Black Theatre Live


Digital Culture 2017 Report

Digital Culture, Arts Council England and Nesta’s study of technology usage amongst arts and cultural organisations, has now recorded half a decade of digital change within the arts and cultural sector. From 2013 – 2017, the study has charted how organisations use digital technology in different ways, and the associated opportunities, impacts and challenges they experience. Unusually for the arts and cultural sector, it is based on a longitudinal survey, asking organisations consistent questions over time.

Today, compared with 2013 when we began this study, there is arguably more interest
in how cultural organisations can deploy digital technologies to enhance the value they create. From next year, for example, Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisations that receive over £250,000 per year will have to have a digital policy and plan to show how digital is strategically embedded across work that they do. Meanwhile, the UK government, through its Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, has this year undertaken a Culture is Digital policy review.

Against an economic backdrop that remains challenging for many, we are encouraged to see in this year’s finding that more arts and cultural organisations report positive impacts from digital technology on their business models and revenues. Equally significantly, across a range of areas related to reaching larger, more diverse and younger audiences it is good news that more organisations are telling us that digital is having a major positive impact. To temper this optimism though, proportionally fewer organisations say they are experimenting with digital technology – despite the clear evidence from the survey that experimentation pays dividends - and all of the key barriers and skills and capacity deficiencies found in 2013 remain in place today.

We hope that Digital Culture will be seen as a rich source of evidence to help individual arts and culture organisations and the agencies that support them prioritise more effectively when it comes to digital. To help this, we have published a series of factsheets on individual artforms, museums and on National Portfolio Organisations. All of the data collected over the life of the study can also be viewed in an interactive data portal where survey respondents – and others – can benchmark themselves against their peers.

As in previous years, we would like to offer our sincere thanks to those organisations and individuals who took part in the survey. It gives us insight that is unique internationally into how digital technologies are transforming the cultural landscape in England. 

Francis Runacres, Executive Director, Enterprise & Innovation, Arts Council England

Hasan Bakhshi, Executive Director, Creative Economy and Data Analytics, Nesta