Bloomberg Philanthropies today announced the launch of the Digital Accelerator Program to help cultural non-profit organizations stabilize and thrive in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic through strategic improvements to their technology infrastructure. Recognizing that digital adaptation is critical for the non-profit cultural sector to remain competitive and fulfil its potential, $30 million (£25 million)in support will be dedicated to help arts organizations invest in tools and training. The program seeks to help cultural organizations build audiences, increase fundraising, drive revenue, and continue to deliver dynamic programming virtually and in-person – including extensive educational offerings. The sector-defining program will also create a network of non-profit cultural organizations with an initial cohort of 46, expanding further in the coming year. Bloomberg Philanthropies is committed to developing and sharing best practices around technology investments that will contribute to the recovery of the wider cultural community.
“When the pandemic hit, cultural organizations everywhere got creative and adapted quickly to keep their virtual doors open. Now we’re excited to launch the Accelerator program to help more arts organizations sustain innovations and investments – and strengthen tech and management practices that are key to their long-term success.”said Patricia E. Harris, CEO of Bloomberg Philanthropies
Digital adoption accelerated across several sectors during the pandemic including e-commerce (54% in the UK and 36% in the US), digital entertainment (31% global growth) and healthcare (quadrupling of video consultations). For cultural organizations, the pandemic made clear how powerful digital technology can be – in particular, many well-positioned arts organizations were able to reach new audiences and donors during these challenging times. Yet in a recent survey, 60% of U.S. museums lacked a digital plan for the future.
Recognizing the innovation of many cultural organizations, as well as the need to advance digital strategy to ensure their sustainability, the Digital Accelerator will support the full spectrum of digital infrastructure for cultural non-profits. This includes tools to enhance core operations, such as integrated marketing and fundraising systems, as well as bold projects with the potential to benefit the broader cultural sector, like the National Theatre’s at Home streaming service, launched last year, which provides world-class filmed productions to audiences around the world. National Theatre at Home also provides a platform for smaller theatres throughout the UK lifting the sector during this unpredictable time.
Bloomberg Philanthropies invited organizations to apply based on creative excellence, service to diverse communities, talented leadership, and their efforts to improve digital capacity during the pandemic. The first phase of the program will focus on institutions in the US and the UK which will receive training and support. A Bloomberg Tech Fellow, designated by each participating organization from existing staff, will drive the development and implementation of their digital project. Tech Fellows have been selected based on their track record as a change agent within their organizations.
Bloomberg Philanthropies will work with technology experts who will provide strategic assessment and implementation support to the Bloomberg Tech Fellows. In the UK, these services will be provided by the Arts Council’s Digital Culture Network, and in the US, by the Lapine Group.
The organizations selected to participate in the Digital Accelerator program reach and represent a broad spectrum of creative endeavour, and a deep commitment to serving audiences.
Participating US organizations include:
Apollo Theater Foundation Inc., Appalshop, Austin Opera, Ballet Hispánico of New York Inc., BRIC, Ghetto Film School, Inc., Harlem Stage Inc., HERE, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company, Mark Morris Dance Group, Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA), New York City Center, Oakland Museum of California, Pregones/PRTT, Queens Museum, RedLine Contemporary Art Center, Sphinx Organization, St. Ann’s Warehouse, Tenement Museum, The Field, The Laundromat Project, 92nd Street Y, New Museum, Roundabout Theatre Company, SMU DataArts.
Selected UK organizations include:
Almeida Theatre, Artichoke Trust, Ballet Black, Battersea Arts Centre, Chineke! Foundation, Chisenhale Gallery, Create London, Kiln Theatre, Roundhouse Trust, Serpentine, Studio Voltaire, Studio Wayne McGregor, The Royal Court Theatre, The Yard Theatre, Unicorn Theatre, Young Vic, Royal Academy of Arts, The National Gallery, The Old Vic, National Theatre.
The new program builds on Bloomberg Philanthropies history of funding digital innovation at cultural organizations. Bloomberg Philanthropies has committed significant support to the development of technology that transforms experiences with cultural institutions around the world. Since 1999, Bloomberg Philanthropies has helped museums stay up to date with relevant new technology – such as audio guides, mobile apps, and location-aware navigational tools – to transform the visitor experience, encouraging interaction and exploration on- and off-site. In November 2019, Bloomberg Philanthropies launched Bloomberg Connects, a free digital guide to cultural organizations around the world. The Digital Accelerator also leverages Bloomberg Philanthropies experience strengthening the management practices at small- and mid-size cultural organizations through the Arts Innovation and Management (AIM) program.
About Bloomberg Philanthropies:
Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in 810 cities and 170 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: the Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s giving, including his foundation, corporate, and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works in cities around the world. In 2020, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $1.6 billion. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org