I want to congratulate the Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) for its Arts and Technology theme.
The art world continues to thrive because it embraces technology and is an example to businesses and organisations across the spectrum.
Technology is integral to the artistic process. The use of multi-media in performance is continually evolving and can help deliver an experience that challenges the way we think about the world around us. More tools at the artists’ disposal offer whole new ways to stimulate and provoke a reaction.
Technology also helps arts organisations reach out to new audiences. From the New York Met Opera, the National Theatre in London and the Bolshoi Ballet producing live or “as-live” productions for cinema through to the Edinburgh Fringe posting clips on YouTube, the use of new broadcast digital technology means that the arts don’t need the audience to come to them: they can showcase their work where new audiences will find them.
Beyond these initial touchpoints, the art world uses technology to retain, re-engage and grow audiences. The Royal Shakespeare Company has grown its core audience by 30 per cent, having put in place the technology infrastructure, software and skills to better understand its theatre-goers. Scottish Opera makes sure that its Facebook and Twitter followers – of which there are 1200 – get something they genuinely find useful.
Technology also allows us to preserve our cultural history. In 2012, Accenture and the British Film Institute began to work towards the digitisation of some of the nation’s most culturally precious celluloid. Established in 1935, the BFI National Archive is one of the largest film and television collections in the world with nearly a million titles. Across the board, technology has enabled more accurate restoration and greater preservation of classic artworks.
In future, technology will increasingly be the catalyst to collaborations. Spontaneous creative partnerships are exploding online, backed up by the new peer-to-peer funding networks ready to invest in something different.
EIF’s 2013 theme teaches that technology is not only the means to greater expression, it is also the means to survive and flourish.
• Bill McDonald is MD of Accenture Scotland and a board member of Arts and Business