Fundraising is at the heart of the top three digital activities forecast to grow among arts and cultural organisations, according to the latest survey of technology use.

Photo of a sign advertising digital donations
The Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden at London's Southbank

Howard Lake (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Nearly three out of four arts organisations now recognise the value of digital technology in supporting their work, according to the latest findings from a 3-year study of how arts and cultural organisations in England use technology. 73% say that digital technology is having a major positive impact on their work this year, compared with 60% last year. Almost 1,000 organisations participated in the latest survey of the ‘Digital Culture’ research programme, which has found that the majority of those who responded are now consolidating their digital activities, which are having a greater impact on their work.

The research is being conducted through the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts, England’s £7m programme established by Nesta, Arts Council England and the Arts and Humanities Research Council to support experimentation with digital technologies in the arts. The 2014 findings reveal that significantly more organisations are using technology to generate new revenue streams, with more than half now seeing digital technologies as important to their business models. A 2010 study, also by report authors Hasan Bakhshi and David Throsby, suggested that organisations use technologies for activities ranging from reaching new audiences, generating new revenue streams, improving operating efficiency and generating entirely new forms of artistic experience; but the top three activities forecast to grow in 2015 all relate to fundraising. This includes using crowdfunding platforms to generate income for new projects, accepting online donations and selling products or merchandise online.

Despite the more widespread adoption of digital technologies, the survey found that the impact of digital technologies varied greatly across different parts of the sector, with relatively few finding that digital activity has had a major impact on their finances. Performing arts venues, and festivals and event organisers appear to be enjoying bigger impacts than museums and theatre companies. Overall, just 11% of arts and cultural organisations reported a major impact on their profitability.


Fact sheets have been published highlighting key findings for the six main sub-sectors included in the study:

Liz Hill