First experimental National Theatre (NT) Live broadcast supported by Nesta and Arts Council England

The NT has broadcast more than forty productions live in cinemas, from both the NT and from other theatres in the UK

Broadcasts have now been watched by over 6.5 million people in over 2,500 venues around the world, including over 680 venues in the UK alone


This research showed that NT Live created experiences that were, in several ways, even more highly valued by audiences than live theatre

The pamphlet proposed that publicly funded arts and cultural organisations should aspire to, and be funded to, engage in R&D

Showed that far from cannibalising theatre attendance at the National Theatre, the NT Live broadcasts grew audiences at the NT itself

Creative Clusters & Innovation

First comprehensive mapping of UK’s creative clusters, identifying the UK’s creative hotspots


Digital R&D Fund for the Arts & Culture pilot in England with Arts Council England and Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

An evaluation of the pilot R&D projects funded by Nesta, Arts Council England and AHRC. This supported eight R&D partnerships from Punchdrunk to Northern Sinfonia and the Imperial War Museum


Digital R&D Fund for the Arts & Culture pilot in Scotland with Creative Scotland and AHRC

This pilot allowed ten arts and cultural organisations in Scotland to explore the process of launching digital products/services

Digital R&D Fund for the Arts 3-year programme in England with Arts Council England and AHRC

This evaluation analysed the impact of the Digital R&D Fund on over 150 arts organisations, academic institutions and technology companies. It charted the widespread impact of R&D funding on this set of organisations


Digital R&D Fund for the Arts pilot in Wales with Arts Council Wales and AHRC

A pilot scheme in Wales supported seven projects to experiment with digital technology that could enhance their audience reach and engagement or allow them to develop new business models


Launch of longitudinal Digital Culture survey with Arts Council England

The Digital Culture survey tracks the use of, and impact from, technology amongst arts and cultural organisations in England. This includes a range of R&D behaviours within those organisations


Called for arts funders to create new funding streams for arts organisations, including at least 1% of their budgets on R&D


Digital Innovation Fund for the Arts in Wales with Arts Council Wales

This fund supported arts organisations to identify, create and test new ideas to help increase audience reach or develop new business models

Arts Impact Fund launches

Funded by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Nesta, and supported by Arts Council England and Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the fund demonstrated social value created by arts organisations, supporting their work through loan finance


Matched crowdfunding pilot for arts and heritage with Arts Council England, Heritage Lottery Fund and DCMS

An experimental project to combine grant funding with money raised by projects through crowdfunding, testing whether it made funding stretch further; it led to new networks and developed skills for the teams supported


Proposed revisions to official Frascati definition of R&D to include new knowledge embodied in experiences and content not just science and technology

Nesta secures Independent Research Organisation (IRO) status

Nesta became eligible for research funding from Research Councils

AHRC secures Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund funding for Creative Industries Clusters Programme and credits significance of Nesta's research

Endorses Nesta’s proposal for revised R&D definitions

The Mendoza Review: an independent review of museums in England

Highlights the work of the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts and restates that R&D in the cultural sector requires resourcing and bold action


DCMS Culture is Digital report published

Showcases Digital R&D Fund, extensively cites Digital Culture survey and calls for more investment in digital R&D

Creative Industries Sector Deal

Creative Industries Council agrees a Sector Deal which includes Nesta's proposal for a new creative industries working group to review R&D policies

Policy and Evidence Centre

Nesta leads successful consortium of universities to run the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre as part of the AHRC's Creative Industries Clusters Programme


  • Nesta Projects
  • Nesta’s policy impact
  • 2009 - 2012
  • 2013 - 2015
  • 2016 - 2018