It's no secret at all that Arts Council England (ACE) doesn't know its technological arse from its elbow. Only ACE could spend millions on a computer system that doesn't speed up funding applications, doesn't allow you to make funding applications online and doesn't actually do anything at all an industrious individual with an iPhone couldn't achieve for a lot less money.
Whilst browsing around Londondance.com (LD), as we are inclined to do sometimes when there is no washing to be folded, we noticed, on their so-called "video box" page the declaration;
"Video Box is supported by funding from the Arts Council of England."
Leaving aside the fact the funding monolith hasn't been called that for years what is it they (ACE) are supporting, with actual cash money? Your actual cash money?
Video material on the site is culled from promotional videos sent in by dance companies and edited (cough) by the LD hacks into an online clip. This clip is usually posted to support a London performance and, presumably, to promote that perfromance to the general public.
The format and presentation of video material on their site hasn't moved on for years. Videos are small, short and still use the aging Sorenson3 video encoder (surpassed by the far superior H.264 years ago). The rest of the internet, with news, television shows, etc embraced video a long time ago. We've been showing dance online for 7 years now moving the quality and presentation along with the times as much as resources will allow. LD.com however seems stuck in a time warp.
Things may be about to change however because Sadler'sWells.com, for whom LD.com is nothing more than a shill, will soon be launching an online video service. Details are scarce at the moment but, true to form, the site will only feature video material of companies performing at the London theatre. How this video material will be sourced is unclear.
Whether or not this service will spill over into LD.com remains to be seen.
It's curious to us, here in TheLab™, that a few short years ago ACE was unwilling to support Article19 when last we bothered to make a funding application. At the time they "didn't support websites" but now it seems they can't help themselves as they enthusiastically pour money into online media.
More curious still is that Article19 has proven that with no money and just a little bit of imagination you can make it work anyway. This poky little website has been kicking the rest of the arts in the balls for years and only now, at the end of 2008, has one of the country's biggest theatres figured out what century we're in.
Just as websites like Vimeo and Blip.TV have enabled anybody and everybody to host their own video content (with varying degrees of quality) the London hacks have awoken from their slumber and have declared their intention to get down with the kids!
Just a small word of advice, if we may Sadlers Wells (in the guise of Alistair Spalding)
: Try very hard to fight all of your natural instincts to screw this up. Make sure you get it right! Because if you don't the world will vote with its collective clicking fingers and ignore you.
Welcome to the online party, you're only seven years late but let us celebrate the fact you bothered to show up at all.
Just in-case you're curious and you think this is about sour grapes let us clarify. Yes, Article19 gets pissed off when inferior services get money and good ones flounder. That goes for anything though. If you fund the 'Breakin' Convention' and pull funding from an actual dance company all that does is prove to us, and a lot of other people, that you're throwing haymakers in all directions in the desperate hope of landing a punch.
If ACE was to offer us £100K a year for the next ten years they would be told, not at all politely, to go shove it where the sun don't shine!
Sadler's Wells video service starts in October.