Council of digital arts

council of digital arts
A constituency of organisations, artists and practitioners who have been engaged in digital arts development
Letter to Arts Council England
Open Letter on the Development of Digital Culture in the UK

This letter, jointly drafted by a constituency of organisations, artists and practitioners who have been engaged in digital arts development in England, concerns digital culture and its importance to the wider UK arts ecology and economy. We the undersigned believe that clear national policies need to be developed to ensure that the UK can remain at the forefront of digital culture, globally, and that these must take account of the key role creative practices play in driving digital innovation.

Whilst we appreciate that digital technologies have created exciting opportunities to engage with audiences, and to disseminate and distribute arts programmes in new ways, it is critical that funders and policy-makers understand that this is not the extent of digital culture. If we are to make the most of the digital opportunity, it needs to be recognised at a national policy level that digital culture is about more than extending the reach of existing arts practices. It is about entirely new forms of production, expression, practice and critical reflection that digital technologies have made possible.

We are concerned about the place of art, creative practice, criticality and risk-taking in current and future funding policies. We are writing to you with two clear and immediate motivations:

1. We wish to engage policy-makers, and funders, such as Arts Council England, in a positive debate around future investment in digital culture. We understand from recent initiatives, such as the collaboration between Arts Council England and the BBC to build digital capacity in the arts, that a wide spectrum of stakeholders, investors and funders see development of this area as a priority. Arts Council England’s planned launch of the Digital Innovation Fund demonstrates further commitment. In this context of investment, which extends to the economy as a whole via bodies such as the Technology Strategy Board, we wish to present some thinking from the front-line of creative arts practice, ensuring that this remains at the centre of considerations; in a symbiotic not subordinate position to operations and distribution.

2. We seek to draw attention to the gap in digital provision that the transition from Arts Council England’s Regularly Funded Organisations (RFO) programme to the National Portfolio of Organisations (NPO) has brought about. The undersigned represent a broad range of organisations, and individuals, who have met with varying degrees of success in the new structure. We are however united in our shock at the loss of funding to so many organisations with long track records of fostering digitally engaged artistic practices, provision and support. These organisations, particularly those completely cut, including Access Space, ArtSway, DanceDigital, Folly, Four Corners Film, Isis Arts, Lovebytes, Lumen, Media Art Bath, Moti Roti, Mute, Onedotzero, Performing Arts Labs, Picture This, Proboscis, PVA MediaLab, The Culture Company and Vivid (as well as many others who received drastically reduced funding or were not included in the new portfolio) speak to a critical, self-reflexive approach to digital media technologies, which has been instrumental to their vitality and overall development. Whilst there will continue to be many organisations across art-forms experimenting successfully within the digital landscape, we wish to sound a note of deep concern around this disinvestment, which impacts us all.

As arts organisations and practitioners, we believe that art helps us make sense of the world we live in. We know, too, that digital technology is transforming our lives. Social networking, data visualisation, digital fabrication, geolocation and crowdsourcing, among many other phenomena, present us with new environments, languages, and capabilities, which we must engage actively and critically. If we are to become a digitally literate society, the public need a sound grasp of the contradictory nature of these forces, which create both opportunities and threats.

Digital culture is an expansive set of artistic practices and forms of enquiry that helps us to understand key social drivers. Its products – be they art works, exhibitions, performances, games, applications, publications, music or films – contribute to digital literacy across the board. We understand digital culture to be networked, hybrid, innovative, improvised, tactical, distributed, de-centralised, local, creative and skilled; and to cut across art-forms. It is not a small artistic niche of activity – rather a rapidly expanding, international, popular set of creative practices, which are swiftly becoming the cultural mainstream. The UK is at the forefront of digital culture internationally and we have much to be proud of. The global success of practitioners, such as Blast Theory, semiconductor, and Furtherfield, and the programmes of work commissioned and supported by AV Festival, FACT, and Animate, to name but a small handful, is testament to the international influence of UK practitioners.

