As the Culture Cloud project draws to its conclusion, the evaluation team are eager to gain as much feedback about the experience as possible from participants.

On one hand this entails questioning as many of the 900+ competition entrants as possible and to this end we’ve mailed all of them with a questionnaire and invitation to feedback to us in detail.

On the other hand we are interested in finding out as much about as many of the voters as possible. There are over 40000 registered ‘likes’ for the shortlisted artworks posted on Artfinder which indicates that the project has attracted a lot of attention. We’ve launched an online questionnaire for voters and encourage each and every one of them to take a minute or two to answer the few questions we’ve set.

The voter questionnaire can be found here.

Respondents are welcome to share this link and to feedback to us directly – via this site, or to paul.long@bcu.ac.uk.

Thanks for your participation!

Since encountering Culture Cloud and the nature of originating partner organizations New Art Exchange and Artfinder, a core question for the evaluation team concerns the very nature of art online, its definition, mode of consumption and, indeed, the expectations of all involved in the relationships forged around artworks.

Here, we can identify a number of ways of thinking about art and the online world related to this project that will be helpful in evaluating its R&D dimensions and the nature of any innovation in the relationship between gallery, art, artist and consumer.

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One aspect of the approach that we have taken to evaluating the Culture Cloud is to place it in the context of other online projects that have evinced similar aims, objectives and methods. One such project is Democracy which came to my attention as a result of a presentation by Jim Richardson, founder and director of Sumo Design and MuseumNext, Europe’s major conference on social media and museums.

Richardson’s presentation took place at one of the AHRC-funded Digital Transformations Workshops organized by the University of Westminster: ‘a research network exploring digital transformations in the creative relationships between cultural and media organisations and their users.’ Clearly, an initiative that is a potentially important point of reference for Culture Cloud and related discussions.

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The call for artists to upload their work for consideration as part of the Culture Cloud project is now online at: theculturecloud.com or theculturecloud.co.uk. There is also a Facebook page dedicated to circulating information on the project. The Twitter feed can be found at: @NaeCultureCloud.

Potential contributors were invited to start uploading/registering art works from 5 March 2012. Registration is open until midnight Friday 4 May 2012.

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Artfinder describes a technology, ‘an exciting new concept for discovering, experiencing and sharing art’ which ‘gives you access to hundreds of thousands of paintings’, allowing you to build ‘your own art profile’. It promises to be the Last.fm of art, offers to sell you prints of most of the artwork shown, and is most emphatically not a museum.

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The academic evaluation team on the Culture Cloud project comprises Dr Nick Webber, Dr Simon Barber, Dr. Paul Long and Professor Tim Wall. They are representatives of the Interactive Cultures research team, based in the Birmingham Centre for Media & Cultural Research, which focuses on work associated with the cultural and creative industries, emphasising cultural consumption and new digital technologies.

The team have run externally funded projects and published work which deepens and integrates the following themes:

  • cultural practice, history and heritage;
  • social media, interactivity, digital participation;
  • digital and online archives;
  • locative-media, gaming cultural practices, application to other domains.

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New Art Exchange is a visual arts organisation based in the Hyson Green area of Nottingham, housed in a RIBA-award winning building designed by the architects Hawkins Brown.

Formed in September 2003, NAE was conceived as an organisation that would steer and manage the development of Nottingham’s first dedicated cultural facility for Black contemporary arts.  This conception can be understood as result of NAE’s formation out of a partnership between APNA Arts and EMACA Visual Arts. APNA Arts (Apna is Hindi for ‘ours’) focused on South Asian arts and played a key role in the development of the ‘Nottingham Mela’ in 2008. EMACA – East Midlands African Caribbean Arts – was an independent organisation that existed to promote the work of local artists of African and African- Caribbean heritage within the East Midlands employing various media through the use of workshops, exhibitions, performances and discussions.

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The ‘Culture Cloud’ project was successfully pitched to NESTA/ACE/AHRC in response to the ‘Digital Research and Development’ funding call. ‘Culture Cloud’ is a partnership between the Nottingham-based visual arts organisation New Art Exchange and Artfinder acting as technology provider. The team from Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research will act as academic evaluators on this project.

Artfinder is an ambitious internet start-up that brings the approach of social media practice to the world of art. Describing Artfinder, the Guardian’s Jemima Kiss suggests that we think ‘of movie details site IMDB, music recommendations service Last.fm, gig tracking site Songkick, online mixture site Muxtape (RIP) and Shazam, the music identification service all as shorthand for some aspect of ArtFinder is trying to do. (See: Jemima Kiss, ‘ArtFinder brings social media to art’, 6 May 2011, http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/pda/2011/may/06/artfinder-social-media-art [accessed 3/2/12]).

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A team from the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research (BCMCR) at BCU is one of a group of academic evaluators working on a range of projects funded under the Digital Research & Development Fund for Arts and Culture. This fund was established by the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) in conjunction with the Arts Council England (ACE) and Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

The partnership between NESTA, ACE and AHRC was formed in order to support arts and cultural organisations across England that wish to work with digital technologies in order to:

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