Rewarding Cultural Innovation

The call for entries is now online for the inaugural Cultural Innovation International Prize. You can submit your project until 5 February 2015.

Reggie Dixon in pantomime at the Empire Theatre Sunderland.

Reggie Dixon in pantomime at the Empire Theatre Sunderland. Source: Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums.

The call for entries is now online for the inaugural Cultural Innovation International Prize, one of the twenty actions that the CCCB is putting into practice to celebrate its 20th Anniversary. The aim of this biennial Prize is to stimulate projects that explore possible cultural scenarios for the coming years, promoting the research, experimentation and evolution required to meet the challenge of the future. This article outlines the underlying ideas and criteria for the first edition of the Prize, which you will find in full at www.innovationcccb.org.

We invite you all to participate: you can submit your project until 5 February 2015.

The reasons for the Prize

The Cultural Innovation International Prize is a result of the creative tradition of the CCCB in the twenty years since it first opened its doors. In 2004 we coined the acronym I+C+i [1] (which stands for the Spanish words for Research + Culture + Innovation) and broke new ground on the Catalan and Spanish scene by becoming one of the first cultural institutions to develop a line of work based on research and innovation in culture. The need to adapt and evolve within a changing context [2] means that R+D has become a crucial strategy for cultural institutions. The new praxis suggests a process of transition in which nobody is exempted from reviewing operational criteria: the ideas that form the basis on which projects are devised and produced, their working methods, production processes, presentation styles, the degree of potential sustainability, their ways of communicating, disseminating, and sharing knowledge.

The Prize puts forward three main areas of work, as set out in the terms and conditions.

  1.  The study, development, and dissemination of an emerging ‘theoretical body’ that enables critical reflection on the dilemmas and challenges facing the cultural world, including the need to create links and enduring connections between humanist and scientific disciplines.
  2. The promotion of research and incubation of new genres and formats, without ignoring the need to update traditional genres and formats, in a changing arena that prioritises open processes, the development of platforms, and the creation of networks.
  3. The provision of support to proposals and projects that meet the abovementioned prerequisites, and that also integrate innovative approaches to feasibility.

Prospecting in practice [3]

One of the aims of the Cultural Innovation International Prize is to explore some possible cultural scenarios for the coming years. What genres and formats will survive the digital revolution and the financial crisis? What type of exhibitions will digital natives visit? What will be their cultural consumption patterns? How will the enormous call for participation of the last few years evolve (or die down)? What future lies ahead for festivals? What will be the effects of information overload, and what tools can we use to create an intelligible world? What forms of ‘prescription’ will the ‘entity-previously-known-as-audience’ accept (or refuse)? What kinds of mediation will be required between experts/professionals and the growth of prosumers and amateurs? Will the websites of cultural institutions evolve towards content portals? What is the future of analogue and digital archives? How will the concept of ‘programming’ change? What does ‘educating’ mean in a hyper-technical context? What will be the mission of cultural managers?

The questions multiply and there are no clear-cut answers. Anticipating possible scenarios is one way of mitigating uncertainty, through lifelong learning and the development of adaptive capacities. Although cultural institutions behave like living organisms that interact in complex ecosystems, it is necessary to maximise strategies and planning that favour creativity and innovation. And to boost democratic access to knowledge and to the means of production and reproduction as inalienable rights of citizens. The jungle of jargon and idiolects, fads and trends, should not prevent us from attempting to clearly reformulate the functions and aims of a cultural institution. Or from committing to a connected, inclusive discourse. In this sense, models and prototypes, conceived as ‘probes’ to explore the possible futures of culture, can become a strategy of prime importance.

First Call For Entries

Every edition of the Prize will propose a topic that the projects submitted should work around. For this first call for entries, the topic is AUDIENCE/S: What do we refer to when we talk about audience/s in cultural centres, museums and similar spaces today? What does this concept mean at a time when the boundaries between the physical and virtual space are blurring, intermingling, or disappearing? Has there been a change in the traditional paradigm by which audiences followed, and at most participated in – always in a secondary role –, the projects organised by cultural centres and museums? What new models are currently being used in this field? What are the real needs of these new audiences? Are cultural centres and museums meeting them? What innovations could they implement to fulfil their mission? What changes are needed to face the challenge of audience/s in the next few years?

To be in the running for the Prize, candidates must submit a project for the creation, production and/or presentation of cultural content based on a format, subject and/or mode of management that innovatively responds to these and related questions. The projects must be theoretically grounded and present an analysis of the specific field of action in which they aim to have an impact, following the structure set on in the terms and conditions.

Selection Criteria

A jury made up of experts in the field will award the Prize to the most innovative project, essentially based on the following criteria:

  • Originality of the proposal. The winning project will stand out for its “novelty” in absolute terms or because of the new way in which it combines existing subjects, genres, formats and modes of management.
  • Conceptual and methodological rigour. Projects must be based on a coherent theoretical framework, and their development proposal must use appropriate tools and methods, demonstrating their capacity to offer solutions to the problems and questions raised.
  • Innovation in forms of interaction with audiences. The jury will value projects that resignify and transform the usual ways in which museums and cultural centres interact with citizens, and propose new ways of integrating increasingly active and participatory audiences in their dynamics of creation, management and content distribution.
  • Cross-cutting actions and methods. The jury will value projects that bring processes, methods and dynamics from other fields and disciplines into the cultural sphere, with the aim of enriching and boosting the interaction between cultural institutions and citizens.
  • Social impact of the project. The jury will value projects that are public-service oriented, and that aim to bridge sociocultural gaps and to promote the use and care of the (physical and virtual) communal space.
  • Project feasibility. The projects submitted must be feasible in financial and organisational terms.

Lastly, the Cultural Innovation International Prize is born from the conviction that there is a huge reservoir of creativity inside and outside of cultural institutions. Building bridges between the innovative capacity of citizens and the knowledge and experience accumulated by the cultural institutions that serve them is one of the core ideas that have inspired the Prize.

We eagerly await your projects at www.innovationcccb.org.


[1] See “I+C+i Un modelo de Investigación e Innovación emergente en España” by María Jesús Muñoz Pardo (2009). Available online at http://oa.upm.es/3179/

ICIPedia (2012). Available online (in Spanish) at http://blogs.cccb.org/icionline/es/

[2] A context affected by changes that range from the impact of new technologies to the crisis of traditional cultural industries, from the emergence of increasingly active and participatory audiences to the paradigm change triggered by the blurring of inter-disciplinary boundaries, techno-scientific advances and the birth of new disciplines.

[3] Both of the dictionary definitions of the term are legitimate to guide our ‘quest’.

The first, as a metaphor of what an open process of research and innovation in culture entails: the exploration of ideas, projects, and hidden resources. The second, as the capacity to anticipate possible scenarios.

prospect. (From the Latin prospectĭo, -ōnis).

1. To explore the subsoil based on the study of the nature of the terrain and with the aim of discovering mineral and oil deposits, subterranean water, etc.

2. Probability or chance for future success based on present work or aptitudes. Market prospecting, research into public opinion trends.

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Rewarding Cultural Innovation