Innovation through digital technologies – the challenge for culture

14 August 2017, Sophia Woodley

Organisations in the publicly funded arts, culture and heritage sector need to innovate.

They are facing both funding cuts and heightened standards from funders. Audiences are bringing new expectations in terms of how they connect with arts organisations and the experiences and content they produce – through social change which is, in part, driven by technological change. These factors bring new demands to be more entrepreneurial in order to be sustainable.

Whilst innovation is rarely solely about technology, unless they adopt new digital technologies to transform themselves, arts organisations may struggle to be relevant and survive in the twenty-first century.

This issue is getting increasing attention, as shown by the launch of the Culture is Digital initiative from the DCMS. The Minister of State for Digital and Arts was keen to begin a new conversation between government, tech and cultural organisations, something that we at GMV have consistently fostered over the years. Funders are also considering how to build on the pioneering, innovation-led approach of the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts in England and Digital Innovation Fund for the Arts in Wales.

But cultural organisations still struggle with how to embed digital within their work and use it to generate a return on investment for themselves and deliver wider benefits for society and the economy.

“Lots of the projects which are technology-led are there for the sake of it,” says Colette Hiller of Sing London, participatory arts producers who work in public spaces. “The point is to really use it to solve an actual problem.”

This is the first in a series of articles aiming to give professionals, working in the arts, culture & heritage sector, the tools they need to come to grips with the potential and challenges of digital – and, importantly, to use it to address real problems within their organisations. It’s based on an evidence review we recently wrote for Nesta, The adoption of digital technology in the arts , intended to support those funded by the Digital Innovation Fund for the Arts in Wales – and inform what comes after it.

An upcoming series of articles will help you work through five key questions that you need to answer if you’re going to make the most of digital:

Read our full Nesta report: The adoption of digital technology in the arts .

Have questions about digital innovation? Get in touch for a chat:

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