Here’s my annual roundup of the most impactful digital developments we’ve seen in the arts over 2011. Its been a fascinating year: some of these digital developments increase reach, scale, impact, and access to work creating massive opportunity; some create new economic models for better sustainability; some challenge our traditional notions of participation with an artistic experience or piece of work. Conventions and practices which are socially embedded rituals are being impacted, our perceptions of proximity and intimacy are being altered, and our organisations are in need of capacity, capability, and confidence in order to be able to reflect, respond and create.
Between 2008 and 2010, total revenues and sale units grew for the publishing industry as a whole, while e-book revenue for trade publishers increased by 1274% year on year. And the data does not even account for the e-book sales surge in 2011, and the falling price of e-book readers. But what about a more interactive digital experience of literature than just reading a digital text?
The Heart & the Bottle, an interactive children’s story for the iPad – see the right hand window.
The Waste Land iPad app – the full published text by T.S. Elliot; audio performances by many famous voices, including T.S. Elliot himself; a visual performance by Fiona Shaw; commentaries; notes; etc. If only I was doing my A Levels now!
And what of art organisations focussed on literature? Edinburgh International Book Festival’s mobile site was a great 2011 development, and their listings are available (via the Festivals Edinburgh API http://api.festivalslab.com) too. Watch the case study: http://a.blip.tv/api.swf#hI0Zgtm8QQI
This year saw the most adventurous digital experiment come from National Theatre Scotland, co-produced by me as Envirodigital – watch the case study here – http://www.fiveminutetheatre.com An entire day was filled with five minute pieces of theatre webcast back-to- back online to the world. 24 hours was also filled with a continuous, 24 hour long show created by the Scottish people for a global audience of everyone, that was only available to experience online. For more on this crowdsourced project, check out the AmbITion webinar case study, link above. The project received critical acclaim and is being heralded as best practice for the live online experience of theatre.
Hide & Seek and The Royal Opera House’s Show Must Go On app
has the player assuming the role of a stage manager at a variety of different productions. Produced in collaboration with The Royal Opera House, The Show Must Go On is a game that puts the player in the shoes of an intrepid stage manager struck down by a terrible case of bad luck! Split into five mini-games, the player is required to retrieve the sheet music, assemble props, build the set, light the show and dress the chorus; with just moments to go until curtain up. This app is a fun and easy introduction to four famous shows. The ROH has got its head round its content being presented playfully!
Android-theatre: “Sayonara” is a show starring an actor, and an android actor, created by Hiroshi Ishiguru, the roboticist, whose work explores humanity. Can you tell which is the droid from the trailer?!
A new generation of artists and designers reimagine the masterpiece, using technology to create new visual experiences.Currently exhibiting in London you can also explore all the artists and final works at the Remastered online hub.
Art Finder http://www.artfinder.com/ brings social media to art, as well as the fabulous tool of on the spot identification. Point your phone at an artwork, and ArtFinder will identify it, along with contextual information about the work, the artist and their contemporaries.
The Walker Art Centre have repositioned themselves via their website as Content Channel.
Check out the augmented reality powered Virtual Public Art Project – the current works are on display on VPAP’s website
In March, the launch of Google Art Project set a new standard for the online art world.
Paddle8 emerged as a new destination for examining, understanding, and acquiring unique artworks.
Only Björk could have conjured a heady mix of sound and science as she released her new album Biophilia as a series of 10 iPad apps .
Classical TV.com is the best populated site for US performing arts online: Opera, Ballet, Jazz, Dance, Musical Concerts and Theater (sic :-). If its “classical” and you want to find it, come here.
The Columbus Symphony Orchestra introduced a device called the ‘Concert Companion’ which enabled patrons to read something about the piece they were hearing as they listened to the concert.
The Virtual Orchestra Project’s Youtube Channel continues to produce performances of work crowdsourced from individual musicians all over the world.
Social Media, marketing and audience development
Following on from blog based WYSIWYG content management system interfaces, its now extremely easy for any one to create a website – wix.com & about.me are great tools for the web-technologically challenged!