Over a period of many years, these success stories were invested in, and fostered, by a group of small, innovative digital culture agencies who, together, created a distinct ecology – marked in very positive ways by the variety of its approaches, the diversity of its organisational models. And yet a large number of these were disinvested into in the recent funding round. As such, we are concerned about the ongoing vibrancy of the national digital culture ecology, and seek clarification from policy-makers and funders about how this vital form of contemporary creative practice is going to be invested in, going forward.

In light of current planning for future investment projects, such as the Digital Innovation Fund, and partnerships, such as those with BBC and NESTA, we have two key questions:

i) What is the Arts Council’s policy on digital culture?
Specifically, what is Arts Council England’s understanding of where artistic practice and critical culture reside in terms of investment in digital innovation?

ii) How much of the Digital Innovation Fund will be focused on artistic practice?

We ask these questions specifically of Arts Council England, as we applaud the progressive and outward looking agenda that it adopted by placing digital, innovation and risk-taking at the heart of Achieving Great Art For Everyone. We share Arts Council England’s conviction that these are essential to artistic development, connecting with audiences and ensuring the wider relevance of the arts. We are a group of organisations who pride ourselves on setting trends, breaking new ground and engaging with groups such as technologists, scientists and the creative industries. As pioneers recognised internationally in these areas, we believe there is a great opportunity for national policy makers to go further in defining ‘digital innovation’ and ‘risk taking’, by placing creative practice at the very heart of these definitions, and thus enabling the UK to continue to lead the field internationally. We hope that you will be able to assure us that the Digital Innovation Fund will be a step in this direction.

Finally, we would also appreciate further clarification from Arts Council England regarding the recent NPO funding decisions and their impact on the digital culture ecology in the UK, and its ability to remain at the international cutting-edge. We would appreciate a statement on the new portfolio, which explains who led the process of national balancing, who led in relation to digital culture, and an explanation on what the role of peer review was in the process.

As a broad constituency of people we would like to express our desire to work with national policy-makers and funders on positive outcomes from the present circumstances. We look forward to your response to this letter, and look forward to establishing dialogue about the future of digital culture in the UK.

Yours faithfully


(PLEASE NOTE YOUR EMAIL WILL NOT APPEAR ON THIS WEBSITE, IT IS USED FOR AUTHENTICATION ONLY – Due to the number of people wishing to sign this letter, it will remain open for signatures for at least another 24 hours. If your name has not appeared here then check your SPAM folder for the authentication email, particularly if you are in a University or using a BT/Yahoo address. You may leave comments below, thank you Roger Malina.)



E-mail address:


Do not display name on website:

Simon Worthington, Mute

Sarah Cook, the resource for curators of media art,

Professor Simon Biggs, Edinburgh College of Art

Gary Thomas, Animate Projects

David Rogers, PVA MediaLab

Prof Dew Harrison, Univeristy of Wolverhampton

Caroline Douglas,

Milena Placentile, Freelance curator

ann mccluskey, self

Kirsten Forkert,

Shane RJ Walter, onedotzero

Joe Gerhardt, Semiconductor

Ruth Jarman, Semiconductor

Honor Harger, Lighthouse

Jon Thomson, artist (Thomson & Craighead) and lecturer at The Slade School of Fine Art, University College London

Alison Craighead, artist (Thomson & Craighead) and lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London


Simon Poulter, Artist/Curator Metal

Vicki Bennett, People Like Us

Neil McGuire, Glasgow School of Art

leila galloway, Artiist, Senior Lecturer DMU

Mandy Rathbone, PVA MediaLab

Irini Papadimitriou, Watermans

Simon Yuill,

kamal ackarie, Forma arts and media

Matt Adams, Blast Theory

Nic Wistreich, Netribution

Tom Higham, Modular Projects

Andrew Waters, band-x Media

Susan Benn, Performing Arts Labs

Pauline van Mourik Broekman, Mute

Martin John Callanan, artist,

David Jacques, artist

Tom Cullen, artav

jamie allen, Culture Lab

Julianne Pierce, Blast Theory

Pat Naldi, Artist and lecturer at London South Bank University

Jennifer Stoddart, folly

Julie Penfold, PVA MediaLab/LabCulture Ltd

Michelle Hirschhorn, Independent Creative Producer


Robert Ayers,

susan jones, a-n The Artists Info Co


Carolina Vallejo, Design for the First World

Paul Brown, Artist and Writer

Victoria Bradbury, US-based artist

jaron rowan, yproductions

Alexa Wright, Artist, University of Westminster

Alessandro Ludovico, Neural

Renee Turner, The Piet Zwart Institute: Master Media Design and Communication: Networked Media

