Boundless Creativity report - GOV.UK

Boundless Creativity report - GOV.UK (PDF)

2022 • 28 Pages • 1.05 MB • English
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Summary of Boundless Creativity report - GOV.UK

Boundless Creativity report July 2021 2 About Boundless Creativity Boundless Creativity was set up as a joint research project by UK Research and Innovation’s Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), in partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS). The project has examined the role of innovation in shaping cultural experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic and generated a new evidence base to inform the recovery, renewal and future growth of the UK’s cultural and creative sectors. The key aims of Boundless Creativity are as follows: ● Provide new data and real-time intelligence on the impact of COVID-19 across the UK’s arts, cultural and creative sectors; ● Investigate the impact of COVID-19 on new technology-enabled distribution platforms and online cultural participation, consumption and user preferences across a range of audience groups; ● Identify how the cultural and creative sectors can innovate through their content and business models to build resilience against future shocks; ● Explore the links between cultural participation and mental health and well-being and how these differ across audience and population groups; ● Recommend specific research and policy interventions to drive engagement with the issues highlighted in this report, including those which will allow the sector to maximise the potential of new digital and immersive technologies in engaging and diversifying audiences. Between September 2020 and February 2021, the project held a series of roundtable discussions with representatives from across the cultural and creative sectors, under the guidance of an Expert Advisory Panel. The Panel brought together expertise from across the arts, cultural, creative and higher education sectors to discuss key insights and findings and to make recommendations. Membership of the Expert Advisory Panel ● Lord Mendoza, Commissioner for Cultural Recovery and Renewal (Chair) ● Professor Andrew Thompson CBE, University of Oxford (Chair) ● Dr Joanna Abeyie, Blue Moon ● Maria Balshaw CBE, Director, Tate Arts Museums and Galleries ● John Cassy, Founder and CEO, Factory-42 ● Professor Helen Chatterjee, University College London ● Professor Andrew Chitty, UKRI ● Professor Edward Harcourt, AHRC ● Imogen Heap, Recording Artist and Tech Founder ● Dr Chris Michaels, National Gallery ● Neelay Patel, Digital Theatre ● Dr Sara Pepper, University of Cardiff ● Professor Christopher Smith, AHRC ● Dr Jo Twist, UK Interactive Entertainment List of contributors ● Hasan Bakhshi – Director, Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre ● Alex Beard – Royal Opera House CEO ● Professor James Bennett – Royal Holloway University 3 ● Patrick Bradley – Managing Director, Station12 ● Nica Burns – Chief Executive, Nimax Theatres ● Craig Chettle – Confetti Institute of Creative Technologies, Nottingham ● Professor Paul Crawford –University of Nottingham ● Michael Eakin – Chief Executive, Liverpool Philharmonic ● Phil Edgar-Jones – Chief Executive, Sky Arts ● Sarah Ellis – Head of Digital Development, Royal Shakespeare Company ● Nadia Fall – Artistic Director, Theatre Royal Stratford East ● Dr Daisy Fancourt – University College London ● Peter Florence – Director, Hay Festival ● Dominic Gray – Projects Director, Opera North ● Cassian Harrison – Senior Vice President of Commissioning and Global Content Services, BBC ● Victoria Hume – Director, Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance ● Caroline Jones – Chief Executive, The Story Museum Oxford ● Anthony Lilley – Magic Lantern Productions ● Anna Lowe – Co-founder of Smartify ● Dr Kamal Mahtani – Co-Director of the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine ● Kate Mavor – Chief Executive, English Heritage ● Maddy Mills – Artistic Director, Entelechy Arts ● Caroline Norbury - Creative England, CEO ● Karen O’Brien – Head of Humanities, University of Oxford ● Rene Olivieri – National Lottery Heritage Fund Interim Chair ● Lorna Probert – Producer, Aardman Animation ● Laura Pye – Chief Executive, National Museums Liverpool ● Harman Sagger - Head of Analysis, Arts Heritage and Tourism, DCMS ● Professor Caroline Scarles – University of Surrey ● Lucy Shaw – Head of Partnerships, Oxford Galleries, Libraries and Museums ● Dr Martin Smith – Creative Consultant and AHRC Creative Industries Advisory Group ● Alistair Spalding – Chief Executive and Artistic Director, Sadler’s Wells ● Nick Starr – Chief Executive, The Bridge Theatre ● Sean Taylor – Project Director, InGAME ● Dr Stephanie Tierney –University of Oxford ● Professor Ben Walmsley – Director, Centre for Cultural Value ● Jonathan Williams – Deputy Director, British Museum ● Roger Wright – Chief Executive, Britten Pears Arts 4 Foreword from the Chairs At the launch of Boundless Creativity, the actress Fiona Shaw described “culture as everything – a way of travelling, even at home”. Amidst the restrictions of the past year, it is culture we have fallen back on. Thanks to modern science, vaccines will allow our lives to return to a new normality. But it is culture that has kept us going. Helping us to deal with a weight of solitude. Educating and entertaining. Consoling and comforting. Reminding us of the values that make us human. Boundless Creativity highlights the central role of culture in a