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NGCV funded to develop audiences

5th July 2014

NewcastleGateshead Cultural Venues (NGCV), along with research and technology partners, Morris Hargreaves McIntyre and Tariff Street have been awarded funding from The Digital R&D Fund for the Arts to develop audiences for arts and culture in the North East.

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.

‘The Unusual Suspects’ is one of 12 projects across the UK to be selected for funding and one of four that will examine the potential of big data (high volume, high velocity information).  The project was developed in response to an open call for big data proposals intended to explore how data might help the arts and culture sector to develop new business models.

The idea behind the ‘The Unusual Suspects’is for more people to be given the opportunity to participate and attend arts and cultural venues. The consortium will create a data ‘commonwealth’ to test the most effective ways to re-engage with those who visit infrequently, encourage audiences to cross-over between venues and enable individuals to have a deeper level of  engagement.  The project, which has been awarded £184,325, aims to significantly increase the value derived from the venues publicly-funded activities.

Dance City is the lead arts organisation for the project, working together with 8 other NGCV organisations. NGCV is an innovative network of building-based cultural producers in North East England who work together to engage more deeply with audiences.  ‘The Unusual Suspects’ project partners are Dance City,  BALTIC, Centre for Life, Live Theatre, Northern Stage, Sage Gateshead, Seven Stories, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums and Tyneside Cinema working with Morris Hargreaves McIntyre - cultural strategy and research agency and software development agency Tariff Street.

Anthony Baker, Dance City Artistic Director and Joint CEO, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for some of the North East’s leading arts and cultural venues to reach out to audiences who are less engaged with what we have to offer. We have an amazing cultural offer here in the North East and of course we want to look for every opportunity to involve more people in our work so they can enjoy, take part in and be inspired by the arts in our region.”

Mark Dobson, Chief Executive of Tyneside Cinema and Chair of the NGCV Audience Development Group said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this funding. The project is truly innovative and groundbreaking, both nationally and internationally.

Our business model is pioneering a new approach to collaborative working, whilst many organisations work collaboratively from time to time, the extent and scope of the NGCV partnership is unprecedented in the sector and the envy of many organisations across the country.  The project couldn’t happen without the commitment and innovation of our partners Morris Hargreaves McIntyre and Tariff Street.”

Each project’s findings, research and progress will be charted on Native, the Fund’s learning website, enabling other arts and cultural organisations to learn from the work the Fund is supporting.  An emphasis is placed on projects offering valuable learning and institutional knowledge transfer within the arts sector.

For more information about the project and the Audience Development work undertaken by NGCV, click here and for more information about The Unusual Suspects, click here  (This page will be updated as research findings are published)


About the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts

The Digital R&D fund for the Arts is a £7 million fund to support collaboration between organisations with arts projects, technology providers, and researchers. It is a partnership between Arts Council England (www.artscouncil.org.uk), Arts and Humanities Research Council (www.ahrc.ac.uk) and Nesta (www.nesta.org.uk).

We want to see projects that use digital technology to enhance audience reach and/or develop new business models for the arts sector. With a dedicated researcher or research team as part of the three-way collaboration, learning from the project can be captured and disseminated to the wider arts sector.

Every project needs to identify a particular question or problem that can be tested. Importantly this question needs to generate knowledge for other arts organisations that they can apply to their own digital strategies.


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