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New Australia Council research explains digital arts engagement

New Australia Council research explains digital arts engagement
July 6, 2021

New research released by the Australia Council for the Arts shows how people engage with the arts using digital technology and what this means for the cultural sector, now and into the future.

Acknowledging that digital engagement with the arts has been increasing over the past two decades and has accelerated with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the study, In Real Life: Mapping digital cultural engagement in the first decades of the 21st century, provides timely insights into how audiences use digital technology to engage with the arts.

The Sydney Opera House’s digital season, the Melbourne Digital Concert Hall and the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair are examples of how creative workers and institutions have adapted to present their work to audiences during pandemic restrictions.

Noting that the report highlights how the rapid digital shift poses significant policy and commercial challenges, Australia Council Chief Executive, Adrian Collette advised “we now have literally at our fingertips almost infinite possibilities to discover, connect, engage and create culture online. We have seen, particularly throughout the pandemic, how digital technologies have enabled more people to access the arts and cultural experiences.

“We also know these changes - that were already occurring and have been accelerated by the pandemic - have deep ramifications for the creative sector. There is a need to discuss and respond to key challenges - from creating sustainable business models to ensuring all Australians, particularly those with disability, older Australians and those in regional and remote communities, are able to access and benefit from creative participation.”

Conducted in partnership between the Australia Council for the Arts and the National Arts Council Singapore, the research will inform both councils’ research and strategies.

In Real Life adds to the Australia Council’s growing body of work on digital engagement, including the Audience Outlook Monitor research which is tracking audience sentiment and behaviour through the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as previous research on professional artists, arts participation, blockchain and music exports.

Highlights of the In Real Life study include:

  • Australians are increasingly engaging with the arts online - and the line between ‘artist’ and ‘audience’ is increasingly blurred due to the rise of participatory digital technologies.
  • Audience expectations are changing and now often include: the ability to insert oneself into the story, an artwork or an art experience; access to multiple lines of communication - with performers, audience members, and other participants.
  • For many people, the live experience is no longer just about ‘in-person’ attendance. It can mean experiencing art simultaneously with others and watching events unfold in real time.
  • Audience expectations now also include significant access to arts and culture for minimal cost. Digital technology has made it harder for copyright holders to exert control over artworks, but has also led to an expansion of options for sharing and remixing artistic content. New business models and consideration of copyright are required to secure remuneration for artists and creatives.
  • Digital technology provides potential for a wider range of people to participate in a greater variety of creative activities. But that doesn’t mean that everyone has equal access. Connectivity is unevenly distributed across socioeconomic groups, ages and geographic locations. And there are other barriers to online participation for some groups. The Australia Council has further work underway on access and inclusion in the digital sphere.

The research comes ahead of the release of the Australia Council’s Digital Cultural Strategy and the upcoming Arts Going Digital forum being held on 12th July.

Click here to view the full report on the Australia Council website.

Main image courtesy of the Van Gogh Alive immersive art experience.

Related Articles

2nd July 2021 - Advertising executive appointed new Chair for the Australia Council for the Arts

21st June 2021 - Australia’s largest Indigenous visual art event embraces hybrid delivery mode

28th May 2021 - Australia Council invests $2.4 million to support recovery of creative industries 

9th December 2020 - Van Gogh Immersive Art Experience continues to attract large crowds in Sydney

9th December 2020 - Latest Australia Council grants deliver $8.4 million to support 217 creative projects and cultural activities

11th November 2020 - Art experience promoter slams Governments for not releasing committed arts funding

26th August 2020 - Australia Council highlights the significance of arts and creativity for Australians

3rd April 2020 - Latest Australia Council funding announcements sees key organisations overlooked

2nd April 2020 - Google Arts and Culture offers virtual tours of museums and galleries during Coronavirus closures

19th December 2019 - Australia Council reveals new opportunities for contemporary music touring

18th October 2019 - Australia Council’s annual report shows impact of ‘modest investments in arts and creativity’

26th March 2019 - Tank Shanghai museum opens with displays from teamLab digital art

19th December 2018 - Australia Council announces investment in future arts leaders

1st November 2018 - Australia Council’s year in review highlights why arts matter

12th October 2018 - Australia Council announces new Chief Executive

10th September 2018 - World’s first digital art museum opens in Tokyo

6th April 2017 - Takapuna’s Bruce Mason Theatre to host permanent digital arts showcase


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