flourishing life – before the pandemic, in the midst of it, and in the new normal, whatever form that eventually takes. In March 2020, the UK’s theatres, concert halls, festivals, galleries and museums fell silent. It is testimony to their resilience that they were not silent for long. As Ben Okri says, “it is in crisis when we need the wisdom and perspective of art the most”. To be sure, many aspects of our cultural life have suffered the damage and disruptions inflicted by the pandemic. From the visible crisis of venues, to young artists and creatives denied opportunities for work, to redundancies of backstage staff, the cultural sector has had to contend with a public health crisis the likes of which we have not hitherto witnessed in our lifetimes. But culture has fought back. From the livestreaming of ballet into our living rooms to interactive plays on Zoom, from behind-the-scenes tours of galleries to concerts in Epic’s Fortnite, culture during the pandemic has flourished in new forms. Amidst the unprecedented cessation of live performance, we have witnessed an equally unprecedented expansion of live streaming, digital offerings and online content. During lockdown games, subscription video on demand, and digital and recorded music have all enjoyed positive revenue and audience growth. New partnerships between the digital and cultural sectors have driven new forms of innovation. At our launch Mary Beard predicted that “one day, we will look back to these dark and cloudy times as the moment when we really did harness technology to open up the best of what arts and culture have to offer on a wider and grander scale”. For this prediction to come true, we must harness the lessons we have learned over the last year. As the virus’ threat to our physical health recedes, culture will increasingly serve as the marker for the spiritual health of the nation. Central to this recovery will be a process of healing from the secondary effects of the virus. Around the world countries opening back up from the pandemic will be engaged in vast natural experiments. Lives as much as livelihoods will be at stake. The cultural and creative industries will be a key tool in reconnecting societies, processing the emotional and psychological trauma of COVID, and emerging from this pandemic as stronger and more cohesive communities. Boundless Creativity was established by the Arts and Humanities Research Council in partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport to capture the extraordinary ingenuity and imagination that have marked our cultural life during the pandemic. What is clear from everyone we have spoken to – and from our assembled case studies – is that cultural organisations have adapted and innovated to sustain our national life when we have needed them most. The government, recognising the importance of these sectors, has provided targeted and unprecedented support during this difficult period. Rapid interventions like the £2 billion Culture Recovery Fund and the £500 million Film & Television Restart Scheme have offered a lifeline to organisations across the country. Before the pandemic, the creative industries were a sector in which the UK was already leading the world. As one of the fastest growing parts of the UK economy, they contributed £115.9 billion per year 5 and were growing at more than five times the rate of the overall economy.1 They also accounted for almost 12% of UK services exports. There is now a practical urgency about gathering research and intelligence, not only to support re-opening but to secure the pathway to longer-term growth. The UK rightly prides itself on the range and quality of its live performance. Its artistic, cultural and creative sectors are also getting more digital savvy too. Looking ahead, how can we make the best of both worlds: the magic of live performance plus all of the learnings from lockdown? Somewhere in that symbiosis the future is to be secured. Drawing on the insights and experiences of many of the UK’s leading cultural figures, creative industry experts and digital technology pioneers, our report makes nine key recommendations – for government, for funders of research, and for arts, cultural and creative organisations, and businesses. We believe that, if acted upon, these recommendations will make a powerful contribution to the recovery of UK culture and to the broader healing process of the country as we emerge from lockdown. This report could not have been written without the input from our distinguished Expert Advisory Panel as well as the many contributors to the events we held. We are grateful for their contributions. What emerged from our conversations is the huge economic potential of the UK’s powerhouse creative industries, alongside the intrinsic value of culture for our civic and community life. We know that in 2021 we still face many challenges. However, as we turn towards a future with fewer restrictions, let us be sure to put culture at the heart of the UK’s national life. Lord Mendoza Professor Andrew Thompson CBE 1 DCMS (2019, Updated 19th February 2021) ‘Economics Estimates’ DCMS Economic Estimates 2019 6 Summary of recommendations Taken together, our nine recommendations form a post-pandemic pathway to recovery and sustainable growth for the cultural and creative sectors. They capitalise on the new ways of working that have characterised cultural life during COVID-19 and the shared commitment of the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to work more closely together for the benefit of cultural organisations and creative technology. Our recommendations will enable cultural organisations and creative businesses – whether relying on new technologies or on more traditional modes of delivery - to come back better and stronger. 