Digital Cross Over: Promoting cross sector innovation across Europe
Exploring innovative approaches
Digital Cross Over is a cross-sector project within the Creative Europe funding programme of the European Commission. The aim of the project is to demonstrate and explore the current challenges facing the creative and cultural industries. Who pays for the content created by cultural and creative professionals? How do I reach my target group in the digital age and how can I learn from players from other industries who are or have been facing similar challenges? Learn more about the project's aims and its 5 project partners IMZ International Music + Media Centre, Ars Electronica, Börsenverein Group, izneo and Centrica in this interview.
@IMZ International Music + Media Centre, could you please describe your role within the project and what you hope to achieve with EU projects like this one? What specifically is Digital Cross Over?
IMZ: Cultural and creative organisations are so busy with running ongoing activities that they don’t reach out to creative digital or content technology players and test new ideas. We have recognised the need for an ecosystem of collaboration and innovation and will help build it. What better than to keep cultural and creative content alive through new innovative technologies? With Digital Cross Over, we aim at building a network of all players in the cultural and creative industries to learn from and inspire one another.
The IMZ is the international business network dedicated to the promotion of performing arts through film, and thus represents the audiovisual and the performing arts sectors. Our main contributions to the project are the expertise and variety of our network of 150 Member Organisations as well as our B2B international trade fair for performing arts films: Avant Première Music + Media Market which, in 2021, exceptionally takes place as hybrid event, online and on site in Vienna due to the pandemic.
@Ars Electronica, could you please describe your role within the project?
Ars Electronica: Ars Electronica is a worldwide unique platform for art, technology and society focusing on current developments and possible future scenarios and the question of how these will change our lives. Facing many radical changes within society over the years Ars Electronica’s philosophy has remained the same: addressing central questions of our future. Our activities are always guided by the question of what new technologies mean for our lives. Together with artists, scientists, developers, designers, entrepreneurs and activists, we shed light on current developments in our digital society and speculate about their manifestations in the future.
We have always been at the forefront, when it comes to exploring creative and innovative strategies of content production and distribution, as well as connecting players of various fields. We built an expertise in emerging technologies, not focusing on what technology can or will be able to do, but always what it should do for us.
At the Ars Electronica Festival we are creating a space for creatives, organisations and industries to meet and connect, as well as welcoming experts, technology demonstrations, best practice examples and arts performances. At the intersection of art, technology and society, the Festival Ars Electronica is one of the biggest platforms for media artists to showcase, explore and discuss their artistic practices. We invite leading developers form various start-ups to present their ideas and products. With our Gallery Spaces program, we gain from the experience of the gallery scene, which has been investigating the options for distributing media art for years. It is above all about the changing conditions of creating but also marketing art under the impact of digitalisation.
The motto of Digital Cross Over is "Promoting cross sector innovation across Europe". How do you see the future of cross-sector cooperation between the different creative and cultural industries in the coming years?
Ars Electronica: Across the diverse spectrum of cultural and creative industries, we are all facing similar challenges with digitalization – now more than ever. The global pandemic has further accelerated the process that was already in full speed, demanding many creatives to think about content distribution. New technical developments are usually accompanied by new challenges, but also by opportunities. And we don't have to start at square one. Media artists have always been flexible, adapting to technological challenges and at the same time challenging new technological developments, by utilizing and alienating technologies and services from other industries. We see media artists as key players, as they analyse, comment on and influence the ongoing digitalisation of our world.
For a long time, museums, gallerists and collectors have been looking rather sceptically at media art—for many quite different reasons, such as its novelty and highly experimental approach, the technical aspects, its virtual and ephemeral nature, the difficulties of preservation and maintenance, and so on. But many of these problems are no longer particular to media art – they have become our everyday problems, and we are increasingly getting used to dealing with them.
As more and more industries are facing similar challenges with digitalisation, we believe, that inviting media artists to share their experiences and practices, will lead to innovative digital strategies for all creative and cultural industries, and even beyond.
@izneo: Could you please describe your view on the project and izneo's role?
izneo: One of the main goals we have is to get a better understanding of current practises and ambitions for the future in the different creative and cultural industries in times of digitisation. Thereby we may identify initial fields for cooperation. Bridges between different industries will not appear by themselves. It requires individual and collective initiatives like Digital Cross Over. izneo's role mainly consists in representing the B2C side of our businesses. We now have a ten years experience with selling to individual readers digital contents coming from the book publishing industry in French, in English, in Dutch and in German. Italian and Spanish will be coming next. We may be seen as a bridge between book publishers and digital end users. Our understanding of the issues and challenges when you address the general public with digital content brings a different perspective, I reckon.
@Centrica: Could you please describe your role within the project? How do the cultural and creative industries contribute to the valorisation of European heritage and how do you think they can create an impact?
Centrica: As Centrica and VirtuItaly (startup spin off of Centrica) we bring our experience and technologies in digitisation of cultural heritage and new ways to reach the audience, with interactive applications and immersive & interactive digital exhibitions, such as the "Renaissance Experience", brought to Milan, Leipzig and Shenzhen (see video). In the last months we have been focusing our efforts in an EdTech cloud application, ArtCentrica, devoted to universities, higher education and art schools (see video). Especially due to the current Covid-19 situation we see a potential market in "bringing art to schools".
I think that cultural and creative industries can play a major role in the valorisation of European heritage but there are some questions that remain unsolved. First, the relation between private and public institutions which is too complex (especially in Italy). A seecond point is the business model: to create an impact we must first define new business models that bring value to all the actors of the value chain: cultural institutions, creative industries, the end users. At ArtCentrica, for example, part of the revenues goes to the museums that are represented on the platform. We believe this is an ethical way to achieve our business.
In Europe we must be able to go in this direction. This means more awareness from politicians for the importance of these aspects, it means more openness of all the stakeholders to go in new directions, it means more funding for innovative ideas of creative and cultural industries. Otherwise, we risk that the value of European heritage will be leveraged by OTT.
@Börsenvereinsgruppe: Could you please describe the activities of the Börsenvereinsgruppe within the project?
What's the role of cross-sector cooperation in publishing?
Börsenvereinsgruppe: The Börsenvereinsgruppe provides advisory and practical services for the book and media industry. It comprises the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels (German Publishers & Booksellers Association) and its subsidiaries Frankfurter Buchmesse, MVB and mediacampus frankfurt. The third Digital Cross Over event took place virtually at THE ARTS+ 2020 as part of the #fbm20 Special Edition. It highlighted the relevance of discoverability of content across all creative industry sectors, especially in a digital world where the amount of available content is overwhelming. The discoverability and metadata challenges were discussed by experts from different content sectors (publishing, games, music and audiovisual). The aim was to identify similarities and differences as well as explore possibilities of cross-sector synergies which are crucial for starting cooperations to enable cross-sector success of content nowadays.