On June 29, the National Endowment for the Arts is holding a virtual event to discuss findings on their new field scan, Tech as Art: Supporting Artists Who Use Technology as a Creative MediumCommissioned in 2019, in partnership with the Ford Foundation and the Knight Foundation, the report explores how artists are incorporating digital technologies in their creative work and to learn more about the current and prospective sources of support for these artistic practices. Dot Connector Studio conducted the research for this report in collaboration with 8 Bridges Workshop, led by Sarah Lutman.

For tickets and more information on the NEA Tech as Art virtual event, sign up here.

At the launch event, prominent art funders, artists and technologists will be paired together to “provide insight into the creative ecosystem existing at the intersection of arts and technology”. Each conversation will tackle different topics including, Access + Community, Value + Impact, and Future + Integration. Featured artists will include Refik Anadol, Stephanie Sinkins, Omari Rush, and more.

The goal is that the report will help funders to make more informed decisions about how to enhance support for this field. Grounded in literature reviews, interviews, and group discussions with artists and practitioners across the United States, the report identifies challenges and gives recommendations for varied stakeholder groups, funders, arts practitioners, policymakers, and educators. 

Five key takeaways from the report include:

  • Code, computation, data, and tool-building are fundamental to “tech-centered” artistic practice.
  • Because the field is so diverse and dynamic, it has eluded easy labels. As a result, more traditional arts organizations and funders often have trouble finding entry points to engage with it.
  • Tech-centered artists have managed successfully to establish peer organizations, regional hubs, exhibition spaces, festivals, information networks, and academic departments across the United States.
  • Career pathways for tech-centered artists are highly varied, though as a group these workers encounter many of the same obstacles as artists in general.
  • Tech-centered artists are admirably poised to grapple with larger societal and sectoral challenges—whether engaging with audiences during the COVID-19 pandemic or responding to calls for greater equity and inclusion in the arts and technology. They can be invaluable partners for policymakers, educators, and practitioners in arts and non-arts sectors alike.

Dot Connector Studio’s work on this report is interconnected with the other projects we’ve produced about new forms of media and art. For example, The Making a New Reality Toolkit, provides a host of carefully curated resources for making emerging media such as VR, AR, and social media more diverse, equitable, and inclusive (DEI), and Immerse.news covers topics and debates related to emerging nonfiction media.