The last couple of weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind.
After spending ages tinkering and toying with a proposal for the NESTA R&D fund, we found out that we had been shortlisted for Interview. The interview was last Wednesday (21st September), we found out we had been successful on the Friday (23rd September) and last Monday (26th September) we began a two day intensive workshop run by NESTA for the successful projects. It’s all a bit of a blur to be honest. It is only really beginning to sink in that for the next year I will be working some amazing people on, even if I say so myself, a jolly exciting project!
UCLDH will partnering with the Imperial War Museum(IWM), Knowledge Integration and our friends over at UCL CASA to deliver a innovative project funded under the Digital Research and Development Fund for Arts and Culture run by Arts Council England, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and NESTA. The project will explore how social media models can be applied to museum collections and interpretation, to create a system which encourages people to respond to the themes and collections in IWM’s exhibition spaces through several forms of digital interaction and participation both in the gallery, via mobile and online. I’ll be focusing on the user centred design of the application, as well as hopefully using the project a tasty case study for my PhD on visitor experience and museum digital content.
I have just blogged about it over on the UCLDH site. But here I wanted to put a more personal spin on the whole process. It really is such a privilege to have been selected out of 495 projects which applied. But what I’m really happy about this whole project is the speedy collaboration, communication and cohesiveness we have already built up as a project team during the proposal and selection process. Until a couple of months ago I didn’t know Tom Grinsted from IWM, in fact on our first meeting I had to send a coded message about what I looked like, because we had no idea who each of us were! But after one quick cup of tea, a glass of lemonade, a couple of phone conversations and a google doc, we are now about to embark on a 1 year exciting funded project. The whole process reminded me how important it is not only to have a clear vision for a project, but also that the project team is right. During my management training, we we’re always taught to manage the process and the people. But to be honest, I have always thought that it is always the people that are the most important aspect of any project. The people involved have to get along, know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and be open to seeing other people’s viewpoints. I think it’s a good sign that after quite a stressful application process Tom and I were able to sit in a two day workshop and whilst holding in depth discussions on potential research possibilities we were also able to have serious discussions about what type of biscuits we are going to have in our project meetings, that and the Great British Bake off. I think between the four partners we have a nice mix of experience, ideas and ability to create a really innovative project.
It was also really fantastic to see cultural organisations from the North East (I’m a Geordie Girl) and Nottingham (my new abode) represented in the R&D projects. The Sage Gateshead plus partners with Videojuicer and Aframe will be exploring how digital technology can help orchestras and venues find new audiences and income streams; and the New Art Exchange, Nottingham with Artfinder will develop a digital portal for dialogue and exchange which allows artists to upload, sell and exchange their art work, as well as for audiences to vote on and virtually curate art programmes.
I’m really looking forward to getting started on our project, but it will also be fascinating to see how the other 7 successful projects gather momentum over the next year.