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LEP secures £700k funding for immersive tech museums project
Five Cornish museums are to benefit from almost £700,000 of Government funding following a successful bid to the Coastal Communities Fund to use virtual and augmented reality technology to bring Cornish heritage alive.
The bid was led by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) with Cornwall Museums Partnership and Falmouth University. Further investment is coming from the LEP and Cornwall Council towards the total project cost of almost £770,000.
The technology will be developed by Falmouth University in partnership with Cornwall Museums Partnership and will be launched in phases at the Telegraph Museum Porthcurno; Castle Heritage Centre, Bude; St Agnes Museum; Isles of Scilly Museum and the Old Guildhall Museum & Gaol in Looe between April this year and the end of 2020
The Coastal Communities wAVE (Augmented & Virtual Experiences) project will bring together research experts, technologists and five local museums and their communities to take visitors on a compelling immersive and interactive journey to the past.
Visitors could meet exciting local historical figures, explore historical sites, see ancient relics from a bygone era or be propelled into the depths of the ocean in a sunken wreck.
The project is part of the LEP’s strategy to harness the cultural tourism strengths of Cornwall and Scilly and the rapidly growing digital sector to enhance the visitor experience and attract new visitors to the region. It is expected to boost footfall to participating museums by almost 25,000 people per year, create 17 new jobs and generate more than half a million pounds for the economy annually.
Glenn Caplin, Chief Executive of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP, said: “This project will use technology to create a series of immersive heritage experiences, melding Cornwall’s distinctive culture and heritage with cutting edge digital expertise that has been enabled through huge investment in broadband and further education in recent years. It will help five coastal communities diversify their economies by accessing new, year-round and higher value tourism markets, boosting footfall and creating and sustaining jobs.”
Emmie Kell, Chief Executive of the Cornwall Museums Partnershipand creative sector lead on the Board of the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly LEP, said: “Helping museums to embrace the potential of digital technology to improve the visitor experiences they offer and increase the contribution they make to their local economies is a priority for us. We are really excited about working with Falmouth University, individual museums and local communities on this brilliant project.”
Professor Anne Carlisle OBE, Vice-Chancellor of Falmouth University, said: “The wAVE project provides a fantastic opportunity to combine the technical expertise of Falmouth University staff with the sector expertise of the Cornwall Museums Partnership to boost the local economy. The project will celebrate our region’s rich heritage but use innovative technology to provide refreshing and inspirational perspectives, creating an immersive and interactive journey to the past. These new visitor experiences will support the communities to access higher value and year-round tourism markets an offer a model that is replicable elsewhere.”
The new technology will include virtual reality headsets, high definition projection techniques and computer generated imagery to create new, immersive visitor experiences. Research suggests that the UK mixed reality market will be worth £1.2 billion by 2020 but the use of virtual augmented and immersive reality in museums is still in its infancy.
The Government’s investment is from the fifth round of the Coastal Communities Fund and is part of a £15.4m package awarded to 20 projects across the South West Region.
Communities Secretary, Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP said: “I am determined to support investment and development of our coastal communities across the South West and create an economy that works for everyone as we prepare for Brexit and beyond. All of the ambitious projects receiving funding today were designed and developed by local people who know what will make the biggest difference to their areas. The sheer range of ideas demonstrate the potential of our coastal communities and will all create good jobs, boost growth and improve people’s lives now and in the future.”
Other projects in Cornwall receiving funding include:
Trevassack Lake: A National Centre of Excellence providing water sports for all – Helford River Children’s Sailing Trust, Falmouth
£1.69 million towards a £2.39 million project to transform the Trevassack Lake - a former quarry - into a centre for inclusive water sports. The aim is to create a National Centre of Excellence in Falmouth for water sports, providing a resource for the local community and visitors.
The Tin Coast – Connecting People with Landscape – National Trust
£460,000 towards a £483,000 project to develop Cornwall’s Tin Coast as a year-round destination for walking and exploring heritage. It will deliver visitor hubs and various sites and develop a business-led information network and an integrated transport offer together with improved public realm, signage and public amenities.
Killacourt – Transformation of Events and Market Space – Newquay Town Council
£499,700 towards a £1.42 million project to improve access and egress to town centre events space in Newquay, including improvements to local infrastructure to cater for complex events, open air markets and stalls and landscaping work.