AI voices lack nuance

Sophisticated AI voice actor’s recording studio. Image created on DALL·E 2023.
14 Nov 2023

Melissa Thom is the founder of Bristol Academy of Voice Acting. Here, she shares how AI is disrupting the world of voiceover.

PRS extends partnership with Oracle

14 Nov 2023

PRS for Music is extending its partnership with cloud computing service Oracle.

The music royalty distributor has moved its royalty payment database to Oracle Exadata Database Service on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI), which it says has accelerated payments to its 165,000 members.

PRS for Music is the first collecting society in the world to have migrated its data processing systems to OCI. It attributes the move as “instrumental” in hitting a record-breaking £836m of royalties in 2022.

In the third quarter of 2023, PRS for Music broke its quarterly payout record, distributing £239m.

The society has previously promised to be distributing more than £1bn in royalities annually by 2026.

“Working with Oracle to migrate our distribution systems to the cloud was a seismic shift in infrastructure for PRS for Music, and a landmark moment in our industry,” said Mark Krajewski, Managing Director, Strategic Alliances and Chief Information Officer of PRS for Music.

“Exadata Database Service on OCI has been a catalyst for our ambitious data strategy, and with cutting-edge technologies in place we can continue to pioneer new activities to define the future of music royalty management. 

“We have more control over our data than ever before, allowing for better data-driven decision making and greater speed, transparency, and accuracy in royalty distributions.”

Data service to share museum records launches 

13 Nov 2023

A new service to gather and share object records from UK museums has launched. 

The Museums Data Service (MDS) has been developed to assemble data on museum collections, including location and opening times, summaries of collections and highlights, object records and exhibition text, but will not hold media assets.

Work on the project, a joint start-up by Art UK, Collections Trust and the University of Leicester, supported by funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Arts and Humanities Research Council, began in November 2022.

Training for early adopters of the programme will begin next month. MDS hopes to publish collection summaries for all 1,700 accredited museums by May 2024 and to have compiled all object records by 2033.

Collections Trust, funded by Arts Council England, is offering support to small organisations including Wolverhampton Museum, St Barbe Museum and the Royal Engineers Museum, to help them make the most of the new service. 

What’s the value of digital arts and culture?

06 Nov 2023

If we can find a shared language and inclusive approach to evaluating digital arts and culture, we can tell a better story about the difference it’s making, write Rosanna Chianta and John White.

AI: Why the arts should choose playfulness over fear 

Jo Burnham surrounded by balloons
01 Nov 2023

The cultural sector is wary of AI. But Jo Burnham thinks a change of mindset can accelerate learning, confidence and innovation with emerging tools.

British Museum digitises collection to prevent thefts

18 Oct 2023

The British Museum has announced plans to digitise its collection in response to the stolen artefacts scandal that has embroiled the institution.

A five-year plan to digitise the museum’s collection and make it available online will help “improve security”, according to the museum's Interim Director, Sir Mark Jones.

Appearing before the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee on Wednesday (18 October) he said:  “It is my belief that the single most important response to the thefts is to increase access because the better a collection is known - and the more it is used - the sooner any absences are noticed.

"So that's why, rather than locking the collection away, we want to make it the most enjoyed, used and seen in the world.”

The process of digitising the collection is already underway and involves the uploading or upgrading of 2.4 million records. 

The British Museum’s Chair of Trustees, George Osborne, said the organisation had been “victims of an inside job” when around 2,000 items from its collection were revealed to be missing in August, leading to the dismissal of a Senior Curator. 

“There are lots of lessons to be learnt," said Osbourne. "We have changed our whistleblowing code, changed our policy on thefts... tightened up security on thefts." 

The museum has also announced plans for enhanced access to study rooms, where members of the public and academics can view items from the collection by appointment.

Osbourne revealed that the museum will acknowledge the thefts in an exhibit of the missing items, 350 of which have been recovered so far. 

NFTs have led to widespread copyright infringements

11 Oct 2023

The Culture, Media and Sport (CMS) Committee has urged government to work with non-fungible token (NFT) marketplaces to address the scale of copyright infringement in the art world.

In the committee’s latest report, NFTs and the Blockchain: the risks to sport and culture, published today (11 October), the cross-party group of MPs note that, while NFT sales may have peaked last year, their emergence has led to the risk of widespread copyright infringement.

The report explains creators' rights have been infringed in cases where work has been made available as an NFT without permission. 

The process of having copied work taken down has proved time consuming and difficult for artists, compared with the ease with which NFTs can be minted.

In the report, the committee recommends government engages with NFT marketplaces to address the scale of infringement and enable copyright holders to enforce their rights.

It says government should work to introduce a code of conduct for online marketplaces operating in the UK - including NFT marketplaces - that protects creators, consumers and sellers.

CMS Committee Chair Caroline Dinenage said: “Traditional regulatory regimes have failed to protect both creatives and consumers caught up in the volatile new crypto world.

“Artists are at risk of seeing the fruits of their hard work pinched and promoted without permission while fraudulent and misleading adverts add an extra layer of jeopardy for investors involved in what is already an inherently risky business,” she explained.

“The government must make sure that everyone in the crypto chain is working to properly protect consumers and the rights of creators.”

The committee’s report also highlights NFTs and blockchains as having unique potential applications in arts and culture, such as encouraging artists to develop digital skills or creating new markets for artworks.

