Natural History Museum plans new £180m research centre

23 May 2022

The Natural History Museum will move a third of its collection to a new research and storage centre in Berkshire as part of efforts to make its assets digitally available to academics around the world.

The planned £180m centre at the Thames Valley Science Park in Shinfield, Berkshire, is a collaboration with the University of Reading and is being funded by DCMS.

The centre will house a third of the Natural History Museum's assets, including its mammal collections and non-insect invertebrates - such as corals, crustaceans, molluscs and worms - totalling more than 27 million specimens.

It is hoped the collections will help studies of climate change, food security and biodiversity conservation.

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Reading Professor Robert Van de Noort said it was an "exciting development" for the university.

"It could provide significant opportunities for our academics and students, as well as bringing benefits to the broader local area," he said.

"This new relationship with the Natural History Museum should further enhance the international research success of both organisations," he added.

The centre is expected to be completed in 2026, subject to planning permission.

Welsh Government announces £750,000 for libraries and museums

18 May 2022

More than £750,000 of funding will be provided to help local libraries and museums develop their facilities and services, the Welsh Government has announced.

The funding, which will be delivered as part of the Transformation Capital Grant Scheme, will support Wales’ local libraries and museums to "develop and revitalise" their facilities.

There will be a particular focus on widening access, partnership working, decarbonisation, and developing sustainable services.

The fund will be used to refurbish and modernise six libraries: Penygroes Library, Dyffryn Ogwen Library in Gwynedd, Rhymney Library in Caerphilly, Pencoed Library in Bridgend, Port Talbot Library and Barry Library.

Funding will also be provided towards and Newport Museum and Art Gallery’s decarbonisation project, and to enable Monmouthshire County Council to ensure the preservation of, and future access to, their collections through work at the Shire Hall.

Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport, Dawn Bowden said: “The Welsh Government remains committed to supporting these important services that fulfil a valuable role at the heart of community life. 

"This fund will widen access for our communities, promote cultural engagement, provide learning opportunities and support community cohesion, sustainability and prosperity.

“I encourage everyone to see what their local museum, archive or library has to offer.”

How dynamic are you?

11 May 2022

What we used to think of as ‘contingency planning’ is now just planning, says Patrick Towell. That is what it means to be ‘dynamic’.

Libraries as digital inspirers

VR libraries promotional image
11 May 2022

By making the most of digital technologies and creative media, libraries can be part of new ways for people to connect and share. Zillah Watson explains how virtual reality (VR) can expand horizons.

MPs demand legislation to protect child performers

10 May 2022

DCMS Select Committee warns that regulatory gaps are leaving child performers at risk of exploitation.

Digital Heritage Hub to offer sector-wide solutions

04 May 2022

Answers to the heritage sector’s most pressing questions have been compiled in a new Digital Heritage Hub.

Designed to help small and medium-sized organisations boost their capability, the hub answers 100 of the sector’s most frequently asked questions, providing links to 100 free resources.

A collaboration between the Arts Marketing Association, the Heritage Digital Consortium and the University of Leeds, the hub is the result of research that sought to uncover the problems vexing heritage organisations, from how to general revenue using digital tools to how to use data in decision making.

It was established with £435,300 funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

“A lot of small to medium organisations don’t have access to, or the means to access, professional expertise,” said Arts Marketing Association CEO Cath Hume.  “The Digital Heritage Hub will be their free, one stop shop of the expertise they need to take the next step – or even the first step – in their digital journey.”

The project is part of the Heritage Fund’s £3.5m Digital Skills for Heritage initiative. Further resources will be added to the hub in coming months.

'No clear reason' why people don't access digital arts

27 Apr 2022

Most people struggle to identify a specific reason why they don’t engage with arts online, a government survey has found.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport's Participation Survey which provides estimates of physical and digital engagement with the arts, heritage, museums and galleries, found that around one in four (27%) people had engaged with art digitally over the past year.

Of those who hadn't, when asked about the barriers they face, 45% said there was "no reason in particular", with 29% saying they were "not interested", and 11% saying they "don't have the time".

Other barriers to digital engagement included having a health problem or disability (8%), it being too expensive (8%), having no access to internet (5%) or "not knowing what is available" (3%).

The study found a negative correlation between digital engagement in the arts and areas of deprivation. The most deprived areas showed 20% engagement in the arts, compared with 31% in the least deprived areas.

Meanwhile, 32% of those in higher managerial, administrative and professional occupations engaged digitally in the arts, compared with 23% of respondents in intermediate occupations and 17% in routine and manual occupations.

Live music royalties yet to recover

a band plays to a live audience
27 Apr 2022

While concert revenues and artists payments decline, PRS for Music records substantial growth from online royalties. 

