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Highlights from our Challenge Holder Q&A

Last week we held our first online Challenge Holder Q&A event, introducing our Round 3 Challenge Holders and giving potential Challenge Respondents an opportunity to ask questions about their projects.

You can view introductory slides from the event and watch videos from all our round 3 Challenge Holders on our Vimeo channel.

The workshop included a number of focused break out groups to allow for more in-depth discussion and questions to be raised about each individual Challenge Project. Below you can find the key questions from those break out groups that might be useful to anyone thinking about submitting a Challenge Respondent application.

Thanks to our Challenge Holders and everyone who came along to listen, find out more and ask questions. If you have questions about any of our Round 3 Challenge Projects that are not addressed below, please contact the Creative Informatics team at creativeinformatics@ed.ac.uk.

Questions and Clarifications on Individual Challenges

National Theatre of Scotland (NTS)

National Theare of Scotland – Fraserburgh

Q) What kind of data do NTS have available to work with?
A) NTS are currently undertaking some internal work to structure and collate their data on theatre productions, touring etc. so that it is ready to share with the successful Responder. The project is a consolidation of past data and an opportunity to set in place better data collection for future.

Q) What is the driving priority for this Challenge – something for NTS or something to benefit the wider theatre sector?
A) NTS are keen to share data for the benefit of the sector as a whole, but looking at this Challenge as an opportunity for NTS to lead by example.

The tool sought in this challenge needs to centralise information on theatre productions but should be designed to work without sharing sensitive information such as wages for example. It is hoped that the tool will ultimately enable insights that can help target funding and support that address real gaps for the sector, or key issues (e.g. addressing why audiences are so persistently small in some locations). The new resource/tool has got to work both internally for NTS (to assist with an increasingly flexible / part time workforce and working from home) as well as externally (by other theatre makers).

Q) Why don’t current tools address this issue?
A) Tools are currently available for data collection, storage and sharing but are geared towards venues based theatres rather than touring companies and/or those without a standard venue/location – which includes NTS. This tool also needs to address theatre companies who undertake performances in non-traditional spaces and non-theatre venues (e.g. beaches).

Sink Achmed Film – credit Chris Scott


The Pianodrome breakout session focused mostly on the opportunity for working with specific technologies. We would recommend watching the video introducing the Pianodrome Challenge, where these technologies are initially introduced and discussed.

If you would like to raise any specific questions about Pianodrome please email the Creative Informatics team and we will update this post with any further questions and clarifications.


The Big Light

Q) What kind of data do The Big Light have available – in terms of things such as subjects, places, people and cultural assets contained within the podcasts, and how easy is this to extract and take to the next level for the listener?
A) The Big Light have scripts/transcripts for podcasts as well as a wide range of digital production notes and materials accompanying all of their podcasts. This is all born digital and structured material so should be easy to access and extract for onward use.

Q) How important is the user experience and journey for any solution developed?
A) It is important to create a user-centred experience that will encourage engagement with the content. As part of that it is important that as the audience engages with additional material, they are able to continue to listen to or are able to return to the core audio content as well. The additional material should enhance and complement the audio, without overly distracting the audience from it.

Children’s Parliament

Q) How closely do you want to work with the Challenge Respondent?
A) We (Children’s Parliament) are keen to work quite closely with the successful Challenge Respondent.

Q) Who is going to be adding the content/data to be analysed in the project?
A) The data/content for this Challenge already exists at Children’s Parliament and will be shared with the successful Challenge Respondent as appropriate.

Children’s Parliament – What Kind of Edinburgh

Q) Does this challenge involve creating a way for children to add content themselves?
A) No, the challenge is not about creating a platform where children input the content. It is about analysing and representing the data that is already there.

Q) What are the core aims of the challenge?
A) Children’s parliament want to be able to analyse current data against key themes; present the data in an interesting and engaging way; and bring in creative elements to the themes, but this should be in a robust way.

Q) What is the end goal for this project?
A) It might be in the form of a tool you can apply to a data repository, but the important goal for any solution is to address some notable issues that we face.

One of the key challenges here is analysing and presenting unstructured data. How the data links together is important. The data we (Children’s Parliament) hold is varied – some is structured, some unstructured. This is a problem that many third sector organisations face.

