitment to new art and new ideas. — newinc.org

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Showcase • Global R&D

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Lightwave United States What happens when audiences and artists share information in real time to shape responsive live performances? Lightwave is a wearable bracelet which tracks real-time ambient data from the audience, such as their body temperature, frequency of movement and audio levels, and feeds this back to performers. This data is then visualised live to both the audience and the performers, thereby giving performers access to how their audience is feeling and the opportunity to create an interactive experience. — lightwave.io — Lightwave performance (DKO Photography).

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Porto Midia Brazil How might creative businesses support development in disadvantaged communities? Established in Recife, Brazil in 2012, Porto Midia is a creative hub which aims to share knowledge on emerging technologies and cultural practices to foster local talent, create jobs and support communities in a disadvantaged part of the city. Porto Midia is run by Porto Digital, one of the main partners in Recife: The Playable City, a British Council-supported initiative that builds on Watershed’s ongoing Playable City programme to re-imagine the relationship between technology and our urban spaces. — portomidia.org — Digital Medio images (Tiago Lubambo / Pickimagem).

— See more examples of R&D in the arts from around the world at: artsdigitalrnd.org.uk — Compiled by Athina Balopoulou


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Further Reading

Further Reading

1

1

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The Lean Startup

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The Art of Immersion

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Business Model Generation

Eric Ries Crown Business, 2011

Frank Rose Norton, 2012

Alexander Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur John Wiley and Sons, 2010

Most startups fail, but many of those failures are preventable — that’s the premise of this hugely influential book which outlines a set of principles used by startups across the world. Ries emphasises iteration, getting to market quickly and rigorous measurement in order to “measure actual progress without resorting to vanity metrics, and learn what customers really want.”

Frank Rose is a contributing editor at Wired magazine, has written extensively about the impact of technology on media and entertainment. This important book looks at the shift from people being passive consumers of media to people creating their own media, commenting and interacting in real time, and becoming active participants in what they choose to consume or engage with.

WIth its subtitle of a ‘Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers and Challengers’ this is a clear practical analysis of common business models and a set of tools for people who want to “defy outmoded business models and design tomorrow’s enterprises.” The central tool presented in the book is the Business Model Canvas which has become one of the most influential and much-copied tools for designing businesses and projects in the last ten years.

Now For Then: How to Face the Digital Future Without Fear Ben Hammersley Hodder, 2012 A guide to the things we need to know for life in the twenty-first century. Through sixty four short chapters it explores the latest ideas in technology, culture, business and politics and their effects in the modern world. It boldly proclaims not to be ‘a book for geeks’ and is an accessible way into understanding digital trends.

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The Participatory Museum Nina Simon Museum 2·0, 2010 Visitor participation is a critical issue for museums, art galleries, and other cultural institutions and organisations. Simon, a celebrated museum blogger and now Executive Director of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, offers a practical guide to working with communities, audiences and visitors to allow cultural institutions to enjoy greater levels of participation and engagement.

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It’s Complicated: The Social Life of Networked Teens danah boyd Yale University Press, 2014 Social technology is now a pervasive force in modern life, and this book aims to demystify and explore the way teenageers engage with it and its impact on how they interact and connect. Full of fascinating insights and written by one of the most important social researchers of the last ten years, this book is aimed at anyone interested in the impact of emerging technologies on society, culture and commerce in years to come.


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Credits

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Credits

Editor

Contributors

Printed by

Rohan Gunatillake

All the R&D Fund projects without whose work and insights Native would not be possible.

