During Covid, most museums hugely increased their digital engagement. The Museums Association (MA) and the Art Fund adapted their grant funding and saw a big rise in applications for digital projects, with all funds oversubscribed. The projects proposed ranged from finding innovative ways to engage audiences with collections to looking at income generation through digital platforms.
Organisations had differing levels of experience in the digital world. But all applications represented a rapid response to changing circumstances, providing us with plenty of data about the digital divide within the sector and the potential of digital to reach new audiences.
The MA and the Art Fund believe their grants can benefit the sector more widely, with successful projects being examples of best practice and applications providing insight into trends and sector needs. So we are embarking on a joint research initiative to explore the projects we funded, and to analyse the applications received.
Cultural Associates Oxford and consultant One Further will use an action-learning based approach. The work will showcase organisations with digital approaches that work well, reflect on the rapid digital pivot and its impact for audiences, and create resources to help the sector harness the potential of digital and hybrid delivery.
Sarah Briggs is the collections development officer at the Museums Association