Media Release: £400k helps fund Scottish arts sector capitalise on digital tech opportunities


FROM today, Wednesday 4th July, 2012, Scotland’s arts, culture and heritage organisations are invited to apply for investment to capitalise on opportunities presented by digital technologies.

Over £400,000 is available through AmbITion Scotland’s new Make:IT:Happen fund which goes live today Wednesday 4th July, 2012 via the project’s website.

The Make:IT:Happen fund is part of the national digital development programme, AmbITion Scotland and has been created to help organisations to grasp the opportunities presented by digital technologies in order to grow business capability, capacity, creativity and confidence in these areas.

Make:IT:Happen funding offers support through four digital investment strands:

AmbITion Approach (up to £5,000) supports organisations during the early stages of their digital development by providing an external specialist to help them assess and develop a wide-reaching strategy for organisational change.

Digital Content Development (£500-£10,000) gives organisations the opportunity to enhance their digital development activity through the creation, or better use of digital content.

Organisational Development (£500-£10,000) supports organisations to take advantage of digital technologies to grow their businesses, develop ideas and improve operational capacity.

Sustainable AmbITion (£500 – £5,000) supports organisations to be carbon-aware and improve their green credentials through funding new digital technologies or approaches.

Make:IT:Happen funding can be used to support a project in its entirety or to augment a bigger digital ambition. Funds are available to not for profit arts, culture and heritage groups and organisations with relatively little or no digital knowledge/experience as well as well as to those that have some competence with digital projects, but limited resources.

Hannah Rudman, lead consultant, AmbITion Scotland said: “The Make:IT:Happen funding strands have been specifically designed to support organisations adapt to the social, cultural, economic and environmental changes that the digital technology revolution is driving.

She continued: “Given the successes that have already been achieved through AmbITion Scotland’s work in this area with some of Scotland’s creative community, we’re looking forward to continuing an inspiring and rewarding digital journey.”

The Make:IT:Happen fund has evolved out of the work that AmbITion Scotland has undertaken since its inception on 2009.  During that time, the project has enabled many organisations, large and small, digitally sophisticated as well as digital newcomers, to develop their businesses through opportunities offered by digital technologies.

Julie Tait, director, Culture Sparks said: “Our experience has been that it’s easily accessible and focussed support that allow fresh ideas in the digital world to take shape rapidly. The Make:IT:Happen fund is responsive and offers a unique opportunity for arts, culture and heritage organisations to test out their aspirations for creativity and growth and to meet the insatiable demand from the public to interact with them in this way.”

To follow is a cross section of responses from organisations all over Scotland who have worked with AmbITion Scotland:

Lesley Anne Rose, creative producer, of Edinburgh based theatre company Stellar Quines said:  “It’s fair to say that a couple of years ago Stellar Quines was in the digital Dark Ages. Like many arts organisations we stumbled into our first AmbITion workshop wondering what all the digital fuss was about and what it had to do with live theatre. The workshop turned out to be a Eureka moment in the company’s history as we emerged with our heads spinning with a new found realisation of the potentials of a brave new digital world.

“We are now moving towards becoming a virtual hub for all those interested in women and theatre; delivering a series of creative digital labs where the interface between live theatre and the possibilities emerging through the virtual and digital worlds can be tested and to train ourselves and those who work with us in new skills, new outlooks and new understandings.”

The latest example of this is the company’s development of an experimental prototype – a 3D digitised version of their stage production, ANA – a first for Scottish theatre. With it they are researching whether 3D film can offer an artistic and commercially viable experience of live theatre.

Collaborating with Glasgow’s Digital Design Studio, Edinburgh Napier University’s Institute for Creative Industries and Freakworks film production company, Stellar Quines has now created a prototype and following an initial test screening of extracts to an invited audience, Dundee Contemporary Arts is now working with Stellar Quines to create a Digital Cinema Package out of this prototype which will be screened at DCA and in Scotland’s mobile cinema (the Screen Machine).

Working with AmbITion to develop digital content, Glasgow based and digital technology savvy Glasgow based Cryptic arts company have been able to enhance the audience experience of Cryptic events by offering personalised digital ‘Cryptic Treats’ using digital QR codes.

Cryptic’s Sarah Harrison said: “AmbITion Scotland has given Cryptic the support, expert advice and time to formulate and investigate a digital project which perfectly encapsulates the company’s mission to use digital technologies innovatively.  The project is enabling Cryptic to engage more with international audiences and support the work of emerging artists, whilst ensuring that the company remains at the forefront of the use of digital technologies in the arts.”

Ed Robson, artistic director, Cumbernauld Theatre commented: “AmbITion directly enabled Cumbernauld Theatre to enter the 21st Century – for the first time we were able to sell tickets online, to fully understand the potential and make use of web 2.0 technologies/social media developments, and to be able to manage and respond to our audience quickly and with more knowledge and skill.

“In the last 18 months Cumbernauld Theatre has transformed its use of Information Technology and as a result has a stronger and more active online communication relationship and sales presence that is directly engaging audiences on a daily basis.

“Whilst the financial investment was crucial, the support and skills base that the Company also received will be fundamental going forwards in our ability to now deliver new and growing audiences.”

Julian Forrester, director of Argyll and Bute-based Cove Park, said: “AmbITion has given Cove Park the ability to communicate faster, better and in new ways. It led us to thinking carefully about what we in particular needed. It then gave us a consultant of great ability to work with who set up programmes suited to us and then trained us in their use with patience and humour.

