What does ‘innovation’ mean for cultural organisations anyway?

Following a preliminary discussion paper, NESTA has now published its proposal for an ‘innovation framework’ for use by cultural organisations and funders. Based on case study research with the National Theatre and Tate, authors of Culture of Innovation: An economic analysis of innovation in arts and cultural organisations suggest that ‘innovation’ within cultural organisations can happen across four main areas: audience reach, artform development, value creation and business models.

As part of the research, there is a consideration of  audience development strategies employed by the National Theatre and Tate. This includes an interesting comparison between the demographics of Gallery users and those of online audiences; for example, Tate’s web visitors during one campaign period were more likely to be female / ethnically diverse / have lower incomes than ordinary Gallery visitors. It will certainly be interesting to note whether these trends hold true as more data of this nature begins to filter through.

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Photo by Demarmels

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NESTA offering local authorities £30k to spend with digital businesses on open data projects

Cutout figures connected by green light

Brian MacAulay, Director Innovation Index at NESTA, mentioned the Make It Local initiative to encourage collaboration between local authorities and digital media developers. It’s timely in the light of our open data: challenges and opportunities event last week and the government’s consultation on underlying data publication announced today.

Make It Local, the NESTA initiative, aims to:

…encourage collaboration between local authorities and digital media developers, to provide innovative, web-based services for their communities.

Make it Local is encouraging local authorities to release publicly-owned data in a linked way which allows developers an opportunity to build new services using the information.

Local authorities hold significant amounts of public data– such as transport, carbon emissions, population and crime data – which may help to power a range of useful, digital services. In developing partnerships between local authorities and digital media businesses, NESTA wants to show the value to local authorities of releasing their data to developers who can make use of it.

NESTA is calling for digital agencies with ideas for new applications to approach their local authority and encourage them to enter.

NESTA is offering three local authorities up to £30,000 to spend with a digital media business in their area.

The criteria for applications, application process and application form are available on the NESTA website.

Acknowledging the cross-sector importance of culture

Cover of State of the Region Report 2008October has been an important month for colleagues at the West Midlands Regional Observatory.

Not only was the State of the Region Report 2008 launched, along with the Regional Integrated Economic Assessment, the Observatory held its annual conference, attracting a good cross-section of the region’s key thinkers and policy-makers. In all three cases, the importance of culture, particularly to the region’s economy, was highlighted.

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WMRO contributes to national research on innovation index

Presenters at the workshop on measuring innovation, Birmingham City University, 4 September 2008Following the recent workshop on measuring innovation for successful delivery held at Birmingham City University, the Observatory’s Innovation and Enterprise team submitted a response to NESTA‘s call for ideas on the regional innovation index project.

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NESTA Regional Innovation Index: call for ideas

The West Midlands Regional Observatory has begun a 3-year programme of research to support the work of the regional Innovation Technology Council.

One of our first contributions is to the call for ideas as part of the new Regional Innovation Index projects. Full details of the NESTA call for ideas are on www.innovationindex.org.uk or download the full paper (PDF, 134KB).

We would like to hear suggestions, will coordinate the responses and submit a synthesis of responses.

If you’d like to respond to all or some of the questions please either post your comments or alternatively email me at brian.macaulay@wmro.org.

The deadline for formal contributions is 5pm, Friday 12th September 2008. We’ll be collating regional responses in the days before, so contributions will need to be submitted to us by the end of Wednesday 10th September 2008.

Creative industries research from NESTA

Two research reports investigating the UK’s creative industries have recently been published by NESTA, the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts:

Hidden Innovation in the Creative Industries, published in July 2008, looks at the level and nature of innovation within the creative industries and identifies areas of ‘hidden innovation’ – areas of innovation that are poorly represented in statistics. For example, the report cites examples of innovation in research and development activity and in organisational forms. The report concludes that creative industries, and the types of innovation they undertake, remain ‘under-represented in statistics and conceptual analyses’. Continue reading