DMU experts contribute to Government’s horizon scanning report on the impacts of COVID

Experts from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) have shared their views on the two-to-five years effects of the pandemic for a House of Lords COVID-19 Committee inquiry.

Published in a recent report by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST), DMU Professor of Digital Culture Tracy Harwood has considered the impact of the pandemic on the country’s creative and cultural industries.

Ranging from work and employment to research and development, arts, the community, and health, the report identifies expert opinions that look at life beyond COVID, and its effects on our society, economy, health and more.

Professor Harwood said: “The evidence I provided was to do with the role arts and culture plays in the wider business ecology through its influence on innovation, research and development.

“There has been a demise of cities’ cultural infrastructures – because independent artists have fallen between the cracks of the support mechanisms – and cultural venues’ adapted business models cannot bring in sufficient income from footfall to match grant funding conditions.

“The longer-term impacts are also going to be felt on business and the economy more generally.”

She added: “The creative and cultural industries prop up research and development which is under-invested in, particularly by small and medium sized businesses.

“There are going to be fewer creative people contributing to innovations, and fewer places where innovations can be seen.

“There needs to be new thinking in developing sustainable models that integrate arts and culture into the broader business ecologies.

“My comments were picked up in two sections of the report on Research and Development and Technological Advancements,” she continued.

Professor Harwood’s research has earned her recognition with the development of the ART- Artificial Intelligence (AI) festival, which showcases roles of artificial intelligence through artistic and creative practices as a means to bringing the public closer to cutting edge technological advancements.

The success of the ART-AI festival, working with city-wide collaborators such as shopping centres, arts venues, public libraries, and hospitals, to achieve high levels of public engagement, was put forward as evidence to support her views.

For some technological advancements, she argues, arts and culture are the perfect way to communicate new ideas, notwithstanding the many direct benefits related to wellbeing and entertainment.

She said: “It will be a bad day at the office for us all if we allow the creative and cultural sector to fail in our cities and communities”.