1. Support New Cross-Sectoral Collaborative R&D: The creative industries are not usually regarded as a typical R&D sector. That is changing, however. Where creative meets “tech” is the place where great cultural and economic value is going to be derived in the next twenty years. Hence our first and in many ways foundational recommendation is for the development of new Boundless Creativity funding calls, devised by AHRC in collaboration with DCMS, in order to support thinking on the UK creative and cultural sector’s recovery from the pandemic and help to reap its benefits. These new funding calls would be launched, subject to the spending review, successively over the next 24 months to target the specified research fields highlighted in the recommendations below. 2. Reach New Global Audiences: A new collaboration between AHRC and DCMS to understand and unlock the potential of reaching new global audiences digitally, starting with a survey of the innovative ways the sector has engaged, and begun to monetise their engagement with, international audiences. This will be accompanied by a call to arts funding agencies for collaborative research to increase understanding of how digital content for international audiences can complement or support international touring once resumed. 3. Reshape the Policy Environment to invigorate Creative R&D: DCMS will work with the HMRC and the cultural sector to revisit the definition of R&D for the creative industries, supported by research produced by the AHRC Creative Industries Policy & Evidence Centre to understand how R&D can be bolstered within the cultural and creative industries, to quantify the value of creative R&D, and offer workable policy solutions. We will also seek to learn from Festival UK* 2022 to understand the effectiveness of R&D in fostering creativity and innovation between cross-sector organisations. 4. Broaden Digital Access for Producers and Consumers: AHRC will galvanise new research on the barriers to entry into the digital market faced by freelance artists and smaller creative organisations, and will work with DCMS to look into framing new policy interventions that level up commercial opportunities for streaming beyond larger institutions and beyond London. We will incentivise the bigger players to make their platforms open source and / or develop a shared platform to give smaller cultural practitioners more control over their content and how they profit from it. 5. Increase data sharing: New research will be initiated to increase our understanding of how innovative digital content can reduce barriers to audience participation, generate new income streams, support freelance artists and smaller organisations, and retain copyright for producers. 6. Support Future Live Performance: AHRC will distil the insights and intelligence from its rapid response COVID-19 research, identifying the gaps in our knowledge about COVID-secure environments for live cultural experiences. This research will inform future policy interventions to create a sustainable model for the sector, in tune with the new normal. 2022 as a year of celebration focused on culture and sport, with three showstopper events across 7 the UK – Birmingham Commonwealth Games, The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, and Festival UK* 2022 – will be an opportunity to support jobs and provide a platform for the UK to shine on a global stage. 7. Build a Strong, Resilient and Diverse Digital Skills Base: Building on Arts Council England’s digital maturity index and tech champions network, DCMS will continue to invest in schemes such as the National Skills Fund, Digital Skills Partnerships, and Digital Skills Bootcamps. This will ensure the whole cultural and creative sector can embrace digital transformation and build a workforce with the necessary skills. AHRC will work with DCMS and other arts funding agencies (such as Arts Council England) to look at the digital skills gaps in the UK cultural and creative sector, with a particular focus on regional growth and interconnectivity and the demands of specific and diverse demographics. 8. Cement the link between cultural access and health and well-being: AHRC and other partners, with the support of DCMS, will launch a new joint research programme focusing not just on mental health but health generally. It will work with other relevant networks (e.g. the National Academy of Social Prescribing) to identify the local assets, partnerships and delivery mechanisms best suited to a national roll-out of arts-and-culture-based policy to redress the health inequalities that have been amplified by the pandemic. 