Key research explores arts in digital age

ACE black_0007Arts Council England has published findings from two new pieces of digital research. The research is part of the first phase of the organisation’s three year programme to help the arts world seize the digital opportunity.

The first study explores the public’s understanding of and engagement with art in the digital space.

Key findings of this research included:

– arts attendees are likely to explore digital space as a complement to existing arts activity, with the potential for deeper and more fulfilling experiences as a result

– the public feel that digital cannot replace the atmosphere, sociability or immediacy of the live experience

– most people believe that digital can come into its own when providing context for the live experience in areas such as education and information.

– Digital can also provide a safe space to test out new live experience before taking the plunge in person

The research showed that at the current time digital technology is used primarily as a research tool that allows people to explore new areas of interest and find out more about artists and arts events. Although there were some concerns about digital arts content replacing ‘live’ experience, in general people were excited about the possibilities of digital and felt it has potential to expand people’s artistic horizons.

The second study assessed the online offer of all the Arts Council’s regularly funded organisations (RFOs) to produce a ‘snapshot’ of the digital presence of arts organisations across the country.

Key findings of this research included:

– many arts organisations are beginning to seize the opportunities offered by digital technology with an active and varied online presence and widespread use of social networking tools

– almost all RFOs maintain some kind of online presence with only 1% of organisations having no dedicated website

– over half the RFOs (56%) maintain a profile on at least one social network largely for marketing purposes

– RFO websites are still largely used to promote ‘live’ offline arts events and experiences, though 4% of sites were classified as offering a stand-alone online resource or experience. Three RFOs are currently using the internet as the primary medium for delivering or distributing their artistic experience

Overall the research showed there is a clear opportunity for arts organisations to develop their digital offer to include content that not only signposts web users to arts events but also gives them an excellent and informative experience in its own right.

The study revealed that arts organisations are seizing digital opportunities like social networking and in many cases are beginning to provide high quality and engaging online experiences.

56 arts organisations were currently shown to be providing public service content as defined in the recent Digital Britain report with a real potential to significantly raise this figure in the near future.

The Arts Council is currently developing the next phase of its digital research programme and all findings will inform the digital elements of the organisation’s future strategy.

The research reports can be viewed in full here.

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