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11 pioneering art projects will share approximately £1.4 million of the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts to support digital research and development in the sector. 

Wearable tech for measuring audience reaction, ticketing systems and helicopter cameras are just some of the 12 projects being supported in the next funding phase of the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts – the Fund is run by Arts Council England, Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Nesta. These new projects bring the total number benefitting from the £7million fund to 48. Each project will investigate how to engage audiences and/or how to create new business models for the arts.

The newly funded projects were unveiled today at the Digital R&D in the Arts annual forum for 2014.

Findings from the first phase of projects will be available from this summer on Native, the Fund’s learning website.

The projects to receive funding and the partners involved are:

Museum Tickets Feasibility Project: Investigating whether a single aggregated ticketing system for museums could widen and increase audiences by improving sales processes efficiency, increasing web-sales and influencing visitors’ behaviour. Partners: The Art Fund, Online Solutions, Saïd Business School, Oxford University.

Leicester Castle Tells its Story: Artists experienced in historical interpretation will help build content for a mobile app for Leicester Castle. Using Bluetooth beacon tags, the app will track visitors’ journeys and download information relevant to their exact location. The project aims to show that this low-cost and high-engagement approach can enable historic buildings like Leicester Castle to ‘think aloud’. Partners: Leicester Arts and Museums, Caecus Ltd, School of Museum Studies.

Interact: 3D filming techniques and natural language processing will be used to capture the stories of Holocaust survivors and their answers to 300 questions, to investigate how technology can help audiences of the future interact with key historical individuals. A user guide will be produced for other centres wanting to replicate interactions with people with a unique knowledge or experience. Partners: National Holocaust Centre and Museum, Bright White Ltd, Glasgow School of Art.

Project Daedalus: Quadrotors (drones) with integrated cameras and video recording, controlled by mobile devices, will be trialled at live events to see how arts audiences can engage with and share content in real time. The project will create an open source digital toolkit for organisations who want to work with this kind of technology. Partners: Abandon Normal Devices, Marshmallow Laser Feast, University of the West of Scotland.

Steve Reich – Master of Minimalism: The team will develop an app for iPhone and iPad to research new ways of bringing participatory music education to children using the music of leading contemporary composer Steve Reich. Reich’s Clapping Music will be made into a progressively difficult but compelling game, with greater accuracy and speed leading to a higher score. High scorers will be invited to participate in live performance events with the London Sinfonietta. Partners: London Sinfonietta, Touch Press, Queen Mary University of London.

MacGuffin: A website and smartphone app to encourage audiences to read and write user-generated short stories. Authors and publishers can use MacGuffin to showcase new work, such as the opening chapter of a novel. Users can curate content by adding their own hashtags and can search using them. Content owners will also be able to track live where their stories are being read or listened to. Partners: Comma Press, fffunction, Manchester Metropolitan University.

NetPark: What form does outdoor art take when a park is fully connected? This project will enable park visitors to experience an added layer of artists’ digital projects that respond to the park setting. Metal will create a Wi-Fi enabled outdoor space for digital art in Chalkwell Park, Southend on Sea and artists will be commissioned to produce new, innovative works. Partners: Metal, Calvium Ltd, IT Helpdesk, Brighton University.

Music Performance Skills: The project will test how digital technology can support long distance music teaching and learning. Using video streaming technologies, seven schools in rural North Yorkshire will have virtual access to instrumental tuition, high profile live music performances and staff training. Partners: NYMAZ, UCan Play, Hull University.

BotBadges: Digital badges to credit young people’s participation and achievement in the arts will be trialled as part of  ‘March of the Robots’,  a civic enterprise project taking place in Leeds. Those taking part in workshops will be rewarded with badges and the impact that this form of digital accreditation can have on engaging young people and supporting arts learning will be explored. Partners: ArtForms, DigitalME, Sheffield Hallam University.

The Story Engine: Will test the potential of digital technologies to enable online mentoring to enhance children’s enjoyment of creative writing. A prototype e-mentoring platform will be trialled in East London schools to support and motivate 9-13 year olds to explore and write their own stories. Partners: Ministry of Stories, Paper, Institute of Education.

Visit AR: Funding will support the research element of a project that aims to develop a low cost, easy to use augmented reality mobile application that when focused on 3D artwork reveals more information about the exhibits. If successful, it could be a useful resource for museums and galleries whose collections include, for example sculpture and antiquities. Partners: The Lightbox, Pervasive Intelligence Ltd, Surrey University.

The Digital R&D in the Arts annual forum 2014 was hosted with support from the Technology Strategy Board’s IC Tomorrow programme. Held this year in London on Thursday 3rd July, the annual event enables those working in research and development in the arts to share best practice through panel discussions, presentations and a showcasing area for digital R&D projects. 


About the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts:

The Digital R&D Fund for the Arts is a £7 million fund from Arts Council England, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and Nesta to support collaboration between arts projects, technology providers and researchers to explore the potential of increasing audience engagement or find new business models.