9. Diversify and Nurture Talent: Arts funding agencies should undertake a collaborative project looking at the impact of COVID-19 on new entrants to the cultural and creative sectors’ workforce, and at effective interventions to reverse the labour market scarring and to bring back talent recently lost. 8 The key insights gained from Boundless Creativity and which inform our recommendations The pandemic has changed how we lead our lives. On its eve, transformative digital technologies were already turning producers into consumers with platforms like Instagram and YouTube. But the pandemic itself has accelerated these advances further. We have seen an unprecedented expansion of online offerings. The demographics of change merit particular attention. In the digital arena, youth and engagement are positively correlated. Twice as high a percentage of the under-45’s have engaged in cultural activities online during the lockdown compared to the over-45’s.2 Not only an attractive consumer group, they are more likely to guide us towards future innovations given their higher levels of involvement in crowdsourcing, gaming, and co-creator endeavours. Understanding the demographics of new technology will be vital to providing satisfying digital cultural experiences. Over the last year many cultural organisations expanded their digital offerings. The evidence we have gathered shows digital cultural consumption over lockdown increased for everyone, though problems remain of unequal access to broadband and unequal digital literacy. Traditional consumption has been among the beneficiaries. “We have all gone box-set crazy”. Families in particular have come together around TV in a way they hadn’t perhaps for a generation. The last twelve months have also ushered in other changes in audience preference and consumer behaviour. Watching filmed performances, looking at art online, Zoom readings of plays, pop stars turned avatars in video games – museums, galleries, theatres, and opera houses have all diversified what they offer, while artists have entered the “metaverse” of gaming. People have gained access to things they never had before, and cultural organisations reached more niche audiences, sometimes in unexpected places. The pandemic has, moreover, converted many casual and marginal users to more intensive use of digital technology. A recent report by the Economist revealed that 25 million people in the UK visited a cultural site online or attended a virtual event in the first eight months of the pandemic.3 Two-thirds of Britons now think it is possible to have a meaningful cultural experience online. Premium films have been released direct to home audiences. Online multiplayer video games have mushroomed. Younger audiences have found new forms of digital culture that connect them socially, giving them greater agency as creators as well as consumers of content. The reach of Sky Arts, as a free to air proposition, has tripled. Cultural organisations have harnessed digital technology to reach audiences and visitors who did not previously feel culture and heritage had anything to offer them. But alongside this digital acceleration there is the onset of digital fatigue. Not all forms of cultural production give satisfaction when translated online. Sometimes they are not felt to be worth paying for, or worth consuming at all. The digital is not a substitute for live performance. Rather the evidence we have gathered suggests the internet is serving to sharpen our appetite for physical cultural experiences. How will all of this play out? When restrictions relax, will digital offerings revert to being niche experiences? Will user-generated content continue to grow or simply subside? Many of the people we spoke to envisage a future hybrid model where digital and physical components complement each other and are mutually beneficial. 2 Boundless Creativity benefited from access to the latest data of The Audience Agency’s COVID-19 Cultural Participation Monitor as well as new data from the AHRDC/NESTA Policy and Evidence Centre. 3The Economist, (2020) ‘The Economics of Creativity: Exploring the economic importance of Creative Industries and the significant shifts that have taken place in 2020’. 9 The creation of digital content demands more than migrating existing content online. Content often needs to be adapted, or entirely rethought, for digital platforms. During the pandemic many cultural organisations have developed a deeper understanding of the challenges of making their live performances truly accessible. Online experiences work best when they have intimacy and authenticity. Telling global stories to growing global digital audiences has to be balanced with offering local benefits as a cultural venue. Venues have proven themselves capable of responding creatively and with great agility. But a longer-term transition to a hybrid offer that speaks to global and local audiences will take time. Finally, we turn to the link between cultural participation and well-being. The negative impacts on mental health of COVID-19 have been significant, as Lancet Psychiatry has recently shown.4 At the same time the pandemic has affirmed that engagement with culture makes for healthy and flourishing lives. New evidence is emerging of the buffering effects of creative and cultural activity on loneliness, anxiety and depression, including for the most vulnerable parts of the population. How do we now make sure these vulnerable groups have digital access, so as to bring the benefits of cultural participation where they are arguably most needed? How do we improve digital offerings, so some of the pleasures of place-based, face-to-face contact can be recreated online? We spoke to a wide range of representatives from the creative and cultural sectors. They ranged across the UK’s regions from many of the UK’s most recognised cultural institutions, through to dynamic, newly emerging creative and digital SMEs, and a rich tapestry of community-based arts groups. For many of those we spoke to, virtual reality and reality itself are expected to evolve alongside each other; performance to live audiences to be integrated with streaming to global ones; and online experimentation to accompany buildings-based experiences. It may not yet be possible to apprehend exactly what the UK’s arts, cultural and creative sectors will look like in a decade’s time. But amidst a quiet revolution in data science and digital technology, there is a widely shared view – conveyed by the case studies at the end of this report – that change is in the air and their future will not simply be an extrapolation from their past. 4 Holmes, E.A. et al (2020) ‘Multidisciplinary research priorities for the Covid-19 pandemic: A call for action for mental health science’, Lancet Psychiatry 7, pp. 547-560. 