Scores of NPOs yet to register for Illuminate

The PricewaterhouseCoopers logo hanging from the side of a building
05 Oct 2023

More than 50 National Portfolio Organisations miss deadline imposed by Arts Council England to register with new data platform that has been beset by delays and glitches.

Democratising theatre with VR

Gemma and Kelman Greig-Kicks - Gemma wearing a VR headset
02 Oct 2023

Kelman and Gemma Greig-Kicks are on a mission to use virtual reality technology to democratise theatre and provide new income streams for creators.

Recruiting for digital

A group of colleagues gathered round a table
25 Sep 2023

Recruiting for digital roles is tricky, which is understandable given cultural organisations have not traditionally had to hire for these skills. Ash Mann shares his experience of rethinking the structure and roles of digital teams. 

Creative industries: £35m fund seeks to drive growth

A man and woman wearing virtual reality headsets
25 Sep 2023

Money will be invested in creative businesses across the UK in order to meet government targets to boost value of the sector by £50bn over next seven years.

Supporting freelancers to develop digital skills

Three people shown training on computer screens
20 Sep 2023

With digital technologies developing at pace, freelancers need to develop their skills throughout their careers. Rob Lindsay outlines the support The Space provides to freelancers across the sector.

Majority of heritage sector yet to utilise AI

Arundel Castle, West Sussex, England as seen from a light aircraft.
18 Sep 2023

Latest Heritage Pulse survey finds almost two thirds of heritage organisations are yet to consider how they might use AI in the future.

Digital marketing for arts sector beginners

A person pointing at a whiteboard which reads 'digital marketing?'.
06 Sep 2023

Whether you’re new to digital marketing or have been bluffing your way through for a while, Lauren James has put together a beginners' guide to help you get stuck in.

Scrap AI copyright exemption to protect creatives, say MPs

A person using a mixing desk
30 Aug 2023

Report from Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee says government must “regain the trust” of the creative industries and defend the interests of creatives amid the growing influence of AI.

Edinburgh Fringe programme grows to second largest ever

03 Aug 2023

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is set to present the second-biggest programme in its history after an influx of last-minute additions.

Despite fears that performers would be “priced out” by the high cost of accommodation in the Scottish city, the festival, which begins on Friday (4 August) is set to feature more than 3,600 shows, the second-largest number in its 76-year history.

More than 600 productions and 28 new venues have been added to the official programme since its initial publication in June.

Concerns around accommodation were raised in the run-up to the event after 87% of artists polled following last year’s festival said they felt that the affordability of accommodation and living costs in Edinburgh in August would be a barrier to future participation. 

But an increased amount of student housing made available for this year’s event, coupled with deals agreed with venue operators, is thought to have helped reign in prices, the Scotsman reported.

The flurry of late bookings is partially attributed to the return of the official Fringe app, which was not used at last year’s festival, creating less reliance on inclusion in this year’s printed programme.

The app, launched on July 11, has been downloaded more than 21,000 times.

“We always say that we don’t judge the success of the Fringe by the number of shows that are on,” said Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive of the Fringe Society.

“For us, that’s more about people actually seeing and supporting work, audiences connecting with shows and artists having a positive experience in Edinburgh.”

Lyndsey Jackson, the society’s Deputy Chief Executive said that “signs are positive and ticket sales are going well”.

“They are definitely ahead of this time last year and people are seeing audiences from 2019. Venues are broadly indicating the same,” she said.

Jewish Museum London closes its doors

31 Jul 2023

The Jewish Museum in London has closed its current site in Camden as part of plans to sell the building and reopen in a new location.

Trustees of the museum, which receives £224,000 a year from Arts Council England (ACE) as part of the National Portfolio for 2023-26 announced the plans in early June. 

It hopes to reopen in a larger new home within the next five years.

Nick Viner, chair of trustees, told the BBC: "It's been an incredibly tough decision, but the museum has always found it difficult to be financially sustainable even though it's had some huge success with exhibitions.

"We are planning to do several temporary displays in London and beyond all whilst we think about how we can engage communities online with our collections."

Three-fold increase in theatre roles with digital remit

Camera on theatre set.
17 Jul 2023

A cross-European study of digital theatre production before and during the pandemic reveals steep rise in roles with a digital remit since 2019. 

The arts and emerging technology

Performance of Golem. Person in clown makeup alongside 'Golem' – a creature crafted from clay. They are both stood on stage.
28 Jun 2023

Catherine Allen’s expertise spans augmented and virtual reality, including the development of the immersive sector. Here, she outlines how the arts have always been and continue to be crucial to the development of emergent technology.

Public library projects receive £1m boost

20 Jun 2023

An initiative to increase the number of people who use public libraries has awarded £1.09 million to 27 projects across England.

The LibraryOn fund, which is supported by Arts Council England and facilitated by the British Library, was launched in March this year.

Library services and consortia were invited to apply for capital expenditure grants of between £10,000–£70,000, with the aim of making it easier for library users to access services online.

Grants have been awarded for website development, apps and virtual library tours. Other funded projects involve artificial intelligence and search engine optimisation.

Library services in Sunderland, Leicester, West Sussex and Gloucestershire are among those benefiting. 

Liz White, Head of Public Libraries and Community Engagement at the British Library, said: "We’re excited to see this grant award for library services in areas across England, balancing investment in core offers with a wide variety of opportunities for digital innovation, user research and shared learning about ways of working. 

"This reflects our north star goal to increase the number of people using public libraries and raise awareness about their enduring value and importance."


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