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Innovation Fund for Digital Development of the Cultural Sector

The Innovation Fund will provide funding for the digital development of the cultural sector. In the spirit of a discursive cultural policy, the first step will be the identification of the status quo and the demands through a moderated dialogue process, which particularly emphasizes the exchange between institutions at state and district levels, the In-dependent Scene, the culture administration and further stakeholders.
In cooperation with protagonists from the cultural sector, we will conduct a hands-on assessment of the domains the fund should make financial resources available to, which domains have most to gain and which partnerships should sensibly be estab-lished. The knowledge and experience gained in this process will be incorporated into strategic projects and tested in depth before firm funding guidelines can be formulated.

Starting Point

The establishment of an Innovation Fund is stipulated by the coalition agreement and the governmental policy guidelines. Further, audience development by digital means is an important cultural policy objective of the European Union.

The goal of digital development in the cultural field exceeds mere “digitization” in the sense of producing digital copies of analog cultural heritage. Frequently, it even requires the presence of already digitized content as its base. Rather, digital development extends to all realms of work and activity in the cultural sector and requires digital means to be integrated into an overarching strategy for the field.
The Innovation Fund will focus on the use of digital solutions when modernizing opera-tive processes, such as mediation, editing and interaction. A further focal point is the subsequent use of existing digitized content.

The budget allocates an amount of € 250,000 (2018) and € 500,000 (2019) for the development of the funding guidelines.

Strategic Approach

The aim of the Innovation Fund is to promote digital awareness and affinity of cultural actors, i.e. their willingness and ability to embrace the opportunities, requirements and constraints of the digital change in economy and society. The starting point is and will remain to be their own guiding principles, which extend in particular to their digital users and visitors. This eventually allows for them to perceive the digital space as a field of action to utilize freely.

Vision

In our vision, cultural protagonists consistently take digital means into account and develop and implement their own digital strategies. In doing so, they unlock the potential of technical development and help to achieve the broadest possible participation in (state-funded) cultural activities.

Mission Statement

The emphasis of said digital development of the cultural sector lies on the prospective visitors. In the cultural sector, digital development means knowing and using the culture, practices, processes and technologies of the internet era in order to

  • perform existing and upcoming tasks better or more economically,
  • meet increased expectations, and
  • be able to achieve one’s own goals better.

Technology is not an end in itself. It should under no circumstances replace the aura of the original or the successful forms of analog culture. Rather, digital development tends to add a new permanent responsibility alongside the usual tasks. Here, the concept of innovation does not call for change on a global scale, but should rather be understood in the sense of “modernization”.

Strategic Questions

The virtual and the physical unite and form equal entities. The digital and the analog are no opposites; they interlock like cogwheels within the same transmission. Digital progress provides ubiquitous access to information. Thus, recipients are actively in-volved in the creation of opinions and knowledge. They increasingly appear as “prosumers”, i.e. professional consumers who navigate through the multimedia space by clicking, scanning, seeing, reading and listening. Consequently, the intake of infor-mation and impressions is not limited to being linear and predetermined, but rather flexible, i.e. individual, selective and on demand. This consideration gives rise to the following strategic questions:

  • What influence does digital progress have on the cultural sector?
  • What do we mean today and what will we mean in the future when we refer to a museum, a gallery, the theatre or a project space?

Opportunities and Potential

Linear approaches to intermediation can, where appropriate, be broken up or supplemented by discursive and participatory elements. Digital development opens up the scope for innovative contextualization, new possibilities of communication and reception as well as new ways to access culture. In particular, it can help to reach new target audiences, among these younger people, more spatially dispersed people, people with disabilities, non-native people, etc. Further, digital development preserves the interpretative sovereignty of the cultural realm through visibility, scope and broad impact.
Traditional categories and successful formats of cultural mediation will not be disposed of. Neither do we intend to develop a substitute for a personal visit to a cultural institution. Instead, digital development strengthens cultural institutions in their function as a meeting place. Experiences of digitally advanced institutions show that there is no reason to fear an “emigration to the internet”.

The two Cornerstones of Digital Development in the Cultural Sector

Cornerstone 1: Digital Awareness and Digital Affinity

The Innovation Fund aims at promoting the digital awareness and digital affinity of cul-tural protagonists to effect that digital activities are increasingly considered as a self-evident additional task. To this end, workshops and networking events, as well as dis-cussions with stakeholders of Berlin’s cultural landscape, will be organized to establish relevant partnerships.
These medium-term activities create the basis for what is supposed to become a permanent range of services.

Cornerstone 2: Funding Program for Digital Development Measures

As part of the second cornerstone, we will launch strategic projects to test new formats with digital technologies and to reveal the potential of digital development.
Medium term: Implementation of a funding program with adequate financial resources in order to fund sustainable measures that can function as valuable examples.

Implementation

The Senate Department for Culture and Europe has found a partner in the Technologiestiftung Berlin, who will carry out the exploration process described above. The foun-dation will take over the operative business in close cooperation with the Senate Department for Culture and Europe. This work will strategically involve a broad target group of protagonists from state- and district-sponsored cultural institutions, as well as from the Independent Scene, whose professional expertise it draws on.
In order to allow for direct contact between the independent scene and the Technologiestiftung Berlin, a contact form is provided at technologiestiftung-berlin.de

Following the initial needs analysis, we will use workshops and design sprints to develop prototypes and recommendations for the Senate Department’s best course of action when setting up the Innovation Fund. The focus here lies on finding transferable ap-proaches that can be used by a number of institutions and protagonists.
A conference on digital development in the cultural sector, taking place on December 5th 2018 in Berlin, is supposed infuse our process with practical examples, new insights and ideas.

A microsite at kultur-b-digital.de serves as a central platform for the documentation of ideas, (interim) results, best practice examples and appointments.

Demand-driven Funding Program

The Senate Department for Culture and Europe will incorporate the findings from the exploration process described above into full-fledged funding guidelines to form a demand-driven funding program with adequate financial resources from 2020 onwards. It will be subject to an indicator-based evaluation and, if necessary, will have to be revised with regard to its direction, objectives and choice of instruments.