Digital Pivot Support

A light blue background with text over it in white and dark blue that says Digital Pivot Support

We caught up with Suzy Glass, an Independent Producer based in Scotland, and Ashley Smith Hammond, an Officer in the Creative Industries team, to talk about the relaunched Digital Pivot project.

What is the project and how did it come about?

Ashley: The first programme responded to the fact that COVID-19 restrictions were pushing artists and creative organisations to move their work online. We wanted to help support their content to be true to the mission of the organisation, really deliver against artists’ creative ambitions and find the right audiences. Now nearly one year on, as part of the Creative Digital Initiative, supporting digital change in Scotland's creative and cultural businesses, we’re running the programme again.

Since there is a lot of specialist knowledge that goes into doing all of these things well, the Digital Pivot programme will offer some practical help. Our goal is to support people to start thinking strategically about how they can take advantage of digital and creative technologies within their practice.

It’s important that Scotland’s artists, makers and creative organisations have opportunities to develop and evolve, particularly during challenging times. In our conversations with those of you working in the sector we have been hearing from people who want to use this moment to expand or pivot their creative practice, how they reach their audiences, and how they make work in a world that we expect to be significantly changed in the post COVID 19 world.

How long will the 1-1 support be available?

Ashley: It will be available from June through to October 2021.

How many spaces are available?

Suzy: There are up to 20 slots available. We’re running two cycles - there will be 10 slots in each. Every participant will have access to approximately 3 hours of my time. We can be flexible with how we use that time. For example, some people may benefit from doing one long workshop while others might want to book in a series of shorter sessions or check-ins.

How can I apply?

Suzy: Just visit our Digital Pivot Support webpage to find out more and access the application form.

How will they be allocated?

Suzy: The slots will be allocated on a competitive basis. The request portal will open for proposals on 23 April 2021 and close on 27 May 2021 for 1-1 sessions in summer 2021. A second cycle will open on 28 July and close on 31 August. We have tried to keep the questions very light-touch.

Ashley: We will prioritise people who can demonstrate they are eligible, have described an idea or approach that fits well with our project goal and will most benefit from this support. Our assessment will consider the following points:

  • Is input from Suzy likely to support opportunities to develop and evolve the applicant’s creative practice, how they reach their audiences and/or how they do their work?
  • Does the applicant demonstrate evidence of an open mind and a sense of possibility.
  • Does the applicant have an idea or a project to discuss?
  • Does the applicant outline how their proposed idea or process will map against their creative ambitions and find appropriate audiences?
  • Does the applicant have a clear understanding of target audiences or participants and/or how they are likely to behave?

Suzy and I will assess the submissions together, and prospective participants will be contacted by the end of September to find out the result of their request. If successful they will be offered an opportunity to register for their 1-1 with Suzy.

Once you’re selected you may be asked to participate in the evaluation of the wider Creative Digital Initiative, which will be evaluated by an external research organisation.

How does this offer fit with other Creative Scotland funds?

Ashley: It is designed to enrich and support our other funding programmes. If you already have Creative Scotland funding (Hardship funding, Open Project Fund Award or Regular Funding) you can still access this support.

If, in working with Suzy, you develop an idea that you want to develop further, and you are eligible, you could then apply to the Open Fund: Sustaining Creative Development for funding to implement your plans.

What about equalities, access and diversity? Many will be conscious of the digital divide, and will want their projects to be accessible. Plus, they won't want to put their communities at any kind of safety or privacy risk.

Suzy: We know that access to and comfort within online environments varies significantly across communities. We hope that this support will be useful not just for people with highly developed skills and a kit of resources, but also those working within less privileged or well equipped environments.

While it is more challenging, it is possible to design projects that work for people who do not have smart phones or laptops, people without broadband connections, people who consider themselves to be digitally challenged etc. Please do express an interest, even if you are unsure about how you would reach the people you want to connect with.

We also know that some communities are particularly vulnerable to online crime, that there are significant safeguarding issues when working with e.g. young and elderly people. Again, these concerns should not put you off expressing an interest in this support. We can discuss risk and how to build appropriate mitigation strategies into your project as part of the process.

Ashley: Plus, if you’re thinking about online safety Creative Scotland have published guidance around online safeguarding Creating Safety.

Who is it for?

Suzy: We are looking to work with people who are curious about exploring the use of digital tools and technologies to connect, particularly while COVID-19 continues to restrict our movement and ability to gather. To benefit from this support, you need to have a sense of how your target audiences / participants are likely to behave, and you need to have an idea or a project to discuss.

Most importantly, you need to come to this with an open mind and a sense of possibility. You definitely do not need to be a digital expert (whatever that is), or to have any previous experience of creating work for online environments. It is great if you do, but really not necessary.

We’ll be using this time to talk about what you want to achieve and why, and how you might go about doing that: digital tools and online environments will become some of the materials you can work with.

These sessions should work as a launch pad for your idea. They are there to support you to inject some energy into an existing or new project; to steer next steps, and to help you move confidently towards producing something that connects meaningfully with people during these complex times.

Ashley: The support is open to artists, makers or creative individuals based in Scotland. Support for organisations looking for mentoring is supplied via the Digital Mentoring and Peer Support Programme from The Space. Applications for organisation have now closed.

As with most of our programmes, it is not for individuals working outside the arts or creative industries.

Why Suzy?

Suzy: I’m an experienced producer and consultant, working across artforms and disciplines often with complex groups of stakeholders to devise, design and implement projects that often take place in unconventional settings. I tend to focus on strategic planning and design, with a particular interest in how and why cultural activity supports and enables transformational change.

I’ve been working creatively with digital tools and in online environments for well over ten years, and now they are normalised within my work. In other words, they’re part of my toolkit, materials I regularly use to support the aims of whatever project I’m involved with.

Between 2011 and 2014 I was one of the team behind Sync, a major digital innovation programme supported by Creative Scotland. At around the same time I was on the learning team for the AHRC, ACE and Nesta funded Digital R&D Fund.

We’re hoping that these sessions will provide people with the opportunity to draw on my experience and skills to refine, animate or pivot their ideas. If I do my job well, these conversations should create energy and confidence, allowing people to sense-check some of their assumptions and test their concepts.

This article was originally published on 13 May 2020 and updated on 28 July 2021.

This article was published on 28 Jul 2021