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Qualia project update

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With funding from the prestigious Digital R & D fund, Cheltenham Festivals are leading a new research project to develop new technology which records and analyses our audiences’ reactions to Festival events. Working with The Institute of Digital Art and Technology (i-DAT) at Plymouth University and evaluation researchers from Warwick University, the Qualia project is being tested out during this year’s Cheltenham Festivals.

In the first stage in our sentiment analysis, we tested equipment to record audience’s smiles during the Jazz Festival in May. This was followed with the trial of a new app during the Science Festival to record live evaluation of events, and audiences at the Music Festival can record their feedback of their Festival experience on pods in three venues on site. With a touch screen for collecting and sharing information, the pods are also equipped with “ears” and “eyes” to capture ambient sound and movement. At the Literature Festival in October, we aim to showcase a prototype bringing together the three elements of the Qualia project, involving pods on site, an app and real-time analysis via the Qualia web engine.

The aim is to produce a new way of capturing and measuring the impact of arts events whilst also giving arts organisations immediate insight into what their audiences like and don’t like. We want to create a new form of live-time evaluation which allows us to programme with the full knowledge of our audience’s responses and a means of measuring sentiment impact at arts events which we can share with the wider sector.

The Qualia project has received a grant of £125,000 from the Digital R&D fund for the Arts, which is run by Arts Council England in partnership with Nesta and the Arts and Humanities Research Council.