Jon Harrison, Lovebytes

Helen Sloan, SCAN

Alistair Gentry, artist and writer

Susan Collins, Artist and Director of the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London

James Arbon, Concerned member of public

xxxxxxxx, Tweak

Derek Hales, DRU/University of Huddersfield

Enrique Rivera Gallardo, PLataforma Cultura Digital

Matthew Fuller, Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths, University of London

Lynne Hall, University of Sunderland

Per Platou, PNEK

susan sloan, National Centre for Computer Animation

joseph crow, p1g1r0n

Josephine Bosma, critic, Amsterdam

Petr Svarovsky, KHiO

Stephen Boyd Davis, Lansdown Centre, Middlesex University

Lauren Healey, artist

Monika Vykoukal,

Òscar Martínez Ciuró, Trànsit Projectes

Dom Breadmore, Ludic Rooms

Alan Sekers,

Caroline Smith, independent arts consultant

Chris Hammond, Full Circle Arts

Janet Jennings, Lovebytes

Susan Kennard, Parks Canada

Andrew Deakin, Octopus

Ross Harvie, Proteus Theatre Company

Michelle Kasprzak, Editor-in-Chief,; Guest Curator, Cornerhouse

Chris Salter, Hexagram-Concordia/Montreal

Julie Freeman, Translating Nature

Taylor Nuttall, folly

Fee Plumley,

Christine Wilks, artist & writer

Mike Harman,

José Luis de Vicente, Medialab Prado / ZZZINC

xxxxxxxx, North East Photography Network

andrew garton, Toy Satellite

Paul Alexander Knox,

Drew Hemment, FutureEverything


Clive Gillman, artist and Director of Dundee Contemporary Arts

Vincent Van Uffelen, TINT

Andy Gracie, artist

Pierre Proske, Media Lab Melbourne

Francis Gomila, artist, curator

Iman Moradi,


Zach Lieberman, Parsons school of design

Gavin Starks, d::gen network

Memo Akten, Artist, The Mega Super Awesome Visuals Company

Stefan Hechenberger, Culture Lab, Newcastle University

Jerome Fletcher, Performance Writing UCF

Vicki Sowry, Australian Network for Art and Technology

Evangelos Kapros, Trinity College Dublin

Golan Levin, Carnegie Mellon University, USA

xxxxxxxx, HighWire DTC, Lancaster University

Eric Mika, ITP

Shiralee Saul, Media arts curator

Erich Berger, Artist, cultural worker

Jeff Instone,

Lise Autogena, Artist and lecturer at Newcastle University

Cllr Ros Kayes, Chair, Spirit of Bridport, Cultural Olympiad Events organisers,

Mónica Mendes, University of Lisbon

Rob Foddering, PVA MediaLab Associate Artist

Michael Kosmides, LabCulture Artist\\’

Eva Gloss, Antics Workshop

Jonathan Kemp, ap/xxxxx

Alan Kitching, Antics Workshop

Simon Roberts, Associate Artist/Musician

Karen Phillips, RUA RED South Dublin Arts Centre

Ira Lightman, artist

Nihal Yesil, artist

A. Adriaansens, V2_

Dinah Bird, artist,

Jen Southern, Artist/Lancaster University

Ben Dembroski, Artist, Electron Club

xxxxxxxx, PVA MediaLab Associate Artist

Dr David Cunningham, Institute for Modern and Contemporary Culture, University of Westminster

