COVID-19: Widening access to arts and culture through video streaming

Lead Research Organisation: University of Kent
Department Name: Sch of Arts


Recent years have seen gradually developing digital expertise by many arts and culture organisations focused on physically-sited exhibitions, performances, and events. The closure of venues in the wake of COVID-19 has suddenly put these experiments to the test, and given urgency to arts and culture organisations' need to build capacity for digital programming. So far, video streaming has emerged as by far the most common route for the sustainable delivery of cultural content online. It has also often generated large audiences.
Initial research suggests that recent moves to video streaming have widened access to arts and culture. However, it is important that organisations also reach more geographically, culturally, ethnically, and economically diverse audiences. Accordingly, this project will gather and analyse qualitative and quantitative data in order to helping arts and culture organisations achieve two symbiotic goals: to develop digital programming strategies that can reach new and more diverse audiences, and to develop long-term resilience to the economic and cultural impact of COVID-19.

Research questions will include:
- What forms of, and approaches to, video streaming have proven most effective during physical shutdown, and may best complement physically-sited post-lockdown programming?
- Which digital distribution models developed in response to COVID-19 are most replicable across organisations and sectors?
- How can successful digital initiatives of the last two months be incorporated into organisations' core work, without sacrificing their pre-existing activities?
- What opportunities does video streaming provide for increasing equality of access to arts and culture - both during and beyond the current crisis?

The project's findings will feed into the equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) policies of Arts Council England's forthcoming 10-year strategy, 'Let's Create', and provide practical knowledge for UK-based organisations struggling to adapt their business models and artistic programmes to a socially distanced world.


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