A call for ideas from the UK’s cultural and creative community

Let’s imagine you’re writing a sci-fi script. What future would you create for us here on Earth? Would replicants plan a revolution and demand equal rights? Maybe. Or would an ancient force awaken and with it bring new hope? Hmmm. Perhaps your script would take a darker route and see us all infected with a rage-inducing virus? Hang on….let’s get back to my actual point….

When it comes to shaping our future, we don’t need sci-fi to come to the rescue. Art and creativity have the power to unite, inspire and change behaviour for good – among individuals, communities and society as a whole.

Challenging creativity, inspiring change

Creatives have always challenged the way we see the world around us. Right now at the Barbican, The Art of Change showcases artists’ responses to major global issues. At the Wellcome Collection, Can Graphic Design Save Your Life? tells the story of graphic design and its influence in global healthcare.

Creativity and change are intimately linked – and this can be seen far beyond our major institutions. Step into community arts centres, music festivals, code clubs and makerspaces the length and breadth of Britain and you’ll see how they boost local economies, inspire young people and bring us together. Here at Nesta, we believe in the power of art and culture to transform people’s lives. Our Arts Impact Fund, for instance, has supported many community initiatives from an arts centre in Wigan to a creative hub in Salford. In collaboration with our partners the fund has invested £7 million in loan finance for the arts over the last three years alone.

Making art positive and personal

Engaging with the arts matters. New research has found listening to music during pregnancy can protect against postnatal depression. Visiting museums, galleries or the theatre reduces the risk of developing dementia.

Meanwhile, positive change is all around. From campaigns like the Fearless Girl sculpture in New York – which has become a powerful symbol of female empowerment – to the BBC’s Blue Planet II which surfaced the appalling scale of plastic pollution in the oceans, creative ideas can and do affect change: from increasing female representation in senior management to banning single use plastic.

So if you were creating the future – your future – what would it be? Would you choose a creative place, full of hope, where diversity is welcomed, opportunity is equal and natural resources are protected?

Could creativity change the world? Let’s see.

Today we’re launching Amplified. We’re calling all cultural and creative organisations, not-for-profit or commercial, to come up with a digital idea that addresses a social challenge and produces a social benefit. Your idea can be local or global, as long as it has a real world benefit. Think hands-on results at street level, not clever comms campaigns.

Together with a panel of industry experts we will select the eight best ideas. If you’re chosen, we’ll help accelerate your digital idea, give you £10k in funding to get it off the ground and partner you with a mentor to help guide you through the opportunities and pitfalls as you look to amplify your social impact and get measurable results.

To get started, take a look at the Amplified project page. A few words of advice: your idea will need to be both original and impactful to make it past the first stage of the application process.

Are you ready to start changing our world for the better?

Amplified is a pilot programme supporting cultural and creative organisations seeking to develop digital ideas that generate social impact.

Why are we doing this?

Creative and artistic endeavours have the power to unite and engage an increasingly atomised society, change behaviour at the individual and collective levels and drive economic growth and national competitive advantage.

However, our horizon scan – Experimental Culture – for Arts Council England, highlights the high levels of economic inequality and compromised social mobility in the UK and begins to make the case for an arts and culture sector that thinks differently about its social impact.

We see huge opportunities where creativity meets technology to generate social impact – and over the years we have backed dozens of projects testing new uses of digital technology.

What are we doing?

Nesta has launched Amplified, a pilot programme, to encourage the development of creative digital ideas that generate a positive social outcome. We are offering £10,000 of grant funding to cultural and creative organisations to develop digital ideas. The ideas can be anything from a game to an interactive installation, as long as it seeks to generate a direct social outcome. The social outcomes can be anything from increasing community cohesion to reducing the consumption of single use plastics. The Amplified pilot will support the development of digital ideas through a number of activities:

  • Funding – aimed at specific digital projects, aligned with a direct beneficiary outcome
  • Mentoring – from industry leaders to help nurture and support the ideas
  • Six months of structured support – intensive support, two days per month, for six months; providing opportunities for you to gain new skills, network with other Amplified innovators and focus completely on the development of your idea (similar to an incubator or accelerator)
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