“This is the sort of practical help of inestimable value to a small organisation which in normal circumstances could not easily access digital development at this level.”

Commenting on the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s experience of working with AmbITion Scotland, Chris Willshaw, Online Marketing Specialist said: “In partnership with the AmbITion Scotland we have been able to create Broadcast – our online hub where audiences can experience life at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

“By training staff and students as digital content creators we have created a wealth of new digital content – (performances, behind the scenes interviews and masterclasses), which we distribute through our social media channels. Our improved digital culture has had a significant impact through three key areas of student recruitment, audience development and increased institutional reputation.”

“By training staff and students as digital content creators we have created a wealth of new digital content – (performances, behind the scenes interviews and masterclasses), which we distribute through our social media channels. Our improved digital culture has had a significant impact through three key areas of student recruitment, audience development and increased institutional reputation.”

Iain Munro, director of Creative Development, Creative Scotland said: “Make:IT:Happen is another step in ensuring Scotland’s cultural sector has a sustainable digital infrastructure and is able to utilise the potential of new digital technologies. Creative Scotland has developed partnerships with NESTA, AmbITion Scotland and Sync through our Cultural Economy programme to ensure this is realised. We hope that organisations across Scotland make full use of what’s on offer through this innovative programme.”

There are five application periods between July 2012 and September 2013 as follows:

  • July – September 2012 (decisions by 30 October 2012)
  • October – December 2012 (decisions by 31 January 2013)
  • January – March 2013 (decisions by 30 April 2013)
  • April – June 2013 (decisions by 31 July 2013)
  • July – September 2013 (decisions by 30 October 2013)

Applications for the first phase of funding opens today, Wednesday 4th July, 2012 and each of the four digital development funding strands has its own individual application deadline date:

  • AmbITion Approach: 2 September 2012
  • Digital Content Development: 19 August 2012
  • Organisational Development: 16 September 2012
  • Sustainable AmbITion: 30 September 2012

Whilst organisations are able to apply to one Make:IT:Happen funding strand during each application period, it is possible however to apply to the other Make:IT:Happen funding strands, or re-apply to the same fund if not initially successful, in subsequent application periods. In this way it is possible to apply to all of the funds at some point, which can help groups to achieve incremental digital growth.

The decision making process is a mix of closed assessment by a panel of individuals who have a wide range of expertise in digital developments within the arts, culture and heritage sector and will draw on the experience of individuals and advisors who have been instrumental to AmbITion Scotland’s work since 2009.

AmbITion Scotland will also be trialing a participatory Peer Review method of decision making for applications to the Digital Content Development funding strand.

Funded by The National Lottery via Creative Scotland (as part of Creative Scotland’s Cultural Economy programme), the AmbITion Scotland progranme and the  Make:IT:Happen initiative are designed and delivered by Culture Sparks and Rudman Consulting.

Full Make:IT:Happen information, funding guidelines and application forms at:

Notes to Editors

1.AmbITion Scotland is a digital development programme specifically designed to support individuals and organisations working in the arts, culture and heritage sectors in Scotland. It helps organisations and individuals grow in their capability, capacity, creativity and confidence to make the most of the opportunities of digital technologies.

AmbITion helps organisations become digitally fitter so they can adapt to the social, cultural, and economic changes of the digital technology revolution.

AmbITion Scotland is supported by The National Lottery through Creative Scotland, and is a core piece of Creative Scotland’s Cultural Economy Programme. AmbITion Scotland works strategically with digital programme 2012 partners NESTA and Sync to offer a range of opportunities for digital learning and development, experimentation, and innovation to the Scottish cultural sector

2. Creative Scotland is the national development agency for the arts, screen and creative industries.  Our vision is that Scotland will be recognised as one of the world’s most creative nations – one that attracts, develops and retains talent, where the arts and the creative industries are supported and celebrated and their economic contribution fully captured; a nation where the arts and creativity play a central part in the lives, education and well-being of our population

The Year of Creative Scotland began on January 1, 2012 and is a chance to showcase, celebrate and promote Scotland’s cultural and creative strengths. Through a dynamic and exciting year-long programme of activity celebrating our world-class events, festivals, culture and heritage, the year puts Scotland’s culture and creativity in the international spotlight with a focus on cultural tourism and developing the events industry and creative sector in Scotland. More information about the programme can be found at: Year of Creative Scotland is a Scottish Government initiative led in partnership by EventScotland, VisitScotland, Creative Scotland and VOCAL.

Creative Scotland has created a programme that shows Scotland’s creativity at its best: contemporary, international and reflecting the joy that a vibrant cultural life brings to our communities. More details can be found here:

3Culture Sparks is the intelligence and innovation partnership for the cultural sector.  Creative organisations across Scotland work with us because we unlock innovation, encourage experimentation, promote collaboration and make knowledge about people as audiences, visitors, producers, participants and creators real.

4. Rudman Consulting helps organisations and individuals maximise the opportunities, minimise the risks, and manage the impacts of getting digital. We work to envision and build business models or rejuvenate and adapt existing ones, according to the opportunities of digital technologies.

For further information/images/interviews:

Wendy Grannon T: +44 (0) 07916 137 632 E:

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Contact: Wendy Grannon
Phone: 07916 137 632