UKAI Projects applied and was accepted into the TAC-FCAD Digital Solutions Incubator program in 2018. UKAI had only recently been incorporated and this opportunity provided us with support to explore our organizational challenges through digital technology. This included four students that helped us think through next steps.
Overall problem: What kinds of problems are artists who digitally collaborate faced with?
The program was created through a partnership between the Toronto Arts Council and The Creative School (formerly the Faculty of Communications and Design) at Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University) to encourage arts organizations to consider the creative possibilities unlocked by the use of technology and design thinking.
Transformations in technology and society were motivating changes in how creative work was organized. Structures that privileged collaboration and ingenuity were emerging that revealed new opportunities to create value and to reach new audiences. Spaces were being created, often couched as ‘incubators’, to support creative work and the models to sustain them. The language of ‘incubation’ can be problematic in the arts, however, as the term has fast become a fixed format in the technology world.
In 2013, there were 47 identified arts incubators in North America. At that time, arts incubators were primarily concerned with providing artists with the skills to turn their art into a means of making a living. Since 2015, however, there has been a proliferation in incubators concerned with the emerging needs of creative practice and the effects of technology on both creativity and commerce. As New Inc. describes, “because they are exploring new modes of cultural production, the professional landscape in which they (creative entrepreneurs) work is still undefined, and few resources and systems exist to
support these enterprises, or to address the unique challenges they are encountering” (newinc.org).
As disciplines converged and as new technologies were integrated into existing and new practices, appropriate approaches to support incubation and collaboration were needed. In a country as globally-connected and geographically dispersed as Canada, we wondered how might virtual or distance incubation practices be supported, particularly around acts of digital creation and dissemination.
The main questions that we were holding around digital incubation include:
- What are the relational dynamics that support or prevent digital innovation embedding in an artistic process or project?
- How do we identify and overcome differing attitudes, expectations and practices about digital creation among different parties including creative technologists, artists, arts administrators, community members, audiences and others (particularly attitudes to risk and failure, differing processes and methods)?
- What are the appropriate processes and approaches to synthesizing techniques and technologies?
- How do we measure and assess progress, outputs and outcomes of collaborative incubation activities?
- There is significant research into how face-to-face incubation in a shared physical space might be supported. Virtual or distance approaches to creative incubation are less well-understood but increasingly important as collaboration and coordination of specialized disciplines intersect.
See the SENSU final presentation through the download link below.