John Peel, the John Peel Centre for Creative Arts

ACE announces commissions for digital arts project

Rebecca Atkinson, 22.02.2012
Commissions will run across four digital platforms from May until October
A digital arts initiative funded by Arts Council England (ACE) includes an interactive online museum of DJ John Peel’s record collection and a partnership project between the the Philharmonia Orchestra and the Science Museum in London.

The Space is a digital service created by ACE in partnership with the BBC and running across four digital platforms from May until October.

ACE has committed up to £3.5m of funding to 53 commissions that will be available to audiences on PCs, smartphones, tablets and connected TVs. Individual “in principle” grants ranging from £15,000 to £185,000 have been awarded to the participating projects.

The successful commissions include a project run by the John Peel Centre for the Creative Arts to create an interactive online museum recreating the DJ’s home studio with his personal notes, home movies, contributors' stories and filmed interviews with his family and musicians he brought to the airwaves.

Another digital project, developed by the Philharmonia Orchestra in partnership with the Science Museum, will allow audiences to explore the individual role of each instrument within the orchestra through Gustav Holst's The Planets suite.

Tate has also been awarded funding to create 25 new films covering the best visual art events of 2012 across the country, while the Photographers’ Gallery in London is planning an interactive website to support The World in London, an interactive public art project featuring 204 portraits of Londoners.

Outside of London, a partnership between Inner City Music and Manchester Museum and Galleries will look at the highlights of a festival of west African contemporary arts, which takes place across the city’s museums and galleries from June until September.

The Space is designed to build the digital skills and capability of the arts and cultural sector. ACE estimates that only about 4% of its funded organisations currently create and produce high-quality digital content for a variety of digital platforms.

Alan Davey, chief executive of ACE, said the Space is one of the organisation’s most “significant interventions of recent years”.

“The Space will stimulate a dramatic step change in skills development, creative learning and collaboration,” he added. “It will inspire a great generosity of spirit among the participating organisations, with each of them committed to documenting and sharing the journey they all are taking together."

It is not clear what will happen to the project and the featured commissions after October. Although the participating organisations will be able to keep their commissions, Davey said no decision had been made whether the Space would continue as a digital platform.

Nearly 750 organisations made “expression of interest” applications to be part of the Space, with 111 projects shortlisted.

As well as the 53 commissions from across England that have been announced today, more projects from strategic arts bodies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are expected to be announced over the next few months.