About Digital Democracies

Digital Democracies project brings together creatives and civic, cultural, education and tech partners, to pioneer the development of democratic and innovative digital work in public space.

Public spaces embody our shared humanity, and aim to be free to access, culturally diverse and open to all. These spaces – and the people that animate them – are the engines for both place-making and community development. The places where our individual and collective identities are forged. But they are also often contested, sometimes privately owned and surveilled, governed by invisible infrastructures and social codes that can undermine their capacity for grassroots social and cultural democracy.

Digital Democracies launched in a time of unprecedented reliance on digital technology to connect people, due to launch in April 2020 at the time of the first Covid 19 lockdowns.  The project refocused on the creation of work that not only explored the expansion of digital work in the public realm, but on how we could use technology and culture to foster new connections and support national recovery through culture.

As the project developed over the two-year period, Digital Democracies artists and creatives worked with the project to test and explore new methods and ways of reaching and connecting with audiences via festival platforms. As well as experimenting with online methods of peer-to-peer learning, skills and talent development and community engagement.

Walk This Way, Annabel McCourt and Adrian Riley. Photo credit Hebb & Griff

Digital Democracies Festival Partnerships

Digital Democracies combines three of the UK’s leading commissioning agencies and festivals expertise to form a national partnership and lead the agenda in public realm digital works.

About the Festivals:

  • Frequency International Festival of Digital Culture, Lincoln (Produced by Threshold Studios) is built on inclusion and use of non-traditional spaces
  • Freedom Festival, Hull (Produced by Freedom Festival Arts Trust) is highly skilled in commissioning and exhibiting challenging and thought-provoking outdoor work
  • Brighton Digital Festival, Brighton (Produced by Lighthouse and Brandwatch) has a strong track record in engagement with tech, innovation and business.

The festival partnerships created a national exchange of knowledge and expertise across art in the public realm, digital innovation, social impact and place-based partnerships, along with global industry networks and national audiences. The combination of the three UK-based commissioning festivals provided a strong network for testing new ideas and new work, as well as touring high-quality digital combined arts.

 “Festivals were incredibly well placed to lead the development of this exciting area of work. The experience of outdoor democratic spaces, audience diversity, place-based partnerships, and collaborative working are part of their DNA.”

 – Donna Close, Associate Director of Threshold Studios  

Threshold logo

Threshold Studios

Threshold Studios is a creative and cultural agency that specialises in the commissioning and production of art in the public realm using digital technology.

Throughout our 24-year history, cultural equality has been a key driver of Threshold’s mission and activity. As a social enterprise and an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation, we play a strategic role in the development of the creative digital sector, enabling partnerships across the arts, digital and creative media industries, the public sector, grassroots communities and higher education.

We build innovative programmes and opportunities for audiences within the places where the public have ownership and agency, with a particular focus on those from diverse backgrounds and those who are currently under-represented in the arts and media industries.


Arts Council England logo

Arts Council England

Arts Council England is the national development body for arts and culture across England, working to enrich people’s lives. It supports a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to visual art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2018 and 2022, Arts Council England will invest £1.45 billion of public money from the government and an estimated £860 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.


colourful F and the text Frequency International Festival of Digital Culture

Frequency International Festival of Digital Culture

Frequency International Festival of Digital Culture invigorates Lincoln’s historic public spaces every two years with a programme of playful, adventurous and thought-provoking art and technology enabled experiences.

The only UK-based art and technology festival with inclusivity and diversity at its heart, Frequency invites everyone to experience the transformative powers of art, technology and culture.

Celebrating the pioneering spirit of digital innovation, the festival has become renowned for city-wide digital takeovers in non-traditional spaces, including site-specific installations, live performances, immersive and interactive experiences. The festival sparks debates, challenges perceptions and inspires change. It brings together thought leaders and the creative industries to help shape UK digital culture.


Colourful letters of logo text Freedom Festival Arts Trust

Freedom Festival

Freedom Festival is Hull’s award-winning international arts festival. It celebrates, through artistic and cultural expression, Hull’s independent spirit and historic contribution to the cause of freedom, borne out of the 2007 William Wilberforce commemorations to become the highlight of the city’s artistic and cultural programme.

From epic spectaculars unfolding in the city centre to intimate moments where audiences and artists meet, Freedom Festival presents thought-provoking, playful, and powerful performances that address the world we live in. The team behind Freedom Festival brings thousands of people together through an annual festival and an increasingly year-round artistic and creative programme of performances, installations, and community participation to excite, inspire, challenge, and provoke.


overlapping blue and pink circles on left and Brighton Digital Festival on right

Brighton Digital Festival

Since 2011 Brighton Digital Festival has produced an annual programme of events, taking place over four weeks across the city. The festival celebrates the richness of the creative and cultural industries in our city and explores the ways in which digital technology continues to shape our lives and our thinking. It supports the community to produce an open programme of independent events augmented by high-quality commissioned arts and education programming.




Lighthouse is a Brighton-based arts charity specialising in connecting new developments in art, technology, science and society. For over 30 years, their programme has revealed new ways of presenting artists and the creative industries, how artistic work and practice can cross boundaries and disciplines, and be used as a way of enhancing digital technology and its place within society.

Key projects include Guiding Lights, the UK’s leading mentoring scheme for filmmakers, regular residencies, to provide creative and professional development for a wide range of artists and creative practitioners, Last Dance, a series of events, podcasts, films and blogs investigating the rapid changes affecting UK music and youth culture and Lighthouse Young Creatives a project for 16-25-year-olds who want to work in the creative and digital industries, but who don’t have the opportunities, facilities and connections they need. The project is for young people from diverse backgrounds, including those not in work or training.


Commissioning Partners

University of Lincoln logo
City of Lincoln Council Logo