10 Boundless Creativity case studies 1. Broadening access to digital platforms In the first twelve weeks of lockdown, more than 15,000 theatrical performances were cancelled with a loss of more than £303 million in box office revenue. The Association of British Orchestras estimates that over £6 million was being lost by its members each month because of cancelled performances. As a consequence, digital content production boomed during the pandemic as traditionally physical modes of production shifted in response to restrictions. Digital content production can broadly be categorised into three types: ● Pre-recorded content being streamed, either through bespoke platforms or existing streaming services; ● Live intra-media performances making use of new popular technology like Zoom and occasionally including interactive elements; ● Live streaming entirely new content, either free to view or to paying audiences. Initially, the biggest organisations who had already invested resources in digital content production had a considerable advantage because they had a library of pre-recorded content to fall back on. Smaller organisations by contrast needed to invest in both technology and skills, and rarely had established content libraries to rely on. Despite this challenge, many did adapt, in some cases incorporating platforms like Zoom into innovative new performances. Many festivals also successfully pivoted to an online offering, including the Hay Festival, Edinburgh Fringe and Notting Hill Carnival. New uses of platforms emerged, such as the video game Fortnite, which was used by the Manchester International Festival to reach over a million users at virtual events. Fortnite in particular has shown the potential of turning digital gaming worlds into free performance spaces, accessible to audiences in the millions. Luxury fashion brands like Balenciaga and Burberry unveiled new collections in video games or via Twitch. Hip hop artist Travis Scott streamed a ten-minute gig in Fortnite to 12 million viewers. Collaborations using these platforms have huge potential. Research funding for experimental engagement, including opportunities to bring in expert curators in residence with industrial experience, could dramatically accelerate digital innovation. Research also has a role to play here in understanding the barriers to entry and the ongoing challenges faced by artists and organisations of every size, and in spreading best practice and sharing understanding between artists, through toolkits and other resources. Case study: The Creative Passport The Creative Passport is an identity database, established in response to the need for people operating in the music industry to have greater control over their metadata. The platform allows users to generate personalised creative passports, giving artists the autonomy to manage and organise their metadata. This metadata can be pushed out to all major music streaming platforms, offering artists a simple way to have greater control over their data. From there, it combines a search engine for researching and networking with an opportunities portal where anyone from an independent filmmaker looking to commission a soundtrack to a regional festival looking for artists can connect and collaborate in a safe, fair and transparent ecosystem. 11 Case study: The Tempest: live, interactive and in your living room The Tempest was an intramedia performance produced by Creation Theatre. With funding support from AHRC, Pascale Aebischer and Rachael Nicholas from the University of Exeter developed a digital toolkit based on Creation Theatre’s experiences to help other companies transition from physical performances to digital ones. The Tempest was a sell-out performance. Adapting the show for Zoom, charging per-device for tickets, and significantly reducing overheads allowed Creation Theatre to pay freelancers Equity wages and even make a modest surplus during COVID-19. The Zoom production reached an estimated audience of 2800 across 17 performances and attracted audiences from a wider geographical area than the 2019 live performance. Audiences reported paying £20 per device represented good value for money and many indicated a willingness to continue to engage with, and pay for, Zoom theatre experiences. Audiences also distinguished the experience from recorded theatre and placed extra value on the fact that the production was created specifically to be watched online, that it was live, and they were able to participate. This collaboration highlights the value of partnership between academia and the live performance sector – the partnership with the University of Exeter enabled Creation Theatre’s experiences to be captured and shared with other practitioners, ensuring best practice for live performance could be shared. 