There is evidence that the Digital Arts and Culture Accelerator had a substantial positive impact on participating individuals and, to a lesser degree, their organisations. In particular:
- Participating individuals used the DACA process to review how content and products are developed, supported and brought to market. For two participating organisations, this included the development of new ventures to increase the likelihood of reaching investment by de-coupling from the complex mission and structure of their parent organisation.
- The programme demonstrated that with dedicated and intensive support and guidance, arts and cultural organisations can develop clear product ideas that are notionally investable.
- In some instances a lack of senior-level commitment, the struggle to reconcile commercial goals with organisational objectives or the overall investment readiness of their ventures held organisations back in their goals to take their ideas out of the development phase.
Following the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts, Arts Council England and Nesta commissioned the Digital Arts and Culture Accelerator (DACA) to test whether a now-mainstream business support approach (the accelerator model) could help arts and culture organisations create investment-ready ventures. This meant developing propositions to commercialise digital products and services with the aim of attracting new forms of finance beyond grant funding. In May 2016, nine arts and culture organisations started a bespoke 12-week intensive support programme delivered by The Accelerator Network.
This report presents an evaluation for the programme, which ran from May to September 2016, and gives a detailed analysis on its impact on the participating individuals and organisations as well as a broader narrative around the use of accelerator models within the arts and cultural sector.
Dr Tom Fleming