Cultural institutions will collaborate with businesses to develop new audience experiences using virtual or augmented reality.

Photo of child VR

Creative businesses and arts organisations will be supported to collaborate on new ideas for large-scale immersive experiences through a £17m Government fund.

Part of a programme supporting innovation in UK businesses, the fund aims to develop new audience experiences that have the potential to generate new revenue and investment.

The programme will support four ‘demonstration projects’ that develop virtual, augmented or mixed reality experiences for large public audiences. These could include visitor experiences in galleries, and music or theatre performances. The Government is encouraging proposals for projects that can work across multiple disciplines and contexts, including festivals.

“The demonstrator projects must explore new ways of communication with mass audiences using new immersive technologies and experiences that are a significant advance on the state of the art in the chosen area,” a Government spokesperson said.

Each demonstrator project will be awarded funding of up to 70% of its total cost, to a maximum of £4m. They will be delivered by consortia, which must be led by a business but can include universities and cultural institutions.

The intention is for the projects to be developed at the pre-commercial stage, and to deal with current and future rights issues. The consortia will be given access to advice and guidance on commercial and technical aspects of their projects.

In addition, £1m of the fund has been ringfenced for early-stage projects that respond to user needs. This could include work to lower the cost of high-quality immersive content, or make it more accessible.

The funding is part of the Government’s ‘audience of the future’ programme, which was announced in the Industrial Strategy last year.

Applications can be submitted until 1 August 2018 for projects starting by November.