cleo evans, Associate Artist with PVA MediaLab

carolyn black, none- but concerned about PVA

Marc Yeats, PVA MediaLab

annet dekker, SKOR

Mark Daniels, New Media Scotland

David Griffiths, FoAM

James Wallbank, Access Space Network

Neil Mendoza,

Beryl Graham, University of Sunderland

xxxxxxxx, NA

Pedro Calero, AP Video

Karen Gaskill, Sheffield Hallam University

Jon Ardern, Superflux

Fin McMorran, Artist, & Lecturer School of Arts and Media, Teesside

Mathew Trivett, Trampoline: Agency for Art and Media

Stephen Wolff, Artist / Spore

Theus Zwakhals, NIMk

john Hartley, Difference Exchange

Matthew Hollings,

Louise K Wilson, LabCulture Artist

Matt Hanson, Futurist

Palle Dahlstedt, University of Gothenburg, SWE (former Arts Council Art&Science Fellow)

Rhys Miles Thomas, freelance transmedia storyteller

Simon Rae, Lecturer

Paul Hearn, LustrousChemistry

amy todman,

Mark Jackson, IMT Gallery & CRiSAP

xxxxxxxx, moddr_

Melissa Bliss, PVA MediaLab artist

Tom Keene, The Anthill Social

Sonja van Kerkhoff,

Rachel Coldicutt,

Ellie Harrison, LabCulture Artist 2002

Nuno N. Correia, artist

Kristoffer Ørum, Anders Bojen & Kristoffer Ørum

Philippa Mcdonald, Sunderland City Council/UCA

Ilias Kountoupis, Interactive Media student, Goldsmiths College

xxxxxxxx, tui

Gavin Everall, Book Works

Claudio Curciotti, PVA MediaLab Associate Artist

Ian Morrison, Darq

Juha van \’t Zelfde, Non-fiction and VURB

Rich McEachran, MA student @ Goldsmiths, University of London

Joel Gethin Lewis, Hellicar&Lewis

ryan hughes,

Alex McLean, Research Student, Goldsmiths, University of London

thor mcintyre-burnie, aswarm

Ed Baxter, Resonance FM

paul ferragut, artist

Chris O\’Shea, artist

Jacintha Danaswamy, University of Westminster

Sammy Izri, PVA MediaLab Associate Artist

Kate Taylor, FutureEverything

Ben Ponton, amino

David Gunn, Director, Incidental (and LabCulture Artist)

