An accelerator for the arts - supporting projects from the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts

For the past three years, Arts Council England, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and Nesta have been working together to deliver the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts - supporting collaborations between arts organisations, technology companies and research partners.

The programme supported a total of 52 projects across a wide range of themes - from delivering remote music tuition digitally in North Yorkshire to designing an app-based clapping game to teach rhythm based around the music of Steve Reich.

The Digital R&D Fund has now come to an end, and we will be publishing evaluation findings in the coming weeks.

Anecdotally, we’re pleased to say that the projects have already attracted a clutch of awards and some have secured further support from funding bodies to develop their proposals further. However, it was clear to us that a significant number of the projects would benefit from support and investment beyond their R&D phase, to help them fully realise their product or service.

Accelerating projects even further

Working in partnership  Nesta and Arts Council England are providing a further stage of support for up to 10 of the 52 projects in the form of an accelerator. This intervention is designed specifically to help projects become ‘investment ready’ with the aim of attracting new forms of finance beyond traditional routes.  The accelerator will take the form of a three-month programme of business support to help projects explore the further potential of their original ideas.

This new, one-off initiative will allow Arts Council England and Nesta to test how the accelerator model, which is now common in other sectors of business innovation, might work for the arts and cultural sector more generally. Is an approach more usually found in tech start-ups  relevant and transferable to this field? And how can we cascade some of what we learn into future support for the arts and cultural sector?

As with the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts, we’ll be providing regular updates on this programme as it progresses, and hope to share our knowledge of the experience as widely as possible.

The accelerator has now launched. Find out more


Tim Plyming

Tim Plyming

Tim Plyming

Director, Digital Arts & Media

Tim was a Director in the Innovation Lab where he oversaw Nesta’s portfolio of work supporting digital arts and media.

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Paul Glinkowski

Paul is Senior Manager for Arts & Technology at Arts Council England.