Digitally come dancing: UWE's creative partnerships win national arts funding

Issue date: 13 February 2013

Somerset Youth Dance Company

Collaborations in digital media and dance between UWE Bristol and leading arts organisations and technology partners in the West have just won funding from a prestigious national arts research programme.

One of the UWE collaborations is with Knowle West Media Centre (KWMC) and technology giant IBM. The second is with dance development agency Pavilion Dance South West and Mobile Pie, whose location-based gaming app encourages the public to geo-tag films of themselves dancing.

UWE's double success means it has two of the first nine projects to benefit from the £7 million Digital R&D Programme for the Arts. Funded jointly by Nesta, the Arts Council England (ACE) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the fund supports research aimed at finding out how digital technology can be used to reach new audiences and explore new business models in the arts.

Dr Seth Giddings from UWE's Digital Cultures Research Centre, who is working with Pavilion Dance South West and Mobile Pie, said, “The idea is to develop an app to encourage more people to dance and to reach people who wouldn't classify themselves as dancers.

“Users will video themselves dancing in a specific location which they will tag. They will upload the video to a microsite, view, share and rate other videos, challenge other users or retag locations. A supporting website will enable deeper engagement with the dance sector, providing information about local dance providers, dancers, companies and venues. Users could receive messages about events close by such as a hip hop class or flamenco performance.”

Based in South Bristol, Knowle West Media Centre's innovative media projects contribute to cultural, social and economic regeneration in the area. The partnership between UWE, KWMC and IBM will focus on 'activism and arts' and encourage young people to experiment with live and open data.

Sam Thomson, Associate Head of UWE's Department of Creative Industries, said, “This funding underlines the shared value of partnerships that UWE has with arts, technology and cultural organisations, which are leading to innovation, development of opportunities and impact on society.”

Penny Evans, Assistant Director of Knowle West Media Centre, said, "We are very pleased to be chosen as one of the first generation of projects for the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts and excited to work with UWE and IBM. Over the next year, young people will experiment with live and open data through creative projects that focus on their communities. We hope to create an easy-to-share open data 'toolkit' with others - and through research develop a better understanding of the way technology can be employed within an activism and arts model."

Regional Producer Zannah Doan said, "Pavilion Dance South West are seizing the opportunity to work with Mobile Pie and Dr Giddings to produce this app and see how people play with it. Each partner brings their unique expertise to the table and our aim is to produce an enjoyable dance game app which enables users to dance more and to see more dance. We'll then share our findings so that this concept can be considered by other art forms."

For more information on the fund please click here.

For more information on studying in UWE's Department of Creative Industries please see the website.

Photo credit: Somerset Youth Dance Company

The Digital R&D Fund is funded by NESTA, Arts & Humanities Research Council and the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

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