New funding supports UK artists to work with immersive tech

Man in virtual reality headset.

A new project will support over 200 UK-based artists and organisations to explore the creative potential of virtual, augmented and mixed reality technologies.

The term ‘immersive technology’ encompasses a wide spectrum of tools and technologies. These include the game engines used to make virtual and augmented reality apps such as Beat Saber or Pokémon Go, as well as the motion capture, LED screens and spatial audio magic of Abba Voyage.

Funded through a £6 million grant from the XRtists scheme, the three-year cross-UK ‘Immersive Arts’ project will build on the UK’s record of supporting artists to unlock the creative potential of new technology. Funding for XRtists comes from an ambitious partnership between:

  • Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
  • Arts Council England
  • Creative Scotland
  • Arts Council of Northern Ireland
  • Arts Council of Wales

The programme will give artists based in the UK the opportunity to access training, mentoring, specialist facilities and vital funds. They will have £3.6 million in grant funding available to help them get their ideas off the ground.

At the forefront of advancements

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said:

The government has already invested £75 million to build a network of R&D labs across the UK that will put us at the forefront of advancements in visual effects, motion-capture technology, and AI for the screen and stage industries.

This new funding will help even more of our brightest artists and creatives harness the power of this innovative technology. Developing the skills and infrastructure underpinning immersive technology will maximise the potential of our powerful creative industries and achieve our goal of growing them by £50 billion by 2030.

New creative frontiers

Minister for Tech and the Digital Economy, Saqib Bhatti said:

From the printing press to digital streaming, leaps forward in technology have always led to advances in art and creativity. The Immersive Arts programme will ensure that British creatives are given access to the tech they need to push new creative frontiers.

Blockbuster shows like Abba Voyage demonstrate that extended reality brings about artistic innovation and a list of economic benefits that goes on and on and on.

Innovation and economic growth

AHRC Executive Chair Professor Christopher Smith said:

To maintain the UK’s place at the vanguard of the creative industries, we need to invest in the skills and technologies that underpin them. Extended reality is an exciting new frontier in creative technology that offers world-expanding possibilities.

This investment in the Immersive Arts consortium by an ambitious partnership of the UK’s arts councils, Creative Scotland and AHRC will allow us to support skills development and unlock further innovation and economic growth, bringing the power of this technology to new audiences and partners.

Immersive Arts

The programme will be led by the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), with the lead hub at Pervasive Media Studio in Bristol and Watershed as Executive Producer.

Working in partnership with University of Bristol and cultural organisations in Belfast and Derry, Cardiff and Glasgow. They will generate a rich programme of inclusive and accessible opportunities, breaking down the barriers for artists of all backgrounds to engage with immersive tools.

An inclusive and accessible programme

Principal Investigator and Director of Immersive Arts, Verity McIntosh, Associate Professor of Virtual and Extended Realities at UWE Bristol, said:

I am delighted that this incredible consortium of partners will now be able to support more than 200 artists from across the UK. We look forward to working with creatives of all backgrounds who are interested in developing their practice, and testing the boundaries of what might be artistically possible using immersive technologies.

In the coming three years we will be offering an inclusive and accessible programme of research, training, funding opportunities and events. Immersive Arts has been designed to foster a growing, collaborative community of UK artists experimenting with immersive materials, and connecting with audiences around the world.

Supporting artists across the UK

The four core partners based in each of the nations of the UK who will work closely with artists in their region are:

  • Cryptic in Glasgow, Scotland
  • Nerve Centre in Belfast and Derry, Northern Ireland
  • Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff, Wales
  • Watershed in Bristol, England

In the past five years these four partners have supported more than 5,500 artists, and shared work with an audience of over 70.5 million people.

Additional partners with specialist expertise supporting the programme are:

  • Crossover Labs, experts in training and artist development using immersive media
  • Unlimited, working with disabled artists and audiences, challenging the culture sector and changing perceptions of disability
  • XR Diversity Initiative, dedicated to making the extended reality (XR) community more inclusive
  • Immerse UK, the UK’s leading membership organisation for immersive technologies

Funding for Immersive Arts comes from:

  • AHRC
  • Arts Council England
  • The National Lottery through Creative Scotland
  • The National Lottery through Arts Council of Northern Ireland
  • The National Lottery through Arts Council of Wales

Creating opportunities

Darren Henley, CEO at Arts Council England, said:

Creative producers and cultural organisations have always been vital in unlocking the potential of new technology, as we are seeing in the innovative experiences artists and cultural organisations are creating for immersive platforms.