Andreas Müller, Nanika Ltd

Nicola Triscott, The Arts Catalyst

xxxxxxxx, co-lab

Caroline Heron, Mute

Pali Meursault, sound artist, France

Alice Ralph, Wired Canvas

Brendan Howell, exquisite_code

Tamara Askew, Harvest Digital

xxxxxxxx, Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership

William Robinson, Artist, Student at Goldsmiths, University of London

Simone Gristwood,

Andrew Wilson, Thumbprint Co-operative and foldup cic

Axel Lapp, curator / critic / publisher

Keri Elmsly, United Visual Artists

Ed Carter, Modular

Ryan Jordan, Artist and Research Student at De Montfort University

Peter Kerrigan,

Tina Gharavi, Bridge + Tunnel

Olga JURGENSON, LabCulture Artist 2004

Tia Azulay, Get It Write International

Professor Sue Thomas, Institute of Creative Technologies, De Montfort University

Rebecca Shatwell, AV Festival

Alec East, THBOOM ltd

Gustaff H. Iskandar, Common Room Networks Foundation

xxxxxxxx, De Montfort University

Hayley Newman,

Michael Szpakowski, artist, editor, lecturer at Writtle School of Design

Bosola Ajenifuja, Freelance V&A and Tate Modern

susana medina, philosophical toys

Marilyn Browne,

Gareth Goodison, TINT

Peter Ride, DA2 Digital Arts Development Agency

Keith Fisher, Unkant Publishers

Graham Jeffery, General Praxis

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Artist

Ted Byfield, Parsons the New School for Design, New School University, NYC, NY

Maura Hazelden, artists/postgraduate student Falmouth University

Beverley Dale, LabCulture Artist

Michael Smyth, Edinburgh Napier University

Magnus Lawrie,

David Haylock, Aberystwyth University

Karen ann Donnachie, This is (not) a Magazine / Donnachie, Simionato & Son

Peter Pavement, Surface Impression

Joe Abel,

Mark Dobson, Tyneside Cinema

Will Pearson, Creative Technologist

Simon Canaway, Supanaught

Joe Turner,

sean burn, pva medialab artist in residence, –

Marco Donnarumma, The University of Edinburgh

Richard Graham,

Leigh French, Variant

Jason Kavanagh, itsu jitsu netlabel

Simon Daw, Labculture Artist

Dr Tom Corby, university of westminster

Michael Zeltner, Graffiti Research Lab Vienna & London

Jean Gagnon, Director of collections, Cinémathèque québécoise

Kim Stewart, freelance

matthew collings,

gordana novakovic, UCL Computer Science Department

Robert W. Sweeny, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Paul Farmer, farmerfilm

Marta Zapparoli, sound artist .Berlin-Bologna

Yonat Nitzan-Green, Chapel Arts Studios, Andover

Marleen Wagenaar,

Mary Swan, Proteus

Jade Anson, Full Circle Arts

Ghislaine Boddington, body>data>space

ania bas,

Dr Paul Hurley,

Steve Dietz, Northern

Yiannis Christofides,

Claudia Fontes, independent artist and consultant

Katy Connor, Artist, Lecturer in Digital Practices

Sophie Mellor, artist

Drew Hemment, FutureEverything

Jordan Kaplan, Parabola

ivon oates, PVA MediaLab, associate artist

Jesse Drew, Technocultural Studies, UC Davis

Una Walker, LabCulture Artist

Jean-Charles Bournot,

Anthony Askew, Visual Artist/Researcher (independent)

Ed Patrick, Kid Carpet

Genetic Moo,

Kel Portman, artist/curator Walking the Land

Georgia Rakusen, Haus Projects

Jeremy Pilcher,

Rebekah Tolley, Tarian Films

Michael Cousin, Outcasting / Freelance Curator

Paul Cameron, 55degrees

Trond Lossius, BEK

Stephen Kovats, transmediale / McLuhan in Europe 2011

Max Van Kleek, University of Southampton

Ilze Black,

Nadja Penfold, PVA MediaLab

xxxxxxxx, PVA MediaLab

Larisa Blazic, Artist and Senior Lecturer at the University of Westminster

Jung-Hua Liu, University of Leeds

Lev Manovich, UCSD

Tim Jones, motiroti

Robb Mitchell, Machinista

Karen Wallis, LabCulture Artist

Victoria Pirie, PVA

Ian Bate, Constructive Software Ltd

Reidar Wasenius, Alternative Party (Finland)

Sue Palmer, Artist & PVA Medialab Associate Artist

Ximena Alarcon, Artist- researcher

jenny mellings, University of Plymouth/Spacex Gallery

Marcus Leadley, LabCulture Limited

Chris Joseph, Digital artist and writer

Rachel Jeffcoat, &co

xxxxxxxx, Bridge + Tunnel

Oliver Smith,

Morwenna Catt, artist / designer

Jacob Jo, Goldsmiths

Giles Askham,

Laurence Hill,

Toni Prug, School of Business and Management, Queen Mary, University of London

jasmina tesanovic, author

Richard Wright, artist

David Calvo, Ankama Play

Dan Hon, Wieden+Kennedy

Annalisa Renee, pva media lab associate artist

Adam Thomas, Sourcefabric

Angela Mitropoulos, QM, University of London


About jasminatesanovic

Jasmina Tešanović (Serbian: Јасмина Тешановић) (born March 7, 1954) is a feminist, political activist (Women in Black, Code Pink), translator, publisher and filmmaker. She was one of the organizers of the first Feminist conference in Eastern Europe "Drug-ca Zena" in 1978, in Belgrade. With Slavica Stojanovic, she ran the first feminist publishing house in the Balkans "Feminist 94" for 10 years. She is the author of Diary of a Political Idiot, a war diary written during the 1999 Kosovo War and widely distributed on the Internet. Ever since then she has been publishing all her work, diaries, stories and films on blogs and other Internet media.
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