Engaging Audiences Through Immersive Technology

“In what new ways might arts institutions engage audiences through immersive experiences?”

hat’s the million-dollar question. Or near enough. There is $750,000 in funding on offer for arts institutions — as well as technologists, companies and artists partnering with arts institutions — looking to answer it.

The grants are being offered by the Knight Foundation for ideas that demonstrate the ability of immersive technologies, such as virtual and mixed reality, to strengthen audience engagement.

“Arts institutions need more knowledge to move beyond just experimenting with these technologies to becoming proficient in leveraging their full potential.” Says Knight director Chris Barr.

To help them do this, winners will receive a share of $750,000 in funding, and optional technical support from Microsoft, including mixed-reality coaching, mentorship and technology access and training, as well as the opportunity to be featured across Microsoft marketing channels.

“We’re incredibly excited to support this open call for ways in which technology can help art institutions engage new audiences,” says Mira Lane, Partner Director Ethics & Society at Microsoft. “We strongly believe that immersive technology can enhance the ability for richer experiences, deeper storytelling, and broader engagement.”

The new call for ideas is part of Knight Foundation’s arts and technology focus, which aims to help arts institutions better meet changing audience expectations and use digital tools to help people better experience and delight in the arts.

“When done right, life-changing experiences can happen at the intersection of arts and technology,” said Victoria Rogers, Knight Foundation vice president for arts speaking at the initiative’s launch at the Gray Area Festival in San Francisco. “Our goal through this call is to help cultural institutions develop informed and refined practices for using new technologies, equipping them to better navigate and thrive in the digital age.”

The Foundation’s goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, something it believes is essential in a healthy democracy. To achieve this, they invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers.

Last year, Knight made a $600,000 investment in twelve projects designed to harness the power of technology to engage people with the arts. Most recently, Knight launched the “On View” podcast, which examines how museums and cultural institutions are evolving to keep pace with a changing world.

In the week since the announcement, the call has attracted quite a lot of attention:

“In just one week’s time, the call for ideas has already garnered immense interest in the arts and technology fields. Our initial informational webinar was booked to capacity — 200 attendees — in just a day. This positive response reflects the momentum around exciting opportunities happening at the intersection of culture and tech. We’re thrilled by this interest and hope to see a wide-range of projects equipping arts institutions to better engage audiences with new technologies.”

Successful projects will address one of the following areas or related concepts:

  • Engaging new audiences: How might arts institutions use immersive experiences to better welcome and engage new and diverse audiences?
  • Building new service models: How can institutions design pleasant and efficient audience experiences that avoid clunky interactions with technology?
  • Expanding beyond walls: In what new ways can arts institutions use immersive immersive technology to reach people beyond their physical space?
  • Distribution to multiple institutions: How can immersive experiences become more portable and be presented easily at multiple institutions?

Those interested in applying can do so until August 12 and learn more about it here. Recipients will be announced in late fall 2019.

Tech Trends offers a broad range of Digital Consultancy services to guide companies, individuals and brands in effectively leveraging existing and emerging technologies in their business strategy.

Alice Bonasio is a VR and Digital Transformation Consultant and Tech Trends’ Editor in Chief. She also regularly writes for Fast Company, Ars Technica, Quartz, Wired and others. Connect with her on LinkedIn and follow @alicebonasio on Twitter.

Technology writer for FastCo, Quartz, The Next Web, Ars Technica, Wired + more. Consultant specializing in VR #MixedReality and Strategic Communications

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