We are excited to launch XRtists with our UK-wide partners, to help the cultural sector develop the skills to push the creative potential of emerging technologies even further, and create opportunities for more artists and organisations to work with these technologies for the first time.

At the forefront of XR innovation

Creative Industries Manager at Creative Scotland Morgan Petrie said:

This unique collaboration provides a great opportunity for artists to be at the forefront of XR innovation. The partners involved will be able to share best practice, learn from each other and nurture connections across the UK.

The Scottish producing partner, Cryptic, is cementing Scotland and its artists into the future of this technology, pioneering within Scotland’s creative industries.

Building digital capabilities

Director of Strategic Development and Partnerships, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Karly Greene said:

Today’s announcement is welcome news and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to co-fund XRtists: Immersive Artists along with The Arts and Humanities Research Council and our arts funding colleagues across these islands.

Thanks to The National Lottery this initiative offers a valuable opportunity for artists to learn skills in using new immersive technology and reflects the Arts Council’s commitment to encouraging innovative practices that cross artform boundaries and build digital capabilities within our arts sector.

Telling stories with impact

Lisa Matthews-Jones, portfolio manager at Arts Council of Wales said:

Working with our partner nations, this project will mean inclusive opportunities to explore the use of creative technology to share experiences and tell stories with impact.

Wales Millennium Centre is perfectly placed to build on their own work and support the work of other artists and organisations in Wales for the benefit of current and future audiences.

Further information

To be kept up to date with news and opportunities, you can sign up for regular updates from Immersive Arts.

 

Cyllid newydd yn cefnogi artistiaid o’r DU i weithio gyda thechnoleg ymdrochol

Bydd prosiect newydd yn cefnogi dros 200 o artistiaid a sefydliadau yn y DU i archwilio potensial creadigol technolegau realiti rhithwir, estynedig a chymysg.

Mae’r term ‘technoleg ymdrochol’ yn cwmpasu sbectrwm eang o offer a thechnolegau, gan gynnwys y peiriannau gemau a ddefnyddir i wneud apiau realiti rhithwir ac estynedig fel Beat Saber neu Pokémon Go, yn ogystal â thechnoleg dal symudiad, sgriniau LED a hud sain gofodol Abba Voyage.

Wedi’i ariannu drwy grant o £6 miliwn gan gynllun XRtistiaid, bydd y prosiect ‘Celfyddydau Ymdrochol’ traws-DU tair blynedd yn adeiladu ar record y DU o gefnogi artistiaid i ddatgloi potensial creadigol technoleg newydd. Daw cyllid ar gyfer XRtistiaid o bartneriaeth uchelgeisiol rhwng Cyngor Ymchwil y Celfyddydau a’r Dyniaethau, Cyngor Celfyddydau Lloegr, Creative Scotland, Cyngor Celfyddydau Gogledd Iwerddon a Chyngor Celfyddydau Cymru.

Bydd y rhaglen yn rhoi cyfle i artistiaid yn y DU gael mynediad at hyfforddiant, mentora, cyfleusterau arbenigol a chronfeydd hanfodol, gyda £3.6 miliwn o gyllid grant ar gael i’w helpu i roi cychwyn ar eu syniadau.

Meddai’r Ysgrifennydd Diwylliant Lucy Frazer:

Mae’r llywodraeth eisoes wedi buddsoddi £75 miliwn i adeiladu rhwydwaith o labordai Ymchwil a Datblygu ledled y DU a fydd yn ein rhoi ar flaen y gad o ran datblygiadau mewn effeithiau gweledol, technoleg dal-symudiad, a deallusrwydd artiffisial ar gyfer y diwydiannau sgrin a llwyfan. Bydd y cyllid newydd hwn yn helpu hyd yn oed mwy o’n hartistiaid a’n creadigolion mwyaf disglair i harneisio pŵer y dechnoleg arloesol hon. Bydd datblygu’r sgiliau a’r seilwaith sy’n sail i dechnoleg ymdrochol yn gwneud y mwyaf o botensial ein diwydiannau creadigol pwerus ac yn cyflawni ein nod o’u tyfu gan £50 biliwn erbyn 2030.

