Digital R&D for the Arts Launched

The AHRC, NESTA, and Arts Council England have joined together to launch a £7 million digital R&D fund for the arts.

Arts Digital R&D Fund

The fund will “support research and development projects that use digital technology to enhance audience reach and/or explore new business models for organisations with arts projects.” I’ve included further details on what the fund is looking for and how it will work below.

The fund is open for applications now and there are two upcoming briefing sessions for those who want to find out more about the scheme:

23rd July: Briefing session in Sheffield

2nd August: Briefing session in Brighton

What are they looking for?

The Digital R&D fund has highlighted a number of thematic areas which they want to see addressed under the overarching aim of using digital technologies to enhance arts projects. These are:

  • User generated content and 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
  • Distribution and exhibition: using digital technologies to deliver artistic experiences and content in new ways in online and place based environments, including exploring international distribution and exhibition
  • Mobile, location and games: developing a new generation of mobile and location-based experiences and services, including games
  • Data and 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 and learning: developing interactive education and learning resources for children, teachers, young people, adult learners and arts sector professionals
According to the FAQs on the website the maximum size of project is £125K, but they’re also willing to fund smaller projects. Projects should be up to a year in length. Over and above the funding received, it’s likely that projects under this scheme will accrue other benefits related to engagement, impact and external partnership formation.

How does it work?

The fund supports three-way collaborations between organisations with an arts project, technology providers and researchers. There are further details on the website about what constitutes each of the three categories of project partner. There are three strands for Expressions of Interest relating to the three different partner types eligible for the funding:

Group A: These are proposals for projects where a three-way partnership has already been formed between an organisation with an arts project, technology provider and researcher (at a UK institution eligible to receive AHRC funding). The EoIs under this strand need to be led by an organisation with an arts project and must fall under one of the fund’s thematic areas.

Group B: These are proposals for projects where a two-way partnership has already been formed between an arts project and technology provider, but not a researcher. EoIs under this strand need to be led by an organisation with an arts project and must fall under one of the thematic areas highlighted above. Successful applicants will be required to collaborate on a full proposal with a researcher/research team which has been successful in Group C.

Group C: These are proposals for projects from researchers who have not yet formed a partnership with an arts project or technology provider. EoIs under this strand need to be led by a researcher/research team at a UK institution eligible to receive AHRC funding. Successful researchers will be invited to a one-day collaborative workshop to form partnerships with arts organisations and technology providers who were successful in Group B.

Expression of Interest applications must be made via the correct form and can be made at any time from now until the scheme closes on December 31st 2013. Note that they will take up to 7 weeks to assess EoIs and there are five phases for full stage applications spread throughout the period from now until early 2014 when they are accepting the last full stage bids.