What are DASOs?
Around the globe, community leaders and governments are introducing new strategies and funding streams in response to the growing demand for increased literacy and innovation in the transformation of arts, culture, and heritage to the digital world.
At home, examples of public sector strategies include Ontario’s Culture Strategy, plus recently launched digital funding streams at federal and regional arts councils which aim to incubate the evolution of digital initiatives led by the arts and culture sector.
DigitalASO strives to break down traditional disciplinary silos and foster an intentional culture of collaborative co-creation, co-innovation, and co-learning for the arts in the digital world
DigitalASO is envisioned as a strategic response to the launch of these public strategies, with the objective of better enabling cross-sectoral teams of artists, arts professionals, cultural heritage workers, and technologists to collectively enable shared digital initiatives created and managed by the arts, for the arts. Rather than benefitting single individuals, organizations, communities, or disciplines, DigitalASO strives to break down traditional disciplinary silos and foster an intentional culture of collaborative co-creation, co-innovation, and co-learning for the arts in the digital world, thus extending the impact of both regional and federal digital strategies and funding streams long-term.
How will these cultural/digital shifts be achieved? Are completely new skills, revamped leadership practices, or innovative, digitally-minded models of governance necessary to keep up with the rapid pace of technological change? Who will help steward shared strategies and resources across the sector long-term, after the public strategies and funding streams are gone? Are a next generation of services in-the-cloud necessary? Will the formation of new Digital Arts Services Organizations (DASOs) help sustain the sector’s digital transformation while permitting traditional Arts Services Organizations (ASOs) to continue to focus on their strengths honed by decades of refined practice on-the-ground?
Applying design thinking practices and evidence-based research to developing purpose-built digital solutions for the arts
DigitalASO is an attempt to identify viable answers to such questions, and to set a pathway toward sustained and impactful learning for our organization and the wider sector in the digital world.
A natural ally for this journey has been found in BeMused Network, a Kitchener/Waterloo-based social-technical enterprising building and operating innovative digital arts services. While completing our pre-incorporation visioning processes in 2015, ArtsPond and BeMused Network connected with one another and discovered a shared interest in applying design thinking practices and evidence-based research to developing purpose-built digital solutions for the arts and culture sectors. While ArtsPond’s strengths stem from decades of experience in arts services, BeMused Network’s strengths are their design and technical abilities. Our complementary skills and experiences made a shared commitment to tackle the complex problem of digital innovation in the arts and culture sector seem more viable.
ArtsPond and BeMused Network’s continued dialogue, their openness to learning from each other, and the trust that has been built over time led them to join forces to pilot the first Digital Arts Services Symposium in Toronto and Ottawa in 2017. It replaced BeMused Network’s annual open house event for its members and gave way to the first public sector-funded event that ArtsPond successfully produced. Modelled on the values that anchor the on-going partnership between ArtsPond and BeMused Network, we believe the next steps are to continue to encourage broader knowledge-sharing and increased opportunities for shared discovery.
Facilitated dialogues with like-minded individuals alongside unexpected, serendipitous exchanges between diverse, underserved communities and inspired digital champions
Through DigitalASO, a repository of collective skills and knowledge will be cultivated using facilitated dialogues with like-minded individuals alongside unexpected, serendipitous exchanges between diverse, underserved communities and inspired digital champions.
Through play and storytelling, artists will have the opportunity to identify digital literacy practices that maximize their potential for creative, non-lateral thinking without being limited by technical know-how.
Through critical case studies, practical workshops, and strategic alliance building opportunities, arts professionals and cultural heritage workers will have the opportunity to strengthen their personal digital toolboxes while building cross-sectoral collaborations that rethink the status quo in adapting available technologies to manifest new digital realities.
In Phase 1 (2018 to 2020), specific activities to address these steps include:
- Annual presentations of Digital Arts Services Symposium
- Semi-monthly Digital Arts Services Hackinars
- Quarterly convening of a cross-sectoral Digital Arts Services Alliance
- Annual extensions of the 2017 digital needs survey, Managing Creativity in a Digital World, to help evaluate and direct the impact of the initiative long-term.
Become a full-spectrum agent for change both on-the-ground and in-the-cloud
Once critical gaps in literacy and intelligence have been identified and filled, DigitalASO will shift gears in Phase 2 (2021 to 2023) to begin rolling out open source, open data digital arts services platforms that respond to the specific information technology needs of the arts, culture and heritage community.
For example, owned and governed by the community, Artse United is a proposed arts management platform cooperative that will provide core project management and impact analytics for both established organizations and small/independent creators and producers across all disciplines.
Artse United is envisioned as an alternative to the Canadian Arts Database and a growing community of for-profit project management platforms that do not reflect the information technology requirements of the arts and culture community.
Through these efforts, we hope to progressively identify communities of practice and an evidence base to establish DigitalASO and ArtsPond as one of Canada’s most innovative DASOs devoted to promoting cross-sectoral literacy and innovation in digital platforms for the arts, culture, and heritage. Tied to our other efforts to address income precarity and lack of affordable spaces for artists, we will fulfill our guiding vision to become a full-spectrum agent for change both on-the-ground and in-the-cloud.