2. Reaching and understanding audiences anywhere The shift to digital opens up the opportunity for content producers traditionally reliant on physical spaces to access new online audiences. The imposition of restrictions around the globe confined people to their homes and provided a new captive audience with a seemingly insatiable appetite for new content. To benefit from this shift the upfront costs can be high. Boundless Creativity participants reported mixed results about the impact streaming content had on their finances. The majority said it could not provide a sustainable alternative to live performance as the investment was significant and returns were not as high. Some, such as the Hay Festival, chose to make content free to view and to invite donations. At Hay, around 1 in 500 people watching donated, allowing the Festival to raise around $250,000.5 Whilst significantly lower than the Festival’s usual revenue, this was nonetheless welcome in a year when revenues were otherwise forecast to be virtually non-existent. By contrast, others such as the Old Vic chose to offer tiered tickets as an alternative to donations. For those that pivoted to digital over the last year, these revenue streams have been vital. Many organisations spoke of a hybrid future where live performances include a digital offer, supplementing rather than replace physical performances. Indeed, some organisations like the Liverpool Philharmonic, and Wise Children theatre company, shifted to this model as a consequence of repeated lockdowns. There were some cases where digital adaptations exceeded expectations: notably the Maltings Theatre in St Albans, whose adaptation of Twelfth Night for Zoom was screened to an audience 40% larger than the theatre auditorium. There were also shows designed specifically for online media that proved that platforms like Zoom can be viable performance spaces in their own right. For instance, the Evidence Chamber is an interactive show in partnership with the Leverhulme 5 These details and figures have been provided by the Hay Festival. 12 Centre for Forensic Science. A small number of attendees act as jurors and pronounce a verdict on an actor’s guilt or innocence. This had a limited run that secured critical acclaim. Case study: The Old Vic in Camera The Old Vic in London chose to produce new content using socially distanced performances. Beginning with Duncan Macmillan’s LUNGS with Claire Foy and Matt Smith and followed by a world premiere of Stephen Beresford’s Three Kings, these shows were streamed live from the Old Vic stage with the empty auditorium as a backdrop. ‘In Camera’ productions were planned up to March 2021. They aimed to replicate their existing audience size of up to 1,000 people per night, with a ticket pricing system similar to physical tiered seating. LUNGS and Three Kings generated 25,000 paid-for views and yielded £650,000 in total. But it is worth noting that this is around a third of what commercially viable shows at the Old Vic would expect to take. Viewers came from over 60 countries, and their age profile was broad with no particular skew towards younger or older age groups. This allowed Old Vic to continue to employ freelancers, maintain a connection with audiences, and generate an important revenue stream. More research is required around the financial viability of online performances and their revenue generating potential. Boundless Creativity has simply scratched the surface. Much of the data needed is held by individual content providers and is likely to be commercially sensitive. Nevertheless, there would be merit in commissioning research that seeks to identify the kind of content audiences are prepared to pay for, as well as research to help share the most commercially successful models. There is much that could be learned from cross-sector analysis here, given both TV and video game producers have been exploring the relationship between international audiences and paid digital content for some time. In addition to the financial aspects of digitised performance, there is more work to be done to understand changes to audiences arising from new modes of engagement. It is not simply old audiences switching to access online content: early evidence suggests cultural providers are reaching a richer and more diverse audience than traditional physical performances. The COVID-19 Cultural Participation Monitor, led by the Centre for Cultural Value, undertook a survey of around 7,000 people in October 2020 and found that there are significant differences in cultural engagement across regions and ethnicities.6 Critically, Black and Asian audiences are engaging with culture online more, whereas traditional audiences are engaging less. However, these findings merely scratch the surface. More work is needed to build a detailed understanding of how diverse audiences engage with new forms of content and draw meaning from them. Whilst the UK cultural industries have long established audience segmentation models, our understanding of global audiences is not as sufficiently refined. There is therefore a substantial opportunity for new research in terms of building an understanding of where global audiences are, their preferences, and sharing best practice between cultural providers about how to reach them. Many providers throughout lockdown have kept track of the countries where their content has been viewed, but no work to date has been done to collate this information. Equally, more work is needed about how to reach global audiences through digital productions. Boundless Creativity participants: for some, their online audience had predominantly