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There are lots of things that foundations are doing to hamper this new disruptive stuff,” Lublin said. One of the remarks she often heard from foundations was: “You don’t fit our buckets.” “No shit,” she offered in response. “It’s new.” Lublin wondered if upkeep of the Ford Foundation’s palatial headquarters, an impressive building near the United Nations that features an expansive atrium, was really the best use of the organization’s treasure. (Ford Foundation is a PDF sponsor.) “Do you really need to sit in that $400 million building, Ford Foundation? Are you not comfy? Most of it is not even usable space.” “One request I have today is Ford Foundation, sell the building,” she continued. “Be like Blue Ridge. Move to Brooklyn, be in a loft space … get back to your roots. I think you’ve gotten comfy.

In this excellent February 2013 paper for Nesta, Counting What Counts, Anthony Lilley, never one to mince his words, pushes the arts and cultural sector (public service broadcasting included) to embrace the opportunity of Big Data:

There are some fundamental barriers to the use of big data approaches in arts and cultural institutions. The first is related to the funding environment. The sector currently largely addresses data from too limited a perspective. Too often, the gathering and reporting of data is seen as a burden and a requirement of funding or governance rather than as an asset to be used to the benefit of the artistic or cultural institution and its work. This point of view is in danger of holding the sector back. It arises partly from the philosophy of dependence, subsidy and market failure which underpins much of the cultural sector including the arts and public service broadcasting.

A shift in mindset to one which sees data more as an asset and not just as a tool of accountability is a fundamental requirement of making the most of the “big data opportunity” envisaged by this paper. Importantly, such a shift which would match much of the rhetoric of “investment” which is used in the sector, particularly by policy and funding bodies. This paper suggests, to date, this rhetoric has largely been just that; a new term to replace the loaded word “subsidy” rather than a genuine change.

The second major obstacle is the limited strategic understanding of or indeed interest in the use of data at senior levels in the cultural sector. For many, the potential of data in the cultural sector is at best a “known-unknown” or worse goes entirely unappreciated. For some, the idea of using data in the the arts is controversial or even anathema. Limited day to day data management skills in many parts of the sector and often less than ideal technology in many organisations contribute to a sense of strategic drift. And yet, there are, of course, islands of passionate expertise and effective activity.

Without question, the effective use of big data (so-called data-driven decision-making or DDD) has the potential to deliver operational and financial benefits to individual cultural organisations in obvious fields such as marketing and development and, in turn, through the ways in which it might inform artistic decision-making.

This paper calls, ultimately, for a strategic approach to sectoral change, to capacity building and to joining up and scaling existing work with a view to achieving a step change in the way that data can help improve the resilience of the cultural sector.

Read the rest of the paper here.

Here’s an urgent message from the Mozilla Foundation regarding micro-grants for work related to the ITU (deadline Wednesday night GMT) – read below, and send your application to apply@mozillafoundation.org (do not send your application to mediapolicy.org or to OSF).

Open Internet Microgrants to Support Civil Society Engagement with the ITU
On December 3rd, the world’s governments will begin a ten-day meeting in Dubai to update a key treaty of a UN agency called the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Some proposed changes to that treaty could threaten Internet openness and innovation, increase access costs, and erode human rights online. We are urgently calling for projects that will help give civil society organizations that support an open Internet a stronger voice before and during that key meeting, the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT).

 

What We Want to Support

  • Efforts to influence your government’s position in the lead up to the WCIT meeting.
  • Costs for civil society representatives to participate at WCIT in Dubai, provided you are already a part of your country’s delegation or have otherwise demonstrated commitment and expertise in this area.
  • Provision of basic technical infrastructure and tools that let civil society representatives on the ground in Dubai coordinate and communicate with each other, their home organizations, and the media.

 

The Details

  • The call for proposal opens up on Nov. 12 and closes at 12 AM GMT Nov. 15 (i.e., midnight the night of the 14th).
  • This is a micro grant fund. There is a total of $10,000 available. Ideally, we will be supporting 8-10 projects from that amount. That means your grant will be approximately $1,000.
  • You need to be able to receive a wire transfer to a bank account. It can be your personal bank account. Individuals can apply.
  • We will contact you if we have any questions or to award you the grant. If you have not heard from us by November 16, we will have chosen not to provide support to your project.
  • Once a decision has been made, you will receive a letter from Mozilla summarizing the project you’ve proposed and agreeing to provide you the funds.
  • When the project is done, you will need to provide us a letter telling us what happened, how it went, and what you think you accomplished.

 

The Criteria
We will give preference to proposals that:

  • Ideally, show 1:1 matching support
  • Demonstrate your capacity to effect positive change
  • Facilitate regionally diverse participation in the WCIT
  • Can be implemented quickly

 

What We Need to Know
Send an e-mail to apply@mozillafoundation.org with the following information. If you are applying for travel support, be sure to tell us whether or not you are already included in your country’s delegation.

  • Name:
  • E-mail:
  • Organization (if applicable):
  • Country:
  • URL (if applicable):
  • Project Title:
  • What are you going to do?
  • Why are you the one to do it?
  • How will you spend the money?