Allander

Contributing Editor

Tandi Williams Design

Ryan R Thompson / Rydo Cover Illustration

Stefanie Posavec Editorial Consultant

Chris Sharratt Assistant Editors

Emmie McKay Eleanor Turney Consultant Producers

Erin Maguire Suzy Glass Production Support

Athina Balopoulou Andreea Bocioaga Published by

Nesta 1 Plough Place London EC4A 1DE nesta.org.uk digitalrnd@nesta.org.uk Native Website

artsdigitalrnd.org.uk

Matt Adams Iain Aitch Peter Barden Peter Bazalgette J茅r么me Delormas William Drew Sarah Ellis Hamish Fyfe Helen Goulden Ben Hammersley Carolyn Hassan Skinder Hundal David Kettle Matt Locke Catherine Mallyon Juan Mateos-Garcia John McGrath Annette Mees Dave Moutrey Jon Pratty Andrew Prescott Diane Ragsdale Clare Reddington Mark Robinson Jon Rogers Marcus Romer David Sabel Laurie Sansom Chris Sharratt Jonathan Shakhovskoy Mike Stubbs Eleanor Turney Jo Verrent Georgina Voss Naomi Yates Andy Young

Photography

Photography is courtesy of the organisations featured in articles unless otherwise stated. Book cover images courtesy of their respective publishers. Special Thanks

Hasan Bakhshi John Cairns Will Cohu Christine Crowther Lara Devitt Anna Dinnen Helen Durham Layla Gemmell Paul Glinkowski Tiina Hill Nona Hunter Jon Kingsbury Clara McMenamin Danielle Moore-Chick Ella Muers Geoff Mulgan Peta Murphy-Burke Vivien Niblett Emma Quinn Laura Scarrott Daniel Smith Lucy Sollitt Heather Williams


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Stef Posavec

Meet the Cover Artist Native commissioned data artist Stefanie Posavec to create a cover design for our first edition. She tells us more about her visual representation of the 2013 Digital Culture dataset, illustrating 891 responses to the first year survey of the R&D Fund’s longitudinal study of how arts and cultural organisations in England use technology.

When working on a commission like this, the first thing I think about is the context. A magazine cover gives me flexibility — I can create something symbolic and inviting. I start with the spreadsheets in Excel, and look for patterns within the data. I look for ways they could be expressed aesthetically and how the data points relate to each other. I started off by looking for interesting subsets in this data, but decided that it felt more appropriate to represent the richness of the whole data set. When looking at raw data, I can see which chart type will suit the data. Certain data types can only be represented with certain chart types, so this knowledge helps me understand what visual outcomes are possible.

I came up with a number of options and we went with this leaf-like style. Each leaf of the illustration is a data table from the responses, which is either a direct multiple choice question from the survey or a table which the research team created to make sense of results. The number of available question responses on those data tables is represented by the number of small circles, so if there were four responses to a particular question, that leaf has four circles. How those circles are shaded then represents the weightings of those responses; these are shaded based on 0–25%, 26–50%, 51–75% and 76–100%. I call it a data illustration because while it’s based on accurate data, it’s meant to communicate an idea of the research’s complexity and depth, rather than be insightful in and of itself. I made it using my notebook and Adobe Illustrator. I mainly work by hand but I’m starting to feel that I’m reaching the edge of what’s possible, that if I want to do something more complex I need to learn how to code. I’m teaching myself Processing (the programming language). I’d like to learn enough so that I can test ideas, even if they are not perfectly rendered. I’m also really interested in how the generated or digitally-made and the hand-made can work together rather being seen as different techniques.

— Stefanie Posavec is a data artist and information designer based in London who has made work with and for the V&A, Facebook, Channel 4 and Wired. — stefanieposavec.co.uk @stefpos —


Also inside: Project Directory Details of the projects supported by the R&D Fund to date Insightful interviews Catherine Mallyon, Matt Locke, Diane Ragsdale, Annette Mees, Jon Rogers and more Practical Guides On budgeting, DIY R&D, digital people, and building productive relationships with researchers Global Inspiration A trip to La Gâité Lyrique and snapshots of leading digital projects from around the world

The Digital R&D Fund for the Arts is a £7 million fund to support collaboration between organisations with arts projects, technology providers, and researchers. The R&D Fund is supported by Nesta, Arts & Humanities Research Council and public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

Profile for Digital R&D Fund for the Arts

Native Print Issue 1  

Native is the magazine of the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts. Full of features, interviews, project case studies and practical guidance, Nati...

Native Print Issue 1  

Native is the magazine of the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts. Full of features, interviews, project case studies and practical guidance, Nati...

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