Q) Can you provide more detail with examples of the kind of themes involved here and what kind of data we would be working with?
A) Yes, some examples of the data we hold includes:

Survey data
Consultation publication (this example includes a report and film)

Edinburgh Science

Q) You mentioned some preparatory work by University of Edinburgh Marketing students, is this something we could have access to?
A) We will be happy to provide a summary of key points from this work on request. Please email creativeinformatics@ed.ac.uk.

Q) For which edition of the Edinburgh Science Festival should the project presented in the challenge be available? Is there already a list of activities for this edition of the festival?
A) It is anticipated that the project will feed into Edinburgh Science’s year-round programme and particularly the Edinburgh International Science Festival 2021. Activities are not yet available for this edition, but it is likely that there will be a mixture of (safely socially distanced as appropriate) physical events and online events.

Photo credit: Chris Scott

Q) Has the science festival used app-based ‘applied games’ methods for increasing contributions in the past?
A) We (Edinburgh Science) have used various donation models, including tap to donate before. We also have the busking bike – which bring science experiences out into the community and also includes donation opportunities. We are interested in exploring gamified approaches.

Q) Do you/are you envisioning fundraising in physical or digital/online spaces?
A) We are interested in approaches in any and all spaces. Originally we had been thinking about physical experiences utilising data, and the festival itself is usually physical and located more than virtual.

At the moment we do have a donate button the website but that’s it. We would like to find suitable ways to better encourage and understand the donations and who makes them – so capturing more data at the point of donation whether in a physical or digital space.

Q) What’s the appropriate timing for donation around an event – before/during/after?
A) People are used to donating as they leave an event (e.g. in the Free Fringe models) and that is a good time to ask. However different venues we work in have different audience profiles and dwell times that shape when people may be motivated to donate. For instance, our family events are usually in City Art Centre – they might be there for several hours but it is a family event and they have already paid to enter. Meanwhile some of our adult events – where audiences may be very engaged and able to donate – tend to end with audiences leaving quickly making it tricky to do donations on exit. There isn’t one right approach, and we are happy with a Response that addresses a particular audience or type of event or venue – the proposed response doesn’t need to address all of the range of venues and audiences in one solution. And obviously for digital events it’s a little different. This year given when events had to be cancelled, we’ve encouraged those who booked tickets to cancelled events to donate their ticket refund.

Q) What’s the Science Festival’s general age group / target market?
A) All ages engage with us and we run significant programmes for families, and for adults. For donations – especially card donations – we’d expect it to be adults donating, but that could be at a family event or part of an experience that appeals to the whole family. In general our audiences tend to be fairly middle class although we don’t have huge amounts of audience data and we’d like to know more about them.

Photo credit: Ian Georgeson

Q) Is your schools work something in scope for this Challenge?
A) No, we want to focus on festival audiences for this project. However schools work is part of our story and impact – and that could be part of the donation experience.

Q) Who currently donates?
A) We have limited postcode data on our current donors. It is usually part of the ticket purchase journey so we’d just usually know name, email, whether they are eligible for gift aid and (associated with that) postcode. For “tap to donate” card payment donations we have no information at all – which also means we can’t claim giftaid on these donations.

Q) The quality of experience can impact on the donations made – at the moment things are very contactless and cashless. Is it likely that we’ll revert back to cash for donations going forward? Are you open to providing some sort of reward for donations?
A) It’s an interesting issue. I’ve (Blythe from Edinburgh Science) seen an experience at the Great North Experience which uses a butterfly wall to visualise donations and make it more of an experience – whether donations are cash or contactless. We’ve certainly had coin runs and similar that kids enjoy giving cash donations with – although it’s usually the adult that is paying. Generally physical or tangible experiences excite people so we are certainly open to exploring that. Yes, we would certainly be interested in some sort of feedback or reward or way to motivate donations to be part of the solution.

Q) Will any solution developed be very physically located/location based?
A) It can be but even if it were to be physically located during the festival, it would need to be movable so that it could be used in alternative locations at other times – including our year round events. This is why e.g. the busking bike has worked well before as a way to engage people with the festival.