Dywedodd y Gweinidog Technoleg a’r Economi Ddigidol, Saqib Bhatti:

O’r wasg argraffu i ffrydio digidol, mae camau ymlaen mewn technoleg bob amser wedi arwain at ddatblygiadau mewn celf a chreadigrwydd. Bydd y rhaglen Celfyddydau Ymdrochol yn sicrhau bod pobl greadigol o Brydain yn cael mynediad at y dechnoleg sydd ei hangen arnynt i wthio ffiniau creadigol newydd. Mae sioeau fel Abba Voyage yn dangos bod realiti estynedig yn creu arloesedd artistig a rhestr o fanteision economaidd hirfaith.

Dywedodd Cadeirydd Gweithredol Cyngor Ymchwil y Celfyddydau a’r Dyniaethau, yr Athro Christopher Smith:

Er mwyn sicrhau bod y DU yn parhau i fod ar flaen y gad yn y diwydiannau creadigol, mae angen i ni fuddsoddi yn y sgiliau a’r technolegau sy’n sail iddynt. Mae realiti estynedig yn ffin newydd gyffrous mewn technoleg greadigol sy’n cynnig posibiliadau byd-ehangol.

Bydd y buddsoddiad hwn yn y consortiwm Celfyddydau Ymdrochol gan bartneriaeth uchelgeisiol o gynghorau celfyddydau’r DU, Creative Scotland ac AHRC yn ein galluogi i gefnogi datblygu sgiliau a datgloi arloesedd pellach a thwf economaidd, gan ddod â phŵer y dechnoleg hon i gynulleidfaoedd a phartneriaid newydd.

Celfyddydau Ymdrochol

Bydd y rhaglen yn cael ei harwain gan Brifysgol Gorllewin Lloegr (UWE Bristol), gyda’r prif ganolbwynt yn Pervasive Media Studio ym Mryste a Watershed fel Cynhyrchydd Gweithredol.

Gan weithio mewn partneriaeth â Phrifysgol Bryste a sefydliadau diwylliannol yn Belfast a Derry, Caerdydd a Glasgow, byddant yn cynhyrchu rhaglen gynhwysfawr o gyfleoedd cynhwysol a hygyrch, gan chwalu’r rhwystrau i artistiaid o bob cefndir ymgysylltu ag offer ymdrochol.

Meddai Prif Ymchwilydd a Chyfarwyddwraig Celfyddydau Ymdrochol, Verity McIntosh, Athrawes Gyswllt Realiti Rhithwir ac Estynedig yn UWE Bristol:

Rwy’n falch iawn y bydd y consortiwm anhygoel hwn o bartneriaid nawr yn gallu cefnogi mwy na 200 o artistiaid o bob rhan o’r DU. Edrychwn ymlaen at weithio gyda phobl greadigol o bob cefndir sydd â diddordeb mewn datblygu eu defnydd, a phrofi ffiniau’r hyn a allai fod yn gelfyddydol bosib gyda thechnolegau ymdrochol.

Yn ystod y tair blynedd nesaf byddwn yn cynnig rhaglen gynhwysol a hygyrch o ymchwil, hyfforddiant, cyfleoedd ariannu a digwyddiadau. Mae Celfyddydau Ymdrochol wedi’i greu er mwyn meithrin cymuned gynyddol gydweithredol o artistiaid o’r DU sy’n arbrofi gyda deunyddiau ymdrochol, a chysylltu â chynulleidfaoedd ledled y byd.

Cefnogi artistiaid ar draws y Deyrnas Unedig

Y pedwar partner craidd ym mhob un o wledydd y DU a fydd yn gweithio’n agos gydag artistiaid yn eu rhanbarth yw:

  • Cryptic yn Glasgow, Yr Alban
  • Canolfan Nerve yn Belfast a Derry, Gogledd Iwerddon
  • Canolfan Mileniwm Cymru yng Nghaerdydd, Cymru
  • Watershed ym Mryste, Lloegr

Yn ystod y pum mlynedd diwethaf mae’r pedwar partner hwn wedi cefnogi mwy na 5,500 o artistiaid a rhannu gwaith gyda chynulleidfa o dros 70.5 miliwn o bobl.

