Impact Ideas


Digital Technology in the Arts Report

Written by Marliese Andexer 13 / 01 / 2015

In December the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts released Digital Culture 2014, its second annual report on the use of digital technology in the arts. The survey looks at pertinence to organisational functions and effectiveness of individual digital activities, and includes breakdowns for the main subsectors*. Here we cherry pick a few of the more interesting findings and discuss what they mean for digital technology in the arts in 2015.

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The big picture is perhaps predictable: more organisations are using digital technologies more effectively than last year. Note however that the report qualifies this increased effectiveness as a consolidation of existing technologies, rather than adoption of more, or newer ones. Broadly speaking, organisations are getting better and what they were already doing, rather than trying more new things.


Importance of digital to different organisational functions (2013–2014)

A notable change from 2013 is a greater reliance on digital technology in generating new revenue streams. In 2014 51% of respondents said that digital technologies were important or essential to their business model. This was up from 34% the previous year and the largest YOY growth out of all the organisational functions reviewed**. The large growth in revenue generation was due in large part to the growth in online donations and crowd-funding, the survey shows.


The most significant growth for an individual digital activity was in paid search/online display. Although only 1 in 5 organisations are doing this at the moment, but an increase of 43% from last year suggests adoption will continue in 2015. Whether organisations are outsourcing these activities or finding the talent in house, we don’t know. The report finds that “over a third [of organisations] still feel that they do not have the in-house skills, IT systems or the necessary expert advice to meet their digital aspirations”.

The survey shows that social media efforts continue to expand, with 88% of organisations now publishing content on free platforms like YouTube and Facebook (projected to 92% in 2015). Moreover, while website visitation is still higher, organisations have found that social audiences are growing faster. Respondents noted that competition for attention in the online space is thickening, requiring them to spend more time on their presence.

“Visual arts organisations have almost doubled Facebook audiences from an average of 13,800 to 26,100 whilst theatres have increased Facebook audiences over 6 times from 1,200 to 7,700.”


For the distinctions among subsectors and business sizes, more information on individual activities, and detailed conclusions, you can read and download the full 2014 report here.

To talk to us about your own digital campaigns contact or call 0207 729 5978 today.

*Museums, Galleries, Performing Arts Venues, Performing Groups, Combined Arts Centres, Festival and Events †Only 40% of respondents from 2013 participated in the survey in 2014, so Year on year comparisons are only partially instructive.
‡Marketing, Preserving and Archiving, Operations, Creation, and Distribution

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