Headlines: October 2nd, 2000

The culture element of the e-government strategy will bring an interactive future for culture and the arts in the UK. Culture Secretary Chris Smith has revealed a plan to allow children in schools and people at home to explore and interact with the cream of the UK’s national museum and gallery collections, films, music and stage performances.Culture Online will use the latest technology via the Internet to present and explain the best of culture and heritage as a key resource for schools and an ever-expanding reference work for everyone. In future, for example, a child studying Shakespeare’s Macbeth will be able to download the text, watch a performance of the play online, take part in discussion groups with other students and a recent Director of the play and call up costume designs and programmes from past performances.

Culture Online is currently in its development stage with 5 million pounds of funding to determine how to proceed. The plan will be taken forward in consultation with experts drawn from the ICT and education worlds, and from cultural institutions including museums, libraries, archives, theatres and galleries. This will ensure that the needs of users and the potential of the latest technical developments are fully understood before the digitising of cultural material is begun. After development, further significant funding could be available from the Capital Modernisation Fund to deliver the project.