Digital platforms for co-creation

Case study examples from bait the Creative People and Places programme in South East Northumberland

Through Creative People and Places there is evidence that more people are becoming engaged in the arts by having direct involvement in commissioning, creating, programming and promotion of arts projects.  Within the mix of co-creation approaches, digital platforms are enabling people to shape projects in new ways.

For example, as part of the bait programme, a panel of young people were involved in commissioning the Wonderfolk project.  Wonderfolk, an interactive tour for families at Woodhorn Museum, includes both ‘live’ and ‘online’ elements.  The overall concept has come from artists Becca Gill and Daniel Marcus Clark, but the online element has been created by young people at Leading Link in Bedlington.  The group have taken the idea of the Wonderfolk – mythical characters who lived in Northumberland long before coal – and have created online content which suggests contemporary ‘sightings’ of the Wonderfolk.  It’s playful, draws on the young people’s expertise as photographers, film makers, website designers and confident users of social media.  It also leads to the young people having a ‘co-creation’ role and a sense of ownership within the whole project. 

Digital platforms also enable people to make connections between the local and the global, especially in areas where there are weak public transport links and people’s ‘live’ experiences are built up within a relatively small geographical area.  In a new bait commission - More Colour to the Grey - young people are interested live elements, which are delivered ‘hyper-locally’ so it’s very easy to take part, alongside elements which are digital and which provide a global platform for their views and experiences to be heard.  This dual ambition informed the artist brief which was put out to tender in July 2017.  Young people are involved in selecting the artist they want to work with and following an R&D stage the project will go into full commission in 2018.

In our experience so far working with people in South East Northumberland, it is under 25s who are connecting to, or expressing interest in digital opportunities.  However, we are working in an area where nearly 30% of the population are over 65 and for this generation, live participatory experiences have been the most successful route to participation.  In this context, there are still opportunities to extend audience reach via digital platforms.  For example, in 2016 we commissioned the Turns project with a group called The Elderflowers.  A 22minute dance film - ‘A Long Side’ - was made and screened as part of a four month long exhibition at Woodhorn Museum.  We are building on the legacy of the project by arranging further screenings and movement workshops in care homes and with Royal Voluntary Service groups in community centre settings.  This is being done in a very simple way – film on a memory stick, rather than via streaming – but in future the forms of distribution may change, as digital confidence grows at a voluntary community level.

Why the contribution is important

Thinking digitally has enormous potential to diversify who takes part in the arts, who is involved in making new work, the stories that are told and how these stories are shared.  We need an arts and cultural sector that is more representative of society as a whole and which has multiple entry points for people to take part as artists, participants and audiences.   Digital platforms are part of the mix, enabling new collaborations, supporting co-creation and increasing creative choice.


Rachel Adam

bait, Project Director

bait is part of the Creative People and Places programme, initiated and funded by Arts Council England through the National Lottery. Creative People and Places is about more people taking the lead in choosing, creating and taking part in art experiences in the places where they live. There are 21 independent projects, each located in an area where people have traditionally had fewer opportunities to get involved with the arts. Creative People and Places projects have reached over 1.45 million people, 91% of who do not regularly engage in the arts.

by CreativePeopleandPlaces on August 04, 2017 at 03:26PM

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  • Posted by willpsaunders August 09, 2017 at 16:46

    This is an interesting project and it makes me wonder how it might effect the future development work you want to do and plans around engaging underserved audiences?
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