Four of Scotland’s best known music and performing arts organisations are looking for creative entrepreneurs to collaborate with them on projects that could transform the way they work and produce exciting new audience experiences. Funding of up to £20,000 is available to individuals and businesses working in and around Edinburgh that can provide innovative, data-driven solutions to any of the challenges posed.

Scottish Opera, Scottish Ensemble, Drake Music Scotland and Pianodrome have been selected to take part in Challenge Projects as part of Creative Informatics, a £7.6 million programme led by the University of Edinburgh that is supporting individuals and organisations in the creative industries to do inspiring things with data.

Scottish Opera, Scotland’s largest performing arts organisation, would like to develop an interactive evaluation tool to support their Primary Schools Tour. Scottish Ensemble would like to create an interactive installation version of Anno, their audio-visual collaboration with composer and producer Anna Meredith. Pianodrome’s challenge is to connect two pianos in separate geographical locations together in real time, allowing players at each piano to engage in a unique musical dialogue with someone they may have never met before, while Drake Music Scotland would like to develop the world’s first and most comprehensive inclusive music hub.

Applications for individuals and organisations that would like to propose solutions to these challenges open today (Friday 5th March) and will close on Friday 16th April 2021. Successful applicants will retain part or all of the Intellectual Property for any solutions developed.

Professor Chris Speed, Director, Creative Informatics said: “We are delighted to be working with four of Scotland’s leading music and performing arts organisations to help them find solutions to an exciting variety of challenges. Challenge Projects provide unique opportunities for creative and cultural organisations to bring forward challenges relating to their work that involve any kind of data.

“For Pianodrome, data is musical notes played on a piano, while for Scottish Ensemble, data comes in the form of audio recordings and animations produced through their collaboration with Anna Meredith. Scottish Opera would like to make data capture more engaging and accessible for the pupils and teachers that participate in their Primary Schools Tour, while Drake Music Scotland would like to develop a unique, crowdsourced database of accessible music resources for their award-winning Figurenotes programme.

“During these exceptionally challenging times for the creative industries it is more important than ever that we find new ways to innovate and provide opportunities for creativity to flourish. I look forward to seeing these projects develop over the coming months and hope that the solutions developed will help our challenge holders – and the wider creative industries – to thrive in the future.”

Jane Davidson MBE, Director of Outreach and Education, Scottish Opera said:  “I am delighted that Scottish Opera has been selected to participate as a Creative Informatics Challenge Holder. Finding a solution to our challenge will enable us to improve the Primary School Tour project experience and learning outcomes for thousands of pupils each year and expand the reach of the project so we can benefit more young people across Edinburgh and all of Scotland. Collaborating with specialists in other sectors will support us to evolve our longest-running education project, so it can adapt and thrive in the increasingly digital age.”

Scott Crawford Morrison, Development and Projects Manager, Scottish Ensemble said: “By participating in a Creative Informatics Challenge Project, we hope to meet a partner who can help Scottish Ensemble push the boundaries of digital classical music experiences, reach new audiences, and incorporate technology more creatively into our work.

“We’re excited to find new ways for our music-making to be shared more widely, particularly to enable us to showcase our music in places where you might not normally encounter classical music, as well as to open up new avenues for our business model through the creation of this special touring installation. We’re hugely looking forward to the cross-sector collaboration this project will entail.”

Tim Vincent-Smith, Artistic Director, Pianodrome said: “Imagine a piano in a gallery. You can play it if you want to, but sometimes it seems to play itself. Then you realise it responds to what you play and you realise that you are engaged in musical dialogue with someone on the other side of the world. Being chosen as a Challenge Holder is a wonderful opportunity to reach out and find collaborators with the skills and expertise to bring our vision to fruition.”

Thursa Sanderson, Chief Executive, Drake Music Scotland, said:  “We are delighted to have secured the opportunity to work with Creative Informatics on our Challenge Project to create an online platform bringing together our inclusive music community and the resources that are most relevant to them. We envisage it developing into a thriving hub of knowledge and inspiring practice that puts music well within reach of every learner, whatever their needs are.” Creative Informatics is a partnership between the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier University, Codebase and Creative Edinburgh, supporting local creative talent in Edinburgh and South East Scotland to develop new products, services and businesses using data and data-driven technologies. To date the programme has invested £1.6 million in the region’s creative industries through five key funding strands and a regular programme of events. Applications for the next round of Creative Informatics Challenge Project will open in April 2021.