Open Source Software Toolkits for the Arts (OSSTA) is an acronym for a new type of open-source tool to assist the field in staying up to date with the human experience of creative technology.
A 2018 OSSTA Convening was organized by Golan Levin and Lauren Lee McCarthy in Minneapolis, supported by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the John S and James L Knight Foundation. Various founders, maintainers, and contributors of essential open-source arts-engineering tools participated in this one-day conversation and an “unconference.”
This Convening provides resources and knowledge assisting the field to stay up-to-date and discusses promoting elements in future development. It gives foundations a direct understanding of social needs and helps guide their funding priorities.
Participants in this Convening discussed their long-term goals and values and the difficulties involved in creating, maintaining, funding, sustainability, and community management of open-source arts toolkits.
Discussions were grouped into six modules: challenges, development and maintenance, community engagement, funding and sustainability, values, and futures of the field.
Seven takeaways and suggestions were provided after the meeting:
- Maintenance is essential, wide-ranging, and often undervalued.
- Funding is necessary to create a sustainable and inclusive toolkit, which is the largest challenge for most OSSTAs.
- A focus on access, diversity, and inclusion is needed.
- Documentation is critical but often lacking.
- Community is just as important as code for many OSSTAs.
- Intentional communication needs to consider content, language, and tools used.
- Clarifying leadership structures could offer a path toward long-term sustainability.
The Report on a Convening of OSSTA Contributors summarizes and amplifies the knowledge and the impacts of open-source, artist-generated tools, which can be used to understand and support the work in this field and help generate new opportunities in future development.