The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has announced grants totaling $600,000 in support of efforts to harness technology to engage people in the arts.
Awarded through the Knight Prototype Fund, which supports the quick development and testing of innovative, early-stage ideas, grants of $50,000 each will fund a dozen projects aimed at developing new, potentially replicable strategies for helping cultural organizations adapt and thrive in the digital era. The projects will have nine months to create or refine a prototype of their idea, during which time project leaders will have an opportunity to convene and test their ideas before sharing their prototypes in April 2019.
Recipients include the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, whose ArtsESP project will develop forecasting software that enables cultural institutions to make data-centered decisions in planning their seasons and events; the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University, in collaboration with People's Light, which will work to make theater and performance art more accessible through augmented reality technology; Monument Lab, whose Civic Portal will give members of the public a digital tool they can use to suggest new types of historic monuments; and Wikimedia District of Columbia, in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution, whose Wiki Art Depiction Explorer will use crowdsourcing methods to improve Wikipedia descriptions of artworks in major collections.
"There is no textbook detailing how the cultural sector should adapt to keep pace with — and benefit from — rapidly evolving technology innovations," said Chris Barr, director of arts and technology at the Knight Foundation. "These experiments will help fill this knowledge gap and provide lessons learned for connecting people to the arts through technology."