End of the digital beginning
Why hasn't the cultural sector caught on?
As we approach the "end of the digital beginning", why hasn't the cultural sector caught on?
Each year the consultancy PwC produces its Global Entertainment and Media Outlook which updates us on the state of the sector and how they think it'll do.
According to the figures, global entertainment and media spending on digital advertising and consumer formats increased by 18% in 2011 compared with a less than 1% rise in non-digital spending. In other words, digital continues to take over.
But it's not in charge just yet. They forecast that it's total spend will grow from 28 percent in 2011 to 38 percent in 2016 - leaving a decent chunk for traditional mediums.
The end of the digital beginning
PwC say this means "digital opportunities are now well understood by media companies, advertising agencies and advertisers themselves: the industry is approaching the 'end of the digital beginning' as rising comfort levels with digital mean that it is becoming business-as-usual."
Big new developments, like the rise of the internet of things and the growth of mobile, mean this will continue.
Last year they tried with the Digital Research & Development Fund for Arts and Culture, a partnership between the Arts Council England, Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and NESTA (all state-funded bodies) to support arts and cultural organisations.
This meant funding cultural organisations to try out new projects to hit new audiences or find new income - using digital.
Behind the digital curve
And the sector wouldn't need funds like this if it was ahead of the digital curve. Why is it lagging? First, because there's a lack of skills. Just under half of creative tech businesses surveyed by Creative Skillset, report being unable to recruit for a post. Second, there's been a lack of resources in the sector and perhaps by a slow-to-catch-on funding system.
Illustrating this, Nesta's fund received nearly 400 eligible applications (seeking over £24 million in total). This is a huge number (although also suggests that the fund was poorly administrated; it doesn't benefit the sector for everyone to waste their time writing applications for super-competitve funds when they would be better off soliciting a few appropriate ones).
Finally, the strength and value of day to day contracts in the cultural sector. In short, you can overplay digital. As a consultant I've never yet been contracted by someone who hasn't met me face to face. And it is also worth reviewing the numbers. Growth might have been huge - but we still have 72% of spend coming through traditional approaches, like TV or print. So while it might be the end of the digital beginning, it is not the beginning of the end of the analogue.
Banner image. Culture Hack Day 2011 by Roo Reynolds on Flickr Creative Commons
Blast Theory. Anne Helmond on Flickr Creative Commons