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Bloomberg Philanthropies Announces $30M Program For Tech Innovation At Arts Organizations

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Provides funding and training for digital technology infrastructure, helping organizations improve operations to generate new revenue, grow fundraising, and more.

Bloomberg Philanthropies Announces $30M Program For Tech Innovation At Arts Organizations

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 fulfill 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," said Patricia E. Harris, CEO of Bloomberg Philanthropies. "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."

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 endeavors, 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 Apollo's Digital Stage proved to be a place for joy and hope, as more than 500,000 households tuned in to watch more than 45 virtual programs," said Jonelle Procope, president and CEO of the Apollo Theater in New York. "Now, as we look forward to our re-opening this fall, and a newly redeveloped Victoria Theater next year, we know that investment in our digital infrastructure will be essential to engage community members and donors, grow revenue, and present newly commissioned work to the wideset possible audience. The funding and expertise provided by Bloomberg Philanthropies will be invaluable in helping us achieve these goals."

"The pandemic presented so many challenges, but it also opened the door to technology-assisted innovations we need to adopt in a systematic, sustainable way," said Tarek Iskander, artistic director and CEO of Battersea Arts Centre in London. For example, we've launched a "Pay What You Can" ticketing scheme that has so much promise in broadening our reach. How should this be refined and integrated into our programming plans and fundraising efforts? The support of Bloomberg Philanthropies will be critical as we work to understand and align our digital best practices to serve artists and audiences."

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.


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