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1994: Artec - Arts Technology Centre

Founded in 1990, Artec was first and foremost a unique and innovative ground breaking year long multimedia vocational course whose students, many of whom had been long term unemployed, produced truly innovative multimedia work with the support of genuinely talented and enthusiastic internal tutors and external tutors from the creative digital industry.

In addition to the training course it also had a Multimedia Workshop which operated as one of the UK's first media lab's and was responsible for developing some important cd-rom projects, web sites, talks, seminars, festivals and was also instrumental in positively influencing and informing how local authorities and arts funding bodies developed their new media policies.

Never before had the potential of new media, its tools and social concerns been more evident and ably demonstrated than the work pursued at Artec and I find it ironic that it's contribution is so often unappreciated and ignored.

Comment submitted by Tom

Some of London's leading interactive professionals first developed their skills and broke into the industry as a result of Artec's work. Artec was a pioneer not just in London's new media industry, but also in demonstrating how creative and media practice could provide employment and progression routes to the socially disadvantaged.

Comment submitted by Derek Richards

I was co-founder of Artec with Frank Boyd in 1990. Artec was responsible for training the first traunch of professsionals working in New Media in the UK. This is significant given its targetting of recruitment at the longterm unemployed and other disenfranchised groups. Even today very few vocational training programmes can match its achievements in placing trainees in employment. The Artec team also worked as consultants on the development of the first degree courses and modules at the University of Westminster and Middlesex.

Artec's arts lab and prodcution wing facilitated the development of some of the first titles to be produced in the UK and some memorable and grounbreaking ones too including "Think +ve" - interactive educational drama on HIV/AIDS and sexual health issues; "On Air" - BIMA award winning interactive installation on modern music production still on exhibition at the Science Museum. Students and ex-students alike regularly cleaned up at the BIMA awards long before BAFTA had interactive awards and in fact we played a role in the creation of those too. Then there were the Multimedia Labs at Bore Place and our major international collaborations in Holland, France, Eastern Europe and the USA. I and others at Artec worked on Apple's promotional CD-ROM that accompanied the release of the Apple CD150. The first production CD-ROM drive, the release of which kick started the distribution of interactive multimedia.

Artec worked hard to spread the message through a number of event based initiatives, exhibitions, conferences, open access workshops, and temporary internet cafes (before there were any permanent ones in the UK) at venues like the ICA and the South Bank Centre.

Perhaps the reason for Gary's last observation lies in the rather dubious assumption that New Media started in 1994. Where did that come from?