consisted of their loyal local following, whereas others like the National Theatre had secured a truly global audience. Understanding how cost, 6 The Audience Agency (2020), ‘Covid-19 Cultural Participation Monitor’ 13 reputation and offer impacts on global audiences and the kind of content they consume (and are willing to pay for) would be a valuable research task that could enable more content producers to take advantage of ‘anywhere audiences’. Case study: National Theatre at Home The National Theatre was one of the earliest to establish an online alternative through its NT at Home programme, launched in April 2020 in response to the closure of theatres due to COVID-19. Initially, this consisted of four productions released weekly over a four-week period. These were free to watch on YouTube. The team felt this was the optimum way to distribute content, ensuring it was freely available to audiences around the world, with the benefit of a straightforward rights clearance process. By the end of the initial programme in July 2020, the National Theatre had released 17 productions over 16 weeks, showcasing the diversity of programming from the National and a host of other leading theatre companies such as the Donmar Warehouse, Nottingham Playhouse, the Bridge Theatre and the Young Vic. These productions received 15 million views and reached nine million households across 173 countries. The National Theatre notes it was in a privileged position because it had an existing catalogue of high-quality recorded material which cost hundreds of thousands of pounds to produce. Had they needed to cover the costs of these captures; the economics would have looked very different. The National Theatre has now supplemented its at home offer with a bespoke streaming service for £9.99 a month or £99.99 a year, offering access to a library of pre-recorded content as well as new content uploaded monthly. Case study: Sky Arts TV has been one medium which has continued to perform strongly throughout the pandemic. Sky Arts launched on Freeview and Freesat as a free-to-air service, opening its content up to a huge new audience. Their reach has tripled, and they have shown their first ever series topping a million viewers. Beyond the mainstream audience for arts and culture, Sky Arts has also started more proactive engagement online, speaking directly to online fan communities and exploring how to make content that moves people from spectators to participants in the arts. Portrait Artist of the Week was a hugely successful initiative on Facebook, which offered a 4-hour real time painting class livestreamed. This ended up reaching 4.6 million people and generating 20,000 new paintings and portraits in its first four weeks.7 3. Re-invigorating creative research and development R&D is the engine driving forward growth in the creative industries – yet one not exploited to its full potential. New immersive technologies of virtual, augmented and mixed reality are already changing the way audiences experience the world around them. The £39 million AHRC Audience of the Future Fund has brought together creative businesses, research, and technology experts to create striking new experiences that captivate the public imagination and deepen our understanding of these cutting- edge technologies. 7 This data has been provided by Sky Arts to support the case study. 14 Case study: The Audience of the Future Demonstrator Programme The Audience of the Future Demonstrator projects are part of the UKRI Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. This programme supports UK storytellers to create engaging immersive experiences. The Demonstrators are industry-led consortia in the creative industries, testing these new experiences with audiences. All of them have been impacted by the pandemic and have had to pivot their projects in response. 1. Led by the Royal Shakespeare Company, a consortium of 15 specialist organisations, leading universities and immersive technology pioneers have pooled their expertise to discover the future of live performance. Combining virtual reality, mixed reality and augmented reality with live performance, they seek to uncover future opportunities of real-time immersive performance to change the way audiences both in-person and remotely experience live performance by making it more immersive. 2. Leading creative content studio Factory42 has partnered with the Natural History Museum, Science Museum Group, University of Exeter and others to create Dinosaurs and Robots. Combining mixed reality technology with immersive theatre, two separate adventure game visitor experiences create multi-sensory and interactive worlds for visitors to the Nature History Museum and Science Museum. 3. The WEAVR esports consortium has created a new technology platform which uses live and historic data to create personalised mixed-reality experiences for fans. It incorporates immersive experiences that stretch cross virtual and physical spaces, multiple displays, mobile devices, VR telepresence and augmented reality overlays to allow viewers to move seamlessly between the live arena, virtual game worlds and augmented living rooms. 