Digital Culture 2019

Today marks the launch of the fifth year of the Digital Culture survey, a joint undertaking by Arts Council England and Nesta that tracks the perception, uses, and impact of digital technology across the arts and cultural sector.

Our aim through this survey is to develop a comprehensive picture of the digital behaviours of arts and culture organisations in England, building on and allowing trend comparisons with the data captured in the four previous iterations of the survey, which was first run in 2013 as part of the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts. Since then, the survey findings have informed government policy, enabled funders to develop relevant support for the sector, and helped arts and culture organisations to make informed decisions about their digital development.

The last survey in 2017 found that there had been a significant increase in the proportion of organisations that saw digital as important or essential to their business models—up from 34 per cent in 2013 to 53 per cent in 2017. The survey also found increases in key activity areas related to business models, including engagement with online ticket sales and online donations. However, the findings also suggested that the potential of data remained underexploited, with only a minority of organisations using data to understand audiences better through segmentation and profiling, or to inform the development of new products and services. Additionally, it appeared the organisations felt they lacked the skills to capitalise on digital technology, with over half of organisations (55 per cent) viewing themselves as having only basic digital skills compared to their peers. These findings informed the DCMS’s Culture is Digital policy paper on how to effectively harness collaboration between the technology and cultural sectors.

This year’s survey findings will help provide evidence to support a number of the commitments listed in Culture is Digital, most notably

  • Arts Council England’s and the National Lottery Heritage Fund’s forthcoming Digital Code and Maturity Index, which will outline principles and provide a self-assessment framework that organisations can use to benchmark and improve their digital maturity,
  • Arts Council England’s Digital Culture Network, a group of tech champions who will provide expert knowledge, support, and guidance to support the digital development of arts and cultural organisations.

As digital technology becomes an increasingly ubiquitous part of everyday life, it is important for arts and cultural organisations to keep pace with the rate of change so that they can successfully integrate new technologies into their working practice and remain relevant to artists and audiences. This survey will take the pulse of the sector on how it is adapting to digital change and where it requires further support.

How organisations can take part

Our research partner MTM London is sending out an email today to thousands of arts and cultural organisations across England to invite them to participate. The survey takes around 30 minutes to complete, and is best filled in by the digital lead or a suitable member of an organisation’s management team.

The survey will close on 3 May 2019, and we will publish the findings in September, including a main research report and a series of factsheets on the uses of digital technology by different artforms and museums.

Our findings will give us a representative picture of how digital technology is used in the sector if we get a good selection of responses from all types of organisations. So, no matter what discipline you work in, how large your organisation is, and where it’s based, the Digital Culture survey 2019 needs you!

We are keen to hear from all parts of the sector and want to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to respond. If you are an arts and cultural organisation based in England that has not received an invitation to participate in the survey, please contact MTM London and they will issue you a link.


Melissa Wong

Melissa Wong

Melissa Wong

Impact Manager

Melissa was an Impact Manager for the Cultural Impact Development Fund, a social investment fund providing small-scale lending to arts and culture organisations across England.

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Shoubhik Bandopadhyay

Shoubhik Bandopadhyay

Shoubhik Bandopadhyay

Insights Manager, Arts and Culture Finance team

Shoubhik produced primary and secondary research to help the team and its partners better understand the impact of their work and identify opportunities for future development

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Paul Glinkowski

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