Vintage Vibes

Q) Have VV used tech before for their work? Zoom etc?
A) We (Vintage Vibes) have used Zoom to replicate a meet-up, we did a virtual Escape Room with communication over Zoom.  In terms of general communications we use emails either directly from our own account or via a mailer – normally MailChimp.  We use things like GoogleForms/Survey Monkey for feedback on visits etc currently.  We have offered external training to our volunteers over Zoom in the last few months but are yet to do our own training in this way.

Fiona & Norma – Vintage Vibes – c Robin Mair

Q) What platforms do VV currently use – emails/text etc?
A) Most of our communication is either face to face, telephone or email/text out with this.

Q) Do VV use social media groups for their volunteers – e.g. Facebook/Whatsapp?
A) We do have a closed Facebook Group for volunteers to communicate in – share stories or recommendations etc.

Q) Are VV looking to scale this project?
A) Vintage Vibes is an ambitious project and is always looking to do more.  Our aims are to scale our work tackling isolation and loneliness to be able to reach more people across Edinburgh and beyond.

Q) What is the make up of VV’s volunteer base? How tech savvy are they already?
A) The volunteer base is quite broad – we have volunteers from ages 17 to 91, across this range there are all kinds of people with all kinds of levels of tech savviness so this is something we would really need to take into consideration.

 Q) Are VV looking for a platform for training, interaction, or a bit of both?
A) We are looking to be able to do something remotely that encompasses what volunteers usually experience when they are involved in meeting with us and attending training face to face. So it is a bit of both of these things. It’s about more than just making our training available online, it is about providing that same experience that the volunteers get but through a different means.

General Challenge Respondent Process Questions and Clarifications

Q) What is the format for a Challenge Respondent proposal/application?
A) Application is via application form. You can find both the live form and a PDF version to download and plan your response on the Creative Informatics website:

Q) How soon would a successful Challenge Respondent start?
A) The Challenge Respondent call closes at the end of September so we would be notifying outcomes in October. Depending on the responses received our Challenge Holders may want to meet with shortlisted Respondents before making a final decision. At that stage we would enter a contract process that can be quite quick but may take several weeks depending on the complexity of the IP arrangements. Once the contract and related paperwork is complete – and we’ll support you through this – the work can begin. Given the timelines we would anticipate that this would be late November/early December if contracts are reviewed and signed quickly, but it could be later if there are any delays or complexities.

Challenge Project Workshop

Q) What is the funding structure for projects?
A) You can apply for up to £20k (inclusive of VAT), and you propose how that is spent and the timeline for the projects (indicative timings are included in the Challenge Project guidance). For successful Responders we will agree a reporting and payment schedule in the contract process. Usually this is structured as three payments which the successful Responder will invoice us for: one at the outset; one at the mid-point on receipt of an interim report; one at the end of the project along with a final report. Depending on how the budget is structured these may be equal payments or may be weighted differently – e.g. if equipment for the project needs to be purchased at the outset the distribution might include a larger percentage of the total cost in the first payment.

Q) Is the challenge open to European or only Scottish companies? What if I’m based outside Edinburgh and South East Scotland?
A) Under our Challenge project guidelines you will see information on who is eligible to apply (look for the heading/link on the right of the page to “Applying as a Challenge Responder”):

We state that to be eligible you must:

“Be based in and/or be undertaking work that has impact for the creative industries within Edinburgh or the Edinburgh and South East Scotland Region”.

If you are based outside our target area (Edinburgh, Midlothian, East Lothian, West Lothian, Borders, Fife) you would not be eligible to apply on your own without a local partner. However, if you have a local collaborator you could develop your response with then you could be eligible as this would constitute impact for the creative industries as per our criteria.

Please be aware that we look for meaningful collaborations which tends to mean collaborative ownership of IP (e.g. as a joint venture). So, for example, we have previously had a successful Respondent based outwith our target area who partnered with a local company in the region, with the local company retaining the IP to take forward in the future. This means that at least some of the opportunities for further business development and investment potential continues to make a positive impact on the Edinburgh economy and can be exploited further after the project ends by the local partner as well as any partner located elsewhere.

If you have further questions about any of our Round 3 Challenge Projects, please contact the Creative Informatics team at creativeinformatics@ed.ac.uk.



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