In an article also published in this week’s print issue of The Stage, culture minister Ed Vaizey calls on arts organisations to further exploit the possibilities and revenue streams that new technologies offer
Earlier this year Michael Kaiser, the man who saved the Royal Opera House in the nineties, wrote in his blog on The Huffington Post that “arts organisations have been slow to exploit the power of new technology and cling to older, more expensive techniques that are not as effective. We are clearly doing something wrong.”
He’s right. The cultural sector is one of the most dynamic, most exciting and most innovative there is. Technology offers huge opportunities. I’m not talking about using technology to create digital art - we’ve got some of the best organisations in the world doing that - but about how culture is experienced and how it connects with the public.
Millions of people engage with culture first and foremost online. If I want to buy an album, a film or a computer game, I can do it all online, straight to my smartphone or tablet. I can use it there and then or tuck it away and listen/watch/play whenever it suits me.
The music industry is now reinventing itself to take advantage of this, and the cultural sector is beginning this journey. Digital Theatre already makes plays available for download, and some of our national museums are dabbling with smartphone apps. But this is just the tip of the iceberg - the potential is enormous.
As well as responsibility in government for the arts, I’m also responsible for media, broadband and the creative industries and the most exciting things I see are where those lines are blurred: Theatre Ninjas using an iPhone app to match up free tickets with audience members in Edinburgh, the Museumpreneurs website helping museums reach new people in new ways or Faber and Faber’s brilliant iPad app of TS Eliot’s The Waste Land, which is now outselling Marvel Comics on iTunes.