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Digital R&D Fund for the Arts opens and we publish our Creative media policy

  • Date: 13 July 2012
  • Area: National

Today we launched a £7 million Digital R&D Fund for the Arts in partnership with Nesta and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

The Digital R&D Fund for the Arts, which follows a pilot project in 2011, is unique in encouraging collaboration between the arts, digital technology providers and the research community in order to undertake experiments from which the wider arts and cultural sector can learn.

We expect that the fund will support approximately 90 research and development collaborations. Projects will be funded up to a value of £125,000. 

Our Chief Executive, Alan Davey, said: 'The large number of applications to the pilot Digital R&D project clearly illustrated that there was significant unmet demand in this area. 

'The fact that we've been able to continue to work together in developing these useful partnerships on a large scale is a fantastic achievement and we look forward to seeing the terrific and radically creative ideas which will emerge and develop as we continue to work to encourage a resilient, sustainable and innovative arts and culture sector.'

The fund (which will run until the end of 2014/15) will support research and development projects that use digital technology to enhance arts audience reach and/or explore new business models. It will focus on six key themes:

  • user-generated content and social media
  • digital distribution and exhibition
  • mobile, location and games
  • data and archives
  • resources
  • education and learning

Organisations can apply to the fund from today. The process will have two stages: a call for expressions of interest and a final application stage. Expressions of interest will be accepted continuously throughout the first two years of the fund.

More information on the application process, including key eligibility criteria, can be found on the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts website

Stimulating a new era of digital access and growth in the arts

The launch of the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts coincides with the publication of our Creative media policy, which sets out how we aim to stimulate a new era of digital access and growth in the arts and cultural sector.

The policy explains how we will work to support artists and arts and cultural organisations to develop skills in producing, distributing, connecting, preserving and exploiting their artistic and cultural work digitally.

It also identifies nine development areas that need to be addressed if we are going to see a significant growth in the quality, volume and reach of creative media content and experiences produced by arts and cultural organisations. These areas will shape the focus of our development, investment and advocacy activities in digital and creative media work. They are:

  1. skills and training
  2. talent development
  3. media production
  4. digital exhibition and distribution
  5. archives and collections
  6. data and metadata 
  7. rights and intellectual property
  8. audience engagement and learning
  9. business models and organisational development

The policy also provides greater detail on how £20 million of Arts Council Lottery funding, set aside in 2011 for digital innovation, has been and will be allocated.

This allocation includes £8 million that we have set aside to allow for the possibility of The Space continuing as a freely-available digital arts service. The BBC and Arts Council England are actively exploring the future of this service with the BBC, which has a huge potential to make more of the arts available in new ways to new audiences. We expect to have more details in the autumn.

Read our Creative media policy to find out more about our digital and creative media development areas. 

Visit our Digital innovation and creative media section

Our digital R&D podcast series 

We have commissioned a series of six audio podcast magazine programmes exploring the innovative use of digital technology in the arts and cultural sector. Podcast one is about user-generated content, social media and audience curation.