Digital Culture Awards promotional image in dark blue with royal blue detail. Text reads: Celebrating digital and tech innovation in creativity and culture.

The Digital Culture Awards Content Creation and Distribution category celebrates an organisation’s innovative use of digital technology to create and distribute creative and cultural content into homes, venues and community spaces, demonstrating how innovation in digital content has had a positive impact on goals and audiences.​

The 2022 Judges in this category were Derek Richards, Head of Broadcast and Digital at Roundhouse, and Sarah Fortescue – Head of Distribution, The Space.

2022 Winner

The Old Vic for ‘Old Vic: In Camera’

While many arts organisations were forced to pause the creation of live performances throughout lockdown, The Old Vic pioneered a new project to keep the experience of live theatre alive when audiences couldn’t leave the house.

Behind-the-scenes at Old Vic’s A Christmas Carol video

By collaborating with Zoom, The Old Vic was able to adapt the platform to cope with multi-camera streaming, and remained committed to ensuring every performance was fully accessible, with live captioning and audio description to reach hundreds of thousands of people across the world.

These performances also required new ways of communicating to audiences: at the start of lockdown, customers were accustomed to watching pre-recorded performances, available for a limited time, rather than tuning in for a live performance.

What can you learn from The Old Vic’s experimentation with live-streaming?

  • Start small. The pandemic has radicalised what people expect from live-streamed performances, but this can be daunting if you haven’t streamed live before. Experiment with a smaller, single-camera setup before branching out to a bigger production.
  • Find the right partners. If you don’t have the skills to deliver a multi-camera production in-house (few organisations do!) then speak to other, similar arts organisations who have ventured into the world of streaming and see if they have any recommendations for partners to help you get streaming off the ground.
  • If you are already live-streaming your productions, or creating ‘as live’ performances of footage from your archive, take your thinking to the next level. How can you find ways of reaching more people with this content? Can you encourage the performers to share it in their own networks? Could you approach schools and youth networks to offer them free access? What specific interest groups will find the content of the show relevant to their audiences? Your audiences aren’t limited to the people who can get to your venue and back in a day, so now’s the time to reach further afield if you can.

2022 Special Commendation

Open Clasp Theatre Company for ‘Changing the World One Play at a Time’

Open Clasp Theatre Company are masters of distributing their content: they find innovative new partners to help them reach the audiences with the greatest need. The recieved a Special Commendation in the 2022 Digital Culture Awards for the impact of their distribution strategy.

The company tour their productions to community venues in the North of England, telling stories from women exploring issues including domestic abuse, racism and sexual abuse. But they have also found ways of spreading this content further and wider than just the venues they are able to attend physically, particularly in the face of funding cuts and Covid restrictions. By capturing their performances on camera, they have chosen to make the most of two key ways to share their content: through sharing on their own channels and with artistic partners to reach new and existing audiences, and through grassroots partnerships.

#ChooseToChallenge video from Open Clasp Theatre Company

By looking at the themes of their artistic output and matching it with the people they wanted to reach, Open Clasp Theatre Company thought outside the box and approached a range of partner organisations, including schools, youth centres and prisons to share their powerful messages through their productions.

This means their content is watched by their existing followers and fans of theatre, as well as brand new audiences, with free screenings to raise awareness of domestic violence, and train frontline services.

Top tips from Open Clasp Theatre Company’s approach to distribution:

  • Can you take your content directly to the people you really want to reach? If you really want to engage young people, can you stream directly to schools or youth centres, for example? This gives your content a second chance at connecting with an audience, once it has been seen ‘live’.
  • Consider which of your content is ‘evergreen’. Don’t assume because you have shared your content once that it is no longer valuable to audiences. Can you repurpose it, share it with different partners, re-release it, or organise opportunities to share it again. (But make sure you have cleared the rights beforehand!)


2022 Longlist

  • Ark Schools – Summer Sounds hybrid arts festival for the Ark network of schools
  • CEDA (Community Equality Disability Action) – When The Wheels Come Off
  • Complicité – Can I Live? Online tour of filmed performance
  • Kirklees Libraries (Part of Kirklees Council) – #libraries from home: connecting with our communities during lockdown and beyond
  • London Philharmonic Orchestra – ‘In the Stream of Life’: London Philharmonic Orchestra 2020/21 Season on Marquee TV
  • London Transport Museum – Digitising our Hidden London programme
  • National Theatre – National Theatre at Home
  • Opera North – Song of Our Heartland
  • RNLI Grace Darling Museum – Immersive multi-channel film installation: attracting new audiences by using emerging technologies to shine a new light on a national story
  • The Spark Arts for Children – Secret Stories from Belgrave in Leicester
  • The Wardrobe Theatre and Sharp Teeth Theatre – Sherlock In Homes – an innovative digital murder mystery
  • Vamos Theatre – How Hard is Waving?

Want to find out more about how to best to distribute your digital content? Our network of Tech Champions can help.

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Derek Richards
Head of Broadcast and Digital, Roundhouse

In 1991 Derek Richards co-founded Artec, the UK’s first media lab and centre for learning digital creation. He has since won 11 awards for his digital and interactive work including installations for London’s Science Museum and for gallery exhibition as well as online.

Sarah Fortescue
Head of Distribution, The Space

Sarah specialises in distribution, working within the broadcast and digital sectors. She is Head of Distribution at The Space. She has also served as Executive Producer on a range of interactive projects, which have been nominated for a number of international awards, including a Webby.

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