UK arts councils and Arts and Humanities Research Council announce new immersive technology production and skills programme for creatives

Cygnor Celfyddydau Cymru - Arts Council of Wales,
11 May 2023, United Kingdom

Arts Council England, Arts Council Wales, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Creative Scotland and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) are joining forces to create XRtists, a £6million, 3-year programme to develop skills and funding opportunities in immersive content production across the UK’s cultural sector.

The partners have today launched a call inviting applications from consortia of universities, independent research organisations, cultural organisations and creative businesses to deliver the programme.  From 2024, the successful consortium will offer training programmes and funding opportunities in immersive content production for artists and cultural organisations including museums.  An annual industry showcase will support the ongoing development and distribution of the work produced.  The consortium will also carry out research to help maximise the potential of the projects they fund, which may include studying new business models for immersive content, providing insights into immersive audience behaviours, or exploring innovative ways to distribute immersive projects.

The programme will have a presence in each UK nation and will focus on making sure that people from all backgrounds can take part in immersive digital production and enjoy the benefits of immersive technology as audiences.

XRtists will build on the success of previous programmes such as CreativeXR and Creative Industries Clusters, which showed the positive impacts of collaborations between cultural organisations, creative technologists and university-based researchers. 

Darren Henley, Chief Executive at Arts Council England said “We know that great things can happen when we bring together artists and creatives with technologists and researchers.  We are excited to launch XRtists, which will draw on the wealth of creative talent across our performing arts, galleries, museums and other cultural organisations to unlock new ideas and applications for immersive technology, while developing skills in these powerful emerging technologies across the cultural sector.”

Dafydd Rhys, Chief Executive of Arts Council of Wales said: “It’s important that we as funders support artists and creatives to explore what ‘state of the art’ can mean and how it connects with audiences now and in the future. 

“Doing this in partnership with colleagues in the other UK nations creates unique, inclusive opportunities to share learning, collaborate and amplify the possibilities of creative technology to share experiences and tell stories with impact.”

Karly Greene, Director of Strategic Development and Partnerships, Arts Council of NI said “The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to be part of this UK-wide arts and creative industries initiative. Supported by our National Lottery funding in year one, this important 3-year programme will be such a boost for creatives hoping to develop ideas, training, and skills. The fact that those who benefit from this funding get to share their project learning and development with others via a showcase platform, is exactly the ethos that the Arts Council supports.”

Creative Scotland’s Creative Industries Manager, Morgan Petrie said: “We're delighted to be working with our UK partners to support the adoption and implementation of immersive technologies within the creative industries in Scotland. We anticipate the XRtists programme will provide creative businesses and performing arts organisations an opportunity to experiment, to develop new ways to reach audiences, and potentially generate additional revenue.”

Arts and Humanities Research Council Executive Chair, Professor Christopher Smith said: “Creative technology is a vital ingredient in the UK’s flourishing creative industries sector and is changing all the time.

“AHRC is committed to ensuring that this technology can reach widely and deeply across the UK and we are thrilled to partner with the Arts Councils of all four nations to support a creative United Kingdom.

“XRtists will build on previous investments to unlock further innovation and economic growth and will bring the power of immersive technology to new audiences and partners.”