The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) has published a report, Culture is Digital, that makes commitments to finding ways of giving culture organisations access to cutting-edge technology and digital skills training.
DCMS Secretary of State Matt Hancock announced, at the launch taking place at the National Gallery, that these measures as part of the Culture is Digital report in early March. It's the first time that the Government has looked at how the digital and culture sectors can work together to open up creative potential of tech and help optimise each cultural organisations digital skills.
Among the report's commitments are:
- Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund will invest more than £2 million to build the digital capacity of their sectors
- 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, to enhance visitors’ experiences
- The Royal Opera House will create an Audience Lab, which will work with diverse talent to create content using emerging technologies and develop cross-sector collaborations
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.
Our Culture Is Digital report sets out how culture and technology can collaborate, learn from one another and keep innovating. By embracing new technologies and attracting more diverse audiences, we will continue to cement our status as a creative powerhouse in the digital age."
The report covers some of the innovative projects from the creative sector, highlighting collaborations between our world-leading cultural and digital pioneers. Follow #CultureIsDigital on social media and explore the interactive 360 degree presentation that allows users to learn about case studies and other key aspects of the report.
The #CultureisDigital project was informed by an online open conversation in 2017 and developed from the Government’s Culture White Paper commitment to review the digitisation of our public collections and enhance the online cultural experience.
It also builds upon the Government’s UK Digital Strategy commitment to increase digital skills, digital participation and unlock the power of data.
Dr Gabriele Finaldi, National Gallery Director, said:
"The National Gallery is committed to an ambitious five-year programme of digital change. This goes from evolving our approach to ticketing through the use of big data, to launching new mobile services, to embedding innovation in immersive media in the Gallery through our forthcoming Lab. We are excited by today’s launch of the Culture is Digital report. The commitment it marks from DCMS, the Arts Council and cultural organisations across the country to digital transformation heralds an exciting new period for us all."
Royal Opera House Chief Executive Alex Beard said:
"When culture and technology come together, great things can happen. The Royal Opera House is exploring immersive technology to open up a suite of new experiences, sharing the extraordinary qualities of ballet and opera with audiences old and new in our digital age. This report acts as a useful framework for all in our sectors to explore this territory."
Arts Council England will also create and pilot the use of a Digital Maturity Index for the cultural sector, to help organisations improve their digital capability. ACE will also work with the Heritage Lottery Fund to form a Digital Culture Code – a set of guidelines and principles which cultural organisations will be encouraged to sign up to help increase their digital skills.
Showcases at the launch included Factory 42 - Hold the World with David Attenborough, with a holographic Attenborough becoming your guide to Natural History Museum exhibits; Science Museum/Alchemy VR - Space Descent VR, a currently touring unique and immersive virtual reality experience in the Soyuz space capsule from the International Space Station to Earth with astronaut Tim Peake; a way of museums, galleries and libraries collaborating with the BBC TV series Civilisations; the Welsh National Opera/REWIND - Magic Butterfly, combining The Magic Flute and Madam Butterfly in VR with motion capture, animation, music and technology; and Smartify, a virtual art guide to help audiences identify and receieve information on artwork across museums and galleries.
As Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, says: "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." Creative potential can be opened up through digital means, artistic responses to digital and the impact of growing digital skills. Modern choreography pioneer Wayne McGregor has often mixed digital art into performance, while museums, orchestras and galleries are starting to embrace digital technologies to enhance the visitor experience or even make touring exhibitions more portable, reducing costs and logistics. From the Tim Peake VR experience to the visiting Modigliani's art studio thanks to the Tate, digital is gradually proving that digital can bring culture into more people's lives.
April also highlights the digital realm of our creative industries as the BAFTA Games Awards and the London Games Festival take place this month. The British Academy Games Awards this year mark the changes the industry has made in terms of representation, as a British video game with a female lead character and tackling mental health issues leads the way with nine nominations. A new category also looks to reward games that go beyond the confines of leisure, including a game that tells the love story of Syrian refugees and another whose players provide real-life research into dementia. Meanwhile the London Games Festival has unveiled an exhibition of BAME creatives' work during the festival on 5–15 April as well as showcasing some of the best of the video game world.