How can we use technology to connect people to the arts? Knight seeks ideas

arts / Article

February 15, 2018 by Chris Barr

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Sometimes it is hard to find the poetry in technology. Though most people use technology as part of their daily life, the coldness of machines makes it easy to overlook the richness of human culture that flows through their circuits. 

Yet culture can move quickly, aided by our devices, whether it’s a virtual museum tour, a live-streamed concert or crowdsourced poetry. And we’re only at the beginning of this curve. Technology offers a myriad of opportunities for art, expanding how it challenges us, triggers reflection, awakens empathy and connects us to our communities. Innovations have the potential to provide arts organizations with new ways to connect with audiences and create deeply engaging experiences that inform and delight.

But how do we ensure that arts organizations, and artists themselves, take advantage of these opportunities, instead of lagging behind their audiences in the adoption of technology? 

Today, Knight Foundation is opening a call for ideas focused on this issue. It centers around a question:

How might cultural institutions use technology to connect people to the arts?

Through this call for ideas, run through the Knight Prototype Fund, we hope to discover thoughtful approaches for the use of technology in the cultural sector. While we don’t know exactly what we might find, we do know that there are questions that drive our search: What can we build to help arts organizations expand their use of technology? How can we use the qualities of new mediums to create unparalleled experiences? How can we replicate solutions, so that more in the field benefit? How can we learn more about the people we are trying to reach and design solutions that understand their needs? How can arts institutions provide magic outside of their four walls? How can cultural organizations breathe warmth into technology?

Anyone can apply for funding. You don’t have to be associated with a cultural institution or organization. We’re genre-agnostic too. We’d love to see ideas across the performing, literary and visual arts. It’s all part of our arts technology initiative, which aims to help arts institutions better meet changing audience expectations and use digital tools to help people experience the arts.

Projects supported through this effort will benefit from $50,000 to create a prototype of their idea. We hope to invest in projects that have provocative questions at their core that can only be answered through the act of making them a reality. Grantees will join together over a nine- month sprint to learn innovation techniques and test ideas. You can learn more about what we’re looking for, and apply by 11:59 p.m. March 6 at PrototypeFund.org. If you have questions, attend our Office Hours from 1 to 2 p.m. EST on March 2. Join here or connect via telephone (only if not connecting via video): 1 (888) 240 2560 Meeting ID: 929 864 233.

In short, let’s try it out. Let’s experiment. Let’s connect in new ways to audiences. Let’s scale the power of art.

Update Feb. 21, 2018: If you missed our office hours session on Feb. 21, check out a recording to get your questions answered.

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Chris Barr is director of arts at Knight Foundation

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