Government aims to beef up digital in cultural sector

DCMS report sets out framework for using technology to engage with audiences and create new experiences

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has announced plans to beef up the digital capabilities of cultural organisations and encourage them to make better use of data on their audiences.

Abstract - Culture is Digital logoIt has included commitments in the area in its new Culture is Digital report, which sets out a framework for how culture and technology can work together to increase participation and increase the overall capabilities of cultural organisations.

DCMS flagged up three main commitments, one of which is that Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund will invest more than £2 million to build the digital capacity in their sectors.

A central element of this will be to collect data on the impact of their work and use it in audience engagement strategies, ensuring this is done across the arts and heritage sector. This will involve using integrated databases such as Audience Finder and share research on understanding digital and physical audiences.

The Space and Audience Agency will also work on a metrics framework assessing audience engagement across different digital platforms.

The investment in skills will include the use of a Digital Maturity Index for the cultural sector, the creation of a Digital Culture Code, and a spend of £1.1 million over two years on a network of best practice in the field.

Innovation Lab

Another of the main commitments is that the National Gallery will create an Innovation Lab to examine how museums and cultural organisations can use immersive media, such as virtual and augmented reality. Also, the Royal Opera House will create an Audience Lab to create content using emerging technologies.

Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: “Our cultural output has always been our unique calling card to the rest of the world and when combined with the latest digital developments there is no limit to our creativity.

“We want the UK to be the best place in the world to trial pioneering technology, while also maintaining our world leading status as a centre of artistic and cultural excellence.”

The report was prompted by the Government’s Culture White Paper, published two years ago, and has been developed with the support of an online open conversation between the Government, the cultural sector and tech companies.

DCMS also pointed to existing initiatives in the area, such as the National Gallery’s five-year programme of digital change. This includes using big data in its approach to ticketing, launching new mobile services and using immersive media in the gallery.

Image: Detail of report cover from DCMS