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Mobilising the Arts for an Inclusive Digital Transformation

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - ARTSFORMATION (Mobilising the Arts for an Inclusive Digital Transformation)

Reporting period: 2021-04-01 to 2023-09-30

The ARTSFORMATION project is an innovative proposal in addressing the Digital Transformation as a grand societal challenge in Europe. This grand challenge has deep impacts across diverse sectors within the societal sphere and Europeans are needing to re-shape the ways of organising themselves to be part of such rapid changes brought by technology. As such, ARTSFORMATION overall goal is to explore and leverage the arts as a valuable actor in the transformation of our society towards a more inclusive and sustainable in the digital future. The project explores the potential of the arts in promoting, enabling and empowering people to thrive in the Digital Transformation in a rapprochement among the artistic, technological, enterprise and civil society domains.

ARTSFORMATION elevates the arts as a powerful and transformative agent through the development of knowledge, toolsets and participative experiments focusing especially on vulnerable groups in Europe. As the project’s goal, Artsformation wants to understand, analyse and promote the ways in which the arts can reinforce the benefits of the digital transformation as well as investigate its potential to intervene in the negative aspects of such phenomena in the social, cultural, economic and political fields. To deliver these goals, the Artsformation’s Consortium is composed by academic, artistic and societal organisations which collaborate together in the research and implementation components of the project to achieve success at the end of its term.

Through a combination of research methods including artistic ones, ARTSFORMATION embraces both research and implementation components looking not only to advance the academic knowledge but to translate such research into practice. In its academic core, ARTSFORMATION aims to understand how the arts and the digital transformation are related, focusing on the artists’ perspectives and their practices. Likewise, the project explores the role of the arts in enterprise and their interaction and influences on business methods and organisations. Lastly, Artsformation also pays attention to the engagement of the arts with societal issues, focusing on those artistic practices that tackle challenges deriving from the digital transformation in the European society.
ARTSFORMATION sought to influence digital policy-making and promote a more humane, democratic digital transformation in Europe through workshops, exhibitions, and educational materials.

The project examined how artistic practices could inform and guide societal transformation in the context of digitalization through literature reviews, field work, and artist interviews, and developed recommendations for empowering artists for the digital transformation. Understanding and documenting how arts-based approaches can contribute to a broader and more inclusive digital transformation and mapping the diverse ways artists and artistic practices interact with digital technologies and societal change was the goal.

It further used an empirical approach to assess the impact of the Arts on digital transformation in public and private businesses. The goal was to assess how artistic interventions affected, drove, and integrated enterprise digital transformation. This involved a comprehensive literature review on the role of the arts in enterprise settings, case studies and workshops with innovative organizations that collaborated with artists, surveys, implementation workshops, and recommendations. The project promoted best practices, innovative solutions, and effective strategies for integrating the arts into digital transformation.

Another focus was on arts-civil society interaction to promote democratic and inclusive digital transformation. The project examined how socially engaged and participatory art affects digitally transformed communities. The team used theoretical and practical research methods to imagine a humane technological future in Europe, focusing on the arts' ability to mediate digital transformation's positive and negative effects on communities. We published literature and case studies and held workshops with artists affecting local communities. The work culminated in a free MOOC titled Art and Technology, launched on Coursera in November 2023.

The project also mobilized diverse practitioners to produce tangible outputs and public events using participatory arts programs. This package brought over 50 European together, for residencies and arts-based participatory interventions. These participants created socially engaged artworks and guidelines for a transnational digital assembly. This assembly now involves over 259 European practitioners in participatory decision-making to mitigate digital transformation's negative effects on marginalized communities. Public deliberation platforms and reports on participatory arts-based programs are exploitable outputs that contribute to the project's legacy and sustainability.

Throught the project, ARTSFORMATION hosted public events and exhibitions on digitalization's social effects, including privacy, surveillance, and technology's exploitation. The initiative held successful exhibitions and performances. The book Control, Refusal, Trust, and Care: A cultural change toolkit was published in summer 2023.

Finally, the project developed impact assessment methods and indicators to measure the arts' influence on policy recommendations. Event, workshop, and Artsformation Summit were organized to discuss project outcomes and future beyond the funded period. This summit in Brussels proved the assessment framework's efficacy and applicability, highlighting its importance in integrating the arts into policymaking.
The project sought to redefine arts and digital transformation in Europe to create a future of inclusivity, democracy, and sustainability. It combined artistic practices with digital technologies to find novel solutions to social issues, pushing both fields forward. Our interdisciplinary approach combined arts, technology, and social sciences to create novel methods that could impact digital transformation processes on multiple levels. The project sought to change how digital transformation is understood and practiced by highlighting the arts' vital role in creating a technologically advanced, socially inclusive, and economically vibrant future. Participation was key to the project. The results were innovative and rooted in diverse societal needs and perspectives because communities directly participated in the transformation efforts. This approach was intended to democratize digital transformation, making it more accessible and relevant to more people. Comprehensive case studies showed how artistic interventions can address digital challenges, providing valuable insights for future projects and policymaking. Innovative tools and methods for integrating arts into digital transformation promised new ways to engage with technology and society. Educational materials about the role of arts in digital transformation were also created to increase understanding across society. The project's policy recommendations to incorporate the arts into digital transformation strategies were another important outcome. These recommendations sought to broaden and include diverse societal needs and values in digital future engagement.
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