Performers need protections from AI abuse

19 Apr 2022

Performers are increasingly losing their jobs, faces and voices to artificial intelligence, a new report claims. What can be done about it?

Paying for digital

12 Apr 2022

If there is a universal truth in the arts and culture sector, it is that funding is an eternal challenge. That's even more true of digital, as Katie Moffat explains.

Opportunities for emerging artists in market slump

12 Apr 2022

Brexit has edged the UK's art trade out of the global top tier. It could mean more exposure for artists domestically.

Queen art to be 'minted' for jubilee

11 Apr 2022

Artistic portrayals of the Queen will be "minted" as NFTs following an exhibition on London's South Bank.

Ad Lib Gallery are seeking digital depictions of the monarch to display at The OXO Gallery and along platforms at Victoria Station for 'Art Save the Queen'.

Chosen works will be showcased on NFT marketplace OpenSea.

Submissions to the "unique creative challenge" should be made to by May 2 and be no larger than 2 meg each.


How the pandemic changed the way we use social media

06 Apr 2022

Digital teams have been at the forefront of connecting the arts with social justice and reform, according to a new report, writes Alice Kent

UAL plans 30 online degree courses

05 Apr 2022

University of the Arts London (UAL) will offer 30 online and "low residency" degree courses in the 2022/23 academic year.

The plan, part of the university's new 10-year strategy, could double student numbers, providing another 5,000 full-time equivalent places per year, or up to 15,000 part-time students.

It will invest in its online infrastructure to achieve this.

"By growing student numbers here in London and expanding online, we can provide more students, whoever, or wherever they may be, with a high-quality creative education," the strategy reads.

"Our strategy will deliver quality at scale, so that we are defined not by how many students we exclude, but by how many we include."



Natural History Museum shared visitor data with Meta

04 Apr 2022

The Natural History Museum shared visitor data with Meta during the pandemic.

A Freedom of Information Act request by the Telegraph found data entered into online booking forms - including names, addresses and phone numbers - was shared with the parent company of Facebook and Instagram,

The museum logged 702,900 visits through its Covid-19 booking system, 140% more data entries during the pandemic than prior.

Information made available to Meta was “pseudonymised”, the museum said, and used to target advertising communications and identify new users likely to be interested in its content.

The process is legal but has been criticised by online privacy activists. Open Rights Group campaigner Jim Killock said the online booking system “hoovered up data”.

“The pandemic is not an excuse to collect anything and everything. There are continued risks of drifting into a surveillance society, and cultural institutions should ensure they play no part in that.”

Dating app for theatre lovers to launch

04 Apr 2022

A dating app for those looking for a special theatre companion will go live at the end of April.

Courtyard Courting, developed by Hereford arts centre The Courtyard, is equipped with an algorithm designed to match users based on theatre genres they are interested in, as well as the frequency of theatre visits, their age and location.

Discounts will be available on selected films and live shows for users who matched via the app.

Courtyard Digital Marketing Officer Leah Adkins said the app is “like Tinder for theatre fans”.

“First dates can be daunting, and we’re pleased to be able to provide a safe environment for singles to meet and bond over their passion for the arts.”

Older people: culture, community, connection

23 Mar 2022

What’s the impact of cultural participation in later life, and how do we capture its value? Helen Manchester explores what the research tells us. 

Reigniting my frazzled brain: the fight against impact fatigue

23 Mar 2022

For a busy, freelance arts professional, carving out the time to attend yet another event can be difficult and sometimes not worth the effort. But, as Rebekka Kill found out, this one was different.

UK recorded music worth £1.3bn

23 Mar 2022

The UK's recorded music industry was worth £1.3bn last year, keeping its title as the world's third-largest music market, the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) reports.

Trailing the US and Japan, it experienced 13.2% growth in revenues in 2021 - slower than the global average of 18.5%.

Recorded music revenues grew in every region, with the Middle East and North Africa and Latin America outpacing the rest of the world (35% and 31% growth respectively).

Streaming was unsurprisingly behind most of the increase, contributing 65% of recorded music revenues.

NI care home project reached 900 people

09 Mar 2022

900 older people benefitted from an Arts Council of Northern Ireland programme in care homes last year.

The funder reports the fifth iteration of its scheme helped reduce isolation and loneliness and promote mental wellbeing. About half of the programme's projects delivered at least some of their work online, making it more widely available than it had been previously.

First piloted in 2009, it is a core National Lottery-funded programme worth £109,000 in 2021 and more than £2m over its lifespan.

"We know that taking part in arts activities can raise self-esteem, confidence and motivation, as well as help to relieve stress, worries and pain," Arts Programme Officer Lorraine Calderwood said.

An evaluation report this week demonstrates the scheme's positive effects and the "swift, innovative thinking" of those who delivered it, Calderwood added.



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