The Space aims to re-launch in Spring/Summer 2014

October 8, 2013

Press Releases

The Space aims to re-launch in Spring/Summer 2014

The Space logoThe Space, the experimental digital arts service developed by Arts Council England and the BBC, is applying to the BBC Trust for approval to be re-launched in Spring/Summer 2014 as a dynamic new space for artists and audiences to invent and explore brilliant digital art.

In a planned three year agreement between the Arts Council and the BBC, announced today (Tuesday 8 October) by BBC Director General Tony Hall, and subject to approval by the BBC Trust, The Space will build on the success of the pilot which tested and broke new ground in delivering digital art and experiences to the public. It will offer a place for the growing digital audience to see and interact with great new digital art, live, free and on-demand, and provide an ‘R&D Lab’ for new and established artists to develop innovative and ambitious digital projects.

Alan Davey, Chief Executive, Arts Council England said: “The launch of The Space pilot in May 2012 heralded the start of an experimental journey with the BBC, artists and arts organisations to explore the creative potential of new digital platforms for the UK and cultural sector. Some truly wonderful work was made and we know there is potential for more.

“It’s at the heart of both organisations’ mission to make great art and culture happen and to make this content available to everyone. We are looking forward together to building on the lessons learnt from the pilot, and deliver an even more innovative, dynamic and interactive digital Space that will be fun for both audiences and artists alike”.

BBC Director-General Tony Hall said: “This is an exciting moment for Arts Council England and the BBC. I know this is going to have a profound impact on arts in this country. We want to support a new generation of talent – and I’m really looking forward to seeing artists surprise and delight us all on The Space. We had great success when we ran the pilot together last year and I felt passionately then that it was something we needed to develop”.

The Space aims to produce new talent and content which other cultural organisations and BBC platforms will want to pick up and showcase. Artists and arts organisations will have the opportunity to submit work through a rolling programme of Open Calls, starting in early 2014, which will encourage new and emerging talent, as well as established artists, to develop their big idea.

Artists will also be supported by associate partners from the cultural, broadcasting and digital world. Conversations are already underway with Creative Scotland and Arts Council partners in Northern Ireland and Wales, as well as the British Council and the British Film Institute.

Alongside the Open Calls, The Space will co-commission large, ambitious digital projects with cultural organisations, creative industry and arts partners, broadcasters, digital commissioners and commissioners within the BBC. A whole range of arts organisations, large and small, are ready to work with The Space to create new commissions. Those who have, in principle, signed up are:

  • Artangel
  • The British Library
  • Cornerhouse
  • Fuel
  • Tate
  • BBC Writers Room

The Space will be run as a joint venture between Arts Council England and the BBC, operated independently by The Space CIC – a Community Interest Company whose current Directors have been appointed from within the Arts Council and the BBC. It will have an independent chair with independent members to be appointed to join the members representing the Arts Council and the BBC.

The current Space pilot service will come to an end on 31 October and from 1 November, all current content on The Space will be taken down.

The Space

The Space was conceived and developed as a live, free, and on-demand service through which audiences could access a wide range of arts digitally and, in particular, the London 2012 Festival and Cultural Olympiad. Initially piloted from May to October 2012, (subsequently extended to March 2013), the service was designed to build digital capacity in the arts, support digital creativity and experimentation and connect arts organisations with a wider audience.

Following the completion of the initial pilot phase, the Arts Council and the BBC commissioned a comprehensive evaluation of The Space service which shows that it was successful in building digital capacity amongst participating arts organisations; overall feedback from audiences, the arts sector and opinion formers was positive about the value and the quality of the service; and that The Space has potential as a service for connecting audiences and arts organisations online.

Evaluation Headlines

An executive summary of the key findings from the evaluations, the full report, as well as five case studies by arts organisations whose works were commissioned for The Space can be found here. Below are some key headlines from the evaluation:

Building Digital Capacity:

  • More than 75% of participants listed digital      capacity-building as an objective: 89% had either ‘met’ or ‘strongly met’      their capacity-building objectives
  • For many organisations not previously involved in      producing digital projects, the experience had been transformative
  • Participants were very positive about the impact of      training and mentors provided by the Arts Council/BBC Academy Partnership      and by the BBC

Creativity and Experimentation:

  • Arts organisations and audiences agreed that The Space      has significant potential as a platform for innovative and experimental      content
  • Participants in The Space were particularly positive      about the opportunity to experiment with new ideas and push boundaries in      content production
  • Of the respondents to a BBC Pulse Survey, 64% described      The Space as a good place to find high quality and innovative art
  • The audience appreciated index (AI) for impressions      overall was 77.3%

Connecting with a wider audience:

  • Over 1.5 million visits, viewing 3.5 million pages,      despite limited Arts Council marketing budget and no direct BBC marketing      or cross promotion
  • An average of 40,000 visits per week by 30,000 unique      visitors during the initial six month pilot
  • 26% of visitors discovered new artists or arts      organisations for the first time
  • Broadcasts of live and otherwise sold out events      reached many times the venue capacities. For example, over 36 times the      physical audience were able to see the UK premiere of Stockhausen’s Helicopter      String Quartet from Birmingham Opera Company
  • 20% visited an artist’s or arts organisation’s website      after seeing their work on The Space
  • 43% of the audience was international, bringing a      global audience to UK arts

Editorial Achievements
During the pilot, the Arts Council formed commissioning partnerships with 51 arts organisations nationwide (750 applied), to produce original content for The Space, and the BBC provided the technological solution for the new service. This unique partnership has brought significant benefits to the arts sector by providing cross-platform technology, sharing digital expertise through training and mentoring participating artists, and creating a new commissioning programme that makes available hundreds of hours of exciting and innovative content across the arts, produced and distributed globally, and which wouldn’t otherwise have been possible.

Popular highlights include: Shakespeare’s Globe to Globe Festival (36 Shakespeare plays in 36 languages), Tracey Emin in conversation with Stephen Fry, Royal Opera Live, Faber & Faber’s 60 Years in 60 Poems and from the rich national and cultural archives, exclusive access to the first 2,600 albums of John Peel’s A-Z Record Collection and The Beatle’s Magical Mystery Tour on Arena Hotel.

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