Our website uses cookies. See our cookies page for information about them and how you can remove or block them. Click here to opt in to our cookies

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 new Digital Pivot project they are offering.

What is the project and how did it come about?

Ashley: We noticed 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.

Since there is a lot of specialist knowledge that goes into doing all of these things well, we wanted to offer some practical help. Our goal is to help people and organisations start thinking strategically about how they can pivot to take advantage of digital and creative technology to develop their businesses and/or creative practice.

We want Scotland’s artists, makers and creative organisations to have opportunities to develop and evolve, even in 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 evolve their creative practice, how they reach their audiences and how they do their work in a world that we expect to be significantly changed in the post COVID 19 world.

Creative Scotland are paying Suzy to offer a couple of introductory events and several one-to-one support sessions, so that those ready to pivot their work from in-person to digital could feel confident in their planning.

When are the introductory events and how do you attend?

Suzy: The events will be delivered online the morning of the 27th May and afternoon of 29th May. Each will last no more than two hours, and they'll be participatory. We’ll design them around your questions which we’ll ask you to submit when you register, and anticipate exploring themes ranging from form and format to safety and security, from intellectual property to online behaviours. You’ll be able to register and learn more about content at the dedicated event site.

How long will the 1-1 support be available?

Ashley: It will be available from June through to September. If demand is high and COVID-19 restrictions are still in place, we might look at extending the project.

How many spaces are available?

Suzy: There are up to 22 spaces available in the first cycle, and 10 more in the second; each one comes with 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 will they be allocated?

Suzy: The spaces will be allocated on a competitive basis. The request portal will open for proposals on 18 May 2020 and close on 1 June 2020 for 1-1 sessions in June/July. A second cycle will open again on 6 July 2020 and close on 20 July 2020 for sessions in August/September. We have tried to keep the questions relevant and light-touch.

Ashley: We will prioritise places for to people who can demonstrate that they are eligible, have described an idea or approach that fits well with project goals and will most benefit from this support. Suzy and I will assess the project ideas submitted, and prospective participants will be contacted within a week of decision making to find out the result of their request. If successful they will be offered an opportunity to register for their 1-1 with Suzy.

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 (a Bridging Bursary, and 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 new Open Fund: Sustaining Creative Development 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 undoubtedly 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, there’s a really useful summary of resources available from the Culture Health and Wellbeing Alliance and 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 finding different ways to connect while COVID-19 restricts 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 organisations based in Scotland. As with most of our programmes, it is not for individuals or organisations working outside the arts or creative industries, or for National Companies, Collections or Libraries who get their funding direct from the Scottish Government.

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 published on 13 May 2020