Applications and their strengths
The fund was incredibly popular. From 100 applications with a total value of £4,204,695, 16 projects were shortlisted.
Generally, the quality of applications was high, with many applicants describing projects that built on their learning during lockdown and contributed to long-term aims. 32 of the applications scored in our top tier of assessment and had a combination of the features below.
Several of the shortlisted projects offer genuine and leading digital innovation. These projects will develop new technologies to reach clearly defined underrepresented audiences.
They include robust testing, evaluation and dissemination that means that the sector will learn from leading practice on the application of digital innovations in a museum context.
Importantly, while these applications often work with a creative or digital partner to stimulate innovation, the museum’s understanding of who it wants to engage, and why, is central to the project. In these cases, the creative use of digital technology stands out, but it is underpinned by targeted audience engagement.
As with all our funding at the MA, we looked at the context of the applying organisation. Therefore, several projects on our shortlist focus more on innovation and engagement that is a step change for the individual museum.
For example, an applicant may cite technology that has been used by museums before, but they also make a compelling case for how they will use it, how it will engage people and how it is an achievable and sustainable approach.
It is often easier to see how these projects contribute to long term development as an evolution of how the museum works. And these projects are more likely to have community partners. We might characterise these applications as having a values-led approach to widening participation and supporting communities that is delivered using digital technologies.
A feature that ran through all our high-scoring applications was that they empowered audiences to be researchers and innovators. By a variety of means, projects will use digital technologies to facilitate people to discover knowledge, opinion and creativity for themselves.
They will also research and innovate with defined underrepresented audiences; using digital platforms to share varied perspectives for the benefit of wide audiences.