Digital Culture 2014 Report Launched

Social media was used to manage crowds at the Lumiere festival | Photo by Matthew Andrews.

Social media was used to manage crowds at the Lumiere festival | Photo by Matthew Andrews.

The second report in a three-year study of how arts & cultural organisations in England use technology has been launched.

Arts Council England, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and Nesta commissioned independent research agency MTM to track the use of digital technology by arts and cultural organisations in England between 2013 and 2015.

Established alongside the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts, the research provides quantitative evidence about the use, importance and impact of digital technologies. 

947 organisations responded to the Digital Culture 2014 survey, including 384 who also participated in 2013. The organisations provided information about digital activities, their importance and impact, perceived barriers and skills gaps, and future plans. 

The 2013 survey found considerable change in take-up of digital activities (significant numbers had adopted new activities within the 12 months before the survey), this year’s survey paints a picture of organisations consolidating their digital activities and enhancing their impact. With detailed longitudinal analysis planned for 2015, this report describes the major developments in 2014, the characteristics of those organisations experiencing major positive impacts, and their digital plans for the year ahead. 

Major developments uncovered by the 2014 survey include:

  • Digital technologies are becoming more important for generating new revenue streams
  • More organisations are using data for audience engagement and fundraising
  • Organisations are adapting their online presence, mirroring broader shifts in consumer behaviour 
  • Organisations are expanding their social media efforts as online competition intensifies
  • More widespread impact suggests increasing effectiveness of some digital activities
  • Digital technology is helping 3 in 4 fulfil their missions more effectively, although the benefits are not being equally felt 
  • Those experiencing the biggest impacts show a wider commitment to digital 
  • Organisations expect digital technology to continue to grow in importance for business models 
  • Websites, e-marketing and social media will be in use by 9 in 10 organisations 
  • Although many plan to adopt new digital tools, many report persistent barriers

The picture presented by the survey is of an arts and cultural sector in England that is increasingly comfortable with digital technologies and seeing tangible benefits in engagement and financial performance; but not all organisations are benefitting equally, raising questions about how different types of cultural institution can make best use of appropriate technologies, and about the barriers between them and their digital goals.

The full report can be downloaded from this page; six factsheets are also available from that page highlighting key finding for six sub-sectors: museums, galleries, performing arts venues, performing groups, combined arts centres and festivals and events. The data in the survey is also being shared publicly through a dedicated portal on that page.