Into The Space: Going boldly where no arts project has gone before…

a photo of space - specifically the Big Andromeda galaxy - lots of stars shining in a black background.I must stop saying we are putting artists into space – that simply isn’t true. We are putting them into The Space, which is a whole different thing. But what is The Space?

If you go to Arts Council England’s site, this is their definition:

…an experimental digital arts media service and commissioning programme that could help to transform the way people connect with, and experience, arts and culture.

(There’s also some great essays on their site that explore the concepts behind the idea)

So lets break that definition down.

It’s an experimental digital arts media service

A few key words there. Firstly ‘experimental’. Yup, this is a great big experiment which is fab – people are testing new things, trying out ideas, pushing their own boundaries and those of the technology we use to create and capture work.

And it’s a digital arts media service – so it’s a way in which people can connect to new digital arts media. Once The Space launches in May you’ll be able to connect to it across four digital media platforms: PC, mobile devices, tablets and connected TV. Where ever you are and what ever you use, you’ll be able to connect to and interconnect with The Space (ok, unless you are in a field somewhere for a very long time with no electricity and no mobile technology at all).

The Space is a commissioning programme. That means there was an open process where artists and organisations could bid in with their ideas. Because of its timing – its open May to October – it’s creating partnerships capture and create a wealth of cultural experiences, both drawing on the richness of the summer of arts in the Olympic year and delving back into the Arts Council and BBC archives to showcase the best that is on offer.

Note the BBC there – The Space is a partnership between Arts Council England and the BBC drawing on talent from both to create both a new platform and innovative content. And the purpose is two fold, to build the digital skills of the arts and cultural sector and to make work available to even more people.

That was the last bit of that definition – transforming the way people connect with, and experience, arts and culture.

The Space isn’t simply about shoving work up on the internet and expecting people to come to it, its about thinking again about who engages and why. There are a 53 commissions going into The Space – plus other content too – and they range from arts as interactive gaming, the creation of on-line ‘mash-up’s’, work that is episodic, challenging the traditional arts event timeframes, work that focuses on music, on archives, on drama, on dance, on film, on opera, on animation… Work that uses the TV magazine show format, work that recreates the notion of museum for the digital age, work that focuses in purely on one artist and work that spreads out to showcase the talents of many – and many that may be different from the usual voices that get heard. There’s commissions that feature learning disabled film makers, dance in playgrounds, 1000 young artists from 90 countries and partnerships that feature both the big guns – like Tate, the Southbank and Philharmonia Orchestra – and smaller talents such as Fabric in Bradford, Tyneside Cinema, Rifco Arts and Blast Theory (you can read a snapshot on each of the commissions here).

At PUSH ME, we’re exceptionally please to be in The Space – to be able to create the work that we are creating and also be part of such an experiment. Just check out the company we are in, and when The Space opens up, don’t just settle back and watch – it’s your chance to jump straight in and be part of the experiment!

Thanks to xamad for the photo.