In 2014 we produced the Data Toolkit – a step-by-step guide to gathering and visualising information – or ‘data’ – in creative ways, and involving interns and trainees in the process.
The website www.datatoolkit.org.uk includes templates, case studies, ethics guidance, technical assistance, and animations based on the experiences of seven interns, who worked on data projects at KWMC over six months in 2013-2014. Organisations are encouraged to use and adapt the Toolkit to suit their aims, budget and context. For example:
No previous experience of working with data or young people is required and you can collect data about almost anything – from weather patterns and crime statistics to people’s perceptions of their local area.
Arts organisations already have to deal with data on a regular basis – whether they’re non-profits having to report to external funders, or creative businesses tracking customer behaviours. We think data has the potential to be used for much more interesting things than back-office administrative tasks, and we believe forward-thinking artistic professionals will be able to discover these uses. The Toolkit allows them to get started with data projects quickly, so they can spend less time learning and more time creating.
Data isn’t just relevant to arts organisations though; since the start of the 21st Century the idea of ‘Big Data’ has gathered momentum, the ways that data can be used (and misused) have made global headlines, and some of the world’s biggest companies have built their business models around data collection. Alongside showing artists useful ways to work with data, the Data Toolkit can equip them to tackle issues of ethics in their work.
Involving young people in the arts is a central focus for Arts Council England. Arts organisations can help young people to voice, engage and change issues that affect them.
We hope that other organisations will use these free resources to develop their own artistic practice and assist young people with their career development: finding new ways of working that are creative, resource-efficient, and empowering to the communities they work with.