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Arts Council to invest in digital future for theatres

Culture secretary Matt Hancock has unveiled the Culture Is Digital report, which will encourage theatres to utilise new technologies with Arts Council investment
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Arts Council England is to establish a Digital Culture Code that theatres will be expected to sign up to, in an effort to improve their work using new technologies.

The initiative is one of many unveiled by culture secretary Matt Hancock in the Culture Is Digital report, published today (March 7), which sets out a framework for how culture and technology can work together to “boost the capability” of arts organisations.

Other schemes outlined in the report include an ‘Audience Lab’ led by the Royal Opera House, which will work with diverse talent to create content that uses emerging technology.

ROH chief executive Alex Beard said the organisation was “exploring immersive technology to open up a suite of new experiences”.

“This report acts as a useful framework for all in our sectors to explore this territory,” he added.

In addition, the Space and the Audience Agency will establish best-practice guidelines for arts organisations, to use for planning and assessing engagement across digital platforms. Meanwhile, ACE and the Heritage Lottery Fund will create a ‘Digital Maturity Index’, which will allow organisations to “benchmark” their own digital capabilities.

ACE will also invest £1.1 million over two years to create a network allowing best practice to be shared across every region.

As part of the report, the Royal Shakespeare Company has committed to sharing research and offering support to other cultural organisations, in association with the BBC.

Hancock said: “Our cultural output has always been our unique calling card to the rest of the world and when combined with the latest digital developments there is no limit to our creativity.

“We want the UK to be the best place in the world to trial pioneering technology, while also maintaining our world-leading status as a centre of artistic and cultural excellence.”

He added: “Our Culture Is Digital report sets out how culture and technology can collaborate, learn from one another and keep innovating. By embracing new technologies and attracting more diverse audiences, we will continue to cement our status as a creative powerhouse in the digital age.”

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