The arts tend to be ahead of society when it comes to envisioning the future of technology – think of all the science fiction that has shown us the future before scientists and engineers got there in reality. Many artists ‘magpie’ new technologies to use within the creative process. However, arts organisations often face challenges in adopting digital technologies ‘successfully’ – in other words, in a way that results in innovation. For a consideration of the difference between innovative application and creative experimentation see Appendix 1.
Innovation is more important than ever for the publicly-funded arts sector. It is facing both budget cuts and heightened expectations from funders that bring new demands in terms of resilience and sustainability. But this is not just a matter of tightening budgets – the march of technological progress means that audiences are bringing new expectations in terms of ways to connect with arts organisations and the content they produce. Without being able to adopt new digital technologies in transformational ways, arts organisations will be left behind and lose their relevance to society.
While anxiety about attending events remains high amongst disabled people, the Covid online content boom has given rise to revolutionary opportunities that could improve access for good.
While audiences are most comfortable returning to outdoor events, organising a festival that can flex around ever-changing restrictions is still no mean feat. Penny Mills and Jonathan Goodacre have been looking at what’s working.