Digital Democracies is a national project, led by Threshold Studios, exploring the intersection of technology, art and public space. The project will bring creatives together with civic, cultural, education and tech partners from across the UK, to explore new experiences in our public spaces. Whether live or online, our social spaces have been designed to bring people together – to live, work, visit and play.
Public spaces embody our shared humanity, and aim to be free to access, culturally diverse and open to all. These spaces – and the people that animate them – are the engines for both place-making and community development. The places where our individual and collective identities are forged. But they are also often contested, sometimes privately owned and surveilled, governed by invisible infrastructures and social codes that can undermine their capacity for grassroots social and cultural democracy. Digital Democracies aims to explore the issues that these spaces present through a programme of Commissions and Artist Development.
The project will create a range of opportunities to test new work, engage audiences and open up discussions around public art, shared spaces and creative technology. “By connecting partners from across the technology sector, universities, local authorities and artists, Digital Democracies aims to support, strengthen and invigorate digital innovation in the cultural sector. It will improve and diversify the opportunities afforded by technology through democratising access to networks, expertise and opportunities for artists, producers and audiences.” – says Samantha Lindley (Director of Programmes, Threshold Studios).
Digital Democracies is led by Threshold Studios and brings together three of the UK’s leading art and digital culture commissioning festivals – Frequency International Festival of Digital Culture in Lincoln, Freedom Festival in Hull and Brighton Digital Festival. Digital Democracies is supported using public funding by Arts Council England and by Threshold Studios, Freedom Festival Arts Trust and Lighthouse through their partners and funders.
Threshold Studios Ltd is a creative and cultural organisation based in the Midlands. Throughout our 23-year history, cultural equality has been a key driver of Threshold’s mission and activity. As a social enterprise and an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation, we play a strategic role in the development of the creative digital sector, enabling partnerships across the arts, digital and creative media industries, the public sector, grassroots communities and higher education. We build innovative programmes and opportunities for audiences within the places where the public have ownership and agency, with a particular focus on those from diverse backgrounds and those who are currently under-represented in the arts and media industries. Key projects include; Digital Democracies, leading a national project exploring the intersection of technology and public space; Frequency Festival, a biennial international digital culture festival in Lincoln, UK. Since 2011, Frequency has been a city-wide, no barriers festival with a commitment to democratising arts engagement, showcasing digital creativity and providing energetic debate on digital culture; RADAR, a creative graduate internship scheme to nurture creative and emerging talent and open access to the industry; Camara Chica, in partnership with British Council, Threshold established community-based media production hubs within communities in Cuba and Venezuela.
Arts Council England is the national development body for arts and culture across England, working to enrich people’s lives. It supports a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to visual art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2018 and 2022, Arts Council England will invest £1.45 billion of public money from government and an estimated £860 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.