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Launch of new audience data platform rescheduled for second time meaning it will be two months late.

People inside an auditorium
Cultural organisations will be required to supply a range of data to the new system

Pexels/Becerra Govea

Arts Council England (ACE) has said the launch of a new system for gathering audience data has been pushed back again following feedback from National Portfolio Organisations.

The Illuminate online data collection and analysis platform was due to be up and running on 1 April to coincide with the start of the new National Portfolio for 2023-26.

Platform developers PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) had already pushed this back to 16 May, blaming contracting issues. ACE has now said that, based on feedback received on the new system, changes will be made to it ahead of a new launch date of 1 June.


"Thank you to everybody who has taken the time to give us feedback about Illuminate," a statement published on ACE's on website said.

"We are committed to giving you the best experience when using the new platform, and want to act on your feedback wherever possible."

"We are actioning some of these changes ahead of the launch, rather than once the platform is up and running."

"Therefore Illuminate will now go live on Thursday 1 June rather than Tuesday 16 May as originally scheduled. We appreciate your support and feedback, and can’t wait to share it with you."

'Additional reviews'

ACE has also given further details about the "contracting delays" that led to the original launch date of 1 April being missed.

A spokesperson said contracting between ACE and PwC took "longer than anticipated" as additional reviews were required in light of the "complex technology and data procurement" involved, which impacted the start date and development time. 

"Subsequently, PwC have condensed their development time from an original seven months to five months to ensure NPOs experience minimal impact from the delay," the spokesperson said.

The contract for data insights work, which had previously been delievered by The Audience Agency as part of the National Portfolio, was put out for tender in April last year with ACE revealing in November that PwC had been selected for the three-year £1.6m contract.

Information arts and culture organisations will be expected to provide to the platform will include their total audience volumes, touring information, postcode, and demographic data for their audiences such as ethnicity, age, gender, disability, socio-economic background of their audience, as well as box office transaction data and survey findings.

Concerns have previously been raised that under the terms of the contract PwC may be able to use submitted data for commercial purposes, but updated guidance published by ACE has sought to reassure that there will be limitations to how the firm can interact with submitted data.