Covid-19 response

Data-driven vision for City Region’s creative sector

Data-driven innovation and technology are the keys to helping the creative sector in Edinburgh and its surrounding area recover from the effects of Covid-19, a new report suggests.

The paper recommends more support and urges businesses, trade bodies, and entrepreneurs to engage with data in order to rebuild the creative sector.

The report, led by University of Edinburgh experts, is the result of a two-year consultation with the creative sector, focusing on data capability and potential for innovation in the creative and cultural industries.

Edinburgh Festivals

Compounded by the cancellation of the Edinburgh Festivals in August, the sector is among the worst-hit by the pandemic. Trade bodies have reported varying degrees of loss of income, ranging from one-third up to an entire drop-off.

Experts suggest that creative and cultural practitioners require a range of help to harness the potential of data for creative or business benefit.

The team behind the report recommend a range of measures, including support to draw out value from data, research into new modes of engagement and transaction with audiences, customers and clients, and harnessing data-driven creative technology.

City Deal

In response, the Data-Driven Innovation (DDI) initiative, which is led by the University of Edinburgh on behalf of the Edinburgh and South East City Region Deal, affirmed its commitment to the creative sector.

DDI aims to provide the region’s creative industries with workshops, demonstrations and seminars on emerging data-driven technology, insights about the potential of data, and innovation support including access to academic research, business development, and funding opportunities.

It will also provide a creative space, to test and experiment with digital technology and equipment, and to give creative partners the opportunity to test new experiences with potential audiences.

The University has dedicated its new Edinburgh Futures Institute (EFI) to developing the data knowledge and innovation of the creative industries, festivals and tourism, financial services, public sector and future infrastructure.

The creative and cultural sector in the city region have been severely impacted by the coronavirus crisis. This has intensified the need for data and digital skills we observed during the consultation. To support their digital pivot and creation of new audience engagements will require the best possible innovation support.

Caroline ParkinsonReport author; Creative Sector Lead, Data-Driven Innovation, the University of Edinburgh

Culture Counts fully supports the recommendation to discuss and finesse the innovation support for Creative Entrepreneurs within the context of data innovation. The cultural sector is low on valuable data, the sector requires support to increase knowledge of the importance of data-design at an early stage; to better understand ethical approaches to using data and to provide incentive and encouragement for entrepreneurs to take educated risks and therefor, support from the DDI is very welcome.

Jennifer HunterDirector, Culture Counts

For a long time, data and the creative industries were not seen as symbiotic. Now, there is no question that getting the most from data requires artistic and unconventional thinking and the brightest minds of the creative industries.

From now on, we need to be investing as much as we can in making data skills training more accessible in the creative fields. It is something the DMA considers pivotal for the successful growth of our industry. The proposals of this white paper expertly ties business and entrepreneurial support with pedagogical input that will set us on the right path to achieving the ambitious targets of the DDI, and Scotland’s creative industry more widely.

Firas KhnaisserChair, Data & Marketing Association Scotland

This timely report not only sets out a vision for Data-Driven Creative Industries across Edinburgh and regions, but it provides the stepping-stones to achieving it. In doing so it places Scotland at the cusp of a vital opportunity to energise all sectors from advertising to craft, design to music, and performing arts to publishing, placing the nation at the forefront of international creative innovation.

Chris SpeedReport co-author; Director of Creative Informatics Cluster, & Director of Innovation, Edinburgh Futures Institute, the University of Edinburgh

Related Links 

Culture Counts

Data and Marketing Association Scotland

City Region Deal