Art of Digital London – Sadler’s Wells – Technology Blog

This is a live blog of the Art of Digital London event at Sadler’s Wells, London.  If you spot any errors or inaccuracies, please leave us a comment.  Either way, please join the conversation!

Bill Thompson now introducing the next section which he says is now about asking a more fundamental question: we used to think we knew what public service content was.

We don’t any more.

What, if you are an arts organization keen to reach new audiences using technology do about this?


Panellists: John (Tate), Frank Boyd (Unexpected Media) Marc Boothe B3 Media, Jess Search (Channel 4 BRITDOC), Adam Gee (Channel 4), Hasan Bakhshi (NESTA)

Hasan answers: Public service content is content, absence of public support, would not be available in a marketplace.

Every time an arts organization tries something new it is a learning opportunity.  There is a real opportunity for Public sector organisations to experiment with new technologies and enrich the sector.

Jess shares how she runs BRITDOC and her job.  Was previously a commissioning editor but left because wasn’t able to make content she wanted to.

Now funds documentaries.  Only those rejected by the major broadcasters.

Takes a different view to Hasan.  Content that somewhere along the line asks us a moral question.  She is talking from a documentary perspective.
The remit is to find how this content will be funded in the future as the way it has been funded in the past is no longer happening.

Channel 4 BRITDOC is mentioned in the Digital Britain report, in the context of celebrating their use of partnerships.

The End Of the Line a good example, supported by Waitrose, Google, Prince Charles hosted a screening at Clarence House.

Comissioned MORI to look at why people don’t want to pay for documentaries.   Found they all firmly believe in it but won’t pay for it.

Adam Gee, commissioning editor, cross-platform factual.  Examples, Embarrassing Bodies, Alone In The Wild.

Digital Britain, really a radical vision, as far as Channel 4 is concerned, shift your vision to what 4IP and the educational department at Channel 4 are doing.

A large part of what Channel 4 has done historically is to give people a reason to be inspired.

The real issue here is how to get attention in a really noisy world.

It’s a real challenge and a particular challenge for arts organisations.   The whole issue of getting attention and transforming this attention into engagement of some kind is the core challenge.

Marc Boothe from B3 Media now introducing what his 9 year old organization is doing.  B3 Media works in moving image and still and other mediums particularly amongst the black and ethnic minority communities.

Issues of digital inclusion, bridging the digital divide are issues that stand out from the Digital Britain report.

B3 Media work on 20 projects a year.  An example, Future Lab, run in collaboration with Channel 4 and Skillset.

Film 4 commission a film.  6-8 digital short films.  Power Lab, developing cultural leaders run with Tate and Southbank.

There is a huge opportunities to be had but let’s not fool ourselves, all these things cost money.

A point from Twitter came up about how the body language of the panel looked like a group hug was needed so all the panelists gave and received a hug!

Frank Boyd now introducing what he has worked on. Worked on one of the first multi-media projects.   Has been involved in the charter discussions at the BBC, looking at culture and education.

Currently running a program called Crossover which is based on the concept that innovation using the new technology available depends on getting stuck in!

He thinks that the arts don’t speak digital.

He has run a lot of Crossover Labs over the last few years.  The participants engage in discussion regarding using new technologies.

When for the first time he ran such a Lab with artists he noticed that none of them noticed that there was a new dynamic with relating to an audience.

It very much is about co-creation.  There is a change in power in authorship.   Sadly, most artists don’t get it.

John from Tate adds that the Tate’s remit is to increase the public’s enjoyment of art, or words to that nature.

The Tate is now in the third phase of its publishing modely, it’s more about ideas, online and on other social media platforms.  The first phase was about putting on exhibitions the second about curating exhibitions.

A few years ago the Tate came to the decision that they were a content organization not unlike Disney or BBC.

The question is how do you use these new platforms to engage with audiences.  Turner films previously made by Channel 4, now made by Tate Media and licensed to the broadcasters.

There’s much more rich media on the website, they are also working on a major overhaul of the website behind the scenes.

Everyone will have an element of online in their jobs in coming years.   The communications will be unmediated.  The marketing and communications departments have been very protective of the brand and it’s going to be a major challenge to open up.

Bill asks ‘What would you say to arts organisations about how to respond to the changing audience’.

Adam comments by responding that it’s about inspiring dialogue amongst the audience. Example is Sexperience, a sex education project.

Frank Boyd adds that Channel 4 s doing some really interesting work with engaging with audiences, not just Adam’s work but also Matt Locke’s.

In this current environment, we’re at the foothills, no-one is an expert.

Frank Boyd adds that he thinks Andy Gibson, School of Everything spoke earlier as someone immersed in digital whilst Ekow Eshun spoke as someone trying to understand it.

Hasan makes a point that it’s also about looking at the economics of public sector content.  Jess points out the Hasan has written a very good paper on this subject.

Marc then adds that its about recognising that audiences now mediate the content.  Do things iteratively.

Q: How much should we share?

A: John from Tate says we should have the approach that it is ‘other people’s data’ and we need to allow others to access it.

Frank Boyd adds that recent legislation now gives independent production companies the rights to the content they create.   However, it means that the company that made the independent sector viable (i.e. Channel 4) does not get a return on their investment.

Jess Search adds that they are looking at models like VoDo in which the brands do not necessarily want to recoup.   Age of Stupid funded using a similar idea.

Q: Pubic service content also about sustaining diversity of output.  There is a disjuncture in looking at this.   Google made £1.5 billion last year in the UK and and returned £6ooo in tax.

Shouldn’t this be discussed more?  They are not at discussions like this.

Frank answers: Isle of Man have re-invented licence fee by putting a levy on rights honours.  However when discussed with the chair of PACT about whether this would work in the UK, apparently there is no political will for it.

Marc adds that none of the big US content companies have to invest back into the UK.

Hasan adds that arts and cultural sector was not interviewed in the Digital Britain report.  If one were to address, diversity, that would be were to start.

Bill asks how each of the panellists would summarise advice to listeners.

Hasan – Time for playing and trialling

Jess – Brainstorm who you’d work with

Adam – Just try stuff out, do it.

Marc – Collaboration will be key

Frank – Come on a Crossover Lab

John – Buy a video camera and an Apple Mac and start making your own films.

Next: unstructured Q & A, ‘Comment is free’.

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One response to “Art of Digital London – Sadler’s Wells – Technology Blog

  1. Pingback: Art of Digital London – Sadler’s Wells – Comment is Free « The Amb:IT:ion Roadshow Blog

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