4. The Big Fix Up is an augmented reality project led by Tiny Rebel Games, Potato, Sugar Creative and Aardman Animation. This new immersive experience brings classic characters Wallace & Gromit alive in a new way for audiences while also creating a new platform for storytelling. Digital innovation has thrived in lockdown as performers have sought alternative means of reaching audiences. However, much of this experimentation has been small scale, additive work, usually funded by organisations or performers themselves (with philanthropic donations to supplement in rare cases). Whilst many of these interventions have been reactive and designed to respond specifically to lockdown circumstances, almost all of them could have longevity beyond the pandemic. Throughout Boundless Creativity, several participants argued that the current definitions of Research and Development used by governments worldwide have long excluded the arts, humanities and creative industries. Consequently, much of the R&D activity which happens within the creative industries does not qualify for targeted support that facilitates similar innovation in other industries. This challenge proved particularly significant during the pandemic, where organisations struggled to mobilise additional resource needed to innovate in response to COVID-19. Those organisations who successfully adapted to digital modes of transmission tended to fall into two categories: either they were large organisations with reserves that could be re-directed and existing philanthropic relationships that could be leveraged, or they were very small organisations who had the agility to innovate in ways that were not resource intensive. This is symptomatic of innovation within the sector in normal circumstances: too few creative R&D projects can progress because of a lack of funding. Emerging from Boundless Creativity is a clear need to re-assess how we measure, understand and assess value within the cultural sector, with a focus on the implications of this for R&D. This will support the development of more appropriate financial mechanisms that can drive forward growth. 15 Case study: Working Group on Creative R&D Led by Dr Chris Michaels at the National Gallery, a new Working Group on Creative R&D has formed from a partnership between the National Gallery, the Serpentine, Royal Shakespeare Company, Watershed Bristol, Royal Opera House, Manchester International Festival, Young Vic and the National Theatre. The Working Group is seeking to build a new national network that supports the practice of and measurement of the value from digital innovation and R&D within the cultural and creative sector. Through research and collaboration, the Working Group is seeking to build a stronger understanding of R&D within the creative and cultural sectors and what changes might be required to drive forward growth. 4. Catalysing new collaborations Prior to the pandemic, a number of collaborative partnerships were already in existence – including several major consortia supported by AHRC’s Creative Clusters and Audience of the Future programmes – but the number and scale of these partnerships will need to increase considerably to ensure a sustainable future for the sector. We heard that many cultural content providers now envision a hybrid future for performance, which blends live and digital elements. This is a spectrum of activity, ranging from straightforward livestreaming to complex immersive experiences blending virtual and physical reality. To deliver the step change needed to ensure the cultural sector is resilient into the future, such partnerships will need to become the norm rather than the exception, bridging the gap between creative and technical expertise. This will require new funding mechanisms that are more agile and flexible to meet the needs of commercial partners and enable greater experimentation. It will be particularly important to ensure these are accessible to smaller cultural providers, whilst retaining scope for bigger opportunities for those projects with the largest potential. Case study: Current, Rising Current, Rising is a 15-minute hyper reality opera experience, combining virtual reality with a multisensory set and blending historic stagecraft with cutting-edge technology. Developed as part of the Audience of the Future Demonstrators, it invites audiences to step into an immersive, atmospheric virtual world and experience a dream-like journey carried musically by a poem layered in song. Guests wear a backpack and VR headset and navigate through the virtual space created by a collaboration between the Royal Opera House’s Audience Labs, award-winning Figment Productions and Royal Holloway, University of London. New collaborations bring benefits for both sides. As part of the Creative Industries Sector Deal, the Government established a new Creative Industries Trade and Investment Board (CITIB) to increase creative exports in goods and services combined by 50% between 2018 and 2023, and to significantly increase the number of exporting creative businesses across the UK. International collaborations, including with academic partners who bring cross-cultural understanding and expertise, can help drive growth in exports and create new opportunities for collaboration. For some productions that pivoted to digital, this was a chance to re-imagine their offer completely. The Sydney Global Fringe, for instance, showed some online productions in partnership with the Stockholm Fringe, offering access to both audiences. As creative services and cultural assets can be exported without any physical movement, the industries are in a strong position to use new digital services and content created in the pandemic as an export opportunity. New live streaming platforms for theatres, for instance, open up global audiences and cultural content creators are likely to need support to access these in the