Partneriaid ychwanegol arbenigol sy’n cefnogi’r rhaglen yw:

  • Crossover Labs, arbenigwyr mewn hyfforddiant a datblygu artistiaid gan ddefnyddio cyfryngau ymdrochol
  • Unlimited, sy’n gweithio gydag artistiaid a chynulleidfaoedd anabl, herio’r sector diwylliant a newid canfyddiadau o anabledd
  • XR Diversity Initiative, sy’n ymroddedig i wneud y gymuned XR yn fwy cynhwysol
  • Immerse UK, prif sefydliad aelodaeth y DU ar gyfer technolegau ymdrochol

Daw’r cyllid ar gyfer Celfyddydau Ymdrochol gan y canlynol:

  • Cyngor Ymchwil y Celfyddydau a’r Dyniaethau (AHRC)
  • Cyngor Celfyddydau Lloegr
  • Y Loteri Genedlaethol trwy Creative Scotland
  • Cyngor Celfyddydau Gogledd Iwerddon
  • Y Loteri Genedlaethol drwy Gyngor Celfyddydau Cymru

Meddai Darren Henley, Prif Weithredwr Cyngor Celfyddydau Lloegr:

Mae cynhyrchwyr creadigol a sefydliadau diwylliannol bob amser wedi bod yn hanfodol wrth ddatgloi potensial technoleg newydd, fel yr ydym yn ei weld yn y profiadau arloesol y mae artistiaid a sefydliadau diwylliannol yn eu creu ar gyfer llwyfannau ymdrochol.  Rydym yn falch iawn i lansio Celfyddydau Ymdrochol gyda’n partneriaid ledled y DU, i helpu’r sector diwylliannol ddatblygu’r sgiliau i wthio potensial creadigol technolegau ymddangosol hyd yn oed ymhellach, a chreu cyfleoedd i fwy o artistiaid a sefydliadau weithio gyda’r technolegau hyn am y tro cyntaf.

Meddai Rheolwr y Diwydiannau Creadigol yn Creative Scotland Morgan Petrie:

Mae’r cydweithrediad unigryw hwn yn rhoi cyfle gwych i artistiaid fod ar flaen y gad o ran arloesi XR.  Bydd y partneriaid dan sylw yn gallu rhannu arfer gorau, dysgu oddi wrth ei gilydd a meithrin cysylltiadau ledled y DU.  Mae’r partner cynhyrchu Albanaidd, Cryptic, yn cadarnhau lle’r Alban a’i hartistiaid yn nyfodol y dechnoleg hon, gan arloesi o fewn diwydiannau creadigol yr Alban.

Meddai Cyfarwyddwraig Datblygu Strategol a Phartneriaethau, Cyngor Celfyddydau Gogledd Iwerddon, Karly Greene:

Mae’r cyhoeddiad heddiw i’w groesawu ac mae Cyngor Celfyddydau Gogledd Iwerddon yn falch iawn o gyd-ariannu XRtistiaid: Artistiaid Ymdrochol ynghyd â Chyngor Ymchwil y Celfyddydau a’r Dyniaethau a’n cydweithwyr cyllid celfyddydol ar hyd a lled yr ynysoedd hyn. Diolch i’r Loteri Genedlaethol, mae’r fenter hon yn cynnig cyfle gwerthfawr i artistiaid ddysgu sgiliau wrth ddefnyddio technoleg ymdrochol newydd ac mae’n adlewyrchu ymrwymiad Cyngor y Celfyddydau i annog arferion arloesol sy’n croesi ffiniau celf ac yn meithrin galluoedd digidol yn ein sector celfyddydol.

Meddai Lisa Matthews-Jones, rheolwr portffolio yng Nghyngor Celfyddydau Cymru:

Gan weithio gyda’n gwledydd partner, bydd y prosiect hwn yn golygu cyfleoedd cynhwysol i archwilio’r defnydd o dechnoleg greadigol i rannu profiadau ac adrodd straeon gydag effaith. Mae Canolfan Mileniwm Cymru mewn sefyllfa berffaith i adeiladu ar eu gwaith eu hunain a chefnogi gwaith artistiaid a sefydliadau eraill yng Nghymru er budd cynulleidfaoedd presennol a rhai’r dyfodol.

Top image:  Credit: Polly Thomas

This is the website for UKRI: our seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK. Let us know if you have some quick feedback or help us improve your experience by taking three minutes to tell us what you think of the UKRI website.