Professor leads research work on major Culture is Digital report

The evidence and research work for a major government report seeking to integrate the UK’s cultural and digital sectors was led by the University of Liverpool’s Professor Simeon Yates.

Announced this week by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Secretary of State Matt Hancock, the Culture is Digital report sets out an ambitious framework for how culture and technology can work together to increase participation and boost the capability of cultural organisations.

Professor Simeon Yates was seconded to DCMS alongside four other industry experts, to form a Digital Culture team as part of what he believes may be “one of the very first deliberate and concerted efforts to develop a national digital cultural policy, not only in the UK but the wider world”.

Professor Yates said: “There are many great examples of the use of digital technologies in the arts and heritage sectors – and the UK is a leading producer of innovative digital content for the arts.

“The goal of the Digital Culture project was to understand the challenges the UK cultural sector faces in maximising the opportunities that digital technologies bring.”

The report makes a number of commitments, including:

  • Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund will invest more than £2 million to build the digital capacity of their sectors
  • The National Gallery will create an Innovation Lab to examine how museums and cultural organisations can use immersive media, such as virtual and augmented reality, to enhance visitors’ experiences
  • The Royal Opera House will create an Audience Lab, which will work with diverse talent to create content using emerging technologies and develop cross-sector collaborations.

Professor Yates added: “A key concern was to understand how to maximise the potential of digital technologies for a diverse range of arts and heritage organisations, and also for diverse audiences.

“This included thinking about new younger audiences who are “digital natives”; but also taking seriously the challenge of how to use digital technologies to engage audiences who might not have traditionally engaged with the cultural sector and who may also have limited engagement with digital media.

“Some of this drew on prior work by myself and colleagues in Liverpool, that has explored both the possibilities that digital media provide for the arts, but also key issues of digital inequality.

“I believe that this may represent one of the very first deliberate and concerted efforts to develop a national digital cultural policy, not only in the UK but the wider world.”

Culture Secretary, Matt Hancock said: “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.

“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.”

To read the full report, please visit:

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