Tweetseats have been trialled by The Milwaukee Chamber Theatre and in another city in the US, the lights dim, the orchestra tunes and the audience is told to “please turn off your cellphones.”Except in the “TweetSeats” at Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra concerts in Music Hall. That’s where iPhones, Blackberries and tablets light up and concertgoers start tweeting live along …
Google+ has enabled the organization of groups of people with video chats and content creation for the groups possible. Location based technologies like QR codes have also seen a rise in use in 2011.
Our crowds are officially in the cloud! Crowdsourcing has become mainstream in 2011. Arts and cultural organisations have crowdsourced creativity – see the fivemintheatre.com note above, and of course many museums have crowdsourced curation of exhibitions.
We’ve also been crowdsourcing cash – Angelshares Scotland is another new realisation of crowd funding technology has emerged on the cultural scene. This tool is about fundraising but its also explicitly about reciprocity as well as engagement and participation:- giving rights and digital rewards to a small group of people who are likely to invest in and then shout loudly on their own digital networks about what they get receive/experience, and who are engaged enough to want to contribute to the development of a show, perhaps artistically, definitely in terms of audience development. Differentiators from other patforms that makes this particularly attractive to the arts – Gift Aid can be added to pledges, and you can redeem your campaign even if target isn’t reached. Watch the case study: Don’t forget that your performance on Google serch rankings influences the 20-35 age group, who will go to Google to get information about your cause (see The Case Foundation presents “Millennial Donors Report 2011,” a survey and summary of the motivations and preferences of the Millennials when it comes to making a donation).
And we’re crowdourcing capacity! The Washington Post mentions how the Dead Sea Scrolls project by Google opens the door for “amateur detectives to seek clues that elude scholarly academics.” Additionally, this large and growing list of volunteer management software is used to greater effect as more and more arts organisations make the most of the goodwill towards them in relation to people’s times.
Tessitura built a smart phone app to achieve sales through mobile devices mobile called Cloudtix.
2011 saw Dynamic Pricing upsurge in take up – this website is a great resource for anyone thinking about pricing: http://www.thinkaboutpricing.com/
Facebook pages can also now sell tickets through Ticketforce’s app, which helps you achieve sales through social media channels.
Other channels for distributing and monetising digital content
Ofcom earmarked locations for the UK’s local channels pilot – if you’re in one of the 22 cities and are an arts and cultural organisation, get thinking about what content you have appropriate for that opportunity.
Digital programmes/projects for arts and culture
Specific digital development programmes and projects that assist the arts and cultural sector to make the most of digital opportunities have made an impact on the landscape this year.
AmbITion Scotland (http://getambition.com) has been enabling holistic digital development across artistic, operational and business model practices since 2007 and continues in Scotland until 2014. AmbITion provides funding opportunities and brokerage (for digital content experiments, kit and software, specialist consultancy), on and offline training and learning events, and an online network of professionals seeking to collaborate and exchange knowledge.
Technology in the Arts – a brilliant information service from the US’s Carnegie Mellon University – thanks to them being content partners of AmbITion, we’ve been able to share their work in the UK.
Culture Hack Day Culture Hack is a movement inspired by the hacker ethos of doing things in the simplest way possible with the maximum effect. Culture Hack enables technology, creative and cultural sectors to try new things out in the short space of time, creating experimental products and ideas away from day-to-day business pressures and agendas.
NESTA’s digital R&D fund competition – 8 projects emerging from the Digital Research & Development Fund for Arts and Culture is a partnership between the Arts Council England, Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and NESTA to support arts and cultural organisations across England – watch out for news of a Scottish fund in early 2012!
Festivalslab & and Culture Hack Scotland have been working on opening up the data of arts and cultural organisations, bringing them and the data into contact with geeks, hackers, techies and digital media companies to enable crowdsourced and collaborative innovation in 2011. More of that in 2012 too!
The Space – a pop up digital channel by ACE and the BBC to coincide with the Cultural Olympiad, The Space will host the best digitised “traditional” content, and newly imagined hybrid digitised work.
All in all a fascinating 2011: some of these digital developments increase reach, scale, impact, access to work creating massive opportunity; some create new economic models for better sustainability; some challenge our traditional notions of participation with an artistic experience or piece of work. Conventions and practices which are socially embedded rituals are being impacted, our perceptions of proximity and intimacy are being altered and our organisations are in need of capacity, capability, and confidence.
Please highlight your favourite digital developments from the arts and cultural sector to me by leaving a comment below. And so to 2012!