04 February 2019

Arts Council England (ACE) is creating a new resource for the sector to help organisations get the right advice on digital technology - The Digital Culture Network

Technology is changing the way we live our lives at a rapid rate, and culture is no exception. From the feedback the sector gave ACE in their 2017 Digital Culture Survey, to the experimentation coming through their CreativeXR partnership with Digital Catapult – it’s clear there is a demand from arts and culture organisations to try new things in the digital space.

That’s why they’re creating a new resource for the sector, to help organisations get the right advice on digital technology at this important moment. They’re calling it the Digital Culture Network.

Cultural organisations are using technology in many different ways to drive both their creative thinking and business practices. But how are artists and organisations supposed to get their heads around the moving beast that is ‘digital’ when it evolves on a daily basis? And how can the Arts Council support them to harness the benefits of technology?

A new network of tech champions

The new Digital Culture Network will be made up of a small group of expert tech champions across the country. We’ll invest £1.1 million over two years to create the network, and there will be nine tech champions – one based in each of our regional offices.

Light up Poole - Squidsoup. Photo © Elliot Franks

The group will provide practical, on-the-ground help for organisations to get their systems and processes fit for the 21st Century. It’s the first time ACE have made expert resource of this kind available to organisations - their aim is that the tech champions will provide expert knowledge, support and guidance that organisations might not otherwise have found by themselves.

This will help organisations become more sustainable businesses, grow their audiences and develop in other new ways. We also hope this extra help will free up talented staff in those organisations to create even more great work.

What will the tech champions do?

The tech champions will work in three core areas:

  • Giving actionable advice and support to organisations on core digital areas such as data and analytics, content strategy, digital marketing, CRM, e-commerce and business systems
  • Working with colleagues within the Arts Council and Sector Support Organisations to signpost training, development and funding opportunities
  • Brokering partnerships and opportunities with tech companies, to keep our organisations tapped in to useful emerging technology

Making culture digital

In creating the network, ACE are working with DCMS as part of their Making Culture Digital agenda. In March this year, DCMS launched the Culture is Digital report. This was developed through widespread consultation on questions like these. It also built on the government’s commitment to increase digital skills and participation and unlock the power of data.

The Culture is Digital report sets out 12 commitments, which address the core digital challenges that organisations need to overcome so they can thrive fully. The Arts Council will deliver seven of these.

Image © Man Made Youth Company / Donata Kukyte

What's next?

ACE have taken the exciting step of beginning the search for the nine tech champions.

These people will be absolutely key to the success of the initiative and will be the ones making a big difference to the sector by helping organisations achieve their digital ambitions. They’d love to hear from people who are interested in applying and would encourage them to find out more here.

Over the coming months ACE will be making those appointments, and in Spring 2019 they expect to launch the network and start getting that advice out to organisations who need it. It’s a new way of working for ACE, but they think it’s going to have a big impact for organisations across the country. So look out for the network, and get your questions ready!