About: Project

Community-powered transformations

A research network exploring digital transformations in the creative relationships between cultural and media organisations and their users

Funded by the AHRC Digital Transformations in Arts and Humanities programme

A generation ago, cultural and media organisations – such as the BBC or the National Gallery – had a reasonably straightforward relationship with their audiences. They created material – such as TV programmes, publications and exhibitions – in a ‘broadcaster’ mode, and it was consumed (or not) by the public.

But today, these organisations are merely one part of a creative ecosystem, within which communities of amateur enthusiasts may be the producers of the most innovative material.

This project studies those changing relationships, and explores ways in which cultural organisations can work with creative communities to make great things.

This network will explore digital transformations in the creative relationships between cultural and media organisations, and their communities of users.

Digital transformations mean that cultural and media organisations now find themselves in a new environment in which communities of participants interact to create, curate, organise and support cultural experiences. This research network draws together participants who believe that creative organisations need to explore the new relationships, new opportunities and new research questions created by digital transformations.

The network will explore and investigate the opportunities, affordances and risks of this model through a network with world-leading partners, based around four themes: Production and creativity; Business models, rights and ownership; Design; and Learning.

The proposal brings together the Communications and Media Research Institute (CAMRI) at the University of Westminster, and the UCL Centre for Digital Humanities, with some of the UK’s leading institutions in digital engagement: Tate, The British Library, and MuseumNext. It will engage with a broad array of companies and organisations, large and small, who are dealing with digital transformations in different ways, including Amnesty International, the Open Rights Group, Mixcloud, Festival Productions, the Children’s Media Foundation, and others.

The project will exchange knowledge about, and explore the benefits and limitations of, the various projects run by network members to engage with a community of interested users via digital services, and will consider how these digital community activities can be supported and sustained. It will also establish a set of research questions which should be explored in the next phase of the Digital Transformations programme.

Principal Investigator: Professor David Gauntlett, University of Westminster.

Co-Investigators: Professor Jeanette Steemers, Dr Paul Dwyer, and Dr Anastasia Kavada, University of Westminster.
Professor Claire Warwick and Dr Melissa Terras, University College London.

Network Co-ordinator: Didem Ozkul.

Lead partners: Tate, The British Library, MuseumNext.

Project runs: February – August 2012